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

March 15, 2013
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vote in our poll and join the discussion!

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