Quick Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

SGS4_Accessories

Summary:  The Samsung Galaxy S4, although an older device (released in April 2013), is an advanced Android phone and is still available for purchase.  Of course, with the release of the Galaxy S5, and then the S6 recently, the average retail cost of the S4 has gone down to around $300-$375 new unlocked, or free under two year carrier contract.  In addition, this device, until early 2014, was the most advanced phone under 5” in size sold by Samsung.  With a cost that is lower than many other recent model Android phones, and still viable performance, the Samsung Galaxy S4 appeals to not only budget-conscious developers and hobbyists, but also Android aficionados who desire a wealth of accessories and access to the latest Android OS at a lower cost.

Intended Market: Technology hobbyists or Android developers who desire the ability to tweak their phones and install custom OS ROMs, while avoiding the higher costs associated with more recent devices.

Sub-optimal market:  Those persons who would prefer to use a device that integrates with Microsoft or Apple services and devices.  Those persons who prefer to have a device that “hides” technical complexity, removing access to less-used features to gain a more streamlines and efficient experience.  Users who prefer the largest screens or to use a pen for taking notes would likely be better served by other options, including Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 4 series.  Users who are less budget-constrained with a desire for the latest technology and style would also be ill-served by this phone.

Approximate Retail Price:  $300-$350 unlocked, off contract. (Free on contract).

Purchase Link:  To purchase our specific review unit, please see this Amazon page: UNAVAILABLE.  Note, if the auction is unavailable, our review unit has already been purchased.

Please note that the following review is a NetWise Life Quick Review, and is not intended to be as detailed or thorough as our standard reviews.  With this review, we intend to provide a quick synopsis of the phone’s target market, and a few unique advantages.  It is not intended to be an exhaustive review.

With Accessories to Spare

A number of accessories were produced for this phone that are unique, including massive batteries, in this case a massive 7500 mAh battery allowing for active use over the span of days without charging, wireless charging cases and more.

SGS4_Accessories

However, the overall appearance and feel, due to the overall prevalence of plastic construction materials, is somewhat down-market when compared to other vendors, such as HTC, or Samsung’s own A-series or its Note 4. Conversely, those same plastic construction techniques and materials result in a device that is lighter than many other phones of the same size.


 

Getting Your Hands Dirty – Custom OS ROMs

Two U.S. carriers, specifically AT&T and Verizon in the United States, locked their S4’s in such a way that the OS could not be changed: they locked the bootloader, which prevented anything other than their approved OS version from running. Another option was made available a few months after the release of the Galaxy S4, the Google Play Edition. These phones were also unlocked so as to allow their operating systems to be changed. If you are advanced enough, you can use custom operating systems, otherwise known as ROMs, to extend the lifespan of your phone with new bug fixes and features long after your phone carrier stops officially supporting your phone. On the other hand, T-Mobile and Sprint did not do so, enabling a more easy installation of third party OS ROMs.

SGS4_Phone Dialer

Why would an advanced user want to switch the entire OS of their phone? Well, a strong impetus is the fact that the standard Android OS shipped by phone carriers is often filled with applications that most users do not utilize, leading to those apps being called “carrier bloatware”. Bloatware can often take up useful space, or even slow down how the phone operates.  The TouchWiz layer that Samsung has installed on their phones for years has a reputation among certain technical users of being bloatware.

Thus, if technically adept users find bloatware to be unacceptable, they can change the OS on any phone with an unlocked bootloader to a different flavor of Android: basically taking out the strawberry ice cream in the cone and putting in cookies and cream instead. It’s still a cone, and it’s still ice cream, but a different flavor. In this case, this Galaxy S4 has been modified to use a new flavor of Android, otherwise known as a different ROM. Although not of any great importance, the specific version of ROM used on this modified is based on Cyanogenmod, and was installed after rooting and unlocking this phone.


 

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this Quick Review of the Samsung Galaxy S4.  As mentioned previously, this review was intended to be a quick syopsis of the phone’s target market, and a few unique advantages.  It was not intended to be an exhaustive review.  For a video analysis of this device, please take a look at our Mentor Minute,  posted for this phone.

Please subscribe to our YouTube feed as well.  In addition, if you are interested, we will be selling this device through eBay in the next few weeks.  For a link to this auction, please see the link that will be posted at the top of this article.

Thank you again, and have a Wise Day!

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