Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Supernova
Eco-friendly retail box with a new pair of headphones
Samsung's latest retail packaging is made entirely of recycled paper and printed with soy-ink. It's also 100% recyclable and eco-friendly.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with the standard set of accessories you'd expect in a smartphone's retail box. The A/C adapter that you need to use with the supplied microUSB cable are joined by a pair of redesigned earphones that represent a huge step over the ones bundled with the Galaxy S III. All accessories are painted white this time.
The new earphones are dubbed HS330 and feature dual-speakers (8mm tweeter and 10mm woofer) for improved performance with both high and low frequency sounds. They offer better bass than just about any other pair of headphones you can find in a smartphone's retail package, although they probably won't fully replace any high-end aftermarket earphones, if you happen to have those.
Samsung has also slightly altered the shape, material and size of the ear tips, making them fit more comfortably in your ears and has supplied the headphones with a tangle-free flat cable. Naturally, you get two other size options for the ear tips supplied in the box. Finally the remote control has also been improved, and now offers larger buttons (by about a third over the Galaxy S III EHS64 headset), despite being 17% smaller itself.
Samsung Galaxy S4 360-degree spin
The size of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is probably one of the smartphone's key assets. The smartphone is the exact same height as its predecessor, but is 0.8mm narrower, 0.7mm slimmer and 3g lighter, while featuring a 0.2" larger screen, a higher-capacity battery that's still removable, and a host of new sensors and radios.
Samsung likely shares at least some of the credit with Corning and its new Gorilla Glass 3 that the Galaxy S4 employs. Based on a completely new glass composition, the third generation of the popular screen coating offers increased impact and scratch resistance, so Samsung could probably get away with using a slimmer shield, while maintaining the same level of protection. In fact the early tests are showing that the Galaxy S4 is actually harder to scratch than its predecessor.
Design and handling
The Galaxy S4's design is what's changed the least when compared to the Galaxy S III. The smartphone uses the same Hyperglazed finish, on account of which the predecessor was bashed for feeling like a plastic toy rather than a proper flagship. And the Galaxy S4 will most likely receive the same criticism. After all, it doesn't come anywhere near the premium feel of a Sony Xperia Z, let alone the HTC One.
This is not to say, however, that the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks worse than its predecessor. The new texture gives it a more serious and stylish look, while some minor refinements to the design also contribute to the overall appeal. The back panel now looks different depending on the angle the light hits it, which makes it more eye-catching than before.
The slimmer bezels leave more space for the brilliant screen (more on that later), while the slimmer body has a more high-end vibe. We are positive too that many will appreciate a black paintjob at launch.
It's also great that despite all the new features it introduces, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is easier to handle than the Galaxy S III. It also feels more comfortable in-hand than the HTC One, and that flagship only has a 4.7" display. Samsung has proven that a 5" screen doesn't necessarily make for an unwieldy handset.