Is the Galaxy S4 going to disappoint you?

by: Simon HillFebruary 14, 2013


Are you excited about the Galaxy S4? Yeah, me too. Are you picturing a super phone the likes of which we’ve never seen before? So am I, but there’s a niggly feeling that won’t go away – what if we’re all expecting too much?

Building expectations

The original Galaxy S was a decent smartphone, but it was the Galaxy S2 that really catapulted Samsung into the Android limelight. You might ask now if Samsung is helping or hurting Android, but in 2011 the South Korean manufacturer helped Google’s platform to capture an ever increasing market share. The Galaxy S2 was streets ahead of the competition. Samsung looked at all the smartphones on the market and made sure its flagship was better in every respect. Powerful processor, big, high quality screen, slim form factor, microSD card slot, a quality camera, even 1080p video out.

at&t galaxy s2

Few people would argue that it was the phone of the year and it duly won the award at MWC in 2012. At MWC this year, in a few days’ time, it’s very hard to imagine any device other than the Galaxy S3 taking the title.

Samsung’s rise to glory with Android

For me the best phone of 2010 was the HTC Desire and it should have taken the 2011 MWC award, which went to the iPhone 4 instead. HTC did win manufacturer of the year, but Samsung was quick to take over as the Android poster boy with the Galaxy S2 and it hasn’t looked back. A recent report revealed that Samsung has 8 of the top 10 Android devices in use.

Samsung was the leading mobile phone manufacturer worldwide in 2012 with a 22 percent market share and if we just look at smartphone sales the share is even bigger. Samsung in the top spot sold 29 percent of all smartphones worldwide in 2012. Most of them were the Galaxy S3 or the Galaxy S2.

The success is well deserved. Samsung has improved in tune with the Android platform. The Galaxy S3 pushed on with the same strategy that had made the S2 so popular. Cutting edge specs, an even bigger and more beautiful display, a host of slight improvements to other features, and a commitment to the free spirit of Android with a removable battery and expandable storage. The S3 ticked everyone’s boxes.

Samsung Galaxy S3

If you had to criticize you’d point to the perception about poor build quality and plastic, but you could always counter with the fact that it’s lightweight and durable. Maybe you don’t like the TouchWiz interface or the bloatware? In truth it’s a mixed bag, some of Samsung’s tweaks are useful, some aren’t, but I’d still take the Galaxy S3 over the Nexus 4 for the expandable storage and the removable battery.

The next in line

We’ve seen the rumors on the Galaxy S4 and we can safely say it will sport an improved display. It looks like 1080p resolution is going to be the new standard for high end Android smartphones. Samsung can’t really increase the size much, if it goes over 5 inches then we’re heading out of smartphone territory and into phablet land.

Will it have an eight core processor? Probably not, but even if it does, we’re not seeing enough games that challenge the current quad-core offering and my S3 doesn’t stutter or lag so would it represent a big improvement? The camera is likely to be a bit better, but beyond that what are we getting? It’s not going to be a major departure with a flexible display or some revolutionary new feature.


The biggest improvement we’d all like to see is battery life and if Samsung can deliver a boost in this area thanks to a combination of more efficient components and a bigger battery then it will be appreciated, but it’s not enough to make an upgrade essential. It’s not like the phone will run without a charge for a week, it will probably go for a couple of hours longer than the S3.

Ever decreasing incremental improvements

The whole pattern with the Galaxy S series is starting to look familiar. The S3 offered a substantial improvement over the S2 which offered a huge improvement over the original Galaxy S. The S4 will offer a decent improvement over the S3, but the gap is getting smaller. The S4 doesn’t get handed the crown by default, Samsung has got to work at it. That’s exactly what many of us don’t like about the iPhone. Apple isn’t working to innovate and justify that top spot anymore and there’s an increasing reliance on the power of brand.

Samsung has definitely been building a brand with the S series. The marketing budget for the S3 has clearly dwarfed every other Android smartphone on the market, but Samsung has backed it up with a device that’s worth shouting about. Is the S4 going to do enough to be your next Android phone or is it going to rely on that consumer awareness?  The Sony Xperia Z definitely caught my attention, but I won’t get a new phone until I see what the S4 has to offer. Do you think the Galaxy S4 can improve on it in a major way? Will Samsung be content to rest on its laurels?

Sony Xperia Z

Competition is key

As much as I love my Galaxy S3 and I believe Samsung earned its dominant position with the S2 and S3, that dominance is a real concern. Historically major dominance in the smartphone market hasn’t fostered innovation. Look at the BlackBerry and then the iPhone. Samsung doesn’t have a great record on innovation already, is massive success going to drive it? Predictions that the S4 will sell 100 million before we’ve even seen it are cause for concern.

The failure of the rest of the Android manufacturers to put up a decent fight has been a real disappointment. We need competitors on the Android platform that can challenge Samsung. I won’t buy a new Android smartphone simply to support the underdog, they have to put up a credible contender, but I’m not going to pledge my undying loyalty for Samsung either. If the S4 doesn’t rise above the competition as an excellent smartphone then it’s time for me to move on, and I hope you’ll do the same.

  • I hope it disappoints, we have 3 year contracts in Canada ;)

  • rodpe


    Screens will stop at 1080p for some time. Almost all apps starts instantly and lag is no more a worry.

    I think the next frontier is the battery.

    • mrband

      Yep, I agree. We are entering at 1080p-postRetina world, and makes no sense going beyond that for a smartphone (in fact, even 1080p is an excess already).

  • I’m not expecting much from the GS4. That Xperia Z is pretty nice though.

  • Hikari0307

    As long as they don’t do something stupid like get rid of the micro sd slot like HTC did with their one x last year, I’m fine with an evolution of current specs, I expect a 1080p screen and quad core A15 SOC at least, a way bigger battery like the level of the razr maxx could be great though even though I suspect that there will be a bigger battery, it won’t go that big yet with most manufacturers this year. Though I would have gotten a nexus phone if only google would decide to include expandable storage through a micro sd or at least a 64gb or 128gb version of their nexus devices >_<
    In most parts of the world, cloud storage is useless in most places with unstable or unavailable signals for internet.

    I don't really care about it feeling or looking plasticky as long as there's a durable screen and it continues to be light since I always put a cover on anyway so if plastic is going to make it as light as possible, than go ahead, all I'm gonna feel is the cover and the screen and the cover is gonna add a bit of weight.

    As long as you don't have some crazy expectations like some iphone rumours every year, you won't be disappointed or be disappointed by much. I agree that competition is key on how it'll stand, I guess we'll get a glimpse of the competition during MWC this month.

  • Reginald Spence II

    Is the Galaxy S4 going to disappoint me? Yes it will if it continues to sport that doofy physical home button. It’s personal opinion and many people like it, but it irritates me. And now LG is doing the same thing. Either have all physical buttons, or all capacitive, or all on screen. Quit trying to be like Apple.

    • Filip Justin

      Buy Xperia Z or wait for Motorola.. Not everyone has to get a Galaxy smartphone..

      • Reginald Spence II

        Never said I was getting the s4 in the first place. I just said it would disappoint me personally with their button combo thing they have going on. I’m patiently waiting to see what that Motorola X phone is all about.

    • DAngelo8

      The physical home button is an asset. Samsung will continue with physical and capacitive buttons, not lame software buttons. That is one of the reasons the Galaxy products are the top sellers.

      • Guest

        I agree, but put the button, it on the side or top (Maybe a short click on the power button) and let the room it takes up on the front be used to get that bigger screen in to the smallest form factor handset.

        Also for those above, definately higher memory 64G at least and an SD card slot. As well as a fully functional bluetooth.

    • hoggleboggle

      i am in the camp that likes the physical button. in fact i would have preferred it if they had made the menu and back buttons physical as well. at least that would stop every non touchscreen user i hand my phone to from grasping the bottom edge and invariably hitting the back button.

      • lilboy

        Accidental button presses is one of the reasons why i like onscreen buttons, plus my Note 2 is sometimes hard to use in landscape becoz of those capacitive buttons are much too near the bottom edge and get activated by the palm of your hand. For you the problem is that the buttons are capacitive, but the real problem is that they are too close to the bottom edge, obviously. Just imagine if you had soft physical butons al the way down on the bottom edge? Noone would put physical buttons down down there! So why do samsung put capacitive buttons down down there! Stupid and impractical design.

  • MasterMuffin

    If your expectations are too high, then yes, it will disappoint, but if your expectations are “normal”, it will be an über beast. One point more: Remember the massive hype around sgs3 and how it “disappointed”, but it still became the best selling Android ever!

    • LuisEAP2124

      Until Motorola X phone comes……….

      • and when it come, everyone will still dissapointed.

        • Google gets to make the hardware compatible with the software of their making, much like Apple and the iPhone, for the first time ever, not the other way around. I think it will be entirely incredible. I’m thinking twice the Nexus 4 performance, better integration with Google Chrome, Extended API for developing more detailed games, Camera technology that utilizes Kodak’s patents (meaning F***ing insane), another tablet that introduces new technology, maybe a Chromebook and Google TV, and marketing power that Google has been accumulating between themselves and Motorola over the last 10 months brought out at once to make sure the stuff sells. Hopefully that would be for a cheap price as well. :-)

          • It took more than that to not dissapoint everyone. Screen quality, sound quality, camera quality, removable battery, sd card slot, etc. And as we all know, Motorola are behind any other OEM just in screen technology alone. Removable battery and sd card slot are features which many people still expect to have, and both were absent from the latest Nexus.

      • MasterMuffin

        That’s one phone more with mega hype behind it, but I believe it’s going to be as cool as hyped, Google FTW

    • RarestName

      They were only disappointed about the design. I wasn’t disappointed at all, actually.

      • MasterMuffin

        I think that the design is okay, maybe too Noteish <— own word, but you know what I mean right?

    • lilboy

      Yeah SGS4 will be the bestseller, Samsungs momentum and market penetration will see to that. Other phones can beat it in tests and benchmarks but it will not be enough to slow it down much.

  • Filip Justin

    Umm.. A15 CPU and 1080p AMOLED display.. Just these two hardware components will be unique on the market for some time(I know the AMOLED/OLED tech is kinda rare on smartphones). I will also point to the floating touch screen and extra software features..

  • ConCal

    I’ll be waiting for the Moto/Google X Phone.

  • kascollet

    – excellent quality screen (no more pentile, funny colors and low brightness PLEASE)
    – really powerfull GPU (would be a first for a Galaxy S)
    – keep the SD slot
    – LTE
    – better than average battery life
    … And I’m sold !

    • taz89

      i think we will get all…

  • Somedudes

    Micro nuclear power cell :)

  • hoggleboggle

    make the thing more impact resistant than the s3 (see the note 2 or gs2) and add the waterproof coating to it. stick a bigger battery into it and a physical camera button. that would be enough for me.

    • best garage door opener

      great post with nice stuff…

  • What the fuck you mean by “niggly”!

  • chaso

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who may be disappointed by the GS IV. I just wrote an article for PhoneDog outlining similar concerns.

  • Mark Korcchaj

    this guy talks about Galaxy S3 as the best Android phone. No man. The best android phone is American Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD. Galaxy S3 is plastic junk. Its too wide to hold comfortably and its Korean. HTC is Chinese. Korea and China doesn’t mean quality.

    • taz89

      american means quality lol you do know nearly everything is outsourced to countries like china

      • Mark Korcchaj

        they might put it together in China, but I look at the stuff they are made out of. Glass and metal on the outside. When I pay 600 for a phone, it damn better last 2-3 years at the minimum.

        • i have the nexus 4, would seriously consider the x phone if im blown away

        • taz89

          I wouldn’t call glass more durable than plastic… Definitely looks and feels cheap compared to glass but plastic is most likely to last you longer than a phone made out of glass.. Also my s2 is still in perfect condition and it’s hitting 2 years old.

          • gs1 user

            That’s right. Im still using s1. And it is still in good conditon. Talk about durability.

    • Netto

      Most of the electronic gadgets and appliances in my house are from either Korean or Japanese companies and they sure seems to have great quality to me and a whole bunch of people lasting for years. I’ve lived in some parts of asia and aussie and it’s the same thing with lots of people I met. Their quality sure seems better than some overpriced american products in store. American products isn’t really what comes to mind when lots of people around the world think about quality.

      • Mark Korcchaj

        I say Korea and China, not Japanese.

      • th3d

        Im so very disagree in this. Quality audio for example, or lets say car stereo, there are no japanese brands that can reach up to the ancles of the big names from USA. Soundstream amplifiers, JBL speakers, now compare that to Sony and Pioneer setups, its nowhere near the same league. Sure not all of these are manufactured in the states but i do believe Soundstreams higher end products are still made in USA with spacecraft grade epoxy curcuit boards and soldering that meets NASA specs.

        And for US products manufactured in China, the chinese would not be able to construct that on their own, and with americans in charge of Q&C procedures it is the perfect blend of american know-how and chinese manufacturing costs. Im not even american, but i love american quality. Those who think asia is hightech can only look at US superiority in military tech, obviously not engineered and made by obsolete US engineers and lazy workers, bleeding edge technology by the worlds best engineers and highest skilled workers. Asia is decades behind, with the mighty china still relying on old russian technology.

  • Lara

    Mark my words; gs5 will come with 5.2″/5.3″ screen. Everyone wants a bigger (the biggest) screen these days. Screens around the 4.5″ size are still great. People want s pen with s4, are you kidding me? If you want s pen get note 2. S4 will disappoint if expectations are too high and people will be

  • shuruj mia

    Only improving the hardware will not make it better

    -1080p AMOLED,

    -floating touch screen,

    -quad core A15 CPU SOC,

    -64gb or 128gb memory,

    -2GB RAM


    -better battery,

    -better camera

    all these are just better in spec of existing but they are not new functions (except floating touch screen; don’t know what it is).

    to become the best they have to keep

    – replaceable battery &

    – SD slot

    and they have to add

    to beat X Phone they have to add

    following wish lish will make it appealing to many

    -a mini detachable QWERT with battery casing will be awesome

    -a night dock with HDMI out

    -a watch (like pebble) will attract the health concious people

    -integrated ‘find my phone’ feature

    -built-in content RATING apps (to prevent kids from adult contents) will attract parents

    -wireless charging

    -stylus (like Galaxy Note),

    -barometer (is it already there with S3/Note/GNex/Nex4)

    samsung will need to do more stuff on softwares services to make

    • “a mini detachable QWERT with battery casing will be awesome”

      YES. Please.

      “a night dock with HDMI out”

      Why call it “night” dock if it has HDMI? I’d use it to watch movies on the big screen =D

      “integrated ‘find my phone’ feature”

      it’s already there, mate.

      “-stylus (like Galaxy Note),”

      Just buy the Note ¬¬

  • Even at the time of GS1, it’s the only Android phone which didn’t sucks! (Motorola Droid / X, Sony Ericcson X10 which doesn’t even support multi-touch, HTC Desire with it’s horrible camera … ) Remember how every Android phone lag and stutter just from zooming image on gallery, let alone web browser, It was also the only Android phone which support Video Call via 3G / UMTS.

  • Thomas Vales

    I just got a note 2 for christmas and cant really see them improving on too much more. Most of my wants for the phone are software tweeks anyway.

  • yungqb7

    Definitely not. I’m running 2.3.6 on my LG Revolution. So this is definitely a phone worth waiting a few more months for. Even though I could get an GS3 now lol

  • taz89

    well if your expectations are over the top then course its going to be disappointing ..the same happened with the s3 people were expecting things that just wasnt going to happen and i remember most techies were disappointed but then the s3 just and broke pretty much any android records. the s4 will be like all the other flagships, have 1080p screen,2 gb ram,quad core minimum etc etc but just like with the s3 the unique selling point will be the software…hardware today is good enough to do everthing so todays smartphone for me who provides the best software and software features.

  • jeremy

    Just ordered my Nexus 4 should be here early next week. Im thinking that will be my new toy until the next Nexus. I think Xphone is going to be amazing, but I doubt it will make me want to dump my Nexus 4 for it……..Don’t quote me on this. lmao I suck at keeping the same phone. Can barely make it 6 months these days. Goodbye Optimus G

  • jeremy

    Oh I forgot this was about the GS4 Lol Apparently It will disappoint at least me. Can’t stand touchwiz….at all!!

  • marky

    As usual a phone with better specs… but where is the innovation??

  • Twisted247

    Considering Samsung forsees sales of 100million+ would lead any reasonable thinking person to believe the S4 will be no slouch by any means.. Look at how much Samsung made in profits across the board last year, their highest yet. therefore they had the big dollars to dump into the s4’s launch to make sure it’s a beast and a force that will NOT be reckoned with, with exception to its own line like the Beastly Note3

  • Shawn

    Please, they’re gonna have that octa core processor and people aren’t gonna know what to do with that much speed and fluidity! I do hope it gives stock apps such as the phone, contacts, and messaging a little upgrade though, I think that’s duly needed.

  • Emma

    Why you guys hating on Sammy?

    • MasterMuffin

      Because it’s cool nowadays, everything that’s popular will get soon haters(like Apple), that’s just how people work :)

  • Bone

    All rumors point toward a great device, question is whether it’s worth upgrading if you have an S3? Personally I’m in the 2-year category, so if you have an S2, Note or Galaxy Nexus, an upgrade will be a great choice, if you have an S3 and Note II, I’d give them another year.

  • Simon Belmont

    Ha. You said “streets ahead.”

    Someone watches Community. Pierce Hawthorne.

  • me

    Uber plastic c…p :)

  • lilboy

    I feel the performance is saturated for now. My Note 2 does not have a performance problem, but it has problem with the low PPI making small text ugly and harder to read, and the amoled does have some color banding and clipping issues. So, out with low PPI AMOLED and in with high PPI LCD. SGS4 will give me the high PPI but i do not want the AMOLED issues anymore, and that means i do not need to wait for SGS4 but go for the Xperia Z right away.

    Now IF the display turn out to be excellent, then i may look at it again, or maybe not, because this is what we already know (99%+ sure) about Sgs4:
    1. Build quality/materials not up to the mark
    2. Mediocre design
    3. Heavy and awkward UI

    No thanx, im still not very interested. But i hope its good enough, i dont want everyone else to also buy Xperia Z, i dont like to have the same as everyone else, i prefer that everyone else have SGS4 =)

  • egk

    Beautiful article…kudos

  • skyxavier

    S4 it using exynos 5 octa