Samsung Galaxy S4: Can you have too much of a good thing?

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, was unveiled earlier this month to much excitement.

One of the most eagerly anticipated gizmos in the world of technology, the new handset is expected to be the major rival to Apple’s iPhone 5, released at the end of last year.

Now, reviewers have their hands on the Galaxy S4, and have had somewhat mixed reactions.

Mixed Reactions to Samsung Galaxy S4

Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal has been testing the Galaxy S4 for four days and is somewhat lukewarm in his verdict. “Galaxy S4 is a good, but not a great, step up,” he said.

Mossberg does concede “some improvements” have been made, but describes Samsung’s software as “often gimmicky” and recommends his readers instead consider the HTC One if they are looking to buy a new Android smartphone.

And Dan Rowinski from ReadWrite is also distinctly underwhelmed. He describes the new gizmo as a “source of stress,” saying it is packed with too many features. “It seems every feature Samsung could dream up ended up in the Galaxy S4,” he says.

Dan Pierce from renowned technology site The Verge also has very little praise for the S4. His fundamental problem is the feel of the smartphone in the hand. “I don’t like holding this phone and I can’t overstate how much that informs the experience of using it,” he says. “It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand.”

Other reviewers, however, are big fans of the new device. Kevin Tofel, writing for GigaOM, praises the S4’s many features, including TouchWiz, which he describes as a “powerful software environment”.

Samsung Galaxy S4He goes on to say he would recommend the S4 “without hesitation” and describes the device as “Samsung’s defining phone”.

And Michael Calore from Wired agrees, although not quite so vigorously. “The list of cool things the Galaxy S4 can do is astonishing,” he says, adding: “It follows your eyes, and it will pause a video if it senses you looking away. While browsing the web, you can scroll a page by just tipping your gaze downwards. It recognises hand movements and you can scroll through web pages by waving your hand in front of the screen…”

The list goes on, but Calore does say the extensive array of features does get overwhelming, describing them as “bunting”.

The S4’s features certainly are extensive. To name but a few, there’s voice-recognition text messaging, language translation, a HomeSync system which allows you to store data, a remote option for use with smart televisions, Smart Scroll which analyses your eye and wrist movements to enable scrolling and a dual camera function.

Jordan Crook from TechCrunch echoes these sentiments, saying that Samsung’s latest generation gizmo “does things you’ve never seen before, and maybe couldn’t imagine” but he adds all these features could be “downright overwhelming” to someone without a lot of smartphone experience.

But Samsung certainly believes all of the S4 features are useful. “As a real life companion, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 helps bring us closer and captures those fun moments when we are together,” it says. “Each feature was designed to simplify our daily lives.”

So, all in all, it’s a mixed bag of reviews for Samsung. But what the South Korean technology giant will be really placing importance on are the opinions of its customers, the people it hopes will buy its latest device in favour of anything produced by one of its rivals.

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