Three weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S4

Last year, I bought an iPhone 5. I’d been set on ditching iOS for Android at the time, but weeks of careful research had left me no closer to finding an Android handset I really liked. Then, one day, in a moment of weakness, I stepped into an Apple Store. I walked up to one of the display stands and started playing with the iPhone 5, and I realized how fast and light it was. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t make me pocket my credit card again.

Fast forward eight months, and I’m now toting a Samsung Galaxy S4. Check it out:

Okay, so I didn’t really switch phones. This thing is a loaner from Samsung. I’ve been using it in parallel with my iPhone 5 for the past three weeks, and the experience has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve always had an abstract awareness of the Android platform’s advantages and pitfalls, but I’d never before had the opportunity to spend so long with it—especially not on a top-of-the-line handset.

And top-of-the-line the Galaxy S4 certainly is. Barely three months old, this phone packs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, two gigs of RAM, and a 5″ PenTile Super AMOLED display with a 1920×1080 resolution (PPI count: 441). There’s 100Mbps LTE and NFC and all kinds of other bells and whistles, too. The thing is almost impossibly thin and light, at just 0.31 inches and 4.6 ounces.

Coming from years of daily iPhone use, the Galaxy S4 looks massive despite its thinness. It’s imposing, and the screen crowds the front surface with its size, leaving barely any room for buttons or ornaments. Yet the resolution is so high that the PenTile pixel layout’s trademark screen-door effect is invisible. Text looks as sharp as a printed page, or close to it, and flat colors are flat, with no pixel grid anywhere in sight. That blend of screen real estate and resolution is terrific for everything from web browsing to video playback to e-book reading.

Pick up an iPhone 5 after an hour spent with the Galaxy S4, and the Apple device looks like a toy. The difference is that stark.

On the software front, the Galaxy S4 runs a version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean customized with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. Google apps abound, and the basic behavior of the Android OS is very much intact. However, TouchWiz adds its own flavor to the stock experience, and there are plenty of Samsung-specific apps and widgets along for the ride.

I’ve never been a big fan of TouchWiz, and my weeks with the Galaxy S4 didn’t change that. The interface elements are too drab, too angular, and the sound effects are too cheesy. By default, the phone makes a watery “bloop” each time you tap on a menu item. A grating two-tone whistle lets you know about new e-mails and texts, and a new-age jingle plays whenever you unlock the device. (The jingle is accompanied by a sparkly pixie dust effect.) It’s sad, but at times, the uninspired UI and crummy sound effects conspire to make the phone seem cheap, very much unlike the high-tech device it really is. Not even Apple’s worst skeumorphic over-indulgences are quite so bad.

Samsung really crowds those home screens, too. Three of the five default ones are taken up by Samsung widgets like S Travel, Story Album, Walking mate, and Samsung Hub. Yet another home screen is filled with carrier-specific fare. The remaining screen (the middle one) is occupied by a ginormous weather app, the Google search field, and shortcuts to default apps. There’s not a single free spot for your own app shortcuts. Adding home screens or clearing up existing ones isn’t difficult, but first impressions matter—and out of the box, the Galaxy S4 doesn’t feel like a blank slate; it feels like a device borrowed from a Samsung executive.

Getting acquainted with the Galaxy S4 is, in many ways, a lot like setting up a notebook PC. Android blends flexibility and redundant clutter very much like Windows. For instance, there are at least three different ways to get into the Settings app from the home screen, and the phone ships with two different e-mail apps and two different web browsers out of the box. The notification system sometimes fills up with multiple identical Google Play icons, each one heralding a different app update. It can get a little crowded. Meanwhile, all those carrier and manufacturer widgets feel like the smartphone equivalents of Dell and HP bloatware: things bound to satisfy marketers more than users.

That’s all very different from what you get with iOS, which reminds me a lot of circa-1995 Mac OS: clean and easy to navigate, but also pared down and rigid. There’s a lot to be said for the extra flexibility Android provides, like the option to set a default web browser, change the default keyboard, automatically update apps, and manage wireless connections from the notifications pane. A handful of those features is coming to iOS in version 7 this fall, but the rest will remain exclusive to Android for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, enough generalizations about software. What’s the Galaxy S4 like to use on a day-to-day basis?

Life with the Galaxy S4

The Galaxy S4 feels a little slow during day-to-day use, I’m sad to say. It’s slower than my iPhone 5 at unlocking, at opening apps, and at switching between them. It takes longer to get to the camera from an unlocked state, and even Google Now takes more time to respond to voice searches than the same app on iOS. I expected this killer, state-of-the-art handset to run circles around the older Apple one, or at the very least to be comparably quick, but that’s just not the case. The loss in performance got frustrating at times, like when I needed to take a picture or look up something online quickly. Going from a fast phone to a slower one is never fun.

The frustration doesn’t stop there. Samsung has made the front bezel extremely thin, which means the gap between the bottom of the phone and the display is very small. That gap accommodates the home button as well as back and menu buttons that are hidden until pressed. If you use the phone one-handed for a little while, I guarantee you’ll hit one of those buttons by accident. (It’s not just me. TR’s biz guy, a long-time Android devotee, has the same issue with his Galaxy S4.) This annoyance is compounded by the fact that each button has a secondary action tied to it. Pressing and holding the back button brings up a “multi-window” tray, which collapses into a little pull-out tab. The first time I brought up the tray by accident, I had no idea how it happened, and I had to Google for a way to turn it off. Ugh.

Not even that gorgeous five-inch screen is a home run for Samsung. It’s big, yes, but it’s also noticeably dim, even at the highest “auto” setting. I could get the luminosity to match my iPhone’s only if I disabled automatic brightness altogether, which is probably terrible for battery life—and even then, the iPhone’s maximum brightness was still brighter. On top of that, the S4’s screen takes on a blue cast when viewed off-center, and I noticed some ghosting when scrolling down lists. Those may be small kinks in what’s an otherwise amazing screen, but my iPhone 5 has no such problems.

Oh, and the default keyboard is terrible. Samsung substitutes the stock Jelly Bean keyboard with one of its own design, which has inexplicably small keys and a baffling lack of autocorrect functionality. I actually made more typos on it than on my iPhone, despite the huge difference in screen real estate. The solution? Head to Google Play and download Jelly Bean Keyboard, which restores the Google default. But that really isn’t something one should have to do on a brand-new, $800 smartphone.

Put together, those deficiencies make the Galaxy S4 feel a little hamstrung by the stock software. Perhaps a third-party ROM closer to the Jelly Bean default could make things better. Such a ROM might do away with the drabness of TouchWiz and the clutter of the default widgets. It might take care of the auto brightness problem, too, and it might even resolve the accidental button-press issue, since Jelly Bean is supposed to have software buttons on the screen.

Apparently, a version of the Galaxy S4 with stock Google firmware can be ordered right from the Google Play store in the United States. That model wasn’t available to me, though, and I couldn’t root the Galaxy S4, since I had to send it back to Samsung at the end of my three-week test drive. Even if that hadn’t been the case, rooting has its dangers—like the fact that it voids your warranty. Some folks may have no qualms about cheating Samsung by restoring the stock firmware before getting the phone serviced, but a hardware failure could make that impossible. That means users who can’t easily get the stock Google version of the S4 may be better off sticking with TouchWiz and putting up with its flaws. And that’s really too bad.

There is a lot to like about the Galaxy S4. It’s thin and comfortable to hold, the display is excellent with the brightness cranked up, and the large footprint means the device doesn’t slide around in my pocket like the iPhone 5. The performance may be a little lackluster, but it’s definitely not terrible. Also, most of the software eccentricities I bemoaned can be resolved by a little tweaking and tinkering.

That said, after spending three weeks with this device, I have little desire for a TouchWiz-infused Galaxy S4 of my own. Rather, I’m eager to try the stock Google version… and to see Apple release a bigger iPhone.

Comments closed
    • SylviaHouston7
    • 6 years ago
    • James Carlsom
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve always be with Apple too. Maybe the Galaxy S4 would be a good choice. Minus the sound effects.

    • KristinSmith9
    • 6 years ago
    • MaryAlcala15
    • 6 years ago
    • EmilyLave9
    • 6 years ago
    • jennychapell17
    • 6 years ago
    • MonicaWhite03
    • 6 years ago
    • JuliaOfeefe4
    • 6 years ago
    • gamerguy23099
    • 6 years ago
    • ThorAxe
    • 6 years ago

    Waits for Lumia 1020….
    [url<]http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/08/more-nokia-lumia-1020-hardware-and-camera-details-surface-ahead-of-official-launch/[/url<]

    • lopri
    • 6 years ago

    Very superficial and biased perspective, I must say. There are so many reviews out there I don’t feel the need to correct this author. Besides which, the whole write-up is a subjective rant anyway so I believe it should be treated as such.

    Nevertheless – what I’ve seen have been the opposite to the author. There are 7 people (8 including myself) around me who switched from iOS to Android this year and they all picked the S4. All of them had either iPhone 4 or 4S prior to the switch. Every single one of them is quite happy, as far as I can tell. Just the screen alone is a savior, according to many of them. Yes, some of them ditched the stock keyboard but so what? That’s the beauty of Android. You are stuck with the horrendously tiny screen and keyboard on iPhones with no alternative. (Though many iSheep seem to think that’s somehow an “advantage.”)

    I myself is a devout Nexus 4 user. Got away from the iOS after 2 years of misery and I couldn’t be happier.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      Of course it is. It’s not called “Review: Samsung Galaxy S4”. It’s called “Three weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S4: An iPhone user’s perspective” – it’s less review and more “how did Cyril like the idea of switching?”

      • JoeKiller
      • 6 years ago

      He is also comparing the 5 to the S4, not 4 or 4S so your analysis of bias seems to be biased.

    • MarionLima00
    • 6 years ago
    • BIF
    • 6 years ago

    Cyril, thank you for this article.

    I bought my iPhone 5 right around the same time you got yours last year, so I am in much the same boat as you. Not really considering a jump at this time, but I was really interested in the Galaxy S4; curiosity mostly.

    One reason I went from Android to iPhone was that I wanted a smaller form-factor for my smart device. I don’t need a big screen if it makes me feel like I’m carrying a 60″ wall panel around everywhere I go.

    Two other major reasons were: full compliance with car audio systems that support iTunes tagging, and my chosen password vault’s mobile app (eWallet) can actually UPDATE my passwords via iPhone and iPad (but are read-only on Android devices). It’s possible that these secondary reasons no longer apply, but I am happy with my iPhone nonetheless.

    Wow, I would be VERY frustrated with accidental softbutton activations, slow response, and a dim screen. Pulling up the camera should ALWAYS be the FASTEST action for any smartphone, as far as I’m concerned. Beyond that, I shouldn’t feel like I’m constantly fighting with my smart-device, such as I was with Swype on Android (Swype was the biggest reason I didn’t keep my Android for another year); so any clumsy behavior would have me lividly cussing all of humanity. This would not do!

    Thanks for the article.

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    People are commenting that most of the shortcomings can be fixed or hacked away. That’s ridiculous.

    I say the following: if you have to fix something, then it’s broken.

      • kc77
      • 6 years ago

      I wouldn’t call installing or uninstalling a program [i<]hacking[/i<]. Especially considering this phone will be compared with the phone which has a map program so horrible that you could plot a trip to Canada and end up in Florida.

      • grege
      • 6 years ago

      The perfect summary of Android verses Apple. One side likes to change things the other just takes what is given. It is not fixing, it is customisation. My S3 does not look like anyone else’s.

      To me that is a good thing. To you it does not make sense. That is why we have different devices to buy.

        • peartart
        • 6 years ago

        Sure, but Android also gives rise to advice like this:
        [quote<]Making consecutive updates without a factory reset can slow your device down.[/quote<] When customization leads to factory resets, it sucks.

          • BabelHuber
          • 6 years ago

          Yes, installing and deinstalling Apps and updating the OS multiple times takes its toll.

          OTOH a factory reset is refreshing sometimes – you can get rid of stuff you don’t use anyways, free some storage etc. Contacts, WLan connections, Mails etc. are synchronized anyways, so you don’t need to care about this.

          For game progress and such stuff, use Titanium Backup. It’s simple and it works.

          Also, when I use a phone for 6 months or so and tinker around with it, it sometimes becomes so gobbled up that I want to factory reset it anyways, so I fail to see a problem her

            • derFunkenstein
            • 6 years ago

            Titanium Backup requires root, and if you’re getting OTA firmware updates you’re most likely not rooted. Factory resets suck, period.

            • BabelHuber
            • 6 years ago

            When your phone gets slow after a few updates, you have the following choices:

            a.) Dream of a world where performance does not degrade over time
            b.) Complain about it
            c.) Root it, back it up, factory reset and call it a day (effort estimation: 1-2h)

            Pick yours, I choose c instead.

            • peartart
            • 6 years ago

            Performance does not have to degrade over time. I know two decades of Windows has trained people to expect that, but the one place that we can prevent the inevitable increase of entropy is in computer software.

        • superjawes
        • 6 years ago

        I wouldn’t call altering what is supposed to be a finished product “customization.” Now, if we were talking solid hardware with default Jelly Bean, then any change you make is for your own pleasure, but when you have to go download an app to [i<]revert[/i<] functionality, that's a problem. Watch how fast the perspective changes when people start talking about Windows 8 interface "fixes"... The appeal of the iPhone in this case is exactly what Jobs always intended. It is a complete product that's ready to go. That leaves little in terms of options, but you don't hear people talking about "fixing" the iPhone's interface. You might hear complaints, but that's the "love it or leave it" philosophy of Apple. Sure, you have more options on Android, and that appeals to a particular crowd, but considering the price tag on the s4, I think it ought to work as you want it right out of the box...but maybe that's just me.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I agree. +1

      But such is the state of the Android phone these days.

    • sahand-tabriz
    • 6 years ago

    I have a S4 (I9500) too. TouchWiz slows many things down, that’s correct. Even at first days It had a little annoying lag in app drawer, but after updating (a 370MB of update!) everything is working very smooth. Now I love my S4 and the camera is responding faster. And opening and switching applications are very fast. At least browsers, message, emails and other apps are very fast indeed. I’ve never seen any faster device in my life.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 6 years ago

    Dude, Galaxy S4 is way better than your iPhone 5.

    Even being an owner of the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant that never got updated beyond Froyo and an Acer Iconia B1, I dont even like Android much lately after being spoiled with the Nokia Lumia 822 I just gifted to my woman.

    • blorbic5
    • 6 years ago

    I don’t know about the S4 but the S3 comes with both the samsung keyboard and swype.

    • Tamale
    • 6 years ago

    Yeah, I can’t help but echo some of the same complaints raised here.. I don’t feel like you’re really “reviewing” an android device until you’ve tried a few of the basic replacement apps for launchers, keyboards, etc. Isn’t that why people prefer android?

    You don’t get a new sony laptop then seriously benchmark it without removing the bloat and making sure the power profile is set to “performance”, right? So why test a galaxy s4 with the craptastic touchwiz UI?

    Then there’s the whole custom ROM thing, which is way more advanced, sure, but absolutely awesome and fun in my opinion – to me that’s when phones start turning into more of the same experience of building your PC from parts and installing your OS on it yourself – the very essence this site is based off of. Why not take that “DIY” approach to phones, too? I don’t get it.

      • BabelHuber
      • 6 years ago

      You are right regarding the simple stuff like Laucher, keyboard etc.

      But flashing ROMs can be a PITA. I like it, but it has its drawbacks.

      For example I had an AOSP-ROM on my SGS2 which worked phantastically for months, but when I inserted an SD-card, the phone decided to format it withour warning. So from my experience, AOSP-ROMs require you to test everything before you use it as a daily driver.
      And beware of quick updates shortly before going on a business trip – the WLAN-tethering which worked before the update may not work afterwards.

      Modified stock ROMs OTOH mostly work flawlessly, except if they include some francy kernel with groundbreaking new tweaks.

      And people who ignore instructions like “Warning! Flash bootoader X.YZ before flashing the ROM, otherwise your device may be bricked”, flashing is always a bad idea.

    • bentbent
    • 6 years ago

    I wonder if there in the last several years has been a test or review where an apple product (that was not near end of life) participated and it did not win?

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      Yes. [url<]http://betanews.com/2013/05/04/you-can-have-iphone-5-ill-take-htc-one/[/url<]

        • thanatos355
        • 6 years ago

        I skipped the iPhone 4s and 5 (nothing compelling over the 4) and went with the HTX One X+. Love it to pieces!

        • bentbent
        • 6 years ago

        The refresh of iPhone 5 is just around the corner. It is very near end of life.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    Seems like a lot of people are afraid of having to get rid of things and prefer Apple’s, “My way or the highway” approach of very little customization. Myself, I’m a PC enthusiast on a PC enthusiast site. I want options. Let me get rid of bloat if manufacturers choose to go that way, but it’s better to have options than to be stuck with the Apple way as the only way.

    Just the lack of being able to choose software keyboards or your own hardware-accelerated browser instead of the default is a real problem on iOS.

    • grege
    • 6 years ago

    Seriously? Have any of you actually used a Samsung phone? I have an S3. You can just drag all the home screen icons to the bin. Then just add what you want. The first thing I do. You can change the notification sounds to anything, or add more from Play Store. I have different sounds for Gmail and SMS. Easy. Or you can have silence as the sound for GMail which is good if you have a constant stream of email through the night. The flashing blue light is sufficient notification for a new email.

    Don’t like Tochwiz? No problems go to the store and there are a dozen alternate launchers, free and paid. I personally replace Touchwiz with HoloHD. HoloHD is close to standard Android. Restart phone and make Holo the default launcher. Touchwiz stays installed, but inactive. GO Launcher is very nice to look at and I used it for a while, but found it a bit over the top. Holo gives you a stock experience without losing the good Samsung stuff like the camera app.

    And finally I have never noticed any slowdowns. Mine is always smooth and responsive. I have never tried running 6 tasks at once, but who would do that on a phone anyway?

    • Sargent Duck
    • 6 years ago

    I’m using Windows Phone 7.8 on some “old” hardware (LG C900B with I believe a single core 800mhz processor) and I don’t have any of these “slow downs” that you speak of or any of that crap ware you talk about. I’m able to customize my start screen with exactly what I want, not what Samsung wants.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on Windows Phone 8.

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      I’d like to hear about it if possible too. I’m on my third Samsung ‘upgrade’, and I’m about ready to swear off of them. And I like Samsung as a whole.

      But with my experience on a WP 6.5 Blackjack-type thing, the first Galaxy S, and now the original Galaxy Note, I’m done with Samsung-branded phones.

      The WP 6.5 phone was slow- and I knew that going in- but it was otherwise reliable. It was a decent phone, and the GPS function was surprisingly useful for a device with such a small screen.

      The Galaxy S; well, it was s**t. It is s**t. The GPS is near-useless; I have no idea how Samsung broke that. And it’s rarely fast enough to be used as a phone.

      The Note? Overall a pleasant experience. The GPS works, the screen is big and sharp (though noticeably PenTile), and the modem is very fast; fast enough to make a short-term Internet access point during a recent move, though I quickly got to that 5GB limit on my grandfathered AT&T ‘Unlimited’ plan. Really starting to doubt the usefulness of that too, but that’s another story. At least AT&T has lit up LTE in North Texas very well, and it is very fast.

      But the Note, also, can be slow as Cyril describes above, even with two OS upgrades behind it. It’s not consistently slow, but it can get absurd- I’ve called 911 more than once because I gripped the phone at the lock screen wrong, and the phone wouldn’t respond to any inputs, so I couldn’t end the call before it started. Incredibly frustrating to not be able to use the phone portion of a smart phone because it’s too preoccupied doing something else, and it does this often.

      I’ve even turned on the developer setting that shows your keypresses- I honestly wanted to see if the phone recognized that I was pounding on it at all, and indeed it does- it just doesn’t give a damn. Goodbye Samsung, hello HTC/Apple/Windows, anyone that can ship a phone that can actually at least be used like a phone if nothing else.

        • JohnC
        • 6 years ago

        I’ve used WP8 phone. Still have it:
        [url<]http://i.imgur.com/cgfeqAe.jpg[/url<] There is nothing much to say except couple of facts: 1) The customizeability is even worse than with iOS 2) The number of useable apps is laughable. Well, at least the FaceBook app finally came out of beta a couple of days ago... Basically WP8-based smartphones are either for people who don't actually NEED any smartphone functionality or for people who just want to make themselves look "different" in the eyes of others ("ha-ha! You're an Android fanbot (or "Apple iSheeple") but I'm different than you are and, therefore, better!"). If you enjoy using various apps or need more functions than "SMS and calls" - you should stay away. There is no future for WP8 (as much as I would personally like to see because a healthy competition is always a good thing), even Microsoft knows this: [url<]http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-06-25-microsofts-age-of-empires-set-for-iphone-and-android-smartphones-before-windows-phone[/url<]

          • Airmantharp
          • 6 years ago

          Thanks for the response, that tempers my enthusiasm a bit.

          Having used Android for well over three years, I’m probably taking the customize-ability for granted, even when wrapped in Touchwiz. I don’t use my phone much, really, but that’s only partially because the battery drops precipitously when the screen’s on. I still work through it’s issues when it has them.

          But I am interested in alternatives, be they a Google-branded unit (I like most of Samsung’s hardware, they tend to get more of it right than LG, at least), an HTC, something from Microsoft, or Apple. And out of all of those, I’m beginning to think that Apple gets more of it right than anyone else, and that at least Apple does very well in any competition that they don’t outright win.

          I just really don’t want to start getting sucked into their ecosystem; and that’s getting harder too, as I’ve yet to find someone that makes a better laptop for mobile photography than the Macbook Pro Retina, whether it’s running OS X or Windows 8.1.

            • JohnC
            • 6 years ago

            Nothing bad in getting sucked into anyone’s ecosystem as long as you personally like it. For example I enjoy the ability to download purchased multimedia stuff to all my Apple devices straight from internet, without connecting them to Mac, PC, Xbox or manually setting up network shares to my external storages or any nonsense like this 😉 Using “Find Friends” app was also awesome on my iPhone (which I currently just keep as a working spare).

            I would recommend at least waiting for next iPhone reveal – even if you won’t like it the Android smartphone manufacturers might decide to drop prices in response to it.

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            I definitely don’t have an upgrade available yet- so I will be waiting until the Note 3/ S 5/ iPhone 6 come out, most likely, and it will be between those and whatever HTC has available.

            And I’m really leaning HTC, as I’ll likely want a larger screen than Apple is willing to ship to use as a remote control for my DSLR (Canon 6D which has their excellent WiFi).

            • JohnC
            • 6 years ago

            Speaking of remote control… I just LOVE the built-in ir transmitter in my HTC One and the TV Guide app that works with it:
            [url<]http://www.androidcentral.com/how-watch-tv-htc-one[/url<] You can also control any other device that uses infrared remote control. Or use it to abuse local BestBuy's TV section 😉

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            I think that was one of the things I liked about the HTC that my Samsung does not have- I’m fighting with a Uverse box, an HDMI receiver, and an LG Smart TV, and they’re all too damn smart of their own good.

            Turn on just the Philips Blu-Ray player with everything off, and it all comes up right. The Uverse remote as programmed by the installer? It all turns on. And then the TV and the receiver switch to inputs that are not the Uverse stream. It’s almost comical to watch, really.

    • Imperor
    • 6 years ago

    Common argument FOR iPhone: More Apps than Android.
    Argument against Android: Too many Apps. ^^

    Yes, an Android device needs some lovin’ to work really well, but there’s no need for advanced stuff. Just delete the rubbish and get the stuff you want. Even if an iPhone “works better out of the box”, it’s not like people then don’t get extra apps and do some adjustments to suit their needs?!
    The major difference being that your options regarding this run out a lot sooner with an iPhone…

    I still run Touchwiz on my S3, but after removing the bloat and disabling some bs functions it really sped up! I have also gotten apps with widget design in mind, there are enough of them to combine form and function and I now consider my “home screen” really good looking! 🙂
    This took me a lot less than three weeks, and this is my first Android device.

    • JDZZL
    • 6 years ago

    So from the comments and Cyrils own article, it seems like the phones shortcomings could be fixed with some tinkering? With the willingness to personalize, does it make the S4 a good choice for those of us wanting to us Android instead of an iPhone?

      • BabelHuber
      • 6 years ago

      I got my SGS4 two weeks ago:

      – Yes, the Touchwiz Launcher sucks. Use Nove Launcher instead. No lags anymore since then, and it is much more customizable than Touchwiz. I use the paid version with more options, though.

      – Camera is a little bit slow, but I like the UI, so I keep it. If you do not like it, use some other camera app.

      – The only downside was the bloatware from Vodafone and Samsung. On my device Dropbox was even installed as as system app, so you cannot remove it (could be different with other carriers).

      So I rooted it with a ROM which keeps the warranty, installed System Tuner Pro and removed the bloat. No problem ever since. You see if the device is original when you enter the fastboot mode BTW

      These ROMs can be found here: [url<]http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2250824[/url<]

        • Airmantharp
        • 6 years ago

        Good notes, all of them, but the reality is that Samsung just takes more away from Android than they add between Touchwiz and their own apps and customizations.

        • JDZZL
        • 6 years ago

        awesome, thank you very much!!!

    • deathBOB
    • 6 years ago

    This review highlights how little use benchmarks are for smartphone reviews.

    • Coran Fixx
    • 6 years ago

    I think that the ‘Three weeks’ part of the review was the problem. Not that you would like the S4 more if you had it longer, but you may have made more of an honest effort to fix some of the ‘problems’ with the phone if it wasn’t going back in three weeks.

    Could be that I don’t know what I’m missing with the iphone. I look at apple products but I just can’t force myself to buy one. I like my S4, I mostly use it for internet, email and texting so again maybe I’m not hitting the areas of the S4’s greatest weakness.

    • albundy
    • 6 years ago

    cant wait for my contract to be up in a few months. hopefully the S5 will be out by then with a flexible display!

    • Laykun
    • 6 years ago

    This pretty much highlights all the major problems with samsung phones. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Galaxy Note but the stock software, the button layout and the green tinge of the screen is not something you’d expect from (what was once) a high end device. Naturally I installed cyanogenmod.

    I feel like Samsung really shoots itself in the foot with TouchWIz, which was once necesary in the days on Android 2.x but is now obsolete and ugly. Thank goodness for the stock android devices on the play store.

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      Man I read all the gotchyas and performance issue with Cyanogenmod and it seem to introduce just as many issues as it “fixes.” Maybe it’s gotten better but I’m reading logs from just a few months ago of fixes and it’s pretty bad stuff.

    • Bauxite
    • 6 years ago

    The google versions of S4 and HTC one just came out last week, not quite a “full nexus” but close. (bonus: sd card slot)

    On the play store, full purchase only (cell phone contracts suck though, market needs to dump them)

    • kumori
    • 6 years ago

    Lots of the comments have stated that certain problems can be fixed with a certain tweak. The heart of the review is that the iPhone doesn’t require all this tweaking and is therefore the preferred device.

    If you find tweaking and flashing ROMs fun then maybe the S4 is a better phone.

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      Not “problems” – more like “adjustments to your personal preference”. Plenty of users are happy with their S4’s without tweaking or flashing ROMs.

      • spuppy
      • 6 years ago

      Except you don’t need to flash roms or tweak anything to overcome most of the complaints. Install a new launcher, keyboard, change some settings, and you can have it working just how you like.

        • [+Duracell-]
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]Install a new launcher, keyboard, change some settings, and you can have it working just how you like.[/quote<] This is, by definition, tweaking. This is also something the average user won't be comfortable doing to their phone.

          • spuppy
          • 6 years ago

          [quote<]This is, by definition, tweaking.[/quote<] To me, tweaking means making fine adjustments that are complicated and not available to users by default. But sure, use that word to describe installing launchers and keyboards from google play if you want. It is absolutely something the average user can be comfortable doing - all you do is click "Install" and you are done. In fact the biggest launchers and keyboards all have 10-50 million installs each. Even some of the paid versions. Clearly it is a major selling point of Android, not something that people are 'uncomfortable' with.

          • rechicero
          • 6 years ago

          If installing an app is “tweaking”, then the average iPhone user is tweaking like hell! Because the additaional kb are just that: apps.

      • Aliasundercover
      • 6 years ago

      With Apple no one can beat you up but Apple.

      Like your big brother who beats you up as he pleases Apple locks you out of controlling your own phone, collects 30% from anyone who wants to sell you an application and censors what you are allowed to have. Only Apple gets to do this to you, no one else. Hurray, no phone company crapware.

      Pick your poison.

        • ibintegra
        • 6 years ago

        Pretty sure Google charges 30% as well. However, Apple charges you a $99 developer fee while Google charges only $25.

          • Aliasundercover
          • 6 years ago

          If iPhones were not locked but the Apple app store still charged 30% I would probably own an iPhone and buy apps from them. The difference is the lock in. Unlocked I would be buying retail service and malware screening. I really don’t mind paying a few dollars for these services. Locked as it is the phone isn’t really mine. I lose the option of buying from other vendors choosing to prefer their apps or their services over Apple’s.

          Android is open and the Google app store is just an app store. You can buy from them or from others. It is all about what they offer as opposed to your phone blocking installation of 3rd party apps.

      • bfar
      • 6 years ago

      Tweaking should have been seen as the S4’s (and indeed any Android’s) ace. I’m as happy with my apple iPad as I am with my S4, but if there’s a feature that ios doesn’t support (such as file exploring, transfer files over bluetooth, non MP4 video formats), then I’m stuck with it. In those scenarios you could easily argue that the S4 is the preferred device.

        • hiro_pro
        • 6 years ago

        now that i can save most of my docs or pdfs to ibooks i tend to use my iphone over my nexus 7. it just takes me more time and effort to find the same things on my nexus. that said i like the calendar and email on the nexus better than on the iphone. using a mac can drive me nuts, itunes is a disaster but the ios works. in the gym my iphone is much easier to use as an MP3 player. i dont have to take it out fo the armband to start and stop music or skip a song. i still cant find a fast way to get to music on an android phone. what i really want is a samsung s4 with ios unlocked

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 6 years ago

          I just used a file explorer to connect to my network drives, copied what i wanted over, then used the built-in player for playlists. There are apps (built in settings?) that allowed you to change tracks with volume a long press of the up/down buttons.

      • JoeKiller
      • 6 years ago

      This is kinda like the old PC gaming versus console arguments. If you can’t figure out how to fix it GTFO is what people used to say in the PC gaming realm and then Valve said, this sucks and made steam. GTFO is an excuse not a feature.

    • indeego
    • 6 years ago

    The first time I saw OSX animation on icons, bouncy notifications, and IOS’s superfluous graphics for basic features, I was done with that company’s ecosystem. It was like my body told me exactly what I didn’t want. Thank you body!

    • End User
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]The notification system sometimes fills up with multiple identical Google Play icons, each one heralding a different app update.[/quote<] To disable the Google Play app update icons do the following: - jump into the main OS settings - go to Apps - go to Google Play Store - uncheck "Show notifications" This worked on my Nexus 4 and 7.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, but then you get *no* notifications. It seems quite nit-picky to be so worried over having multiple app update notifications anyway.

    • JohnC
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve played with S4 for some time (have HTC One now) and I agree that TouchWiz might not be very…”pleasant” to use. There are ways around it, though, and they don’t require the purchase of the “stock” Android version from Google.
    I also somewhat agree about the display quality and brightness (the major reason I went with HTC One instead) – no matter what settings I’ve tried I wasn’t satisfied with its brightness (especially outside, during a sunny day) and especially its color reproduction. Plus the whole phone felt like a cheap plastic toy (just a personal subjective opinion) due to combination of its materials and extremely light weight.
    On the positive side its camera is capable of taking very good pictures during daytime, better than HTC One’s camera (which very often has problems with autofocus or automatic exposure…but which can be overcome with manual adjustments), although it is not as good as HTC One’s camera for taking photos in low-light conditions. For people interested in picture quality of both these phones – you can find huge sample of photos at these forums:

    [url<]http://forums.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-s4/272552-galaxy-s4-camera-pictures-lets-see-what-you-got.html[/url<] [url<]http://forums.androidcentral.com/htc-one/269303-htc-one-camera-pictures-show-us-what-you-got-d.html[/url<]

    • njsutorius
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve been using the S4 for for several months now and I can’t even relate to any of the things that you cclaim in your article. Did you seriously complain about the default sounds? WOw your lazy.

    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    All your problems are because Samsung are goddamn stupid with their software: People say that Touchwiz is one of the Android reskins that is easy to live with:

    [quote<]The interface elements are too drab, too angular, and the sound effects are too cheesy. By default, the phone makes a watery "bloop" each time you tap on a menu item. A grating two-tone whistle lets you know about new e-mails and texts, and a new-age jingle plays whenever you unlock the device. (The jingle is accompanied by a sparkly pixie dust effect.) It's sad, but at times, the uninspired UI and crummy sound effects conspire to make the phone seem cheap[/quote<] and [quote<]all those carrier and manufacturer widgets feel like the smartphone equivalents of Dell and HP bloatware: things bound to satisfy marketers more than users.[/quote<] and [quote<]Samsung really crowds those home screens, too. Three of the five default ones are taken up by Samsung widgets[/quote<] and [quote<]Oh, and the default keyboard is terrible.[/quote<] I'm enjoying the stock Android experience on my Galaxy SII and the phone was given a completely new lease of life by removing all the samsung bloat. Not only did I get the benefit of a newer version of Android (ICS to Jellybean) but the removal of all the Samsung bloat made the phone far more responsive and battery life damn-near [i<]doubled[/i<]. I'll probably continue to buy Samsung phones because I like the hardware, but there is no way in hell I'll voluntarily put up with Touchwiz unless someone put a gun to my head.

      • hoboGeek
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]... but there is no way in hell I'll [b<]voluntarily[/b<] put up with Touchwiz unless someone put a gun to my head.[/quote<] If somebody is forcing you to do something (i.e. putting a gun to your head) then you're not doing it voluntarily...

        • Chrispy_
        • 6 years ago

        That is a good oxymoron though, and I like that word because it sounds [i<]scientifical[/i<] and has the word moron in it.

          • Airmantharp
          • 6 years ago

          If that isn’t a Firefly quote, it is in good spirit.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 6 years ago

          oxymoron is the world I used for people who bought into Billy Mays when he was selling his oxygenated cleaner.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      Samsung’s stuff seems heavy on the skeumorphism, as much as iOS 6 and older. The calendar app on my friend’s Galaxy S3 is a desk planner with tear-off pages. And he hates the stock keyboard. Fortunately, Google makes their Calendar and Keyboard apps as add-on downloads on the Play store. The Google Keyboard also has swype-like input is you like that sort of thing. All without rooting the phone.

    • kc77
    • 6 years ago

    Touchwiz is the main reason why I went with the Galaxy Nexus and then the Nexus 4 instead of the SG3 or SG4. You have an out-of-box experience that’s quick and intuitive without any of the extra stuff.

    That being said it doesn’t take much to at least get to the point where Touchwiz on the S4 isn’t in your way. Keyboards, wallpapers, and launchers can pretty much cover up, replace, or completely change the experience. This is the most important part about Android. There is very little about the OS that can’t be changed to suit your needs. You can even change the way notifications appear and what is seen in the notification drawer.

    Without a doubt there is something to be said about the benefit of walled gardens, but likewise there is also something to be said to having the ability to change and customize your $500 phone to your exact specifications. It just takes a little work of clicking “Install” in the Store and playing for a day. It’s not like you are dropped to terminal. You don’t need to worry about apt-get or yum.

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      Having to root a phone to remove some of the annoying Samsung-installed apps is an unnecessary evil.

      Rooting is neither for the inexperienced, nor particularly secure.

        • nafhan
        • 6 years ago

        No rooting needed to do this. As an S3 owner, I can tell you what he’s talking about simply requires swapping out a small number of default apps. We’re talking 10 minutes (or less) of downloading from Google Play.

        Removing Touchwiz altogether WOULD require rooting, but again that’s not what he’s talking about and it’s not necessary to work around the most obnoxious bits of Touchwiz.

        • jihadjoe
        • 6 years ago

        You can just go into application manager and disable them.
        I got rid of most of the annoying Samsung stuff that way (ChatON, Flipboard, Blurb, etc.)

      • peartart
      • 6 years ago

      Customization sucks. I mean, when it’s good it’s good, but too often customization just exposes options that should never be taken, and sometimes those choices even ship by default.

        • Airmantharp
        • 6 years ago

        Sorry, our society thrives on choice, as does our economy; and it’s in our blood, be that blood US or Canadian or UK/AUS/NZ/EU what have you.

        What Samsung should be faulted for, and is, is that the default customizations aren’t that great, and that they detract from the perceived value of their halo product, where Apple’s (and Google’s and likely HTCs and others’) do a relatively better job, regardless of the underlying hardware.

    • obarthelemy
    • 6 years ago

    Your write up rises several red flags that make it seems like a half-hearted attempt and whitewash:

    – “Perhaps a third-party ROM closer to the Jelly Bean default could make things better.” You don’t have to hack ROMs to change a lot: get rid of TouchWiz and get a different launcher, change widgets, get rid of some widgets… You don’t mention doing/trying any of that ?

    – You don’t mention trying any of the different screen modes either. They have a impact on brightness, legibility, color temperature…

    – “I could get the luminosity to match my iPhone’s only if I disabled automatic brightness altogether, which is probably terrible for battery life”??? easy: do it and tell us. You’ve had a month, you say ?

    – the S4 has several tweaks to improve screen reactivity. [url<]http://www.digitalversus.com/mobile-phone/samsung-galaxy-s4-p14727/samsung-galaxy-s4-amoled-screen-put-test-n29305.html.[/url<] have you tried enabling/disabling stuff in the settings ? - and so on....

      • brucek2
      • 6 years ago

      At some point though given enough customization doesn’t it become a review of one person’s choices among a whole bunch of 3rd party mods vs. a review of a vendor’s phone? As well as set himself up for complaints that well you chose the wrong launcher / widgets / themes / system settings / etc.

      The reality is plenty of users will end up living with whatever choices Samsung made for them.

        • Tamale
        • 6 years ago

        This is true, but this is the tech report – the same place that is going into the nittiest, grittiest details regarding frame latencies to determine the absolute best in graphics processing cards; diving deep into each new processor architecture to examine them to the fullest, and giving a no-stone-unturned approach to system guides. I would hope that someone could take the time to review some of the most popular replacement keyboards, launchers, and even a couple ROMs before coming to a conclusion about such a headline product.

        Then, after building a portfolio of some preferred customizations, these same tweaks could be applied to other handsets to see how they fare there.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        Or it becomes a review that reflects, or at least acknowledges, the flexibility and customization of Android.

    • ca_steve
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve had the S4 for a month and I like it. Definately a LOT of homescreen cruft to clear out as well as tuning the notification management. That said, it seems pretty speedy to me. Bright daylight viewing is a pain…but manageable. Otherwise, I like the display quality.

    I opted for the S4 over the HTC One simply because batteries die quicker than I replace the phone. Yes, the HTC One has a pretty build…but I’ll take functionality over pretty. Besides, my phone is encased in a shell. I’d never see the pretty metal.

    I opted for the S4 over the iPhone as the former supports wifi calling on T- Mobile. Reception at my house sucks for all carriers…but using my router for backhaul rocks! I miss having the easy iTunes connectivity, though. Samsung’s phone to PC connectivity sucks ass.

    Finally, if you have an Android phone that uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, be sure to get Snapdragon Battery Guru. It increased my (fairly light use) battery life from 2 days to 3.
    [url<]https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.xiam.snapdragon.app&hl=en[/url<]

    • DarkUltra
    • 6 years ago

    How about the stuttering when scrolling contact list and jerkyness when panning around in the browser? This is what turned me off a Galaxy S3, but I might be spoiled with my Nokia Lumia 800 and me sisters iPhone 4.

    I really miss the customization an Android device have, just waiting for the UI to become butter smooth.

    • BoilerGamer
    • 6 years ago

    Have been using my GS4 with Maximum brightness in Dynamic mode(much brighter than auto) & with the “auto adjust screen tone” setting turned off as well. I have been having great battery life( my 85% battery life is 18-20 hours with 3 hour+ of screen time).

    So your claim that “I could get the luminosity to match my iPhone’s only if I disabled automatic brightness altogether, which is probably terrible for battery life” is largely unsubstantiated. Just for reference, I haven’t hit either the menu and back button accidently, but I guess that’s just my familiarity with the Galaxy S series’ button layout(10 month with a GS3 before this).

    Android is all about choice, install Swift Key or Google Keyboard, run a custom launcher such as Nova or Apex instead of Touchwiz Home, disable all the Samsung apps you consider as bloat and you won’t ever see them again, etc. If you are uncomfortable with doing any of the above, the Touchwiz GS 4 is probably not your phone.

    • Growler
    • 6 years ago

    Cyril, I’d be interested in your opinion of the HTC One, in comparison to the iPhone 5 and the S4. Sense, in my opinion, is much nicer than TouchWiz, and the build quality of the One is second to none. It might be closer to the phone you want.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 6 years ago

    Samsung’s software, generally, is pretty slow from what I can tell. Just a little bit of Googling can reveal tons of people griping about games stuttering and just sluggish performance. Before I bought my current HTC One S (which I’ve had for more than a year now and still like) I briefly owned a T989 T-Mobile SGS II. The standard software (which was still Gingerbread at the time) was very sluggish. I felt like I got better performance out of my G2x, which was slower considering the Tegra 2 was clocked slower and it had half the memory. So I dumped the S2 quickly and got the One S.

    Sure you can do Cyanogenmod on Samsung’s phones, but they have a flash counter that keeps track if you go with a custom ROM and they’ll hold it against you for warranty issues if you can’t use an app like Triangle Away to fix it prior to sending it back to the manufacturer. Not really worth the effort. Contrast that with HTC, which allows unlocking the boot loader and as long as you don’t go S-OFF you’re covered by warranty, even with custom software. You can flash a custom kernel with an S-ON phone so you’re not missing out; you just can’t flash the radio which you shouldn’t need to do anyway.

    • bfar
    • 6 years ago

    Good lord that’s a bad review! I’ve been 3 weeks with the s4, and the Mrs has been with an iPhone 5 since xmas. (I’m very generous). Can’t say I agree with everything above. Most of the niggles you’ve described can be solved with a little customization. For instance, sound effects and app trays can all be changed or disabled. The samsung keyboard can be replaced with any from the market, including Google’s nexus keyboard. The list goes on. And that’s the whole point of android. You can customize almost everything with a little effort. Some of you will love that, and some of you will prefer the more out of the box experience of an apple device.

    All told, I think this is an absolutely super phone. In many ways I find it a better experience than our iPad (newest model) My own opinion is that this is a superior device for me than the iPhone, but as this article shows, it comes down to your own preference.

    • windwalker
    • 6 years ago

    Thanks for the great review, Cyril.
    I love reading honest, informed, well reasoned and justified opinions of products.
    They are much more useful than those absurd and drab feature checklists and benchmark comparison charts.

      • danny e.
      • 6 years ago

      agreed. I hate apple but I enjoyed reading this. It means a lot more when you have someone giving their opinions based on experience – especially when doing a comparison like this.

      I still would never buy an apple product, though. 🙂

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I agree. I just wish that an Android phone would come out looking better. No excuse for a sluggish feel, but my wife’s iPhone 4s feels as fast as and often times faster than my One S on stock software. Only with a more stock-ish ROM does performance feel similar. That tells me that feature creep is more important than a good experience to Android OEMs. My next phone will be a Nexus just to avoid that crap feeling.

        • JohnC
        • 6 years ago

        Different Android phones have different feel… My HTC One is perfectly “smooth” even when using stock HTC Sense and Blinkfeed.

    • dpaus
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]Samsung substitutes the stock Jelly Bean keyboard for one of its own design[/quote<] I think you mean the other way around... Or 'Samsung substitutes the stock Jelly Bean keyboard with one of its own design' Whatever; your experience mirrors my own. I haven't found the combination of hardware, OS and ecosystem to pry me away from my Pre3 yet.

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      WebOS has no apps. I bet Netflix still isn’t working on it.. I really gave that TouchPad a fair chance, but the lack of apps forced my hand – after a month I had to put Android on it.

      • continuum
      • 6 years ago

      A lack of autocorrect? Errr what?

      I agree, the stock Samsung keyboard sucks, but it definitely does do a semi-decent autocorrect. That said, it’s only so-so. I much prefer Swiftkey…

    • internetsandman
    • 6 years ago

    That’s surprising. On paper the S4 has the 5 beat in essentially every aspect, yet it’s slower in real life. I plan on eventually upgrading to a Phablet from my iPhone 5, something top-tier like an Xperia Z Ultra or Note 3/Galaxy Mega, but if even the highest end android devices feel clunky in comparison it’ll be quite the disappointment

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      I don’t have an S4, but S3 is frustratingly slow sometimes. Or, should I say, unresponsive. When typing something, I’ve watched it ‘think’ for a second or two, and then the letters I had pressed during ‘think-break’ starts coming to the screen from the buffer. Horrendous. Rotating the phone when entering the keyboard mode is another frustrating experience – it takes another second or two for it to update the screen to have the correct keyboard layout.

      And yes – the keyboard is crap. I have typos [i<]all the time[/i<], and the autocorrect is a royal pain. Seriously, my old Atrix 4G had a more responsive keyboard, and I didn't have anywhere near as many typos as with GS3, even though the screen was a lot smaller. Also, the camcorder in GS3 is always out-of-focus. I had way more success taking video of, say, a concert with the old Atrix. However, having the settings and back buttons on the phone is pure gold, imo. I love them so much. XOXOXO I don't know why others don't have them anymore..

        • derFunkenstein
        • 6 years ago

        You’re probably not up to tripping the flash counter but I wonder what CM10 performance is like. My One S is pretty quick with it and the big difference seems to be the extra RAM.

          • NeelyCam
          • 6 years ago

          I might play with that later when I get a phone upgrade in September 2014. In fact, I’ve been meaning to try Cyanogenmod ICS/JB on one of the two… Atrices (spelling?) I have – it’s on the ever-growing to-do list

        • Kaleid
        • 6 years ago

        I have the S3 mini and can agree, it’s so damn slow at times I sometimes wonder why I even bother using it. It shouldn’t be this slow when starting the camera and typing should have absolutely no performance issues but they certainly are there. Apple seems to optimize their software a lot better than Samsung.

          • Ultraman1966
          • 6 years ago

          Sorry but Samsung has deceived you; the S3 Mini has an inferior dual core chip set which would lag behind the S2. It truly wasn’t worthy of the Galaxy S title full stop.
          I think that this article is mostly bullcrap as mentioned previously; the author was free to change and rectify all his issues with free play store apps in most cases. I also refuse to believe that the S4 is noticeably slower than the iDrone 5. My Nexus 4 has a slower chip set which I’ve under clocked and it’s still lightening fast.

      • continuum
      • 6 years ago

      The slowest comments at the top of the second page were good to see confirmed, a few others have noticed.

      Honestly, I don’t notice, and I don’t think it’s clunky at all– just not as consistently slick as it should be, which is indeed disappointing.

        • internetsandman
        • 6 years ago

        Perhaps it’s just those little snags annoying coming from a platform where the software and hardware are optimized for each other. I’d assume thats harder to do for an android platform, though with a fast enough phone it shouldn’t be too irksome

      • calyth
      • 6 years ago

      iOS appears fast, but it’s not actually fast.

      I’ve caught my iPad 3 on iOS 6 (current one I think, haven’t got an update notification lately) many times where an app is brought to the foreground, but poking at it doesn’t work. That’s because iOS is bringing up a screenshot, and still getting the app ready.

      The horses are there to beat the iPhone 5, but the thing that the Apple User Experience team got right is to cheat at every opportunity to make the device feel fast, because most people don’t notice.

      Android does similiar thing, but the implementation is different. Try going to sites that load more content via Ajax (URL doesn’t change, but more content appears,e.g. [url<]http://m.9gag.com[/url<]), load some more content, switch to other browser tabs, or other apps. You'll notice that when you switch back, the browser forgot where you were. That's because the browser saved the state it was in (i.e. URL), got killed and removed from memory, and reloaded. But it can't remember that the page has loaded more content, and it always starts from the top.

        • internetsandman
        • 6 years ago

        I’d actually heard about that tactic before but it hadn’t occurred to me here, and I’ve actually noticed that my phone does that quite often as well. Perhaps the user experience in the end would be better if the software and hardware weren’t passing off illusions of speed

          • peartart
          • 6 years ago

          It’s actually a good compromise, since to simply make apps load faster you would need either stricter app standards or to spend more background effort on them, which hurts battery life. Apps in iOS have a fair amount of control over how they are suspended and how they are resumed.

        • BIF
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]"Try going to sites that load more content via Ajax (URL doesn't change, but more content appears,e.g. [url<]http://m.9gag.com[/url<]), load some more content, switch to other browser tabs, or other apps. "[/quote<] I know this is off-topic; please forgive. I totally despise those websites that load more content/more pages without changing the URL. Yuckus! Makes it impossible to bookmark the one relevant page INSIDE that monster container, and is even more frustrating when the page is not dynamically composed and therefore does not depend on input from a preceding page. Why make things so hard for the user? /rant

      • JoeKiller
      • 6 years ago

      I’m guessing the speediness of the iPhone versus any android system is that iOS is compiled while android is a JIT. Kinda like java versus c.

    • excession
    • 6 years ago

    Great writeup, Cyril.

    TouchWiz aside, this parallels my experience with the Nexus 7 vs the iPad mini. Nexus 7 faster on paper, but didn’t feel it in real-world use. Same notification niggles. Same brightness annoyance.

    It’s always a tradeoff in smartphone-land.

    I’d be interested in your views on iOS jailbreaking related to this article…

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 6 years ago

      I enjoy mine but:
      I hate touchscreen keyboards, no matter what phone droid or iphone, no matter what random keyboard I install, I hate touchscreens. Sadly sliders are a dying breed (or incredibly underpowered).

      The bezel is too small on both the bottom and the sides. I hit my enter key on my keyboard constantly, then end up sending blank messages or have blank “drafts” saved.

      On Sprint, oh wonderful Sprint, their voicemail app has a bar going across the entire bottom of the screen that is a built in “voice to text” button, but it costs extra to use it, so every time you hit the button (which is easy to do as it’s huge and near the bottom), it pops up a dialogue asking if you want to signup for the premium service. The “fix” is to use google voice for voicemail. Pretty f’d up on Sprint for putting in something like that, that cannot be disabled in the app itself.

      All the other “bloatware” I disabled as well moreso because it felt like an invasion of privacy, such as the storybook scanning my pictures automatically, using face recognition to determine people in it, linking to my gmail to determine their names, then making a horribly cropped slideshow of them, then give me an annoying notification “Storybook made a new album with your recent pictures, would you like to review it?”. No thanks.

      • Spunjji
      • 6 years ago

      The major difference there is that Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini isn’t anything like a fair fight. I agree that the iPad Mini is a superior device (OS preferences aside) but it is also accordingly priced.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      You do realize you could buy a Nexus 7 for $199 and an iPad Mini costs $329.99, right?

      They’re not even in the same league of price points.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This