It’s been just over 72 hours since Jeremy Maxwell wowed the world with his tapdancing skills, and now that the dust has mostly settled on the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, I figured I’d rant about Sammo’s latest flagship for a few hundred words. Why the hell not?
You’ve already had your say in Samsung Galaxy S4 or Sony Xperia Z or HTC One (I fear eddyday might be gone for good); now it’s my turn to deploy some lyrical wax.
Firstly, and I’m not saying this as an Apple diehard or an Android hater or whatever; I’m glad that the reaction to the Samsung Galaxy S4 from those in the know (er, people who read and comment on mobile blogs) has been fairly middling.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will inevitably sell in ridiculous amounts (100 million is the rumoured target), but it’s good to hear people genuinely considering the Sony Xperia Z and HTC One (right) as alternatives. Competition can only be a good thing.
Interestingly, each of the three has its shortcomings, and the importance of each of those is entirely subjective.
The HTC One, for example, is limited to 32GB internal storage since it doesn’t have a microSD slot, and the battery is non-removable. Does that matter? You decide.
Similarly, the Sony Xperia Z ticks most boxes, but we’re still not convinced about that glass rear. Otherwise, pretty good. For the most part.
Heck, looking at the three flagships, you’d be forgiven for subscribing to Jan’s notion that there’ll never be a perfect phone; there’s always something not quite right.
Anyway! We’re here to talk about the Samsung Galaxy S4 in particular, so let’s get down to business.
On the Samsung Galaxy S4 spec front, there’s nothing worth getting too excited about. Numerous manufacturers beat the South Koreans to the 5in 1080p/2GB of RAM/13MP rear camera punch (that's the Huawei Ascend D2 on the left). Indeed, those are almost prerequisites for a 2013 flagship smartphone. Yes, we’re spoiled, but that’s the way it is.
Bizarrely, Samsung hasn’t been overly vocal about the Samsung Galaxy S4 being the world’s first 8-core smartphone. Google the phrase and it’s very much a mixed bag, with lots of articles about the ZTE Apache from late last year – among others.
Maybe that’s because the Samsung Galaxy S4 won’t have an Exynos 5 Octa processor in all territories, or maybe it’s simply because it’s a largely yawn-inducing claim; having the biggest muscles doesn't make you the best fighter.
In any case, that leaves two other primary factors: the design and the features.
There are two schools of thought with regards to the Samsung Galaxy S4’s design. Some of you figure it’s going in a case anyway, so who cares? While others can’t get over the cheap plastic look and figure the HTC One (in particular) looks miles better.
Personally, I’ve never stuck a case on a smartphone; insurance is more important for my money. If that makes me an idiot, well I guess I’m an idiot.
But, case aside, I figure if I’m paying £500 for a phone, I want it to look good; I want to feel like I’m holding a true premium product with a shipload of thought behind every last curve. That phone, it seems, is not the Samsung Galaxy S4.
As for the Samsung Galaxy S4’s many, many, many features, I can’t say I was particularly wowed by any of them. I can’t imagine wanting to impose my ugly mug on a picture or video (via the front camera); the eye-tracking stuff is just wrong; S Translator is simply Samsung’s unnecessary answer to Google Translate (available for Android users from Google Play); and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit on a train and turn pages with gestures.
The net result is a whole bunch of features that might seem impressive in an hour-long presentation, but that have little to no use for Johnny Average in gritty day-to-day reality – a bit like Siri, or that feature that lets you set location-based reminders. Good in theory; never used it.
Oh, and something else seemingly no one asked after the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch: what happened to the S Pen? I’m guessing the S Pen will set the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 apart from the Samsung Galaxy S4, with the latter focusing on Floating Touch instead of stylus action.
Speaking of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, I figure I’ll wait and see what it brings when it launches in August. With Samsung’s apparent insanity reaching new levels in New York last week, I’m almost certain we’ll see the Note 3 receiving an independent launch event. Trade show launches are so last year.
Aye, so, in conclusion, I’m sure the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be great ‘n’ all, but I don’t feel compelled to rush out and buy one. If I had to buy an Android phone at this stage, heck, it might even be the HTC One. True story.