Samsung I9505G Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition review: Purified

GSMArena team, 14 July 2013.

Tags: Samsung, Android

Stock Android looks great on the 1080p Super AMOLED screen

Stock Android Jelly Bean on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition premiers with a new live wallpaper dubbed Sun Beam, which is the popular Phase Beam but with a warmer maroon red twist. Stock Android has never looked livelier on another display. The 5" 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S4 just brings out the entire OS to a whole new level.

Colors are vibrant and punchy, while blacks, which are heavily used throughout the interface are pitch black. There's one thing to note, however - there are no screen modes or scenarios like in TouchWiz. You cannot choose Dynamic or Adobe RGB setups, you're stuck with the default setting. That said, the default setting is nicely balanced - it's not as oversaturated as Dynamic mode but it still packs some warmer, more saturated colors than the HTC One, for example.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
The 5" 1080p Super AMOLED is gorgeous

At over 440 ppi the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition's screen looks as sharp as it gets and you can't notice the individual pixels with a naked eye. Everything is perfectly sharp down to the smallest UI item.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition screen under a microscope

The brightness levels of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition screen are on par with the rest of the company's AMOLEDs, which is to say, they are not very high. However, due to the screen's low reflectivity, this doesn't affect outdoor performance. Keep in mind that enabling the auto tone setting in the screen option limits the maximum brightness to under 300 nits, so if that matters to you, you better keep it off.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
HTC Butterfly 0.14 173 1200 0.45 501 1104
Samsung I9505G Galaxy S4 GPE 0 201 0 404
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 0 174 0 330
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
Oppo Find 5 0.17 176 1123 0.51 565 1107
Samsung N7100 Galaxy Note II 0 215 0 402
LG Optimus G Pro - - - 0.41 611 1489
Nokia Lumia 920 - - - 0.48 513 1065
LG Optimus G 0.14 197 1445 0.33 417 1438
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Much like with the rest of the S4 variations this is easily the best screen on a mobile phone today.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    3.352
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Controls

Since the software has been changed you should expect differences in the controls pattern of the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition. But these changes are not drastic and you'll hardly ever notice the difference.

Below the display you get the same three keys as on the TouchWiz Galaxy S4 - the capacitive Menu and Back buttons plus a regular Home key.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
The usual set of keys sits beneath the display

Upon a long-press of the Home button you'll not be taken to the Task switcher menu but instead Google Now will be launched. In order to get to the Task switcher you need to perform a double-press of the Home button.

The menu key does exactly as advertised and opens on the contextual menu in each app or part of the OS while the back key gets you back to square one.

Above the display we have the earpiece, as well as a bunch of sensors. The traditional ambient light and proximity sensors are joined by an IR gesture sensor, which doesn't really do anything with the stock software. There's also a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and a status LED up there.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
It's getting crowded above the screen

The left side of the Samsung Galaxy S4 features the volume rocker, while the power/lock key is on the right - no changes there either.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
Once again our shutterkey prayers have been left unanswered

The top of the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition features the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary microphone and the IR blaster that allows you to use the smartphone as a remote control for your home appliances. Thankfully, the IR remote control feature is still available even without Samsung's TouchWiz enhancements.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
The 3.5mm audio jack Is joined by a microphone and an IR blaster

The microUSB port at the bottom is used for both data connections and charging. Not only does it support USB host but it also comes with support for the new MHL 2.0, enabling 3D 1080p output and TV connections without an external power source just as the regular S4.

The last item to point out at the bottom is the primary microphone pinhole.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
The microUSB port is next to the primary microphone

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition is where the 13 megapixel FullHD-capable camera lens is located. Much like on the regular Galaxy S4, the LED flash is right beside it, and the loudspeaker grille is located on the bottom left edge of the device.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
The 13 megapixel camera lens

Removing the battery cover reveals the microSIM slot, the ample 2600 mAh removable battery and the microSD card slot. The memory card slot is hot-swappable, too.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
Taking a peak under the hood

Our battery test showed that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition doesn't differ drastically from the TouchWiz Galaxy S4. It managed almost the same web browsing battery life at 7:13 hours, then it was almost a perfect match in the video playback department with 12:32 hours and finally, put out a respectable 12:37 hours in our dedicated call test.

Unfortunately, the overall endurance rating for the Galaxy S4 GPE fell from the 69 hours of the I9505 Galaxy S4 down to 63 hours because of the lesser talk-time and stand-by scores. And occasionally we would experience strange battery drain when we left the phone on stand-by overnight.

A 63h rating means you can expect the phone to typically last this amount of time on a single charge if you stick to our test regiment of using the phone for an hour of calling, an hour of video watching and an hour of web browsing a day and then leaving it on stand-by during the rest of the time. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your usage pattern and network environment but still, it's our standardized way of producing comparable results across smartphones by different manufacturers.

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