On March 14th, Samsung finally debuted the Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that was and still is, one of the most anticipated devices of 2013. And while that might be the case, the Samsung Galaxy S4 release won’t come unopposed. In fact, the device will be facing some stiff opposition from upcoming and current flagships including the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD, a device that we consider to be one of the best Android devices on the market.
Last month, after months of speculation, leaks and rumor, Samsung took to the stage at the Radio City Music Hall and announced the Samsung Galaxy S4, the company’s successor to the Samsung Galaxy S3, its flagship that was released in the United States over the course of June and July of last year.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 of course has some big shoes to fill. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was and still is one of the most popular Android smartphones on the market, selling over 40 million times around the world, shattering records that Samsung set with the Galaxy S2. The Galaxy S3′s success has put the Galaxy S4 under the microscope and on the same page as Apple’s iconic iPhone. And while the success of the Galaxy S4 remains to be seen, it’s already said to be off to a brilliant start.
In the United Kingdom, Phones4U has taken a record amount of pre-orders for the Galaxy S4. While that isn’t necessarily confirmation that the Galaxy S4 is on its way to stardom, we think it’s a sign that the Galaxy S4 has a chance to absolutely crush the Galaxy S3 in sales. Yet, the Galaxy S4 is going to, like the Galaxy S3 did, face some serious opposition.
One of the devices that it will encounter, at least in the United States, is the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD, one of the best Android smartphones to date and one that could bite into Galaxy S4 sales. At the very least, both devices will surely be on the shopping lists of smartphone shoppers given their prominent features.
So just how do these phones stack up? Here, we take a look at how the official Samsung Galaxy S4 matches up versus the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, Motorola’s current flagship, in terms of features, pricing and more.
While the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is already out on shelves and has been since the latter part of last year, the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date has yet to arrive. Samsung failed to announce a specific release date for the Galaxy S4 at its launch event, leaving those decisions up to the carriers and retailers that will be hosting the device.
So far, we’ve heard bits and pieces of information. In the United Kingdom, the device will arrive on April 25th and April 26th. In the United States though, things are far less concrete.
AT&T and U.S. Cellular have announced that they will be taking pre-orders starting April 16th for an as of yet unannounced release date. Sprint and Verizon still have not announced specific release dates for their devices either.
The only clue that we have is from T-Mobile which has announced that the device will be available starting on May 1st. It’s unclear if other carriers will follow suit or if T-Mobile will be the first, or last, carrier in the United States to offer the Galaxy S4.
Samsung opted to use familiar materials with the Samsung Galaxy S4 design. Like previous Galaxy models, the Galaxy S4 features a polycarbonate plastic design that is going to be both durable and nice to hold. As we noted in our hands-on, the Galaxy S4 plastic feels a bit sturdier than previous models. In fact, we noted that while it is indeed plastic, it feels a lot less cheap.
For protection in the front of the device, the Samsung Galaxy S4 utilizes the new Gorilla Glass 3, which debuted at CES 2013 and which Corning says is three times more resistant to scratches than Gorilla Glass 2.
The overall design boasts a a metal-looking band that stretches around the entire device. It also features the curves and the home button on the bottom of the device, two features that have become synonymous with the Galaxy brand of smartphones.
Those looking for specifics should note that the Galaxy S4 measures in at a slim 7.9mm in size with a weight of 130 grams. Both are high-end for smartphones with the slim form factor ranking up their with the slimmest devices on the market.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD features a high-quality design that feels like it’s a $200 piece of technology. From its Kevlar back plate, to its Gorilla Glass display, to its nano-coating that protects it from water (it’s not waterproof), the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is built to endure.
Like the iPhone 5, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD’s overall design is industrial and its punctuated by two screws at the bottom that give it a distinct and rugged look.
As for the specifics, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is a little thicker than the Galaxy S4, measuring in at 9.3mm and it weights a bit more as well, weighing in at a solid 157 grams.
With the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung has produced the best display it has ever put on a Galaxy smartphone. The Galaxy S4 features a large 5-inch display that offers 1080p resolution and a high 441 pixel-per-inch count. This is on par with other high-end flagships from 2013 and means that it will be able to deliver high quality video, images, and text.
Samsung wasn’t just content with adding full HD 1080p resolution and a larger display on the Galaxy S4 though. It also added a sensor to the Galaxy S4 that allows users to make touch less gestures meaning they can control on the display without ever physically touching it. Samsung has added its own flavor to technology that has appeared on smartphones before, but none as big as the Galaxy S4.
One of those touches is called Air Gesture which allows owners to change a music track, browse the web or accept a call simply by waving their hand above the display. Another one is called Air View and it allows users to hover their finger over content to get a sneak preview before opening it. Those familiar with the Galaxy Note 2 will notice that this acts in the same way as the Galaxy Note 2′s Air View. It just doesn’t require an S Pen stylus, only the user’s finger.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD display is smaller than the Galaxy S4 display but it doesn’t feature the type of quality that the Galaxy S4 display can provide.
Motorola finally got with the program and added an HD display to its high-end smartphone line. However, it doesn’t sport full HD 1080p resolution. Instead, it offers 720p resolution which means that text, images and video, while looking good, won’t look as good as they do on the Galaxy S4.
It does help that it has 312 pixels-per-inch but again, it’s simply not as good as the Galaxy S4. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD does not have the touch less gesture technology that the Galaxy S4 has.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with an upgraded 13MP camera sensor, up from the 8MP sensors in the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2. Samsung has also outfitted the fantastic Samsung camera app with new features as well that should make the Galaxy S4 camera one of the best on the market.
So far, our hands-on experience, and some of the sample images that we’ve seen suggest that Samsung has delivered one of the camera better sensors of 2013 in the Galaxy S4. The device shoots sharp images and it seems to have improved in low-light environments, something that the Galaxy S3 camera struggled with.
Samsung also made some additions to its camera app, arguably better than the stock Android camera app, and the two of the biggest new features of the camera app include Sound & Shot and Dual Camera.
Sound & Shot allows Galaxy S4 owners to add sound to them in order to bring photos to life. As we’ve mentioned, this could be handy for when a party is signing Happy Birthday. Instead of just having the photo, users can add a sound clip with everyone singing to go along with the photo.
The other feature, Dual Camera, uses both the front and rear camera to put the Galaxy S4 user in the photo. Users can then choose from a variety of effects to help the image taken with the front-facing camera to better blend in with the larger image.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD features an 8MP camera sensor that takes good photos and 1080p video, but isn’t best-in-class and should not be able to touch the Galaxy S4 camera in terms of quality.
As we noted in our review, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is underwhelming though it does feature an HDR mode that the camera app prompts users to select for certain conditions.
Beyond the design, display and camera are other powerful specifications that power these devices. Here, we take a look at the other specifications that power both the Galaxy S4 and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
First, the Galaxy S4.
- 5-inch Full-HD 1080p Super AMOLED HD Display
- 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core Processor/Exynos 5 Octa Processor
- 16/32/64GB of Storage
- 13MP Camera
- 2,600 mAh (Removable)
- 2 GB RAM
- Wireless Charging Kit
And, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
- 4.7-inch 720p Super AMOLED Display
- 15.GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro Dual-Core Processor
- 32GB of Storage
- 8MP Camera
- 3,300 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
- 1GB RAM
First, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will feature a current-generation quad-core processor. In the U.S., it will be the Snapdragon 600 and in other places, it will be the Exynos 5 Octa. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD only offers a dual-core processor. What this means is that the Galaxy S4 will likely be able to trump the Droid RAZR MAXX HD in terms of overall performance. That means things like multitasking, gaming and more.
Second, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD comes with 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot. The device can take up to a 64GB microSD card which means that owners can utilize up to 96GB of storage space. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also comes with a microSD card slot for up to 64GB of expanded storage, however, it comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants.
Third, the Galaxy S4 features a 2,600 mAh battery which, so far, has been shown to offer less battery life than the Droid RAZR MAXX HD’s massive 3,300 mAh battery. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD’s battery is simply the biggest stock battery that money can buy and it offers some of the best battery life found on a smartphone. The Galaxy S4 battery is up there with the best, but thus far, it doesn’t appear to have bested the Droid RAZR MAXX HD’s.
Fourth, that doesn’t mean that Galaxy S4 owners don’t have options. Due to the removable back, the Galaxy S4′s battery can be replaced with an extended battery, possibly larger than the Droid RAZR MAXX HD’s. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD does not have a removable back which means owners won’t be afforded the same customization.
Finally, fifth, the Galaxy S4′s removable back also allows owners to fasten on a back that supports wireless charging. That means owners can charge their device without having to plug it in. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD does not feature wireless charging of any kind.
Like past Samsung Galaxy smartphones, Samsung has opted to include its own software on board the Galaxy S4 in the form of a new version of its TouchWiz skin. It also decided to include the latest version of Android, just like it did with the Galaxy Note 2.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is going to come stock with the latest version of Android, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. This means that owners will be one of the only non-Nexus device owners to have access to Android 4.2 and may of its features which include a Quick Settings menu, lock screen widgets, Daydream screen saver and more.
Of course, Samsung has also loaded up the Galaxy S4 with its own software as well, as it typically does with its Galaxy-branded devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be running a new version of TouchWiz which not only contains features from past Galaxy phones, but new features only found on the Galaxy S4.
One of the old features that will come on board the Galaxy S4 is Multi-View, a feature that is found on both the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 and which allows owners to split the screen in half to run two apps at the same time.
Two of the new TouchWiz software features coming to the Galaxy S4 include Smart Scroll and Smart Pause. Smart Scroll allows users to use their eyes to scroll a web page while Smart Pause pauses content on the device when users look away.
The Galaxy S4 also comes equipped with an IR port, a feature that lets users take control of their home entertainment system, thus removing the need for a universal remote. Samsung calls the feature Samsung WatchON and it transforms the Galaxy S4 into a universal remote, kind of like the Logitech Harmony remote.
Another new feature is called S Voice Drive which is an in-car version of S Voice and S Translator and a feature that can automatically translate between a number of languages. We’ve also seen Swiftkey confirm that it has enhanced the Galaxy S4′s keyboard with its technology, something that could make it better than the stock Android keyboard found in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
While the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD arrived with Android 4.0 Ice Cream on board, it was updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean last year. It will also likely be the benefactor of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean at some point this year but Motorola has yet to confirm the update for arrival.
The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD isn’t a Nexus and therefore, like the Galaxy S4, doesn’t come with vanilla Android software. Instead, it comes with a skin, referred to as MotoBlur.
MotoBlur isn’t as overwhelming as HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz. This means that it won’t come with the powerful features that Samsung’s software brings to the table but it also won’t be as intrusive.
The first thing that users will likely notice is the circles widget which display the time, date, weather and battery life on the main home screen. Missed calls and new texts show up in place of the clock.
Of course, while the Motorola device doesn’t have the same smart features that Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has, it does have a smart feature of its own. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD features Motorola’s Smart Actions which can do things like turn settings on and off based on time and location.
It’s not as powerful as Samsung’s software, but it’s also a bit more toned down so those looking for a more Android experience when it comes to software will want to look closely at the Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
One of the nice things about Samsung’s Galaxy devices is that consumers can always count on them to be available on a number of carriers in the United States and elsewhere.
In the U.S., the Galaxy S4 follows in the footsteps of the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 as it will be available on the five largest service providers in the United States.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon have confirmed the Galaxy S4 for their 4G LTE networks. Sprint MVNO Ting and pre-paid carrier Cricket Wireless will also host the Galaxy S4 as well.
The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD is also an LTE enabled phone though unlike the Galaxy S4, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD and its massive battery are confined to one network, Verizon’s.
Verizon is the only carrier to release Droid-branded devices and thus, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is only available on Verizon’s network. Fortunately, Verizon’s is the largest 4G LTE network in the land, dwarfing those of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile by hundreds of markets.
Until a few days ago, the Samsung Galaxy S4 price, at least in the United States, remained a mystery. Samsung failed to reveal it at the launch event and carriers remained mum on the subject. However, finally, we had a breakthrough.
AT&T has confirmed that it will be offering it for $250 on-contract though it’s unclear if that price is attached to the device’s 16GB, 32GB or 64GB model. Given that AT&T appears set to charge $250 for the 32GB HTC One, the lowest possible storage space, we imagine that that price could be for the 16GB variant.
If true, it means that the device could be $50 more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S3 was, across the board. Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon have not revealed pricing.
As for T-Mobile, it will be carrying the Galaxy S4 starting at $99. That price though will be the minimum down payment, not a subsidized price. That’s due to T-Mobile shifting to off-contract pricing entirely.
The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD pricing on the other hand is as clear as day. The device commands a $199.99 price tag from Verizon, down from its initial $299.99 price and is much cheaper through avenues like Amazon.
Through Amazon, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is a much cheaper, $80 on-contract, a price tag that won’t be found attached to the Galaxy S4 until much later in the year.