1. peejay1977's Avatar
    If anyone feels inclined to read them. I was a virgin to Android until I got the Nexus 4 last November but I fully remain in the Android "camp" at this point. My comments are in no way slanted or biased, I am no Apple hater and I have no proper brand loyalty. Just honest observations from an honest owner.

    So what angle am I coming at this from? Well I'd say more of a power user, not to the extreme degree but I like to "play" and I like to see what a piece of technology is capable of. So my slant on this is from a guy who uses his phone for pretty much everything (I have a fairly new i7 PC and a Nexus 10 as well).

    Why did I buy the S4?
    Simply put, I got an iPhone 4S nearly 2 years ago on launch day and loved the device, loved the camera especially and loved the apps, it was my second iPhone but I always found frustration with using iTunes, never having direct filesystem access and the constant wait for jailbreaks. Plus not being able to share media to any app directly or choosing my default apps was a constant point of annoyance for me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the iPhone and I still have fondness for the products but it just wasn't right for me.

    My only exposure to Android until last November was a couple of plays with earlier HTC devices and thinking "this looks great, but it's not as slick as my iPhone" I think I'll wait until it matures a little. Then a friend let me have a go with his Samsung Galaxy S2 and I have to admit I realised things had moved on a little.

    Then I started looking on the forums and found out about the Nexus 4, the surprinsingly low cost of it compared to others, combined with the massive specs. I spent ages looking at YouTube clips of it and decided to take the plunge as I was only a year into my 2 year contract on the iPhone.

    Long story short, I LOVED the phone, it is powerful, slick and has all of the control and flexibility I had hoped for from Android. A sealed battery didn't bother me in the slightest and neither did the lack of SD card slot, although occasionally I wished it had one. The thing that REALLY frustrated me was the camera, and I know this is a topic of much debate, but in my opinion it was/is sub par and very poor considering it's meant to be an 8MP with 1080p video. I take alot of photos and my iPhone 4S was great but the Nexus left me underwhelmed. Occasionally it got the metering right and I got a pretty decent shot but half the time it was really very average. Spot focusing helps but I believe the lense isn't great but it's the focus mechanism and the metering in the software that let it down.

    However, I loved the phone otherwise and I decided to plough on with it, until now. The pictures were frustrating and getting more so over the summer when alot of my photos I took weren't worth sharing on Facebook or Google+ etc and I was approaching my contract renewal date.

    I had considered waiting for the Nexus 5, but work gave me a Galaxy S3 LTE and I realised that the TouchWiz UI isn't as intrusive and robbing of the Google experience as I'd been led to believe by some, so I ended up getting the S4 partly for the specs, partly for the camera and having had a play with a friends and being impressed with the improvements over the S3.

    What I like
    • The camera, simply stunning in any condition.
    • The screen, sharp, crisp and vibrant.
    • TouchWiz, I really do like it, I can turn off the things I don't want so I don't feel Samsung is impeaching on my freedom to choose.
    • The overall styling.
    • The speed, not markedly faster than my Nexus but still a great performer (possibly better with 4.3?)
    • SD card slot, OK it wasn't a problem but now I have it I love it!


    What I don't like
    • The plasticy feel of the back, I think the leather effect on the Note 3 would have been better.
    • The screen size, by that, I mean you can see where they have extended the screen versus the S3 and it means the screen bottom is nearer to the home button than on the S3, this means with my chubby thumbs I keep pressing the bottom of the screen.
    • The camera app - What I mean is, I prefer to use a physical button as a shutter, a la iPhone or digital camera so I set the volume buttons as the shutter. I NEVER use digital zoom. This works great BUT if I hold the phone the natural way with the volume buttons on top and take a picture, inside the phone the picture is fine, and also when uploaded. But if I extract the pics straight to the PC they are upside down. I notice the EXIF data shows a rotation by 180 degrees specified. I can see why this is, when you activate the app, the phone screen rotates in the same direction every time, which is as per the buttons being on the bottom but I can't take pics like this. Surely they could have used the accelerometer to decide? This is only a minor frustration.
    • SD card slot - Not many apps support changing the location to the ExtSdCard location, Spotify was a pain in the a$$ to get to point at the card! So why have it included if you can only dump stuff onto it instead of properly integrating it?


    All in all I LOVE the phone, I can find fault in anything so don't take my negatives too badly, I am a techy by trade so I am paid to find faults and fix them lol

    Just my inane ramblings, thanks for listening!


    Paul.
    rajnet likes this.
    09-23-2013 01:29 PM
  2. paintdrinkingpete's Avatar
    Pretty good points. I probably sound like a broken record here, but I also suggest trying out Nova launcher (or Apex, etc) to use rather than the default TW launcher. No loss of performance, but much more customizable and more similar to stock Android, in my opinion.

    On your comment with the camera app, I know your frustration...the positioning has been a common problem with many phones (not just Android either) for some time. My old BlackBerry used to do this as well. For me, I don't even have a problem with holding it the "correct" way in landscape and using the on-screen button (though I kinda wish I could use the power button for the shutter), but it's impossible to take portrait pics and not have them turn sideways once I off-load them to my PC. I understand that the preferred orientation for *most* pics is landscape (and don't even get me started on idiots that post videos from their iPhones to YouTube in portrait), but there are legit times when I do actually want to take a picture in portrait orientation, and can't seem to find an easy way to do that without spend a bunch of time trying to figure out how to rotate the pics back later. No, it's not a deal-breaker, nor is this an issue isolated to the GS4 or even Samsung, but it still bugs me...

    Regarding the SD slot...there are several reasons why Google really does not want to support them, most of which I actually understand and agree with on a technical level (won't get into that here), however as a user it's something I really want to have. My feelings are that if Google wants to truly avoid the use of removable storage, then there should be more high-capacity options available at time of purchase for those that need it. I think that one thing folks have to come to grips with is the fact that removable storage simply is not a viable option for app storage. Yes, some apps allow storing of data on SD, but as you mentioned, many do not. I don't really consider this a huge flaw with Android, since Apple doesn't support removable storage at all, but again, I'd feel better about it if a 64GB GS4 was available if I wanted it. Having said that, however, SD storage is still great for media storage and does definitely help to keep as much internal storage as possible available for apps, so I'm glad I have it. Oh, And yes, I do also agree that apps like Google Music and Spotify should make it easier to direct cached data to the SD card as well.
    09-23-2013 02:00 PM
  3. Gator352's Avatar
    For your camera problem, just enable voice in the camera app and when you want to take a picture, just say "SHOOT" or "CHEESE" and it will take a picture.

    They have on Amazon leather, wood, plastic, aluminum, and a whole slew of other battery backs to replace the original. Search "Samsung S4 battery covers".

    The SD problem used to be worse. Google mandated that SD cards caused problems and therefore needed to be removed....in the U.S. that is. All manufacturers except Samsung complied. Sammy just recently added the ability to store apps on the SD through an update BUT only the apps that are designed to be used on the SD will be moved to the SD. All other apps stay put.
    09-23-2013 02:40 PM
  4. garublador's Avatar
    The SD problem used to be worse. Google mandated that SD cards caused problems and therefore needed to be removed....in the U.S. that is. All manufacturers except Samsung complied. Sammy just recently added the ability to store apps on the SD through an update BUT only the apps that are designed to be used on the SD will be moved to the SD. All other apps stay put.
    Google didn't mandate anything. It's open source code. Google just took some or all of it out of the code they released. Anyone is free to write their own drivers and add support back in. They probably recommended not supporting uSD, but there's no way for them to mandate it.

    I agree it sucks that there are so many good reasons to want lots of storage but internal storage is expensive and stock Android doesn't support uSD cards. It's the reason I haven't even considered Google Play music. I'd have no way to put all my music on my phone, which is the only way to be sure I have it all the time. I understand that there are many design reasons to leave uSD cards out, and I get that Google did it to try to push OEMs to add more internal memory, but unfortunately larger eMMC's are just a bit too expensive right now for that to work out. So now those of us that want bigger memory are stuck with limited choices.

    I think the OP made a bunch of reasonable observations. The texture of the back is probably the worst thing about the phone. Fortunately a $2 TPU case helps a lot. I like a physical camera button as well. I agree with paintdrinkingpete on the launcher, too, though. I think I'd use Nova even on "stock" Android because it's such an improvement. I also find myself accidentally hitting the bottom of the screen instead of the buttons and I don't have chubby fingers.
    09-23-2013 03:07 PM
  5. Gator352's Avatar
    Google didn't mandate anything. It's open source code. Google just took some or all of it out of the code they released. Anyone is free to write their own drivers and add support back in. They probably recommended not supporting uSD, but there's no way for them to mandate it.

    I agree it sucks that there are so many good reasons to want lots of storage but internal storage is expensive and stock Android doesn't support uSD cards. It's the reason I haven't even considered Google Play music. I'd have no way to put all my music on my phone, which is the only way to be sure I have it all the time. I understand that there are many design reasons to leave uSD cards out, and I get that Google did it to try to push OEMs to add more internal memory, but unfortunately larger eMMC's are just a bit too expensive right now for that to work out. So now those of us that want bigger memory are stuck with limited choices.

    I think the OP made a bunch of reasonable observations. The texture of the back is probably the worst thing about the phone. Fortunately a $2 TPU case helps a lot. I like a physical camera button as well. I agree with paintdrinkingpete on the launcher, too, though. I think I'd use Nova even on "stock" Android because it's such an improvement. I also find myself accidentally hitting the bottom of the screen instead of the buttons and I don't have chubby fingers.
    They wanted all manufacturers to remove support for SD cards. There were a few reasons. One was so that people would move to cloud services. Two, apps load faster and are more stable in phone storage as opposed to SD storage. Three, made for thinner devices with bigger batteries. Google removed the source out of Android. Yes, they gave the manufacturers options to add it themselves (Samsung in point) but will give no support...not even for Google apps. So yeah, it was pretty much mandated. Not forced but mandated. Why do you think Samsung is the only manufacturer in the US that is still using SD cards? To be different. And because they have the" power?" to do it? Heck even Sammy is moving to it's own Tizen OS soon. How soon remains to be seen. But all the other manufacturers have fallen right in line with Google's recommendation. I like having an SD card no matter the instance. I refuse to be locked to cloud services as an only option.

    I use an otterbox defender case so it's not a problem for me. I was just giving a suggestion that a 10 dollar back can give you many different option on color, feel, and style.
    09-23-2013 04:01 PM
  6. gavo360's Avatar
    Your recent phone history is very similar to mine. I had Iphones for 2 years then got the nexus 4 6 months ago and loved almost everything about it but camera and battery life were poor so I got a S4 a couple of weeks ago and love it. I can't really fault the S4, plastic back doesn't bother me, camera is great and battery life is the best I've had from a smartphone.
    rajnet likes this.
    09-24-2013 02:07 AM

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