Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung never disappoints when it comes to media playback. With Wolfson Microelectronics signed up to be the official audio partner for Samsung, the S4 really excels in audio playback. The audio quality is very good even through the stock earphones. You have plenty of options to tweak the sound as well through equaliser presets and a new addition called Adapt Sound. The latter is a brilliant little addition and helps you tune the overall audio quality based on the currently plugged in earphones. The calibration method involves playing back a series of frequencies across the audio spectrum with you confirming which ones can be heard or not. At the end of the drill, the frequencies that cannot be heard by you through the earphones are amplified so you get to hear the subtle nuances in your music. The difference in audio quality is very apparent and this setting applies to calls as well as music. You can toggle lyrics, normalise the volume of all the tracks in your library and even use voice commands to control your music.
The Adapt Sound feature is pretty cool
The music player is similar to that of the S3. You can sort your music via albums, artists, folders etc. A new addition called Music Square scans all the songs in your library and then groups them according to your mood – “Exciting”, “Joyful”, “Calm” and “Passionate”. Let’s say, you’re in the mood for some uptempo music and a bit of lounge as well – you simply highlight the squares around “Exciting” and a few around “Calm” for a mix of both. This will work well provided you have all your songs categorised under the right genre. There are plenty of equaliser presets present as well, including a 7.1 channel surround mode. To be honest, you won’t really need any of them, since the DAC automatically produces rich and highly detailed sound.
The video player supports MP4, MKV and everything in between. However, the only exceptions were MOV and FLV files, which refused to play. Full HD 1080p video just works, and the new Pop up play feature works as advertised. We’re not too sure how useful it will actually be in everyday use, but it’s a good option to have. You also have the option to share the video, edit it, view it by chapters or stream the audio via Bluetooth.
The S4 is a quad-band GSM handset with quad-band 3G support and has Wi-Fi with hotspot capabilities and Wi-Fi Direct, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS support, USB OTG, DLNA, external storage up to 64GB, Bluetooth 4.0, TV out via MHL and NFC, which covers all your connectivity options. In fact, this is one of the only phones out there to support the newer Wi-Fi draft “ac”, which a handful of high-end routers support. The advantage of “ac” over “n” is that it’s theoretically three times faster than “n” and will eventually replace it. It’s nice to know that the S4 is quite future-proof in this respect. What’s more, the IR port works with the Samsung WatchON app and lets you control your TV and other IR-based home entertainment devices. The HTC One, on the other hand, only works with cable service providers that are programmed, and India is not included in that list. The app doesn’t let you use the phone as a standalone remote either, which is a shame.
The remote app is easily one of the best in the suite
Call reception has been handled pretty well and in our test call, the recipient could hear our voice very clearly. The speaker is loud enough to help you out, if you’ve got a lot of background noise. The stock keyboard is good enough to get the job done, but the word prediction still feels a little daft and is not anywhere as good as SwiftKey or Swype. It’s still better than the stock Android keyboard and Samsung also throws in gesture support. S-Voice is no longer restricted to just telling you the weather or opening apps; it’s better integrated with the rest of the system and you can now control your music, answer or reject calls or even snap a picture by simply speaking.
Offers a good web browsing experience
Samsung has also thrown in some of the custom apps with a completely redesigned look and new set of icons. There’s Samsung Apps, which is the company’s own app store with a limited selection of apps. There wasn’t any need for this, though, when all these apps are available in the Play Store itself. Samsung Hub lets you buy videos, books, games and learning material. This content is not linked to Google’s Play Store, so the available content is very limited. We do like the Metro inspired skin though. Samsung Link is the DLNA app that lets you share your media on compatible devices. Other apps include S Translator, Optical Reader, S Memo, S Health, Story Album and Group Play.