The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been officially unveiled. On March 14 Samsung lifted the lid on the phone and showed that it’s a device that bears all the genetic code of the Galaxy S range.
But is it a must-have upgrade for Samsung Galaxy S3 owners, or one you can miss if you’re half-way through your contract? Let’s find out.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - Release DateAt its launch, Samsung revealed most details about the Samsung Galaxy S4, including its release date. You’ll be able to get your hands on the phone from 26 April.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 was unveiled in May 2012 and went on sale later that month. So it’s just under a year between the phones.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - Video ComparisonAlready had enough of reading? We've made a little video comparison showing the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 side-by side. Seen the design changes for yourself.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - DesignLike its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S4 features feature a plastic body, rather than the ceramic and metal bods you’ll find on some rivals.
However, clever improvements to the design let the phone fit in a larger screen while making the Galaxy S4’s bod smaller. It’s the same height as the Galaxy S3, a teeny bit less wide and almost 1mm thinner. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is a fair old amount when you’re slimming down from under 9mm to under 8mm.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in black and white finishes, where the Samsung Galaxy S3 has shipped in a wider variety of shades, including blue and red. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung started making other colours further down the line.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - CPUThe most basic summation of the difference between the CPUs of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 is that the new phone has an eight-core chip and the old one a quad-core CPU.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. The Exynos 5 chip of the Galaxy S4 is more like two quad-core processor jammed together – one using Cortex-A15 performance cores and the other Cortex-A9 cores, designed for conserving battery life when doing low-demand everyday tasks.
The idea is that this will give the Samsung Galaxy S4 better power efficiency than its rivals.
But does that mean the Galaxy S4 isn’t much more powerful than the S3? Absolutely not, as the previous-gen phone uses the same Cortex-A9 cores as the low-power set of the Galaxy S4 – just clocked a bit higher. The new phone is much, much more powerful. And it has double the RAM, with 2GB against the S3’s 1GB.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - ScreenThe core panel technology of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the same as that seen in its predecessor. Both use AMOLED-type screens, as opposed to the IGZO and IPS-variant 1080p screens we’ve seen, or expect, in rivals like the Huawei Ascend D2, Sony Xperia Z and – of course – the fabled iPhone 5S.
There are some tech changes, though. The PenTile array has been changed a little to help fit in all the extra pixels of the new phone. The PenTile sub-pixel type remains, though – which means it uses an RGBG arrangement rather than an RGB one.
Other than that, though, it’s all change. Screen size has been upped from 4.8 inches to 4.99 inches, which is the largest Samsung could afford without making the phone itself larger.
The Samsung Galaxy S4’s screen also benefits from significantly improved resolution. It’ll have a 1080p panel instead of a 720p one, offering 2.25 times the number of pixels as the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The pixels-per-inch figure of the Samsung Galaxy S4 smashes the iPhone 5’s, 441dpi against 326 dpi, so even if it does use a PenTile array (currently TBC) it should look pin-sharp. The Samsung Galaxy S3 had pixel density of 305dpi.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - SoftwareSamsung has introduced a bunch of new features with the Samsung Galaxy S4. These include, but are not limited to, Air Gestures, Smart Scroll, WatchON, S Translator, a redesigned camera app and Group Play.
These are gadgety extras that let you interact with the phone without touching the screen, let you replace your remote controls with an app, translate emails and texts on the fly and let you scroll through text by tilting your phone.
However, in time the Samsung Galaxy S3 will get most of these features, just as it’ll get the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean core OS that the S4 will launch with. You just need a bit of patience. The Galaxy S3 currently runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a slightly earlier version of Samsung’s custom UI.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 - CameraSamsung has given the Galaxy S4 a solid camera upgrade. It features a 13-megapixel sensor. This is in-line with the Sony Xperia Z’s snapper, but represents a big upgrade from the 8MP sensor of the Samsung Galaxy S3.
In good lighting conditions, the Galaxy S4 should produce shots with more detail than the Samsung Galaxy S3. However, as the sensor size isn’t a great deal larger than the smartphone average, it’ll struggle in low-light conditions just like most phones.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a live HDR video mode, though. HDR involves merging two exposures, taking the image detail from both to create a slightly larger-than-life looking image. It’s a fantastic way to mitigate the limited photo capabilities of a phone camera when shooting stills, and should hopefully have the same effect with video.
Samsung has redesigned the interface of the camera app too, making it look a lot like the interface of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, based around feature dials you can flick around. Once again, though, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will get this at some point.