The next generation of the Samsung Galaxy S line of phones is the Galaxy S 4, and at first glance the phone is not much different. It has an updated processor that is much faster, and sports a 1.9 GHz  quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor.  Elsewhere in the world the  S4 sports a 8-core Samsung Exynos 5 Octa Chip. The camera is a whopping 13 MP, that allows for dual shot mode — dual-shot mode uses both the front and the rear facing cameras to create a composite photo or video. The other big feature is all the neat touch-less/eye tracking features the phone has to offer. They allow you to wave over the phone to answer phone calls, move widgets around the home screen, scroll a webpage down by tilting your chin down,  and when you look away from a Youtube video the video will pause. Air view is where you hover your finger above say Flipboard and a quick overview of information will pop up. Samsung has built in the usual NFC, S Beam, and screen mirroring. The S4 much like the S3 has the ability to have multi window, but on the S4 the phone is so much faster and it does not slow down. Much of the marketing for the S4 has been around their camera’s ability to take amazing shots, their gesture control, air view, and eye tracking features. It is less about the speed and power of the phone which most users care less about.The features are more than likely make its way to the Note and other Galaxy S phones, well once the fanfare around these features die down.

Camera

The camera is not only a high pixel camera packed into a little box, it’s also backed with some pretty cool modes that set the camera apart from its competitors. The front facing camera is only 2 MP which I consider small but can shoot 720p video. There are 13 modes to select from that can make your bland imagine into something on a whole nother level. One feature that I have been suprised no one else has let users have is the dual camera mode. The dual camera mode once again lets you shoot with both the front and rear facing cameras to create a picture with both images.

The sound and shot mode is interesting because it is a still photo that allows you to attach audio to the image. Yes it does sound like a video, but Samsung wanted to be different with just an image and sound. It is cool to send a happy birthday song to a grandmother or wish mom happy mothers day. The Drama Shot lets you take multiple photos, in a short amount of time. It works best to capture a person moving, and in their example, someone doing a lay up. The mode shoots over a 100 images, and after the you have taken the photo the processed drama image will appear. You can add and remove frames if the picture does not come out perfect at first. Animated photo is Samsung’s built in GIF creator. If you are unfamiliar with GIF you have been living under a rock for the past two years. A GIF is a few still images strung together to create the appearance of a short video. The Easer mode is interesting because it says it will remove extraneous people and objects moving through the image frame. When you don’t want that person photo bombing your picture then choose easer mode to ensure that even if they manage to jump in they won’t be seen in the picture. The camera in video mode is able to capture slow motion, fast motion, and normal speed video.

Gesture Control

The Galaxy S4 is able to detect gestures near the phone, but without actually touching the phone. While the feature is on you are able to:

  • answer the phone by waving your hand in front of the screen

  • quickly check information on your phone without having to pick the phone up. While the phone is on a table or desk you can wave your hand over the device and a quick glance screen will appear that shows texts, phone messages, battery power remaining, information about the current song playing.

  • Flip through photos by waving your hand to one side or the other.

  • Explore through web pages by waving your hand up or down or side to side to switch tabs.

These features are really cool, and these work really well. Now how often do people want to use these is the question. I do use the quick check wave, but if I am using the phone on a web page I am already holding it so I can use my fingers. If I want to answer a call by waving it works, but puts it into normal mode without the speaker one. Which means I then have to touch the phone to turn on the speaker.

The Air view hovering feature detects when your finger is hovering over the screen. Hover over a message and it will give you a quick glance about that message, email, or calendar event. One major app that is integrated deeply with this is Flipboard, and for better or worse. This hovering because annoying very quickly because when you move from one area of the phone to another you don’t pick your finger way up just a little not to touch anything. Though with the air view it detects your finger moving across and happens a lot when you don’t want to use it but when you were trying to touch something else. It works great but for my style not what I want and it can easily be turned off in the settings.

Another big draw of the phone is the ability to track your eyes which it does very poorly. When your watching a Youtube video and you glance away the video will pause till you look back then it will resume. When you’re on a web page you’re able to scroll up or down by tilting your head down or up. The video playing feature works here and there but more often than not it is unable to tell when you’re really looking or if you’re not. The scroll up and down was complete garbage, I was unable to use it at all. If Samsung can improve on tracking the eyes these features can be a huge deal, right now they are gimmicky and need a lot of improvement. Many people go for the cool features that sooner or later the other flagship phones like the Note II will get.

 

Overview

Overall the S4 is not a huge upgrade from the S3, besides a little speed boost and some cool gesture controls. The phone is nice, lightweight, very slim, and looks amazing. The gesture controls are nice, but they don’t work very well and is better of off. I would recommend the S4 over other Android phones with the amazing camera. The phone has everything in it to be great, but Samsung does not manage to hit the nail on the head. Touchwiz can lag at some points, and samsung enjoys throwing two ways to download all sorts of media. They have the Google store, or in other words the Play Store, and then you have the Samsung backed stores. I am a veteran Android user so I know the difference between the two market places, but many first timers may fall for Samsungs tricks and use their market places instead. As I see the phone most of the features that they boast about are just bark and no bite. You be the judge and tell us your thoughts on the phone.

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Antony was born in Kerala, India, raised in Doha, Qatar. He works as a Systems/Network Manager.Antony’s interests don’t always seem to cross paths: football and technology. However, Antony is just as much a fan of Manchester United as he is of gizmos, maybe a bit more.
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