Nov 19, 2013 -
Make no mistake - the Samsung Galaxy S4 is far, far more than a Galaxy S3 'S' - Samsung may be copying Apple according to some people, but it's not as brazen as the Cupertino brand in flogging the exact same design with a slightly uprated processor and calling it a new phone.
The Galaxy S4 is a great, great device in its own right, re-inventing what it means to own a brilliant smartphone in a number of ways. The gestures are cool, the touch-less experience amazing at times - in short, it's a wonderful phone you want to pull out of your pocket again and again and again.
The design issue is overblown, but pertinent. Yes, it's plastic, and yes, compared to the competition you wouldn't choose to spend £500 on it for the chassis. But it's a very solid device that belies that exterior and shouldn't be discounted for it, although it still feels like the cheapest of all the top end phones on the market - we're slightly amazed that Samsung hasn't gone a few steps further with the design after the S3's criticism.
TouchWiz is getting a little complex now, though. The simplicity of HTC Sense shines through, and the HTC One is a superior device in many ways because the innovation is based on things users want. Where Samsung brought the ability to wave to move photos, the HTC One made the speaker better.
Where the S4 lets you scroll with your head, the One lets you take photos in low light. The latter feature is slightly offset by the S4's auto Night Mode, but you get the picture.
But screw all the 'which phone is better than the other' notion for now (we'll get to that in our best mobile phones piece) the Galaxy S4 is a stunning smartphone that won't let you down for a variety of tasks.
Although we will admit, it's not as good overall as the HTC One, especially when you factor in the design.
But there's no doubt Samsung will have to make a big step forward to keep users interested with the Galaxy S5, but for now we love the S4 and would be proud to have it in our pocket.