Samsung I9505G Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition review: Purified

GSMArena team, 14 July 2013.

Tags: Samsung, Android

Google Now slightly updated

Google Now was first introduced back in Jelly Bean 4.1 and is definitely one of the most interesting additions in the OS. Simply put, it's Google's version of a personal assistant. Google Now is in the same neck of the woods as Apple's Siri, but it learns constantly from your daily routines.

It's accessed by holding the home button and gives you short overview of information it believes is relevant to you right now in the form of cards. Going to work in the morning? Google Now knows this and lets you know there's a big traffic jam on your usual way to the office, so it offers you a re-route.

It can interpret a lot of things from your search history as well. If you've been searching for, let's say, your favorite football team, Google Now will prepare a card showing you the next match the team is playing and will provide you score updates once the game begins.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
Google Now

In Jelly Bean 4.2.2, Google Now has become even smarter and, if you allow it, can scan your email for upcoming flights, deliveries or restaurant reservations and let you know when they are due. There are also numerous kinds of cards like birthdays (yours and those of your contacts) and what distance you've walked in a particular month. The last one could definitely feel creepy for some users, but it's easily turned off from the Google Now settings menu. The latest addition to Google Now cards are TV and Offers.

Google has also integrated Voice Actions. They can handle stuff like sending messages (SMS or email), initiating a voice call, asking for directions, taking a note or opening a site. Google Now can also launch apps, check and manage your calendar and look for nearby places of interest and stuff like movie openings in theaters.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505G Google Play Edition
Google Now settings

One big advantage of Google's Jelly Bean is that the voice typing functionality doesn't require an internet connection to work. You can enter text by speaking anywhere you can use the on-screen keyboard - be it the Messaging app or a note taking app - without the need for a data connection as long as you have pre-downloaded the needed language packs (and those only take about 20-25MB of your storage per pack).

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
Google Now

Making voice typing available offline also made it faster as it's not dependent on your connection. What's even more impressive is that the transition hasn't cost it anything in terms of accuracy.

Synthetic benchmarks

Hardware-wise the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition has the same chipset on tap, down to the clock speed. The CPU in question is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 and it packs four Krait 300 cores that are clocked as high as 1.9 GHz each, making them 200 MHz faster than what's available in the competitor HTC One Google Play Edition.

There are 2 gigs of RAM on the Google Play Edition S4 and the Adreno 320 handles graphics.

We've already tested the potent Snapdragon 600 in the global Galaxy S4 and we know it can compete on the highest of levels. The interesting question here is whether Google's stock Android will make the device faster or slower. So without further ado, here come the scores.

The Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition manages to affirm itself in both single and multi-threaded benchmarks BenchmarkPi and Linpack and stands comfortably in front of the TouchWiz-based Galaxy S4 Snapdragon and Exynos variants.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    118
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    132
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    132
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    147
  • HTC One
    151
  • Sony Xperia Z
    264
  • HTC Butterfly
    266
  • Oppo Find 5
    267
  • HTC One X+
    280
  • LG Optimus G
    285
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    305
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    330
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    350
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    359
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    362
  • Nexus 4
    431

Linpack

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    843
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    791
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    788
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    743
  • HTC One
    646
  • Sony Xperia Z
    630
  • HTC Butterfly
    624
  • LG Optimus G
    608
  • Oppo Find 5
    593
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    214.3
  • Nexus 4
    213.5
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    189.1
  • HTC One X+
    177.7
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    175.5
  • HTC One X
    160.9
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    141.5

Geekbench 2 is a cross-platform benchmark, which allows us to compare the Galaxy Samsung Galaxy S4 against the iPhone 5 and the difference is double. The Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition failed to surpass the Snapdragon-powered S4 by very little but was significantly behind the Octa-core Exynos one.

Geekbench 2

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    3324
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    3227
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    3211
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    3040
  • HTC One
    2708
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2173
  • HTC Butterfly
    2143
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1845
  • LG Optimus G
    1723
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1661
  • iPhone 5
    1601

Moving on to compound benchmarks, AnTuTu and Quadrant. In AnTuTu the Google Play Edition S4 moved ahead of the S600 one and just below the Octa Galaxy. Quadrant showed it slower than both TouchWiz Galaxies and LG's Optimus G Pro, which also has a Snapdragon 600 on demand.

AnTuTu

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    26275
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    25755
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    24716
  • HTC One
    22678
  • Sony Xperia Z
    20794
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    20056
  • HTC Butterfly
    19513
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    15547
  • Oppo Find 5
    15167

Quadrant

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    12446
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    12376
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    12105
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    11938
  • HTC One
    11746
  • Sony Xperia Z
    8075
  • HTC One X+
    7632
  • LG Optimus G
    7439
  • Oppo Find 5
    7111
  • HTC One X
    5952
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    5916
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    5450
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    5170
  • Nexus 4
    4567

Now let's look at the GPU benchmarks. We ran GLBenchmark 2.5 in 1080p off-screen mode, which is also the native screen resolution for the flagships. The Galaxy Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition trailed behind the Octa, S600 Galaxies and the HTC One.

At GLBenchmark's 2.7 T-Rex 1080p off-screen test the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition was bested by the S4 Active, the iPad 4 and both the Exynos and Snapdragon-powered Galaxies, the latter of which claimed the victory.

The Mali GPU inside the Exynos-powered Galaxy S4 was victorious in the Epic Citadel benchmark and the Google Play Edition S4 managed to secure fourth place.

GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt (1080p off-screen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    41
  • HTC One
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    33
  • Oppo Find 5
    32
  • Google Nexus 4
    32
  • Sony Xperia Z
    31
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    31
  • Sony Xperia SP
    31
  • Apple iPhone 5
    30
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    30
  • LG Optimus G
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    17
  • HTC One X
    11

GLBenchmark 2.7 T-Rex (1080p off-screen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    17.1
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    17.1
  • Apple iPad 4
    16.8
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    15
  • Google Nexus 10
    13.9
  • LG Optimus G
    13.9
  • Sony Xperia Z
    13.5
  • Sony Xperia Tablet Z
    13
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    12.8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    4.9

Epic Citadel

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    59.8
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    57.1
  • HTC One
    56.4
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    55.8
  • Sony Xperia Z
    55.6
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    54.2
  • Nexus 4
    53.9
  • Asus Padfone 2
    53.4
  • LG Optimus G
    52.6
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    41.3
  • Oppo Find 5
    38.6

Finally we come to JavaScript, which is a known Achilles heel to stock Android. As expected, just like the Nexus 4 before it, the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 was abysmal at SunSpider and fell way behind, third to last in fact.

Vellamo is another HTML 5-based benchmark, which didn't hand out the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition any compliments either.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    804
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    810
  • Samsung Ativ S
    891
  • Apple iPhone 5
    915
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    910
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    972
  • HTC One X+
    1001
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1011
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
    1059
  • HTC One
    1124
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1192
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1312
  • Sony Xperia Z
    1336
  • LG Optimus G
    1353
  • HTC Butterfly
    1433
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    1554
  • Nexus 4
    1971
  • Oppo Find 5
    2045

Vellamo

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2418
  • HTC One
    2382
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2189
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    2078
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (S600)
    2060
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (Octa)
    2056
  • HTC Butterfly
    1866
  • Oppo Find 5
    1658
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1641
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1568
  • LG Optimus G
    1522
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1468
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE
    1423
  • Nexus 4
    1310

So when it comes to general performance the benchmarks show the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition largely on par with its TouchWiz counterparts, if not faster at times. But there are two chinks in its armor and those are the lesser GPU performance and the less than impressive JavaScript scores.

The Adreno 320 inside the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition is a very competitive GPU and the device won't choke on any of the games currently available on mobiles. And as for page loading times we weren't disappointed by the device's actual real world performance so we wouldn't worry just yet.

The stock Android UI ran perfectly smooth on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition and every animation or app loading was blazing fast - this feels like the fastest device on the market today.

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