After months of anticipation, Samsung has finally unveiled its new flagship for 2013: the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S3's successor will come packed with a 1.9-GHz quad-core Qualcomm 600 processor for U.S. models, a 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p display and a host of new gesture-based features. But if you own a Galaxy S III, there are some reasons to sit this upgrade out.
No, Samsung’s 3rd-gen Galaxy S phone doesn't follow your eyes for pausing video, and you can't use both cameras at the same time, but is upgrading to the S4 really worth the price? Here are four reasons you should reconsider rushing out to buy Samsung’s “Next Big Thing.”
1. The design isn’t much different
Samsung has made a few subtle aesthetic alterations to the Galaxy S4, but it still looks nearly identical to the Galaxy S III. The new flagship comes with the same soft rounded edges and plastic frame that you’ll find on the S III, but with a slightly slimmer and lighter chassis and slightly larger screen.
The S4 is 0.31 inches thin, marking a 0.4-inch difference from the 0.35-inch S III. It also comes with a larger 5-inch screen compared to the S III’s 4.8-inch display. You’ll be able to feel and see these differences when the phone is in your hand, but don’t expect a dramatic overhaul in terms of design.
2. The Galaxy S4’s software is coming to the Galaxy S III
Over the past year Samsung has made an effort to create a seamless user experience across all Galaxy flagships. For example, at the end of 2012 the Galaxy Note 2’s multi-window feature landed on the Galaxy S III, and we can expect a similar pattern with the S4’s features.
Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s vice president of portfolio planning, told PCMag that “anything we can do that’s not dependent on hardware like infrared, we’ll definitely bring to all the flagship devices.” This means that the S4’s camera improvements aren’t likely to make it to the S III, but other additions such as S Health, S Translator and Group Play could be available on the S III in the future.
Plus, you can enjoy a handful of the S4’s new features via apps in the Google Play store. For example, the free runtastic Pro app uses GPS to track your movements and how many calories you’ve burned, just like S Health. Additionally, cable providers such as Time Warner offer apps that pair your smartphone with your cable box so it functions as a remote control, similar to the S4’s WatchOn feature.
3. You’re not getting Samsung's fastest processor
Samsung will be launching two versions of its Galaxy S4. The U.S. version will feature a 1.9-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, while the international edition will get Samsung’s 1.6-GHz octa-core Exynos chipset. While this is still an upgrade from the Galaxy S III’s 1.5-GHz dual-core CPU, overseas buyers will be getting 8 cores. There's a reason why you can't get Samsung's own latest and greatest CPU -- it doesn't support integrated 4G LTE -- but that doesn't mean we have to like it.
4. The screen isn’t much brighter
We had the chance to measure the brightness of the Galaxy S4’s display, and the results weren’t impressive. The S4’s 5-inch Super AMOLED screen registered at 258 lux, which is brighter than the S III’s 213 lux display but way below the 299 lux category average. By comparison, the HTC One registered 463 lux on our light meter, and the iPhone 5 got 525 lux.
The Galaxy S4 will undoubtedly be one of the best-selling smartphones of 2013, but it’s important not to get lost in Samsung’s promotional hype. The S4 comes with the types of innovations that have pushed Samsung to sell 100 million Galaxy S handsets worldwide, but take a look at what you’re really getting for your money before you decide if this device is right for you.