Which Samsung Galaxy S4 is Right for You?

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Samsung's immensely popular Galaxy S4 is not only one of the best smartphones on the planet, it's also one of the hottest selling. In fact, Samsung says it sold more than 10 million Galaxy S4s in its first month of availability, and analysts at Merrill Lynch project the company to move as many as 65 million handsets by year's end.

So how can Samsung build on that kind of momentum? By releasing a slew of different S4 variants. Thus far, Samsung has announced five different versions of the Galaxy S4 in addition to the original, including the Mini, Zoom, Galaxy Active, Developer Edition and the Galaxy S4 with 4G LTE Advanced. What's the difference between all these Galaxy S4s? Check out our handy-dandy Galaxy S4 Guide to find out. 

Samsung Galaxy S4

One of the best smartphones on the market, Samsung's original Galaxy S4 packs a fast 1.9-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a big 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display and a sharp 13-MP camera. Plus, this handset has enough features to put a Swiss Army knife to shame, including motion gestures and the ability to pause videos just by looking away.

If you're looking for the most powerful and versatile Galaxy S4, you can't beat the original.

More: Samsung Galaxy S4 (Verizon Wireless) Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

If you want a lot of the features of the Galaxy S4 in a design that's easier to use with one hand, you're in luck. Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini comes with a smaller 960 x 540 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display rather than the 5-incher found on the regular S4. The smaller display also results in a lighter device, with the Mini weighing just 3.8 ounces versus the standard S4's 4.6 ounces.

The trade-off for that diminutive size is a slightly slower processor --1.7-GHz versus the S4's 1.9-GHz -- as well as a less powerful rear-facing camera with 8-megapixels versus the standard S4's 13-MP.


More: 10 Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

If you want a Galaxy S4 and you like the great outdoors, then the Galaxy S4 Active is the handset for you. The appropriately-named Active sports a more durable chassis than the standard S4. With an IP67 protection rating, the Active can survive everything from sand and dust to sitting in up to one-meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The added protection means the Active is also a bit bulkier than the standard S4, weighing 5.3 ounces to the regular S4's 4.6 ounces. The new chassis also gets physical face buttons rather than the capacitive buttons found on the original S4.

To improve outdoor visibility, the Galaxy S4 Active replaces the standard S4's 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 5-inch 1080p TFT LCD display. The Active also gets a less powerful rear-facing camera than the regular S4, 8-megapixels rather than 13.

More: Samsung Announces Rugged Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Perhaps the most interesting spin-off of the Galaxy S4 is the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Essentially a Galaxy S4 with a point-and-shoot camera slapped on the back, the Zoom packs a 10x optical zoom lens and 16-megapixel sensor. The Zoom's camera also includes a Xenon flash rather than the LED flash found on the standard S4.

Beyond its camera, the Zoom features a the same 1.5-GHz quad-core processor found in the S4 Mini, 1.5GB of RAM rather than the 2GB found in the standard S4 and 8GB of storage that you can supplement with up to a 64GB microSD card. Like the S4 Mini, the Zoom also includes a smaller 4.3-inch 960 x 540 Super AMOLED display, though the Zoom packs a larger 2,330mAh battery.

All of those specialized camera components increase the S4 Zoom's weight to 7.3 ounces, a large jump from the standard S4's 4.6 ounces.

More: Smartphone Camera Shootout 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 with LTE Advanced

If you've got the need for speed, the Samsung Galaxy S4 with LTE Advanced may be worth waiting for. This  permutation of the Galaxy S4, which doesn't yet have an official name, is expected to offer downloads speeds twice as fast as those from the standard Galaxy S4. With that kind of bandwidth, Samsung claims users will be able to download a video that usually takes 3 minutes in a little more than a minute.

Of course, you won't be able to take advantage of those speeds until carriers roll out their own LTE Advanced networks. AT&T says it will begin offering LTE Advanced in the second half of 2013. Verizon has yet to announce a timetable for LTE Advanced, and while Sprint and T-Mobile say they have the equipment in place for such networks, neither has said when they will turn them on.

More: Samsung Launching Galaxy S4 with Double 4G Speeds

Samsung Galaxy S4 Developer Edition

Those who prefer a pure Google Android experience to Samsung's TouchWiz can get their fix with the Galaxy S4 Developer Edition. Available for a somewhat steep $649 unlocked, this version of the S4 will be offered with AT&T or Verizon Wireless service. You get all of the same hardware as the original model, including a 5-inch 1080p display, 2GB of RAM and a 13-MP camera. The software is Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with absolutely no overlay.

More: 25 Best Android Apps

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Author Bio
Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley, LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Daniel P. Howley, LAPTOP Senior Writer on
Add a comment
  • ahmad.jafari Says:

    galaxy s4

  • Varun Says:

    This is article is wrong. The developer edition is not the "pure google experience" that you say. There is the "GS4 Google Edition" which offers pure google experience and is only available for AT&T and T-Mobile. The "Developer Edition" is a stock GS4 in every way but with an unlocked bootloader for people who like to mess around with custom ROMs and such.

  • John Kerr Says:

    I was all set to get an S4 'Standard' model, but having recently started using a seven inch Android tablet I'm now wavering between the Galaxy Note 2, waiting for the GN3 or getting the S4. Being a Verizon customer eliminates any chance at an S4 Active for me.

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