It’s important not to lose perspective when reviewing phones. You experience so many different devices that your threshold for “good” and “bad” gets severely fine. Occasionally I like to include other people on my long term reviews.
My wife Marie would never consider herself to be “tech savvy”, yet living in a household covered in glowing rectangles she does have some unique opinions on the technology she invests in. She’s spent some time playing with Samsung’s Super Phone the Galaxy S4. I asked her some questions about her experiences so far.
What phone/phones did you use before the GS4? Which have you liked? Which have you disliked?
I’ved used the Blackberry, the Galaxy S2, the iPhone, and the Motorola Photon. I loved the Blackberry, but was soon totally addicted the the Galaxy S2. I know most iPhone devotees will disagree with me, but I found the S2 to be more intuitive to use than the iphone. The dedicated menu and back buttons really helped. I despised the Photon. It was an android, and had a hardware keyboard, so I thought I’d love it, but I didn’t. I never used the keyboard (it was too cumbersome). Despite resetting it and “turning it on and off,” I felt like it was really buggy much of the time.
Thoughts on build quality, design, and ergonomics of the GS4?
The only issue I really had with the GS2 was it’s size. I have smaller hands and it felt huge. I’m told that the GS4 has a 5 inch screen and the GS2 only had a 4.5 inch screen and yet holding it in my hands, the GS2 felt really clunky. The GS4 feels really slim and it doesn’t cause people around me to ask if that is my “tablet”? It feels comfortable to hold and I can use it one handed (much easier when trying to answer the phone while walking the dog).
Just because I’m paranoid, I do keep a bumper on the phone, and I use screen protectors on all my phones. I want them to look proffesional when I have to use them at work.
How is the screen? Size good or bad? Have you used it for media or video?
The screen is beautiful. I’m a big Netflix and Hulu watcher and the screen is really crisp and clear. I’m not bothered at all by the fact that it is a small screen because all the details are there to see. It’s replaced a lot of my tablet usage. It really is shocking compared to other phones I’ve used.
How does the phone perform? Has it locked or slowed down on you? App performance?
So far I have had none of the bugginess of the Photon. I use Google voice and it’s a pretty seamless transition. I haven’t had to “Turn it on and off again” to get things to work properly. I use pandora, google music, calendar apps, and the kindle app pretty regularly and I have had no issues. Also, since it’s an android, after updating the calendar on my phone, I can see and access those updates right away via any other device (desktop, tablet, etc). LOVE that.
Thoughts on the camera? What kinds of pics/video do you like to take? Does the GS4 camera accomplish that usage?
I don’t really take a lot of pics and I’m not the photographer in the family (as I’m sure most readers are aware), so I can’t speak to all the various camera settings. I’ve tried a few, but wouldn’t be able to say if they made the picture better. I did notice this past weekend after taking a lot of pics in strange low-light, that most came out really well. In focus and clear.
Have you had an issues using WIFI GPS or NFC?
Sadly, I haven’t used the awesome NFC option yet. But I love knowing it’s there. I use Wifi pretty regularly and it’s easy and has always worked. It’s fast on our home cable internet connection. I’ve used several apps that would require GPS (Google Maps/Navigations, Waze, MyTracks, etc) and it has always been able to fire right up. It only has issues if I am not in a great signal area. So, not a problem with the phone.
How does the phone handle phone calls? Is the earpiece loud enough? Speakerphone?
Calls are clear. The speakerphone is loud enough to be heard clearly, but I prefer to use a headset option.
What do you think of the software that came pre-installed? Touchwiz UI? AT&T apps? Are menus easy to use/find? Settings?
Menus are easy to find and use. I’ve played with them a bit more on this phone than any other because, again, they are pretty intuitive. I have not used any of the AT&T preset apps. I’ve been using the pre-installed keyboard and I have had no complaints. I like that auto-correct is not automatic. It offers a suggestion and I can choose that word if I want, but it won’t change it automatically.
It was easier going to the GS4 than trying out the Photon. There’s a ton more software on the GS4 than the GS2, but it looks “right”, like I know where everything is. I haven’t turned on gestures, but I like the eye tracking features. I keep my screen time out really short to save battery.
Speaking of, how has battery life been?
So far, I have been able to go all day with the phone without being worried about the battery. I do have to charge it every night, but that’s been pretty normal since leaving Blackberry.
Any final thoughts? Do you enjoy using it? Does it feel like an upgrade over other phones you’ve used?
This phone definitely brings all the best aspects of the GS2, while fixing the minor issues I had with it. I have no complaints about this phone, and would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Especially if they are big Google app users. They work together so well.