Samsung’s Galaxy S III was one of the most successful Android smartphones of all time, but is the Galaxy S4 a worthy successor?
In a word: yes. The Galaxy S4 manages to build on the framework that helped Samsung sell over 40 million Galaxy S III devices in the first seven months, and it packs in new features and better specs to keep it competitive with the likes of the HTC One and other high-end Android devices.
Reviewing the Galaxy S4 isn’t an easy task. That isn’t because the phone is bad — far from it — but there are so many new features in both software and hardware, it’s hard to know where to start and when to stop talking.
I ran benchmarks In Geekbench 2, a popular tool for comparing different device benchmarks across platforms, and the Galaxy S4 performed extremely well. In my tests, the Galaxy S4 managed a score of 3259. To put that in perspective, our Galaxy S III (running Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean) — one of the best performers of 2012 — scored a 1343. This is despite having a bigger, higher-resolution screen.
The camera on the Galaxy S4 is now 13 megapixels (up from 8 on the Galaxy S III) on the rear and 2 megapixels on the front. The bigger story, however, is with the camera software.
Taking cues from the Galaxy Camera, Samsung has redesigned the entire user interface. That’s a good thing, as the old software was clunky and hard to use.
Using Samsung’s revamped WatchOn software (which is still powered by Peel), users can configure different rooms of their home or office with different device types. Even better, the remote control functionality is not limited to Samsung products.
I like some of the design changes, especially to the layout of the settings menu and app. I also like how the drop-down notification area can be customized and ordered for easy access to sensors and features.
With the Samsung Hub, it’s clear Samsung wants to try to create its own branded content ecosystem the same way Apple has with iTunes and the App Store.
The Galaxy S III was a great phone. The Galaxy S4 is even better. If you have a Galaxy S III, fear not — many of the software features will come to that device and the Galaxy Note II in the future.
For new smartphone buyers seeking a high-end Android handset: The Galaxy S4 is easily one of the strongest phones on the market.