New Galaxy S4 Not Exactly Earth-Shattering: Reviewers

Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone
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Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone

Samsung's newest Galaxy S4 smartphone is a revamped version of its top-selling S3 phone with a bigger screen and a few software gimmicks, reviewers said.

"The Galaxy is still a beautiful, high-horsepower Android phone," columnist David Pogue wrote in The New York Times.

"But basically, it's an updated Galaxy S3. If this were Apple, who adds the letter S to denote a slightly upgraded model ("iPhone 4S," for example), Samsung might have called this phone the Galaxy S3S," he wrote.

The S4 features a 5-inch screen, 1.9 GHz quad-core processor and a 13 megapixel camera. It runs on Google's Android platform. The S3 came with a 4.8-inch screen, a 1.4 GHz quad core processor and an 8 megapixel camera.

Samsung has sold more than 40 million S3 smartphones, rivaling sales of Apple iPhones.

The S4 "looks for all the world like the Galaxy S3—despite having a bigger screen and more horsepower, at 7.9mm and 4.6 ounces, it's actually imperceptibly thinner and lighter than the S3," David Pierce wrote in The Verge. "But copying the S3 wasn't a good idea."

Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD said the S4 is a good but not a great phone, and he urged readers to consider the more polished-looking and quite capable HTC One rather than defaulting to Samsung's latest offering.

"It's an evolution of the prior model, and despite some improvements it still is especially weak in the software Samsung adds to basic Android. I found Samsung's software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional," Mossberg said.

Galaxy S4 will roll out over the next week on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks in the United States.

"This isn't a phone that's going to convert an iPhone user, and current Galaxy S3 owners aren't going to miss out on a whole lot as far as features go," CNN's Adrian Covert said.

"I don't like holding this phone, and I can't overstate how much that informs the experience of using it. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand," Covert said.

The Galaxy S4 is so complicated that Samsung has given it an "Easy Mode" for less savvy mobile users, Dan Rowinski pointed out on technology blog ReadWriteWeb.

Mashable's Christina Warren gave the new phone an enthusiastic thumbs-up, however.

"After spending about a week with the Galaxy S4, I feel it is not only the best Galaxy product to date—it's one of my favorite Android smartphones ever," she said.