Samsung Galaxy S4: 5 Things to Know

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is set to arrive in just a few weeks after an announcement last month in New York City. As many consumers have surely found out, there are quite a few features on board the Samsung Galaxy S4, so many, that it’s likely hard to see some of the more important ones. Here, we take a look at five of the more important things that consumers should know about the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5.

Last month, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Samsung took the wraps off of the Galaxy S4, a device that will be replacing the Galaxy S3 on shelves over the next month or so in regions across the world. In some places, the device is poised to arrive in just two weeks, in others like the United States, it may not arrive for at least three or more.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Battle for the Best Smartphone.

The Galaxy S4 will face the iPhone 5 when it arrives later this month.

Now that the device is official and will be coming in just a few weeks, consumers will have some tough choices ahead of them. The Samsung Galaxy S4 may be one of the top upcoming smartphones, but it’s not the only one. Devices like the HTC One will be coming to shelves in the United States later this month and devices like the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 already are out, enticing owners with their unique features.

Of course, the Galaxy S4 is going to be a hard one to pass up as it features impressive hardware including a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core processor, 13MP camera, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a load of smart Samsung software features. But it’s not just the visible, most-talked about features of the Galaxy S4 that make it attractive, or unattractive to consumers.

Instead, there are some underlying, less discussed features that we feel are equally as important as the resolution of the display or the performance of the processor. Here now are five extremely important things to know about the Samsung Galaxy S4, things that may not have been on the radar of most consumers.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Contract

While the processing power and the screen resolution are important features to consider, one of the biggest things to consider about a phone is whether or not it will last through the duration of a new two-year contract. While many are opposed to signing contracts and prefer to go off-contract, many consumers still love that subsidized pricing and don’t mind the structure of a contract.

Problem is, many phones won’t last that long. One, because they don’t feature a durable design and are susceptible to damage. Two, they aren’t updated with the latest software which means lack of new features and either missing or lengthy waits for bug fix updates. This is a big problem for Android devices.

With the Samsung Galaxy S4, buyers won’t have to worry about signing a contract. While much of the talk has been about how Samsung has moved toward Apple in terms of sales, something else they have taken from the Cupertino-based company is a focus on longevity.

The Galaxy S4 features a slim, lightweight design that also will be durable.

The Galaxy S4 features a slim, lightweight design that also will be durable.

What that means is that like Apple, Samsung supports its older devices by constantly delivering big updates, with new Google and Samsung features on board, well into the duration of their life. For example the Galaxy S2 from 2011 just got Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an update that was just rolled out for the AT&T HTC One X, a phone from 2012.

Furthermore, Samsung has built the Galaxy S4 with durability in mind. The front of the display is made of Gorilla Glass 3, Corning’s new technology that should prevent scratching and cracks, and a plastic back that while maybe not consumers first choice, is extremely durable. As we mentioned when we went hands on with the Galaxy S4, it feels a lot more sturdy than the Galaxy S3.

Staggered U.S. Release Dates

Unfortunately, unlike other places, those in the United States looking to buy the Galaxy S4 are without specific release dates for the four of the five carriers that will offer the Galaxy S4. T-Mobile is the only one with a specific Galaxy S4 release date, and it will be offering it on May 1st.

As for the other four, AT&T and U.S. Cellular will be taking pre-orders on April 16th ahead of unknown release dates while Sprint and Verizon remain completely silent.

While we don’t know four of the five dates, interested Galaxy S4 buyers in the U.S. should not expect the Galaxy S4 U.S. release to take place all on one day like the iPhone release. Instead, buyers should expect staggered release dates with some carriers, hint – Verizon, releasing the device on later dates than others.

Price Drops After Galaxy S4 Release

Retailers like Amazon typically offer discounts shortly after release.

Retailers like Amazon typically offer discounts shortly after release.

So far, we’ve seen AT&T and T-Mobile confirm pricing for the Galaxy S4 while other confirmations will come at a later date. The Galaxy S4 price in the U.S. will likely start at $199.99 on-contract, AT&T’s pricing is pretty telling, while T-Mobile will offer the device starting at $99.

Remember, T-Mobile has shifted to unsubsidized pricing and it won’t be offering the Galaxy S4 or any other devices with on-contract discount pricing. Instead, in exchange for off-contract data plans, customers will be obligated to pay for the full price of the Galaxy S4 which will likely be over $600.

While $199.99 is the standard for smartphones these days, it’s not going to be affordable for some people. Others may just be looking for a Galaxy S4 bargain. As we’ve seen, both should be able to benefit shortly after the Galaxy S4 release in the U.S.

Typically, third-party retailers sell Galaxy devices and we have no doubt that retailers like Amazon will be offering up several different Galaxy S4 variants. Usually, Amazon has them shortly after their arrive for prices lower than the carriers. At first, it will only be $20 to $30 off but after several weeks, we may see some more drastic price cuts.

Those who aren’t willing to shell out the $199.99 or $249.99 for the 32GB model will likely want to wait a few weeks to buy the Galaxy S4.

Lack of Android 5.0 Isn’t Alarming

Rumors are swirling about an Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie launch at Google I/O, something that may alarm those who might be interested in buying the Galaxy S4. That’s because the device is running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, an older version of Android that first arrived back in November of last year.

Our advice to those who may be a little worried or frustrated about the lack of Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie is simple. Don’t be alarmed. First of all, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is a perfectly good update. In fact, the Galaxy S4 will be one of the first devices touting it as its stock Android software.

Second, Samsung has loaded up the Galaxy S4 with so many intriguing software features that future Galaxy S4 owners should have quite a bit to tinker, fiddle and use during the wait for Android 5.0.

And third, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will likely be one of the first to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie if it’s announced and released in the next few weeks. Samsung did a fantastic job of getting its Galaxy S3 updated to Android 4.1 in a speedy manner and we imagine that it will try and please its new Galaxy S4 owners with a fast Android 5.0 update.

That type of commitment goes a long way with consumers.

16GB Galaxy S4 Is OK

The Galaxy S4 comes with a microSD card slot.

The Galaxy S4 comes with a microSD card slot.

Finally, as we’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S4 is going to be coming in two different variants in the United States, at least to AT&T’s network. We imagine that other carriers will follow suit as well. Those that saw AT&T’s pricing for the device, $199.99 for 16GB and $249.99 for the 32GB, might be wondering if it’s worth shelling out the extra $50 or if the 16GB model is enough.

Plain and simple, it comes down to how consumers use the phone. However what we will say is that the 16GB Galaxy S4 should be fine for most people. That’s because Samsung was gracious enough to include a microSD card slot that can support up to 64GB in expanded storage.

This means that users of the 16GB can buy the device for $199.99 or cheaper and tack on 64GB of space that brings it up to 80GB total. That is a ton of storage and more than enough for average users.

So for most people, the Galaxy S4 16GB will be perfect.