Product Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 (Picture Heavy)

Monday, June 03, 2013

This is outside my normal scope of blogging, but I thought you photo fans would like to learn a little bit about the amazing Samsung Galaxy S4 and its even more amazing cameras. I was recently invited to a Samsung event where I was given the opportunity to take home a Samsung S4 to play around with for a couple of weeks!

The Samsung Galaxy S4 packaging and the coincidentally matching tabletop. Image taken at the Samsung S4 event using the phone's dual-camera feature, which utilises the front and the back cameras at the same time.

This phone is jam-packed with features and if I regurgitated them all for you, it would make this a boring brochure, so this blogpost is just a highlight of some of my favourite features on this phone. The rest, you can get from a Samsung salesperson :)

The Display
What struck me immediately upon turning the phone on was the vibrant display - I love strong, vivid colours in both my makeup and my pictures, so it was great to see a huge display coupled with strong colours.

This is my absolute favourite thing about this phone. It takes the most incredibly crisp and colour-strong photos I have ever seen, and I am blown away each time I compare pictures taken on the Samsung S4 with pictures taken on any other smartphone on the market. The camera is quick, responsive, and captures crisp, sharp images. Here are a couple of sample pictures I took on both the front and back cameras.

Taken with the back-facing camera. This and all pictures in this blogpost were taken using the Samsung S4's cameras, and edited on Photoshop to adjust brightness and contrast.

Image taken in good lighting conditions using the back-facing camera, filter on Instagram applied.

This image was taken in low lighting conditions on the Samsung S4's back-facing camera, unedited.

This was taken with the front-facing camera in low lighting. Unedited.

Taken in good lighting conditions on the front-facing camera. Unedited.

Dual-Camera Function
Another function I am loving on this phone is its camera applications. It can do amazing things like create a little gif with only one area of the picture animated, it takes action shots so that you can have multiple copies of your moving subject in just one picture, and it has this awesome dual camera function where both the front and back cameras are activated so that you can take a picture of yourself and whatever is in front of you all at once. I, of course, chose to camwhore with anyone who would camwhore with me ;)

At the event with Wilee, Anna Bella, and Kelly

The day I picked Jace up from the airport and went through the nightmarish experience of trying to clear Chloe through customs

Testing out the dual-camera function for the very first time.

Samsung has also included this neat little nugget of technology in the phone where waving your hand in the air above the phone helps you do a multitude of things without having to touch the phone, like answer a call, check the date and time, read a website, and so on.
Why do I love this feature? How many times have you been caught halfway through doing this:

...with an incessantly ringing phone, scrambling for a towel or a piece of cloth to wipe your hands down before answering your phone? And this happens for me all the time, when I am applying my skincare and my hands are greasy, when I am applying nail polish and the polish hasn't dried - I have had to grease up my phone more times than I can count, so this feature is god-sent for me!

If you have friends with S4's too, this is an awesome time to play around. Around the time I was trialling this phone, both my cousin and my sister purchased it, so we were a little gang of S4 users marvelling at the phone and its new features. You can play games over Wi-Fi with this, and compete with one another in the same game using your phones. A feature I particularly like in this Group Play application is the music feature - where one user hosts a song, and every other phone can pick up the same song and play it at the exact same time, creating a surround-sound system that is a blast to play with at a party.

Battery Life
This phone has the same battery life as its predecessor, which is pretty impressive in itself (Please note that whilst Samsung does advertise a larger battery with the S4, nothing is said of extended battery power. I believe that the battery power is the same because all the new features in the new S4 does take up a lot of battery life). This phone lasts from early morning till late at night, which is way more than I can say for its competitors. Battery life is essential for me (I use my phone extensively), and I don't like going through the hassle of searching for a power bank - which, by the way, is considered by a lot of people to be detrimental to your battery life in the long term - to lug around in my handbag for when my phone runs out of juice.

A couple of things that I didn't like about this phone, for integrity and disclosure's sake:

Responsiveness and Speed
Compared to the phone I am currently using, this phone was much less responsive to my touch, and I noticed a little lag in its responsiveness after I started loading it up with apps and photos (mind you, I only had this for two weeks so I had a minimal number of apps running - some photo editors and social media apps were all I downloaded).

Both my sister and I experienced bugs with our phones, within the first week of our using these phones. On my phone, the phone would hang for the longest time whenever I tried to open the camera app, and though sometimes it would finally launch the app, most times it would just shut down and restart by itself.
My sister on the other hand, experienced the mother of all lags with her phone - it got so bad that she avoided Whatsapp altogether (and she is an avid chatter on Whatsapp - we all are) because the lag was too much for her to handle. We have tried going back to Samsung 3 times already to fix this issue and so far nothing they have tried has worked. When she arrives home from Singapore at the end of the week, we are going to get her phone exchanged.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one phone I would love to own, just for its camera and awesome features. Do you think this might be better than your current phone? Will you make the switch? :)

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