updated 11:00 am EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
New features for Galaxy flagship
Samsung's first batch of Galaxy S 4 smartphones is set to arrive at US carriers this week. Electronista checked out the flagship Android phone at the company's New York launch event, when the software bugs were still being worked out, but now we've taken a closer look at the production model that will be headed to Sprint on April 27.
From the outside, the S 4 does not look much different than its predecessor or any of Samsung's other Galaxy-series devices, such as the Note II. Most buyers probably will not have any problem with the design, but others may be looking for something with the higher-quality feel of the HTC One or other Android offerings.
The S 4 is one of the largest Android phones on the market, integrating a five-inch display, though a thin bezel and compact housing enable the phone to be easily pocketed. With 1920x1080 resolution, it also has a great pixel density and enables Full HD video playback without downscaling.
A 13-megapixel camera is paired with a two-megapixel front shooter and a variety of software-driven capabilities. Users can shoot simultaneous front- and rear-facing shots, HDR, stills while recording video, burst shots or animated photos, among other modes.
Like the Note II, the S 4 enables users to view content previews by hovering their finger over the screen, while gesture-based controls can also be used for media playback and other features. An infrared transmitter is yet another unique enhancement, providing a direct method for controlling a televisiona and other A/V equipment via an integrated universal-remote app.
Samsung has succeeded in piling on features that are not inherent to the core Android OS, however we still characterize some of these as experimental. The Smart Scroll option, for instance, is designed to follow the user's eye movement and automatically scroll down a page. It didn't consistently work for us, but it isn't something that Samsung highlights in its marketing materials and it is turned off by default.
Sprint is currently taking pre-orders for the S 4, which carries a $250 price tag for new customers. Subscribers willing to defect from another carrier can receive a $100 credit.