I was loaned a Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T to facilitate this review; all opinions are my own.

Samsung Galaxy G4

Today I bring you the Samsung Galaxy S4, currently the Samsung brand’s flagship phone available from  AT&T (available in black, red, and white).  The Galaxy S4 is capable of taking advantage of AT&T’s LTE network giving it superb connectivity and crisp reception.

I’ve spent the last few years using Windows phones, the last I had was the Nokia Lumia 1020, and then before that the Nokia Lumia 920. Both used the Windows mobile OS which was very simple and clutter free, something that I was expecting with the new Galaxy S4.  Boy was I wrong but not in a bad way, the Android OS in the Galaxy S4 is capable of giving you so much information from your phone,  the top notification icons alone number more than I had ever seen from my Lumia.  Which is both a good thing and a bad thing,  the number of widgets and apps you can get can be a bit overwhelming and organizing it gets to be a little time consuming.  Considering I have never used an Android OS it could be my lack of experience with it that makes it look so daunting, or like a friend of mine said to me “I think you have had your Windows phone for too long“, like most new things you just got to break them in and get used to them.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 Alert Screen

To say the least this was a interesting change, the Galaxy S4 notifies you of pretty much everything that happens on your phone, from receiving emails from different accounts,  or messages from different apps, updates, calendar reminders, the S4 even recommends to you what apps you might be interested in based on the use of apps that you have continued using and downloaded.  The notification menu is incredibly informative and easy to use and convenient which is great because it contains quick access to functions you’ll access often such as activating, deactivating Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, adjusting brightness, airplane mode, etc.

Now I am not sure if some of the many features are available on all Android OS phones but the S4 sure makes it easy to access all the important functions on your phone.  One of the things I particularly loved on the Galaxy S4 was the fact that it has individual sound control.  You can tailor all the different sounds to your liking, keep the ring tone high, while text tones low, maintain music at a balanced level without having to raise or lower the volume as other notifications come in, which is something all phones need to have.

Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T: Smart Screen & IR Controller

As for the signature feature in the Galaxy S4; the Smart Screen, it is a very cool feature, allowing for a true hands free experience of sorts.  The phone is capable of pausing when you are not looking, which was a bit more complicated to get to work than anything, same thing with sight scrolling, I tried using it both with and without glasses but the features only worked some of the time, only the scrolling via hand gesturing was reliable, and easy to use.  I am sure that for others those features could be working perfectly but for me they are more effort than they are worth, and are features that I would not care to waste too much time on when I can just tap on whatever I need like I have done in the past.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 IRC Features

Another cool feature in the Galaxy S4 is the IR controller, which may sound old school but it makes transferring files and or contacts to others super easy and it allows your phone to be used as a remote control for your TV.  I am not sure if you can use it as a remote for everything with an IR receiver, but it does open the S4 to new uses.

Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T: Camera Features

Included with the S4 is a 13MP camera which is capable of taking some very nice pictures with its 1080p screen resolution you’re always going to have the best quality available and with 16Gb of memory you are sure not to run out of space anytime soon. But in case you do, the Galaxy S4 does have memory card slot which can be used to expand its memory to store even more movies, pictures, and music.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 photo - no retouch
While the Galaxy S4’s camera may not be as impressive as the Lumia 1020’s 40 mega pixel one, it does holds its own thanks to the multitude of modes that come standard with the S4’s camera app.  From drama mode, animated photos, panoramas, night shots, to the even popular eraser mode which if you have seen the commercial allows you to take a sequence of pictures and if say someone decides to be rude and walk in front of you as you take it, it allows you to delete that obstruction and save your photo without having to retake it.  The sheer number of modes and add-ons for the camera give it a lot of versatility that I like, as a amateur with cameras it is nice to have so many options to try out and create unique memories and preserve random moments.

Samsung Galaxy G4 - Panorama

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 Video

This is a 5 second video I shot to show you the quality of the S4 video.

Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T: Size & Usability

One of the major things that struck me when I compared my Lumia 920, 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 was the weight of the phone.  Those that have a 920 know that it weighs a lot, more so than I think any phone currently available in the market, and although that changed a lot with the 1020, the Galaxy S4 still has it beat. The S4 is light and allows for a firm grip for easy use and although the glossy back and slim design are nice, the side buttons (volume and power) are barely protruding the sides, so they can be a bit hard to press and use when you have to adjust your hand to press them.  I’m hoping that one day phone designers will realize that people tend to grab their phones from the bottom and mostly do it with one hand so placing the buttons on the top corners is kind of self defeating.

Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T

The Galaxy S4 is a great phone with a myriad of features and uniqueness, having access to the android app store gives it a great edge as well, although the Air View, Air Gesture, and Smart View can be a little hard to master, they are features that set the S4 apart and only add to its flavor.  I really enjoyed using the new Galaxy S4 and seeing what it is capable of doing, and look forward to all the new things the people at Samsung are going to release.