This guest post was contributed by Alexander Fray.
How many gadgets can you name that, at the time, represented the pinnacle of technological innovation? Remember the Apple Newton? Atari Lynx? Archos Gmini 400? For a brief period of time, these devices were the clear leaders in their fields. But guess what happened? At some point a new device replaced them, and now you have a difficult time even guessing what type of device they were.
Will the Same Happen to the Samsung Galaxy S4?
Samsung markets the S4 as your “life companion,” and in many ways it is. Because it’s receiving so much hype and attention, some wonder whether the S4 will be the best when it comes to mobile technology.
Even though the world liked what it saw in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, it’s become clear that the Galaxy S4 packs a lot of awesomeness into a mobile device and is a quantum leap from T-Mobile’s first Samsung Galaxy S. However, when you look at its seemingly obvious shortcomings, it is far from the pinnacle of mobile technology. Let’s look at both sides:
Galaxy S4: The Good
The are some Galaxy S4 features that have everyone excited, and for good reason. Here are the top four:
- An attractive display — The S4’s display is nothing short of incredible. At a massive 5 inches, the display offers 1080p HD resolution and a pixel density of 441 pixels-per-inch. Combined with its slick color balance, the S4 even outshines Apple’s Retina display.
- Fast performance — You can run numerous apps and features all at the same time, without any noticeable decline in performance. In an instant gratification society, this smartphone makes a perfect fit.
- Great camera technology — The Galaxy S4 has a rear-facing, 13 megapixel camera and a front-facing 2 megapixel camera. It’s not an industry-leading camera by any means, but it definitely ranks near the top. Some of the camera’s software, like the ability to combine multiple shots into one, are over the top.
- Stellar overall feature set — The S4 comes with a built-in service for translation, S Translate. It also features a built-in pedometer, a blood pressure monitor, glucose meter, and a temperature and humidity sensor. Most of these apps fully integrate with your television and computer too.
If you choose to buy this device, you definitely receive good value for your money.
Unnecessary Features Found in the Galaxy S4
Even though the Galaxy S4 is being marketed as your life companion, one particular question arises: how necessary are some of the features found in S4? Business Insider provided a handy tip sheet on how to remove many of the unnecessary pieces of software that is added to the Galaxy 4. Take a look at some of these examples:
- Bloatware — Google the term “Samsung Galaxy S4 bloatware.” Most of the first-page results discuss how to remove the phone’s excessive apps and features. The articles that don’t discuss removing the S4’s bloatware instead discuss people’s complaints about the bloatware found on this phone.
- Storage — If you buy the 16GB model of the S4, you actually only receive 8.8 GB of usable space. Seriously! How would you react if you bought a laptop or MP3 player, only to find you could use just half of the space advertised?
- AT&T Apps – There are up to 9 AT&T Apps on the Galaxy S4. Some are partnerships, but all involve AT&T in some way. Many of these are located on the home screen, making the initial user experience much more cluttered than necessary and lessening the amount of personal storage available.
- Duplicate apps – Google and Samsung engaged in a competition when creating the apps for this phone, and unfortunately a number of them provide very similar functionality. You can buy music, movies, and apps through Samsung or Google on the same phone. Both also offer a translation service.
- Features few people will use – One somewhat unusual feature of the S4 is that you can take a picture and record sound at the same time. Take a picture of your son’s basketball game, and a snippet of sound is captured as well. Since you can already take both images and video, is this really necessary?
To be fair, Samsung allows S4 users to switch to a simpler display that uses larger icons. So, even though it’s initially more complex than need be, Samsung is at least taking steps in the right direction to improve the user experience.
The Big Picture: Where is Mobile Headed Next?
With the frantic pace of innovation in the mobile industry, it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen next. The Galaxy S4 certainly offers a comprehensive feature set, some of which is useful, but where are smartphones as a whole headed in the future?
For one thing, security is a bit lacking now. Type in a pin code, and you have instant access to your phone. In the future, you should see retina scanning or palm identification as security measures.
With the proliferation of quad and octo-core processors in smartphones, many are now more powerful than home computers. Gaming on smartphones is already popular, and serious console gaming may be replaced by smartphones within the next few years. Once smartphones are that popular, will you really have a need for a PC or video game console? In fact, a smartphone may be the only technological device you need.
It’s hard to say with accuracy what will happen, but 2 things are clear: The Galaxy S4 rivals the iPhone 5 as the best current smartphone; and the S4 is far from the pinnacle of mobile technology.
It will be interesting to see which direction the industry takes from here.
Alex took apart his first Nintendo at age ten, and hasnt stopped tinkering with techno gadgets since. He runs a small coding company from his NYC apartment and teaches kickboxing cardio on the weekends.