Samsung Galaxy S4: 5 New Things to Know

The Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphone, has finally touched down in regions across the globe, including in the United States where it has landed on the nation’s five largest carriers. And while many of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s features, including release dates and pricing, have been detailed, there are still some features that are lurking under the surface that consumers should know about. Here, we detail five new things that consumers should know about Samsung’s brand new Galaxy S.

In March, Samsung announced the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to replace the Samsung Galaxy S3 as the company’s flagship. As expected the next-generation model touched down with some extremely powerful features in both the hardware and software departments.

The Galaxy S4 has replaced the Galaxy S3 in the U.S.

The Galaxy S4 has replaced the Galaxy S3 in the U.S.

As expected, the Galaxy S4 touched down with upgrades including a larger 5-inch 1080p display, a faster quad-core processor, an improved 13MP camera, smarter software from Samsung and the device also became the first Samsung smartphone to feature Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, the latest out of Google.

And while the features are locked down, the Galaxy S4 launch in the U.S. still hasn’t completely settled and consumers are still left with quite a few questions about the device.

As we have touched on many times, the Samsung Galaxy S4 release in the U.S. has been confusing at best, with delayed release dates, uninformative carriers, delayed shipments at third-party retailers and more. In fact, we’re still gathering information about the Galaxy S4’s arrival in the United States.

With all of the information swirling about and with the Galaxy S4 release set to finish up this month with its arrival on Verizon, we want to take a look at what we consider to be the five most important new details that we’ve learned about the Samsung Galaxy S4 here in the United States.

These won’t be the things that carriers are talking about but instead are features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that may have been overlooked by consumers who already bought the Galaxy S4 or are planning to buy one in the future.

AT&T Galaxy S4 Bootloader is Locked, Sprint’s Isn’t

One major tidbit that we’ve learned over the past few weeks and that all buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the United States should know is that the bootloader situation on the Galaxy S4 has devolved into a bit of a mess.

Here is what we know so far. The AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader is locked down tight which means that without an unlock, users won’t be able to install custom hardware, one of the perks of buying an Android device. Fortunately, there appears to be a bootloader unlock courtesy of Dan Rosenberg who says that he will release it sometime after the Verizon Galaxy S4 arrives. The Verizon Galaxy S4 is expected to have a locked bootloader as well.

Proof of an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader unlock.

The AT&T Galaxy S4 bootloader is locked.

Of course, as we’ve reported, this isn’t the case for all Galaxy S4 models. Sprint confirmed to Gotta Be Mobile that the Sprint Galaxy S4 ships with an unlocked bootloader which means that users won’t have to utilize any tools to install custom software. This makes it ideal for novice users.

T-Mobile’s Galaxy S4 bootloader situation is a little less clear as is the situation at U.S. Cellular but so far, they haven’t been confirmed to be locked down like AT&T’s.

This is not a deal breaker for most users but it’s still something that they should know about.

16GB Doesn’t Mean You Get 16GB

In recent days, we’ve learned that the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB comes with about half of its storage available for consumers to use for things like photos, video, apps and more. That means that instead of a 16GB Galaxy S4, consumers are buying something that is more like an 8GB Galaxy S4.

Carriers do warn consumers that devices don’t actually have the amount of space that is advertised, but it’s always in small print or presented with confusing language.

Proof of an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader unlock.

The AT&T Galaxy S4 bootloader is locked.

This isn’t too much of a problem for some users as the Galaxy S4 has a 64GB microSD card slot which bumps the storage space up to at least 72GB. That’s quite a bit for the average user. For the power user though, this may be a little limiting. It also will be an annoyance for those that use the bust shot mode on the camera as it does not let users save photos to the microSD card slot.

So why do consumers need to know this? Well, it essentially means that users are going to need to buy a microSD card which differ in price, depending on how large they are. It also means that users who don’t wish to buy one, or still need more storage, are going to depend upon cloud storage a lot more than they normally would.

32GB & 64GB Models Remain Missing in U.S.

Sadly, those looking for more internal storage space won’t have an easy go in the United States. Here in the U.S., the announced 32GB and 64GB models have been missing in action. Here is what we’ve heard so far about the 32GB Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S4 64GB in the U.S.:

  • AT&T: 32GB confirmed to be coming soon, 64GB up in the air.
  • Sprint: Dodged the question when asked, remains up in the air.
  • T-Mobile: Dodged the question, issued vague response.
  • U.S. Cellular: Remains silent.
  • Verizon: Confirmed to us that it won’t carry the 32GB Galaxy S4 making a 64GB Galaxy S4 unlikely.

What this means is that there is a potential for AT&T to be the only U.S. carrier to offer something outside of the 16GB Galaxy S4 model. And even then, the carrier won’t confirm a date for the device’s arrival, only saying that it will be coming soon.

So for those that need more space, we suggest waiting, but for those heading to carriers other than AT&T, the wait might be indefinite.

Verizon Galaxy S4 Could Arrive Early

Pre-orders are open for the Verizon Galaxy S4 ahead of its official release date of May 30th. Those pre-ordering, at least through Verizon, should know that there is a slim chance that pre-orders could arrive a few days ahead of its release date.

Verizon is now taking orders for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The Verizon Galaxy S4 hits stores on May 30th. Pre-orders could arrive before that.

We saw AT&T ship out its Galaxy S4 a couple of days before its in-store release date and Verizon could definitely look to reward Verizon Galaxy S4 owners with the same.

Something else to keep in mind is that Verizon merely confirmed May 30th as the in-store release date so it’s possible that online could feature a different date though thus far, that remains uncertain and probably unlikely.

Extended Battery is a Worthwhile Purchase

The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with an absolutely massive stock battery, 2600 mAh to be exact, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to come through with all day battery life. Remember, the Galaxy S4 sports some pretty powerful hardware that can use up a lot of juice, particularly the 5-inch 1080p display.

All four GBM team members who own the Samsung Galaxy S4 claim that they are seeing battery life draining fairly quickly with one specifically saying that he gets about nine hours of use or the equivalent to the time he got with the stock battery on the Galaxy S3. While that might be good enough for some, others will likely want to think about investing in an extended battery.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is facing delays due to high demand.

It’s probably going to be worth investing in an extended or external battery.

What this means is that those who are buying the Samsung Galaxy S4 might want to consider picking up an extended battery for the Samsung Galaxy S4. Whether that’s by purchasing an extended battery itself or a case that offers more juice is up to the consumer.

While they will cost money, they will likely be well worth their cost in the long run.