Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S III: Advanced fence-sitting

GSMArena team, 10 April 2013.
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Image galleries

Samsung used the same gallery app in both Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S III. It can be sorted into albums, all photos and videos, time, location, etc. There's also a spiral option, which revamps the gallery into a Scalado-like spiral of images and video, which after a while gets really nauseating.

You can pinch to zoom in the gallery and thus manage the size of the thumbnails.

Upon choosing an album (for instance Camera) you're taken into that albums' stack of photos but a swipe to the right will reveal a bar on the left with the albums. This lets you switch albums without returning to the main screen every time.

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Galaxy S4 Gallery • Galaxy S III Gallery

When a press and hold on a picture the gallery gives you the option to select multiple images, which you can then mass delete, share, copy or move.

When viewing a single photo, you'll find several sharing shortcuts and a delete button above the photo, while below is a line of small thumbnails of all other photos in the album. You can tap those small thumbnails to move to other images or you can just swipe to the side.

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Viewing image on Galaxy S4 • Viewing image on Galaxy S III

You can easily retouch photos in the Gallery itself. The photo editor gives you options like crop, rotate, color and effects. You can also make a memo on top of the picture.

The Gallery also supports highly customizable slideshows with several effects to choose from, customizable music and speed. You can also highlight specific images to be included in the slideshow.

Still, there are two features reserved only for the Galaxy S4 - Air view and Detect Text. Air view activates when you hover your finger above an image and you'll get a bigger thumbnail overview of the image. You can use it to peek inside folders too.

The nifty Detect Text option in the Galaxy S4's Gallery context menu does as advertised - it detects text on an image and converts it into a text file, which you can share via mail and messages or save a note. Keep in mind that it requires a data connection to work.

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Galaxy S4 only: Air view • Detecting text

Music players

The two Galaxy smartphones feature almost identical TouchWiz Music Players, though the one on the Galaxy S4 has a few extra features under its hood - audio enhancements and floating touch gestures.

Both players supports a wide variety of file formats, including FLAC, WAV, etc. Music is sorted by the usual Artist, Album, Playlist, etc. but there's also Folder support (which is more often found on third party players) - it's quite handy as it saves you the need to sort songs into playlists like on so many other players.

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Music Player on Galaxy S4 • Music Player on Galaxy S III

Then there's Music square - it's quite similar to the SensMe feature of Sony smartphones. It automatically rates a song as exciting or calm, passionate or joyful and plots those songs on a square (hence the name).

Samsung Galaxy S III Review
Galaxy S4 equalizer • Galaxy S III equalizer

Samsung has enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one) along with the sound-enhancing SoundAlive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization.

The Now playing screen gives you the usual options - a timescroll of the song, play/pause and back/forth controls, repeat and shuffle, volume control but it also adds lyrics support, AllShare shortcut and a direct sound settings shortcut.

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Now playing screen on Galaxy S4 • Now Playing screen on Galaxy S III

While listening to a song you can find music controls in the notification area and the lockscreen.

The Galaxy S4 couple of exclusive features will enhance your sonic experience further. One is Smart Sound, which equalizes the volume between tracks. The other is Adapt Sound - it plays a series of beeps (both high and low frequency) and asking if you can hear them. This way the phone can map the capacities of your specific headset and fine tune the sound.

Galaxy S4 only: Adapt Sound

The music player of the Galaxy S4 also supports a few floating touch gestures, which of course are unavailable on the Galaxy S III.

Video players

The Galaxy S4 video player is an updated version of the player found on the Galaxy S III. Both players are capable of playing every video file you threw at them - DivX, XviD, MP4, MOV, MKV, etc. They also support the AC3 audio codec and rich subtitle fonts. Pop up play is available on both devices as well.

The welcome page of both UI players feature the nice-looking grid view. The visible video thumbnails are actually playing the videos instead of being static images. They play at a reduced frame rate and generating those previews takes a while the first time around, but it's an awesome preview and it shows what can be done when you have processing power to spare.

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Galaxy S4 video player • Galaxy S III video player

The chapter preview detects chapters in the video and shows a rectangular grid, with live thumbnails (just like the grid view above).

The player on the Galaxy S4 has the last watched video on top for quick access. Under it there are three tabs - personal (showing you the videos on your local storage), Download (which lets into the Videos store) and Nearby devices, which shows the PCs and players on your local Wi-Fi network.

The player on the Galaxy S III offers just the tabs (Thumbnails, List, Folders, Nearby devices), without the last played video on top.

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Galaxy S4 video player • chapter preview

The exclusive Galaxy S4 features are same SoundAlive audio-enhancing technology available on its Music Player and the floating touch support. Hovering your finger over the timescroll lets you preview part of the video in a small thumbnail - just like YouTube videos do when you hover with your mouse.

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Galaxy S III video player • chapter preview

Loudspeaker performance

We also tested the loudspeakers of the two handsets. Neither is exceptionally loud, both scoring a Good mark. Still, the Galaxy S III did slightly better in the Voice test.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S470.6 66.277.3Good
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III75.1 66.575.0Good

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