updated 12:25 pm EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Reviews complain about build-quality, feature failures
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has seen mostly positive comments from technology publications, in reviews published today. The general tone across the board seems to be that the new Samsung flagship device is a nice step-up from its predecessor, the Galaxy S III, consumers will be forced to choose between the extra features the S4 provides with the design of the similar-in-specification HTC One.
Brent Rose of Gizmodo prefers the unibody design of the HTC One over the Galaxy S4, though he does praise its 5-inch display and thin side bezels, calling it "easily the nicest Samsung has ever made." While the 441ppi pixel density and popping colors of the Super AMOLED display are praised, he continues "That being said, we still slightly prefer the screen on the HTC One. There's something about it that looks matte, like a magazine, and colors are more accurate."
Over at The Verge, David Pierce actively disliked the physical build of the Galaxy S4. "I don't like holding this phone, and I can't overstate how much of that informs the experience of using it. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand." The software features list of the Galaxy S4 is praised, though some aspects are not: "I like the apps and services Samsung adds to the Android experience here, but I'm less enamored with all the ways Samsung has reimagined how you'll want to actually interact with your cellphone."
Brad Molen writing for Engadget also picks up on the plastic-only design and its relative similarity to the Galaxy S III, but seems to reserve his ire for the extra features introduced with the smartphone. Smart Scroll, where the phone tracks head movements to scroll a page, was found to be unreliable under a number of circumstances, while Smart Pause was found to work only in pre-loaded apps and in regular light. In the end, Molen gives the Galaxy S4 a generally positive review, though calls the Samsung entry predictable. "If you're considering a move from an older Samsung device, the GS 4 is absolutely the handset you want."
Echoing similar sentiments from other reviewers, Walt Mossberg for All Things D found little in the way of success with features using eye and head detection, but still praised a number of other aspects. Hardware specifications, such as the screen resolution and camera, were said to shine, though the build quality felt insubstantial. Despite the minor victories, Mossberg urges "readers looking for a new Android smartphone to carefully consider the more polished-looking, and quite capable, HTC One, rather than defaulting to the latest Samsung."
Finally, David Pogue of the New York Times suggests that, in a similar manner to how Apple started to play it safe with the design of the iPhone after it became an iconic item, Samsung is doing the same thing after the success of the Galaxy S III, offering the idea that Samsung could have possibly called it the Galaxy S3S as a minorly-upgraded model. In the end, Pogue declares the Galaxy S4 as a good choice for advanced users and the "easily overwhelmed," thanks to the phone's Easy Mode, though "For everyone else, the S4 may be buggy in spots and laden with not-quite-there features."