Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

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With the Samsung Galaxy S5 coming on the scene, its predecessor dropped in price to become the reigning budget smartphone champion -- for the moment. The Galaxy S4 is an incredibly fast device with a gorgeous display and loads of features. There's almost nothing this smartphone doesn't do well.

Not too long ago, Samsung Galaxy S4 reviews anointed this the hottest Android phone on the planet. Now, with the introduction of the S5, you don't have to look very far to find the S4 available for very little (starting at $50 and briefly spotted for 1 cent, Amazon) when you sign a new two-year contract. In a rave review at CNET, an expert rated the phone 4.5 out of 5 and named it an editors' choice. This is an incredibly fast phone, thanks to a high-end, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, and the display is dazzling, with excellent color and contrast. The CNET expert tested the phone's camera and reports that photos and video look outstanding. Her Samsung Galaxy S4 review does pan the plastic construction in an age when premium handsets are usually made of metal. One other knock: The screen is pretty reflective in bright daylight.

A reviewer from Tech Radar unequivocally endorses the so-called Super AMOLED screen, a type of display known for vibrant color; he also commends its sharpness. The camera performed very well in the site's testing, although images don't turn out quite as crisp as photos taken with the HTC One in low light. The battery life also proved very good, but of course your mileage will vary depending upon how you use the phone. An hour-long media binge designed to simulate a commute drained the 2,600 mAh battery by only 10 percent.

Samsung has upgraded the Galaxy S4 to the latest Android 4.4 (KitKat) operating system, but the cheapest S4 models on the market still have Android 4.2.2. In addition to the 13-megapixel rear camera, which shoots video in full HD, there's a 2 MP camera that faces back toward the user. The display is quite large, measuring 5 inches, and boasts full HD, 1920 x 1080 resolution. The Galaxy S4 comes with 16 GB of memory and features a microSD card slot to accommodate even more. As for connections, the phone supports 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and even MHL.

The negatives cited in Samsung Galaxy S4 reviews are no more than nitpicks: The handset is made of plastic rather than premium materials and too large for some hands to hold comfortably. The screen is somewhat reflective and some users may be overwhelmed by the very, very long list of features, especially on the camera. All this considered, there are precious few phones available right now that can compete with the S4. It's big, it's beautiful, and it's blazing fast. The display and camera have few peers, and this is one of the only phones we reviewed that includes a microSD card slot so you can expand the memory.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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