With the Samsung Galaxy S5 setting tills alight and wowing buyers it’s easy to overlook the humble Galaxy S4, but to do so would be a mistake as in many ways it’s still a great buy.
Many retailers are now heavily discounting the Samsung Galaxy S4 making it significantly cheaper than it was a couple of months ago. We will now look at the reasons why we think the Galaxy S4 is still a device to consider in the search for a new smartphone.
It’s reached the point where the power of high end smartphones has more or less levelled out. Sure some might do better in benchmarks than others but for day to day use, be it web browsing, streaming videos, using apps or even playing games you’re not likely to notice the difference. Once a phone has a quad-core processor and a couple of gigabytes of RAM it’s pretty well set for anything we currently use them for.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 falls into that bracket with a 1.9 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM. Sure it falls short of the Galaxy S5’s 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, which is both newer and faster, but they’re both quad-cores and they both have 2GB of RAM.
That’s enough to ensure that in practice any performance difference between the two will tend to be minor.
Many of the other upgrades in the Samsung Galaxy S5 are similarly small. It has a slightly bigger 5.1 inch screen compared to the Galaxy S4’s 5 inch display, but if anything 5.1 inches is starting to get a little too big and both phones have 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display’s, which given the extra size on the Galaxy S5 actually leaves it with a marginally lower pixel density of 432 pixels per inch compared to the Galaxy S4’s 441 ppi.
Now that’s not going to be a noticeable difference, but it’s one that works out in the S4’s favour. Of course there’s more to screens than pixels and overall the Galaxy S5 does have a superior screen. Both of them have bright, vibrant colours but the Galaxy S4 can sometimes appear a touch over-saturated, a fate which the Galaxy S5 avoids. Still, it’s a minor difference and both phones have top flight displays.
The camera in the Galaxy S5 has also only been modestly improved. It has a 16 megapixel sensor while the Galaxy S4 has a 13 megapixel sensor. The Galaxy S5 can certainly take superior quality photos, but they’re not that much better and both are at the upper end of what you’d expect from a camera phone.
There’s a bigger difference in the video cameras as the Galaxy S5 can shoot video in 2160p while the S4 is limited to 1080p, but unless you have a 4K TV to output it to that’s a difference which won’t mean much.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has ample internal storage (16GB) and microSD card support, and runs on the latest version of Android (KitKat). It also supports both 4G and NFC, so you'll be able to browse the web at superfast speeds and make contactless payments in your local McDonalds.
There isn't anything really lacking when it comes to software or connectivity on the Galaxy S4 and it's future-proofed for a good couple of years still.
The Galaxy S4 stands up equally well to other high end phones, such as the HTC One M8. Sure the build is worse, but so is the build of the Galaxy S5 and, well, pretty much everything else, but the camera in the S4 is arguably better and its performance isn’t far off what the M8 can muster.
Similar comparisons could be made with the Sony Xperia Z2, iPhone 5S or any other flagship phone and let’s not forget that only a year ago the Samsung Galaxy S4 was the flagship that everyone wanted and things haven’t moved on that much since then.
The S5 and other new handsets are largely selling on the fact that people like to know they have the latest and greatest thing out there rather than on any tangible improvements. There’s no denying that these are better phones than the Samsung Galaxy S4, but whether they’re £200 better is highly debatable.
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