Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone Review

SAMSUNG GALAXY S4

The famous Korean smartphone producer, Samsung, has done it again in good style with their Galaxy S4 offering. This smartphone, in traditional Samsung style, is loaded with features and the pro's far outweigh the con's, making this one of the top picks of the year. With a full HD display, an improved processor, and some additional sensors distinguishing it from the S3, let's take a closer look at what makes this phone such a rockstar.

Big and Improved Display

Just when you thought the 4.8 inch screen of the Galaxy S3 couldn't get any bigger, you will be excited to know Samsung has outdone that with a 5-inch screen size, and the phone uses the display real-estate well, with full HD resolution. Inside of this 4.6 ounce beauty, you've got a number of good things going on.

Hardware Improved

Joining it's 2GB of memory, the processor has been improved with a faster 1900MHZ Quad-core, along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T system chip, and it takes the phone through its paces nicely. There is a place for a microSD chip, which is great for multimedia add-ons, but not good for apps. You must install apps into regular memory.  While we're on that subject, even a 16GB memory version only has half of that amount available due to preinstalled apps that you cannot delete. They are on the phone for the long haul, although if you're going to be stuck with something, it might as well be these since you can't find them anywhere else. You get the Android Jellybean OS 4.2.2 version with it, and it does traffic directing very nicely. USB 2.0 is via a microUSB port, for charging and data. Battery life ends at around 17 hours.

The 32 and 64GB variants come with an octacore design, which is actually two quad-core processors (1.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 and 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7). The battery life ends at 10-hours, substantially less time than the quad-core version.

Features

  • The rear camera has changed considerably, increasing from 8 to 13 megapixels. You'll need to use the 4:3 aspect ratio if you want to take 1080p videos and the microSD chip certainly allows for the additional memory needed.  The front-facing camera checks-in with two megapixels. You can use the camera in a number of other modes as well:  auto mode, night, action/sports, panorama, and eraser,which takes several sequential shots and can erase a moving background object.
  • Searching and mapping do very well with the S4, and if you travel overseas frequently, you'll find you can store all of your locations easily.
  • The Smart-stay technology, which senses if your eyes are watching the screen, has been improved on the S4. Combined with Smart Scroll,  the screen can scroll by moving your head or tilting the screen. Users who are commonly doing other things with their hands while talking will love this feature. 
  • Air Gesture is a great feature that is engaged by waving your hand in front of the screen to answer a call, as well as change music tracks, and move from photo to photo.
  • WatchOn is a nice feature that turns the phone into a multi-purpose remote control, although from time to time it does get lost, and the setting numbers have to be reentered.
  • LTE works well, and although this mode wasn't what you would consider consistent, slipping down to 4g at times, it worked well while in LTE. Going wireless is strengthened by using a dual-channel configuration.
  • Sensors are plentiful. Besides the temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors, there are ambient light and proximity sensors, with a infrared sensor used for the remote function, rounding out the list. The sensors have colored indicator lights that illuminate when in use.

As mentioned above, since the 16GB version only has a little over 8GB of usable memory, you might want to consider a higher-capacity version such as 32/64GB. The Galaxy S4 has a lot of great things going for it that more than compensate for its weaknesses. This is definitely one phone you need to consider when renewal time rolls around for you.

 

 

WiFi LTE Phones, Laptops, and Tablets

The technology field has some interesting terms, doesn't it; LTE, WiFi to name just a couple. It can be confusing, especially if you're a cell-phone user (who isn't), or have a need for a laptop or tablet PC and need Internet connectivity through the best means possible.  You used to hear LTE associated more with mobile usage and WiFi with PC usage. With tablet PCs now a standard niche in the PC industry, many of us are hearing both terms used. Let's look at these two terms, LTE and WiFi, and break it down so it makes sense, not only from a mobile perspective but from a PC perspective as well.

LTE Cell Phone Coverage

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is associated with the term 4G, which means 4th Generation. Prior to LTE, 4G was the cutting-edge Internet connectivity standard associated with mobile phones, enabling the user a 3 to 8 mbps speed. With 4G LTE, the fastest technology, a 5 to 12 mbps is possible. Contrast those speeds with 3G, at 800kbps to 1mbps. A substantial portion of the U.S. is still operating mobile networks with 3G, although the major mobile network carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have converted over a considerable coverage area already to 4g LTE, and continue to convert over to it regularly. Recently, carrier T-Mobile is now beginning to convert to 4G LTE networks as well.

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint LTE Coverage

Many Internet users who travel and use a laptop on their trips need to be able to connect to the Internet. For years now, they have been able to do that through the mobile network (cell phone towers). And for several years, they have used 3G connectivity speeds until 4G came along and improved their speed. Now, the fastest of the 3 technologies, 4g LTE, is slowly becoming the new standard, although much of the U.S. is still not converted over to it.  Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint currently have LTE networks in place. As of October, Verizon has over 400 LTE markets established, AT&T has 60 markets, and Sprint has 24 markets. All 3 carriers are increasing that count regularly so if your area is not yet covered, be patient.  

Tethering

To enable Internet connectivity via the mobile network, you used to need a PC card, commonly referred to as an air-card, which was inserted into the laptop; however that setup has been for the most part, replaced. Today, the popular feature known as tethering, tethers the laptop to your cell phone. The plan pricing is based on amount of data transfer and most carriers offer it for a set monthly fee. 

Tablet Usage

LTE is now an optional model for table PCs. The Apple iPad is offered with a LTE capability, and the 4th generation iPad offers two frequency ranges, so that it can be used outside the U.S. It is not a popular option for most of the tablet industry, although with time, we should be seeing it as a viable model option with most tablet makers. 

LTE is a great feature to have if you watch a lot of streaming video, or do a lot of downloading. It will improve the performance of both of those evolutions and certainly should be a consideration if you fall into that category of user.