I have been tracking Samsung Galaxy S4 news for more than a month now,ever since it was announced on Mar 14th. Finally, it was launched yesterday in India.
I have been pretty happy with my 3.5 year old HTC HD2. It is a great phone and best of the breed for its time (yes, looks like 3.5 years is like light years in mobile tech), probably bit heavier compared to the current generation smart phones.
I woud have dumped HD2 it long back if I had to stay put with Windows CE 6.5. Thanks to folks at xda-dev, I have been running all sorts of OS on this (including Windows 7, Ubuntu and Android). I usually get custom ROMs for latest versions of Android on this phone way earlier than any latest phone can get its updates. But running Jelly bean on less than 512 MB RAM, with most of it loaded from SD, is definitely slow. So, of late, I have been on the look out for a new phone
iPhone is never on my mind (and probably never will be). So, that leaves me with a choice of Sony Experia Z, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. I liked the look of Experia Z and HTC One lot better than S4. S4 is no match from looks and external build quality pt of view.
I ruled out HTC one for couple of reasons. No external storage and locked-in battery. First of all, for 16G models, they eat away half of it for all the junk they put in there. So, literally they come with only 8G available space. With all my ever growing cached RSS feeds, music, books, podcasts and pictures, I am gonna run out of that soon. Second, HTC one in India has a bad history of ignoring their customers. India is the last country they push updates to, if at all they do.
Although it looks great, I ruled out Experia Z it is so much focussed on camera etc. I am not a very heavy user of camera on the phone anyway. Plus, when it comes to smartphones, I am not a big fan of Sony.
That leaves me with the just Samsung for now. So, I thought I will check out how does the phone feel like in the hand and went to UB City, Bangalore yesterday. I didn’t realize that they were actually launching the product on the same day, with all celebrities around. I was free for next couple of hours and was busy catching up on my reading while waiting in the line. Yes, there were tons of folks waiting in long queues. I just happened to time it well accidentally and ended up fairly in the front of the queue.
And this is where our “Customer Service” starts to fail. All across the world, companies are spending money to get customers inside the store and buy. And here we are, Samsung India is busy attending to celebrities and making customers wait. And if you think about it, the very goal of all these celebrities, marketing, ad spend is to get customers to buy their product. Why can’t they decouple the two things and respect/value customer’s time – I guess, it will not happen here; we are just too many for any business here 🙂
Anyway, I finally shelled out approximately $700 for more silicon and more plastic this time around. Here is my quick analysis:
- It is a great hardware.
- In spite of 5″ and 2600 mAh battery, it is just 130g. Feels very light and comfortable in the hand
- The touchscreen is so good, you can effortlessly use it with a single hand, swiping in & out.
- Samsung has added so much bloatware to the device that with just couple of usual apps running, phone is already using 80% of the total 2G RAM. But there is absolutely no lag as switch across apps, screens
- The back cover is plastic and so flimsy, you would cringe at the thought of spending $700 for this. But the nice side effect of this is that, the S-View flip cover (that is doled out free with this device) replaces this flimsy back cover and fits right into the phone. It has a nice visible area from the top to look at all essential information. The phone sensor recognizes the flip cover and automatically switches on the display when you open up the cover, and displays the summary information in the visible area when closed it back. And because the way it replaces the back cover, it is nice to hold the phone for reading even when you are lying down in the bed.
- Full HD display is excellent. It is a joy to watch HD videos on the phone.
- A nice little feature is that it has IR blaster and works well with your TV, STB etc. It is very handy when you are sitting in front of the TV and your regular remote is not nearby. But the TV remote app itself is very basic. There is good opportunity to build a great app that also combines TV listing
- If you are buying this phone for all the marketing talk about Smart Pause, Air Gestures, Air Move etc then beware. While these are pretty good ideas, they donot work very well yet. And when they work, they work with only few apps.
- Would have been good if this combined the looks of HTC and some ruggedness of Experia Z.
- It is not an iPhone killer. There is no question of this phone changing iPhone Fanboys yet.
- For a black misty model, they ship it with white chargers, cables and headset. Looks like Samsung is totally lost on the look & beauty sense.
- It needs a micro-SIM. So be ready to make yet-another-set-of-copies of your driving license, address proof, pan card (and what not) to get your mobile provider to change the SIM.
- While I managed to insert the micro SIM card into the slot, I believe there is no easy way to take it out.