The Friday Debate: what do you think about the Galaxy S4?

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 15, 2013

The-Friday-Debate aa Image: Evan Forester/Flickr

We are all mobile geeks, here at Android Authority. We love everything with a power button. We like to comment the latest news and endlessly argue over which phone is better. On the Friday Debate, we pick a hot issue and proceed to discuss it. Join us!

The Samsung Galaxy S4 finally landed this week, and let me tell you, we’re a bit relieved that we no longer need to speculate. That said, as it often happens in the rumor-ridden world of tech, some feel that the Galaxy S4 does not leave up to their expectations.

Was it the new, almost-like-the-old-one design? Was it the fact that the Galaxy S4 leaked days ahead of the launch event (which wasn’t that good either) in all its glory? I don’t know, perhaps we are all just jaded. Still, some are thoroughly impressed by the new Galaxy S, and needless to say, the phone will sell in huge numbers.

On this week’s Friday Debate, the question is – what do you think about the Galaxy S4?

Read our arguments, vote in our poll, join the debate in the comments section!

Robert Triggs (G+): Nice hardware, software not so much

Hardware wise the Galaxy S4 is pretty much everything I’d want in a smartphone and stacks up nicely against top of the line handsets available from competitors like HTC and Sony. Great screen, great camera, powerful processors, there’s nothing lacking in this department.

I do feel like Samsung spent a little too long working on features which aren’t really that important. Like a touchscreen that works with gloves, Smart Pause eye tracking technology, or Sound Shot? I feel that consumers are likely to just forget about those features once they’ve opened the box.

I’m not totally sold on the direction that Samsung has in mind for some of its software either. S Health, and Group Play for music seem too niche to immediately interest many consumers. Who’s going to chose ten Galaxy S4s blaring out a tune over a decent stereo system? Come on Samsung.

But Samsung did get a few other things right. Including its own proprietary translation and dual video chat software helps the Samsung ecosystem feel that bit more all inclusive.

Overall I think the Galaxy S4 is going to be great smartphone, but perhaps next time someone else should write the presentation.

Samsung Galaxy S4 3 aa 600

Brad Ward (G+): Samsung, you just tried too hard

The hardware is very nice. The Galaxy S4 has a stunning display, a powerful processor, no matter what region you live in, and has some really good camera technology. The guts of Samsung’s next flagship is very appealing, but the software? Ugh.

In my eyes, Samsung tried too hard this time. They created tons of proprietary apps and then claimed that the Galaxy S4 was a “life companion” Who is really going to use things like Group Play and Drama Shot? Not a lot of people.

The biggest release of the year, for me, has to be the biggest disappointment so far. JK Shin said the word of the night was innovation. It should have been bloatware.

samsung galaxy s4 vs iPhone 5 4 aa 600

Mike Andrici (G+): shut up and take my money

The Samsung Galaxy S4 features the best SAMOLED display currently available, the fastest internals around, not to mention that it is also one of the most compact smartphones with a 5 inch display.

Add all the array of unique software tweaks that Samsung has fitted in their TouchWiz interface, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 seems to be the single best Android smartphone unveiled so far.

Some might argue that only a few of the software tweaks are really useful, but hey, at least Samsung made the effort to bring something new and potentially useful to the custom Android UI table. In my opinion, the user-removable battery and microSD card slot will give the Galaxy S4 more of an edge over other 5 inch 1080p Android smartphones (*cough HTC One *cough) than these software tweaks.

As far as I’m concerned, no one should be disappointed by Samsung’s announcement! The only downside to the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a not very premium design, but other than that, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the best smartphone that Samsung can currently put together.

samsung galaxy s4 10 aa 600

David Gonzales (G+): Samsung is no longer the up-and-comer

Many people are calling the Samsung Galaxy S4 a major disappointment, naming it the biggest letdown of the consumer electronics sector so far this year. But I think it’s a bit too early to call it that.

While it’s true that Samsung pretty much went into overdrive in terms of promoting not just its Galaxy range of smartphones but also its tablets, notebooks, and other electronic devices, it didn’t blow up the promise of the Galaxy S4 all by itself. It had a little help from the Internet hype machine.

The phone itself actually isn’t all that bad. If you take away all the cheesy lines and theatrics, it’s still one of the most impressively feature-rich handsets ever created. The hardware is right, and the software add-ons are all potentially very useful even though they’re referred to as gimmicks.

It’s clear to me that Samsung’s aim now is no longer to get to the top, but to stay there indefinitely. And that’s why they’re delivering more of the same with the Galaxy S4.

And at least they’re not calling it magical. Because that would be gimmicky.

samsung galaxy S4 logo aa 600

Adrian Diaconescu (G+): More like the current big thing

“The next big thing”? Not really. More like the current big thing and only by a whisker. “One of the most amazing products to hit the market since TVs went color”? Definitely not. And yet the Samsung Galaxy S4 is going to undoubtedly be a hit. Maybe even a bigger hit than the GS3.

Does it deserve to snatch away the crown from HTC’s One, Sony’s Xperia Z or LG’s Optimus G Pro? Yes and no. Yes, because it’s slim, compact, it has an outstanding display and probably an unbeatable processor both in its international and North American variation (for now).

No, because, say what you will, plastic is no longer the way to go. Also, it lacks that “je ne sais quoi” in its design. As for software add-ons and features, they make use of futuristic technologies like eye and hand tracking, but they’re not quite at that point where they combine the wow factor with actual usefulness.

Bottom line, the GS4 simply doesn’t feel like as major an upgrade as the S3 was for the S2. Not to mention the Galaxy Note 2 problem – the six-month old device made also by Samsung that’s only slightly inferior to the new guy.

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Derek Ross (G+): Samsung, it’s not you, it’s me

I’m not sure if I’ve turned into a hardware snob as a tech enthusiast or if Samsung just didn’t impress me. The hardware seems okay, but nothing jaw dropping. What did impress me was how Samsung continues to alienate themselves from Google. Most of their software services that were announced already exist in Android apps by Google. It seems to me that they are continuing to push themselves farther and farther away from a stock Android experience into their own Samsung ecosystem.

Samsung Galaxy S4 cover 2 aa 600

Vote in our poll and join the discussion!

[poll id=”240″]

  • RarestName

    I hate the word “innovation”. Stupid overused word. I never heard of this word until a few years ago.

  • Just like last year with the GS3, I felt disappointed by the GS4. It’s a great phone for sure, but it’s just that. I think it’s blogger’s fatigue…

  • Damon Hart

    It doesn’t make sense for me to buy a gs4 when I’m gonna root it and put cm10 on it. It’s probably gonna be awesome for people who don’t root/rom their phone

  • I’m inclined to agree with Mike in terms of the display – it is the most advanced AMOLED display on the market, and I just love the bottomless blacks and the laser burn from the intense colors. Much like Derek Ross, I am a bit of a hardware purist too, and would love it if they had a variant that had a more luxurious panache and feel.

    I’ve yet to explore the software in greater detail, but even with the Note 2, it’s advanced functions were limited to: using the s pen to get the mouse over contextual stuff working, like dropdown menus, which is something more difficult to do with a touchscreen device, and a very rare time when I would take a screenshot and leave notes on them.

    I’m still a fan and I’m still going to check it out very closely. There are so many great devices coming like the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, the Optimus G Pro, the Note 3, and so many, many more that deserve mention here. I’m a fan of Oppo as well – the build quality and specs on their Find 5 is very impressive, and at a good price. Everyone is trying to bring their A game now, folks.

    But then you think – what about the Note 3? It never stops. And at the same time – we are seeing some incredible value come out of Chinese manufacturers, like ZTE, Huawei, and other lesser known brands. And then of course there is the alleged and borderline confirmed ‘X’ Phone from Motorola and Google.

    There is a lot on the horizon, which is exciting. Tegra 4 and devices like ‘Project Shield’, OUYA, and other form factors that use Android means we’re in for a very interesting year.

  • Appogee

    Wished they would’ve changed the design up at least a little bit. For that matter, the fact that they’re marketing the Exynos as an Octo-core is just disappointing that they have to result to Apple tactics of renaming things. Sad that the Tegra 4i is better than the flagship Exynos chip.

    • Tech Nut

      Just so you know…. it is an Octo-core and the next upgrade of Android’s kernel will at last enable heterogeneous computations. In other words for you simpletons…. that makes it able to run Asynchronous cores along with Synchronous cores simultaneously. It’s Android here that’s keeping ARM and Samsung’s “big LITTLE” processor from working full time. When that update comes Octo-core will smash the competition like an Octopus splitting you hater’s skulls!!!

      That includes Nvidia’s “big LITTLE” Tegra 4i w/ same 4 A15 cores and it’s special 4 core 2nd gen low power A9’s. Which by the way….. are both (Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i) being ramped up right now in Samsung’s Austin Texas Semiconductor plant. Which is why Nvidia expects to begin to make a profit….. again, selling chips into the US market. Because they will be taking over on Samsung’s FTZ (Foreign Trade Zone) Tax and Duty Free Benefits for parts made here in America, that they are taking away from APPLE!!! ;-)

    • Tech Nut

      Oh…. yeah and I might add, that in cooperation with Nvidia (like Samsung has been known to be so good at; meaning even with competitors) you can expect to see a Tegra 4 or 4i SoC in either Galaxy Note III or an unannounced Flexible YOUM screen device later this year!!! ^_*

  • Chris

    I’m getting very very agitated with people talking so much shit over the S4. Really, last year’s S3 and Note 2 delivered a new form factor and a few wonderful features that we applauded about and now they have added MORE features and tweaked the form factor of the S4 and we hate it? What is the perfect phone? What makes us soooo spoiled to where we can never ever be happy? Bunch of Garbage, The S4 delivers speeds equivalent to if not faster than that off the recent releases of others and the new ones coming with extras waaay more extras than any other manufacturers including Apple yet we are dissapointed..SMH!!!!!

    • John A

      You sir, talk alot of sense! Well said.

  • richama

    Curious to see what apple will bring to the table to counter design samsung

  • Sal

    Why cant people stop whining about the s4 features. ‘oh you will look like a fool if you do this this this.’ Its technology for god’s sake! There are always people working on the lab as we speak trying to create something that will be big and unique in the near feature. It was the same case when bluetooth headset was invented. Yet years later many people have accompanied its usefulness. I for one didn’t expect Samsung to jampack all this cool new feautres like the drama shot and the eraser and such after the huge sucess with the s3. Plus you can not judge these features when it has not hit stores yet. When it arrives in stores walk in and try them out yourself before you judge. If you don’t like them fine. Don’t whine about it as there may be lot of people who WILL like. Although I don’t like that the design is an S3 look a like I dont care as what they packed inside will be a killer phone that that will sell millions.

  • 3 days ago, i bought myself a brand new note 2.. i am now 100% ure i made the right call.. no regrets !
    I really dont like the design of the s4.. never was a fan of the s3’s either.. this time around at least, samsung really floped on the design and build quality part.. they could really take a pen and a pencil and write down some notes from oppo’s first ever attempt at building a smartphone… i am am a samsung fan and owner.. but if they dont correct the build quality issue.. i wl not upgrade to note 3.. but maybe.. to an oppo smartphone…

  • Jim

    I think this is a great phone – specs,design,etc (expect for the Sound and Shot feature, don’t get that…anyway) not releasing it until late APRIL…. APRIL!!!! Unfortunately Samsung things move very fast in the mobile world and a month is a long time. It was rumoured that Samsung would have a great production/supply line to cope with the heavy demand apparently they haven’t quite gotten it right yet. They will lose 1000s if not 10000s of customers because of this eg. Your a businessman and your phone contract runs out between now and ‘late April’ your sure as hell not going to go without a phone for a month so what are you going to do buy an old s3 to last you through the next two years. no. buy an old nexus 4 to last two years. no. Wait ill buy a brand spanking new s4! ohh that right they don’t come out for another month. Iphone 5 it is then. Sorry Samsung but these days people don’t like waiting.

    • #JimSucks


      • Joker

        LOL everyone start the trend #JimSucks

        • DownWithIphone

          Agreed #JimSucks

  • Doan

    Just an incremental upgrade. They didn’t make any changes to make it a worse phone than the 3, they just didn’t make any changes to make it a much greater phone.

    • JeremieCote

      What am I missing here? Everyone is disappointed yet how could they have made the phone any more of an upgrade over the previous gen? We now have a full HD Amoled display (the best amoled screen currently on a phone),2gb of lpddr3 ram a first in a phone, and a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU which is used in 4th iPad and rapes everything. People are complaining about it being a fake octa-core the point of this processor isn’t to have all 8 cores running at once, it’s to switch between low-power energy efficient cores and powerful a15s. This phone is a better upgrade than the s3 was over the s2. People have got their expectations out of whack nowadays.

      • CHRIS

        They are just acting like spoiled children because they wanted a “new look” If samsung would have done that and left us without any features etc.they’d still be crying. DOUBLE EDGED SWORD I TELL YOU!

  • Bruce Gavin Ward

    my impressions: iPhone 5 revisited; what’s the point of a small upgrade? In sammy’s case why not simply cut the price of the GS3 to say $450 (there must be a quantity saving in there by now), sell another 50 million devices, then add numerous amazing improvements and bring out a dazzler! or also like iPhone have they run out of creativity?

    • chris

      Small Upgrade? You have to be joking, apparently you haven’t paid attention to the numerous upgrades. For Christ’s sake the 1080p Full HD Super Amoled Display that we all wanted we GOT! The screen size increased by .2 inches and the new Processor mops the floor with last years model and the iphone 5.. It’s featured packed waaaaay more than any other Smartphone PERIOD! Can’t forget about the upgraded battery either etc. etc… A lot of you just need to stop FOCUSING on what your really upset about which is that Samsung Stuck to the same basic design as the note 2…If your going to criticize Samsung for that “issue” then You seriously have no business owning ANY smartphone! Get yourself a flip phone or a slider and call it a damn day!!!

    • Mike Reid

      You can still buy a new GS3 now, and prices continue to drop. Heck, get on EBay 6-12 months from now and I’ll bet there will still be new, unused GS3’s for sale.

      So then, do you have something against people having the option of getting a newer device, at whatever prices the market decides ?

      You can have your old style cake, they can have their new, and everybody eats cake. And the cake is real.

  • Elle

    People are crapping all over the S4 when it’s their fault they got their hopes up too high. I mean there’s only so much new features you can bring to a phone at this point of the year, we’ve basically reached a peak right now. Just because the almost identical specs of like four other phones have already been released, doesn’t mean the S4 is inferior for showing up late to the party. You all read the rumors and specs online, months before the S4 release. Now that you’ve been given those specs, you complain that it isn’t “innovative” or “different” enough… Just a tip guys, it won’t make you a chicken and avocado sandwich any time soon, you can lower those expectations…

  • This is what people get for expecting too much. Spec wise its really an awesome smart phone.

  • norbac

    Is the software what makes the hardware great.!..
    What the icing is to a cake
    Therefore we have insainly simple and great software with carefully designed hardware just my .2cents along with great suport

  • Tech Nut

    Of all the writers/reviewers to put in charge of judging the GS4 Android Authority just had to pick the biggest Samsung Hater of them all! Why???

    Meanwhile the fools he’s quoting barely scratch the surface of the most valuable part of the GS4. It’s hardware technology and innovations that go far beyond any of their competition. I said before and I’ll say it again…… Bodigan should go work for Apple…… if he isn’t already, as a sleeper cell anti-Samsung iTroll!

    Why isn’t anyone mentions the new touch digitizer and interface? Samsung is the first to use it and therefore those that follow will all be “Copyists”. Yet they will inevitably call Samsung the Copyist because we all know Apple invented everything under the sun….. FIRST! NOT!!! …..not even ever. They don’t make a single part themselves and just continue to claim the out sourced factories they have no control over as theirs. Yet the reality is quite simple!

    All of their so called innovations actually belong to others….. like SAMSUNG. Who made the original iPhone possible in the first place. After launching a really great MultiMedia Touchscreen Smartphone (jesture based no less) a whole year before iPhone was even launched. That was an incredible Smartphone with GPS and 3G no less in 2006. On top of having…. get this…. a single round physical Home button w/ Play icon instead of Stop icon. Like didn’t come on iPhone for a whole year. Where did they get that idea? Stole it of course!!! …it also had remote control for media, two cameras and a metal band around rounded corners before the iPhony 4 ever had them!

    Back to Galaxy S4’s remarkable 13MP camera and extraordinary features no has duplicated nor will they. Especially Apple, who’s own base file system is rooted in it’s Single Threaded 70’s Past. It literally can’t get out of it’s own way to do true multitasking. Therefore it can’t do PiP, PoP, or Multiscreen or even run just two Apps at the same time. Instead they rely totally on something they call “Preemptive Task Management”. Which is the chicken way of saying iOS must suspend one App while it runs one more important. HFS+ should be a DEAD and BURRIED File System by now. But… Apple would have you believe it’s the latest greatest…. “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”! lol… especially w/ Sir Jony Ive (invented everything, Steve just took the credit) in charge of iOS! ;-P

    Wake me up, when Apple finally really and truly introduces something they didn’t depend on an outsourced supplier to innovate for them or bought it and then proceeded to kill it like Siri! lol…. and Android Authority fire this guy Bodigan the Obnoxious Samsung Hater, before he turns now even more of the Pro Samsung Customers against YOU!!!

    And if you want to know the truth about how many Samsung Smarterphones will be sold this year in spite of the negative hype iDiots like Bodigan epouse. Think about this: they double up sales of on all iPhones sold last quarter in a quarter presiding a major launch. Let’s see Apple sell near 70 smartphones prior to iPhone 5s launch? lol… and they are on target to sell a record 300 Million Smartphones to a whole lot more Smarter People Worldwide this Year! ^_*