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The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was one of the most anticipated technology events in recent memory and it seems the smartphone will be able to live to the hype.
AMOLED fans will fall in love with the screen. Actually, the 5" 1080p Super AMOLED should impress everyone - contrast, viewing angles and sunlight legibility are top notch. And you can turn down the saturation if it bugs you so much.
What's even more amazing is that Samsung managed to squeeze the Galaxy S4 in a smaller body than the Galaxy S III and even the HTC One, both of which have smaller screens and batteries. And that's without sacrificing the user-removable battery and microSD card slot.
We didn't get a chance to benchmark the Exynos 5 Octa chipset but we did try the Snapdragon 600 variant of the Galaxy S4 and it's the fastest device we've tested yet, thanks to the higher default clock speed. The Exynos model is expected to be even speedier, so performance certainly won't be an issue for the owners of the smartphone.
Samsung crammed the phone with so many features you might think the company keeps a team of sci-fi writers who dream up ideas. Some of the new features are useful, others aren't quite there yet and there are some that are just gimmicks. It's nice though to be able to go Obi-Wan Kenobi on your phone every once in a while.
And it launches with Android 4.2.2, the latest version, which should quell any complaints about slow software updates (a major source of grief for Android owners these days).
We do like what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S4 camera, too - powerful features hide behind one of the simplest UIs yet. The Galaxy S4 packs the best ideas of several competing flagships into one, we'll spend more time on those later. For now let's just say the image quality looks promising.
The one thing we're not sold on is the design - kudos to Samsung for shrinking the phone while expanding the screen, but the S4 feels more like a Galaxy S III Plus on the outside. Some people are very vocal in their dislike of the design, while we think it's just okay. It's certainly not up to par with the Sony Xperia Z and especially the HTC One, though.
The millions of Galaxy S III phones sold show that looks aren't everything though. As for the rest, the Galaxy S4 is an improvement over its predecessor in every category. Whether it's enough to justify upgrading a year after the Galaxy S III is a question we're going to be asking later. We have to cover the rest of the S4 features first, but by the looks of it this will be the phone other Androids will measure up to.