Gadget review - The Samsung Galaxy S4

Dr Richard Harkness offers his verdict on Samsung's recent addition to the smartphone market.

The Galaxy S3 has been a huge success for Samsung. Sales have grown rapidly, while iPhone 5 sales have been slower than expected.

Samsung now seems to be releasing new models ahead of Apple, creating the image of a leader rather than a follower.

The details

The new S4 model brings a slightly bigger full HD 1080p screen and a 13-megapixel camera, and it is 5mm thinner. The 5-inch display is lovely and crisp, with the resolution being pin sharp at 441ppi (by comparison, the iPhone 5 is 326ppi) and colours are bright and vibrant.

The build quality has improved but at about £500 SIM-free, it still looks a bit 'plastic' and lacks the premium feel of an iPhone or HTC One. It does have an advantage over the aforementioned phones, in that the back can be removed to allow you to swap the battery or expand the memory.

Looked at another way, the polycarbonate body also makes it very tough yet light and it will fit into your pocket a little easier than the previous model.

High-speed network

The phone runs on 4G if you are with EE, currently the only network providing this speed. 4G has limited availability at present, so check if your area is covered. You will pay a lot for these speeds, so be careful not to go over your data limit.

The S4 is full of fancy ideas like eye tracking, smart scrolling, facial recognition, near field communication, air view and so on. The chances are you will disable these quickly or simply not use them. S Voice is Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri and suffers the same problems - it is hit and miss whether it will do as you ask.

In summary, the S4 is an excellent feature-packed phone. If it is your first smartphone it will be an amazing start. I have knocked one star off my rating because the S4 will be expensive to own and many of the features feel gimmicky. The S3 is still a brilliant phone and is at least £100 cheaper.

  • Dr Harkness is a GP in Durham.

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