Samsung Galaxy S4 performance is top-notch

Consumer Reports News: May 20, 2013 08:08 AM

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The Samsung Galaxy S 4, one of the most advanced Android smart phones ever, is our new top-rated smart phone. The S4 delivered top-notch performance in the most critical areas of our tests, including the camera.

It dethrones the LG Optimus G, which occupied the top spot in our Ratings for several months.

The S4 has an excellent 5-inch, high-definition (1080p) touch-screen display, as well as oodles of gesture- and sensor-based tools for accessing and sharing content you create and capture on your phone. The display is sensitive enough to use with gloves on—handy during cold weather.

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A true multi-tasker, the S4 lets you run two apps simultaneously in a split-screen view. For instance, you can watch a video while checking e-mail, or you can use Google Maps and Messaging simultaneously. We did find that battery life and voice quality varied slightly between cell carriers, as with the LG Optimus G.

Couch potatoes should enjoy the Galaxy S 4's built-in IR blaster, which can be programmed to control HDTVs and set-top boxes (and even initiate DVR recordings) from a host of different makers. It also shows you local cable listings, program details, and reminders geared to your preferences.

On May 15, Google announced its own unlocked version of the S 4, which will be available in the Google Play Store on June 26 for $649. This unlocked model will run on AT&T's and T-Mobile's 4G LTE data networks.

Like the other Nexus models, the unlocked S 4 will run "raw" Android without the interface and app embellishments typically added by the phone maker and carriers. One rumor, unconfirmed by Google, is that this S4 will be the first to run Android 4.3. We're anxious to see what impact these differences will have on the user experience, including performance. Stay tuned.

Mike Gikas

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