Sod The iPhone 5S, Give Me A Samsung S4 Any Day

Three months in and I'm never going back to Apple...
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Three months in and I'm never going back to Apple...

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Consider me to be a gadget geek who isn’t really good with computers. I’m the sort of chap who has an iMac, but can’t really use it very well. I went through an Apple phase. It lasted about 3 years and £2,000. It ended abruptly because I felt like they were taking their customers for a ride (I got particularly emotional about them soldering RAM in so it could only be upgraded when you bought a Macbook through Apple). This is robbery and sharp practice all rolled into one.

Lets not forget the idea of being in the iPhone Owners Club, you know, the wankers who say “oh I have lost my iPhone” NO YOU HAVEN’T YOU PRETENTIOUS TWAT, you have lost your phone, or your mobile. These fucktards are the sort of people who think they are clever because they bought something cool.

I loved my iPhone 4S but it got about 18 months into my contract and I had long since filled the 32GB of memory and having to filter my iTunes catalog to a silly extent to try and squeeze a new Frank Turner album on was creating chaos. I almost had to delete the Busted album but managed to settle for losing a few Oasis B-sides.

The real problem was battery life. If I had a morning of heavy mobile use, or went to drop the kids off at the pool - if you don’t use your phone to read articles etc during a morning dump, you are either not using your time effectively or a liar - My battery would be desperate for some more juice by about 2PM. This isn’t good enough.

I had 6 months left on my contract and thought I would weigh up my options, a new battery for my phone through Apple would be about £70. This was ridiculous for about 6 months use before an upgrade. The Samsung S4 had just been released, it looked great but it also had a Micro SD card AND removable battery. After a bit of number crunching, I realised that if I sold my iPhone on Ebay (£350) and changed to a Sim-Free tariff with 3, I would be saving money provided I kept the Samsung S4 for 15 months. I did it.

I paid £450 for my grey-import S4 (from UAE). I then spent £30 on an official Samsung battery and charger combo, £32 on a Grade 10 64GB MicroSD card. This meant that I had something that would compete with the 64GB iPhone for £300 less. This also meant I didn’t have to live by a power cable and my mobile telephone could actually be MOBILE!

I’ve had the phone for 3-4 months now and I think it has had enough time to make an impression on me. This won’t be a Geekbench statfest, it will be a practical review. In terms of spec, the iPhone 5 is dwarfed by the likes of the S4 and HTC One so a lot comes down to the OS.

Operating System/ Using The Phone

I was a big fan of iOS, it worked seamlessly and there were a few annoying things like not being able to customise things and this was the big draw of Android, I also thought the Google Play Store would be really good for apps having not used it for a few years and read that it was finally catching up with Apple.

I have struggled to get used to Android to be honest. I have set up Nova Launcher which means that I have touch gestures like a 2 fingered swipe brings up certain apps which is really handy and I quite like having an app drawer too, iOS seems a bit more cluttered and having the apps fill up from the top to bottom is annoying, whereas with Android you can move them about your screen freely and it just makes for a more fluid use. The widgets are also useful if there is something you want a quick glance at.

The big problem I have had is moving music files to my phone has been a nightmare. It isn’t until you don’t have an iPhone/iPod/iPad you realise how good the Apple syncing system is. Mind you, indie music these days is so awful it’s not like you have to plug it in every day to get the great new albums like in 2006.

Getting your music onto the phone is the easy part. The Android music playing app is guff, I have tried to find something even comparable to iOS for listening to music but the Apple history of iPod etc. is just so far ahead.

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As far as apps go, the major ones (Facebook, Twitter, Ebay etc.) Are much of a muchness no matter what operating system you have. I have noticed that I am spending a lot more money on apps through the Google Play store than I ever did with iOS, I don’t know if I am just more free with my cash or they are just more important in the running of Android. There is a bit less selection in terms of some apps but then there are some different ones too, lets call that a draw!

Samsung have put loads of apps on it, stuff like making the phone detect your eyes when reading stuff and scrolling down. However, all this crap only works for the default apps, so if you use the likes of Whatsapp and Chrome, it is totally pointless and just decimates your battery.

Screen/Hardware

The S4 Screen when I first got it seemed massive, well it is pretty massive. The big problem I thought I would have is the problem it would cause pulling out of my pockets and not being comfortable in tighter (not skinny) jeans but it hasn’t even been a factor. A lot of the reviews bitch about the plastic back cover making the phone feel cheap. These muppets obviously haven’t come across the idea of a phone cover - It actually covers the back of your phone to protect it...Amazing stuff, so while the back is cheap and plastic, it is the best material for the back cover as it makes it easy to swap batteries and take out the Micro SD card etc.

The big screen means it can be quite cumbersome reaching for things in the top corner if you use it one handed. I have bigger than average hands and long fingers so if you have stubby sausage fingers you might want to opt for holding it in 2 hands. On the plus side, your fat fingers are less likely to press the wrong button in apps because everything is bigger and easier to press.

The other thing about the screen is how clear it is. I put a 1080p recording of the Frotch vs Kessler Fight and was stunned at how good it looked. It looked genuinely spectacular, I don’t know how many pixels per inch or anything it claims to be but it would appear to be enough (about 25% more). The big let down with the screen compared to the iPhone retina screen is using it in the sunshine, you can’t see a thing. Totally hopeless. It is like when you watch some sucker trying to light a cigarette on a windy day with a crap lighter, no amount of shielding with your hand will give you your fix. - Kids, don’t smoke, it looks cool but it’s really expensive.

The speaker in the back of the phone produces the goods, it is a lot louder and sounds more solid than what came out of my 4S. The big problem is if you put the phone down on something, it muffles the sound and if you put the phone face down, it stops playing the music. Some smart arse thought they were being clever but just look like a dickhead now.

Signal strength seems to be pretty consistent with how my 4S performed so we shall call that a draw. Living in Scotland, 4G isn’t happening so I can’t mention that either.

Camera

I love the camera. It is amazing. It just takes great pictures. I have no aspirations to be a photographer. I have a Lumix TZ10 camera but have stopped carrying it because the Samsung phone takes pictures just as well, the only thing it is missing is optical zoom but it is a telephone, they do the S4 Zoom but it looks like a massive ball ache. The camera has a load of settings and stuff but lets be serious, who actually uses them? I am not pretentious enough for that crap. This is why the camera rocks, you point it at something, press the button, it takes a picture. The picture is normally pretty great. The only thing the iPhone is better for is the actual physical camera button, much easier to take an at-arms-length-pic-of-me-and-my-pal’s-forehead picture.

Conclusion

The Samsung S4 is a much better phone in terms of specs, the massive crystal clear screen is brilliant and the big selling point was options with memory and batteries. Samsung have tried to be clever with it though and probably ruined it with bloatware and gimmicks.

You know what the most annoying thing about the S4? My contract would have just run out and I could have upgraded to the iPhone 5S. Gutted.

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