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Samsung Galaxy S4 Unboxing and Initial Review: Gadget Evolution at Work

Why hello there sezzy.
Why hello there sezzy.

Finally… the Samsung Galaxy S4 at the Unbox HQ!

After all the hype and buzz we finally got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S4. The device was launched locally last night with a media and trade event which hosted celebrities, bloggers, press, distributors, dealers, and telco executives at the NBC Tent. Surprisingly Samsung had a booth outside selling the GS4! Everyone who bought that night got a free NFC chips pack and the GS4 S-View Cover. Due to our extremely low EQ we ended up buying one, lol. Read on for our unboxing and initial review!

Here’s a quick rundown again of the specifications to refresh your memory:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Spec Sheet

  • Samsung Exynos 5 CPU/Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (depending on the area)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB Internal Storage
  • 5.0-inches Super AMOLED screen, 1080p resolution (~441ppi)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 13.0-megapixels rear-facing camera with Smart Camera features (similar to Galaxy Camera)
  • 2.0-megapixels front-facing camera
  • WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS Support and GLONASS, NFC
  • 3G, HSPA+, and LTE
  • IR Blaster
  • 2,600mAh Battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

As you can see it has monstrous specifications. How do these numbers translate to real life usage? Find out below.

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S4!

Cool looking box. Has a bamboo/wood like effect.
Cool looking box. Has a bamboo/wood like effect.

Samsung decided to take a different route with the design of the packaging of the Galaxy S4. It still actually comes in a hard carton box but Samsung put a twist to it by making it look like it’s made of wood or bamboo. I don’t exactly understand the logic behind it but hey it looks way cooler than the simple pristine white box of the Galaxy S3.

We removed the tapes and seals on the sides and pulled down the compartment with the phone and peripherals. As expected the first thing that greeted us with the Samsung Galaxy S4. At first glance from shoulders length it really does resemble a more refined Galaxy S3. The white plastic chassis combined with the chrome side band is already the hallmark of Samsung design. More on this later though.

Tadaaaa~! Hello GS4!
Tadaaaa~! Hello GS4!

We picked the phone up, set it aside, and dove into the secondary compartment of the box to see what else was there. We found the usual stuff: charger, manuals, cables, and earphones. Nothing more, nothing less.

Manuals, Wall charger (USB), USB to micro USB, earphones
Manuals, Wall charger (USB), USB to micro USB, earphones

As far as the packaging and unboxing go, it’s pretty standard fare. Only difference really is the theme of the box.

Refined, compact, ergonomic, and plastic

Sideview
Sideview

From a distance the Galaxy S4 definitely looks like its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. However we felt and saw the difference once we held it in our hands. The first thing we noticed was the form factor. It has more curved edges making it more comfortable to hold and use with one hand. Next is the lightness and thinness. Lastly the device felt more solid and compact despite having plastic as the main material for the chassis. Just like what we said with our Galaxy Note 8.0 review, Samsung has mastered the art of using plastic for their devices. They make the most of the pros (weight and form) while reducing the cons.

The difference though is much more pronounced once you turn this bad boy on.

Thinner screen-to-bezel ratio and stunning display make for a killer combo
Thinner screen-to-bezel ratio and stunning display make for a killer combo

The display quality of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is nothing short of remarkable. Most of the screens of other Android devices just pale in comparison to the sharpness and detail that you get with this display. Super AMOLED 1080p is just full of win! The fantastic display though is just the start. Samsung made it a point to optimize the over-all performance of the phone and you’ll really feel this once you start playing around with the software.

Blazing fast Android experience, trumps almost any other Android device out there

The Galaxy S4 gave us one of the most smoothest, fastest, and refined Android experience ever. Transitions and animations were remarkably fluid and seamless, rivaling the buttery flow of iOS. If Android launched as smooth as this at the very start they probably would have massacred Apple.

Buttery smooth
Buttery smooth

When it comes to launching apps the Galaxy S4 was no slouch either. Regardless of the app, be it games, readers, movies, etc., the Galaxy S4 launched them fast and rarely with delays. We definitely felt the monstrous internals at work here.

Even the effects of unlocking the home screen got addictive because of the beautiful animation and imagery. Instead of the water ripples that we got with previous Galaxy phones, we get some sort of sunlight reflection while we moved our finger around the lock screen.

It’s bursting with features

Look at all those toggles on the settings screen ~_~
Look at all those toggles on the settings screen ~_~

Samsung stuffed the GS4 with features. Proof of this is when you check out the settings and see the toggle controls for the features. It almost fills up the entire screen! We’ll do a separate post for this one though so watch out for that later this weekend.

Initial Verdict: 99.9% Awesome. -0.1% for the plastic, hehe.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a big step forward coming from the Galaxy S3. It has a more refined, compact, and solid chassis. It’s stuffed with so many software features. It’s blazing fast because of the unparalleled internals. Even more compelling is the support that the two telcos are putting behind it. Smart is actually offering it for zero cash out with their Plan 1500 (promo only though).

We’ll report back in a few days for the full review but expect a hands-on post detailing some of the unique features the GS4 has to offer.

Congratulations to Samsung Philippines. You’ll sell tons of these here in the Philippines.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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