THE REAL REASON THE CZ BLOG HAS BEEN SO SPARSE
I'm sure you're wondering where all the tech updates have been over the past couple of months. Well, I've been busy... playing with my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.
Today I'll give you my unrehearsed report of what I think of my Galaxy S4 smartphone, which has been enough of a distraction to keep me from blogging and reviewing other devices.
I'll cover what pops into my mind as it comes, and try to cover the details from the exterior build to the display and then to the performance of this device.
First, I'll tell you what my experience has been on the physical form factor of this device. As you all know, I'm very hard on smartphones. I've broken enough of them over the past 4 years to give you trustworthy report.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been reported to be a cheaply build phone that is lightweight and "plasticy" feeling. This is definitely a positive. I've dropped my Galaxy S4 just a few times, definitely not the number of times that I drop-kicked my Galaxy S2. But due to the light weight and plastic body, the phone has not broken.
There is a large percentage of consumers who feel that a smartphone should feel "solid", and carry enough weight to give the impression that it is a "good build". I can honestly disagree with that. Dropping a Galaxy S4 is not nearly as traumatic of an experience as dropping an iPhone, whatever the model. The lighter the weight, the easier it hits the ground.
I did notice that what I thought was a metal ring around the circumference of the phone is a "faux" metal band. It's really just shiny silver plastic made to give the impression that it has something similar to the iPhone. I would have liked to see a real metal ring around this smartphone, but that would add uneccesary weight. So I can live with that.
The face of the phone and the thin back plate are equally light weight and made of some type of plastic, and this is also somewhat of a negative for some consumers. But for the price you pay for a smartphone whether straight-out or on a 2-year contract, this is something you will appreciate when you drop it.
I have experienced some heating issues when talking on the phone or while multitasking, but it doesn't seem to be any worse than most smartphones. With the size of the processor in this device, you can expect that it will generate a fair amount of heat when in heavy use. Maybe this is something that will be improved on all smartphones in the future.
The display is nothing less than spectacular. Everything that Samsung promised with the 5" Super AMOLED HD 1920x1080 display was delivered in full. Watching video content on this device is unparalleled. I can sit and watch movies, HD YouTube videos, and more without feeling the need to sit and stare at my LCD television. I have no real need to upgrade my television when I can watch quality video wherever I happen to be.
The audio quality of the speaker on the Galaxy S4 gets a passing score, even though the HTC One (and even the One X) have far superior audio performance. But I didn't buy my smartphone to use as a boombox. I don't find myself in many situations where I would prefer using the external speaker over a pair of quality headphones, or the stock ear plugs that came with the device.
The camera is giving me everything I need for taking pictures with my smartphone. I don't expect it to replace a consumer grade digital camera. The 13mp rear camera captures decent still photos, and I have yet to even play with the special effects. The Burst mode feature is fantastic, and gives you a chance to capture the perfect picture without spending a ton of time framing an active scene.
Video quality of the camera is good enough to upload content to YouTube, and this is something that I do use quite frequently to capture and create videos for marketing purposes. Uploading video content via AT&T's 4G LTE network makes YouTube production a snap.
Internally, you've got plenty of muscle with the 1.8GHz processor coupled with 2Gb of RAM. That means multitasking will not considerably drag down the phone's performance when running several apps. You have somewhat of a multitasking capabiltiy with the split screen feature, but you do only have a limited number of apps that can run via split screen.
All of the gadgety fuctions that are jam-packed into the phone give you the ability to customize your experience. I find myself using the hands-free scrolling feature a lot, but I'd love to see this work on all applications, not just the stock Android browser.
I will tell you that the Eye Scroll feature is somewhat useless. It is quirky, and more trouble than what it is worth. I can live without it. But I'd rather have a pile of useless and useful features than none at all. Once you turn off the features that you don't really need, you can settle for the ones that make operation of the phone more fun and convenient.
My only problem is the amount of time that it is taking me to discover all of the hidden features that are built into the phone. But each time that I discover a new hidden feature, it only raises my enjoyment experience.
I tend to use my Galaxy S4 for a lot of busines-related functions, including using a Square Card and Paypal's credit card reader. This turns my smartphone into a mobile credit card terminal. I can perform point-of-sale funcitons on the go, accepting payments on many items that I sell with my businesses.
Looking on the inside, I have no complaints. The powerful processor and 2Gb of RAM is plenty enough to push as many as applications that I want to run at a time. And I love the flexibility of being able to pop off the back and toss in a spare battery that is always fully charged.
All in all, I'm very pleased with my Galaxy S4. Surprisingly, I'm not missing the S Pen that I so hoped this device would have. For now, I'm happy using a rubber-tipped after market stylus. But I will be watching the horizon for the Galaxy Note III and contemplating a switch at that point.
That's all for now, until I dicover more with this amazing smartphone!
Galaxy S4 Enthusiast