Seven months ago I was standing in the Best Buy, with Note 2 in one hand and S3 in the other hand, comparing both phones. After about 5-10 minutes - decision was easy, and I walked away without a single doubt in my mind that I will go with Note 2. Called Verizon the same day and had it shipped to my door right away. Fast forward to today. I was given an opportunity to review newly introduced VZW S4 and wanted to share some of the details of this new flagship model from Samsung. So here I am, with Note 2 in one hand and S4 in the other hand, and let me tell you - the decision is no longer an easy one. Let me go into more details why.
First of all it's a natural evolution of technology where the latest phone model will have better spec of its predecessor (S3) and will match or even surpass other models (Note 2). Since I'm referring to Verizon version of S4, the spec might differ from other versions, but not significantly (with an exception of models with a different processor). S4 stepped up to the latest Android 4.2.2 with a refreshed TouchWiz UI from Samsung. Featuring 5" Super AMOLED display with next gen Gorilla Glass 3 and full HD (1080p) the display is breathtaking. Along with 1.9GHz quad-core processor, 2600 mAh battery, 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras, 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal memory, and expandability with microSD up to 64GB - we are talking about powerhouse hidden inside of a slim 130g (4.6oz) package. I'm sure you all familiar with this dry technical info. For benefit of those who are still deciding or just got your new S4 - let me go into more exciting part of what I found special about this phone as a current user of Note 2.
Unboxing of the new phone is always fun, and with it's new "natural wood" theme the packaging is very eye appealing. Beside the phone, the box also included Samsung wall charger (2A) with a removable usb/micro-usb cord. The charger and the cable are golden. Keep that in mind this is a true 2A charger with a quality thick usb cable designed to carry 2A of current in order to take full advantage of fast charging of your battery. It also comes with headphones, a wired in-ear with in-line remote that will allow you to change the volume up/down and control music/video with multi-function play-pause button that also picks up and hangs up calls. Don't expect any heavy bass from these, but the sound was very clear, no distortion at high volumes. It came with extra ear tips, and also this new version of headphones has noodle shaped wires.
Just for you to get an idea of "visual" when comparing S4 to N2, I think it worth while to take a closer look at these side-by-side. Basically, depending how you look at it, its a scaled up or scaled down version of one versus the other.
Keeping it's layout consistent with other Samsung phones, you can see all around pictures of S4 and location of its buttons and ports. I have to mention that built quality is very solid. Probably not the same premium material as the latest iPhone or HTC One, but it doesn't feel cheap at all. Since I'm on a subject of hardware, I do want to mention a few points. People always bring up visibility of display outside under direct sunlight. Its typical for any phone with a quality glass screen - bring it up to full brightness, and there is no issue. It's definitely better than my Note 2 under the same settings. Also I found 4G LTE speed/signal to be on par with my Note 2, really no difference holding them side-by-side. Call quality was excellent, something to expect from Verizon. And last but not least, I was also happy with a volume level of the built-in speaker. Again, it's not HTC One with it's Beats technology, but it's for sure above average. If you want to turn your phone into boombox, that's what bt speakers are for
Once you remove the battery cover, you are faced with a removable battery (2600 mAh), micro-SD slot for expansion, and removable SIM card slot. NFC is built into the battery, so you will not see any external visible antenna. Now, here is a BIG surprise for Verizon customers: wireless charging connectors are BACK and accessible!!! For those who are familiar with N2, those were not accessible before in Verizon version of N2. That is a great news! Now you have an option of getting an alternative battery cover with a built-in charging coil and metal contacts for the back of the phone. You will also need to get a charging pad for that. I think it's a great option since you can either stay with a slim version of the battery cover or upgrade to wireless charging which does add a little bit of bulk. Here is how it looks under the hood:
And since I'm on a battery subject, here are the stats after my first full charge. I do have to admit, it was a light use with some web browsing, testing various apps, making a few phone calls, and all the services running by default in the background. This 2600 mAh got me through 2 days and 6 hours with 16% still remaining!!!
Also, just FYI, the capture of phone info so you can see model number, Android versions, hw version, etc.