Saturday, May 4, 2013

So, I Got a New Toy: My New Samsung Galaxy S4

These are the phones I've owned.
Until today.
So, here's the deal. With all of our previous cell phones (dating back to 2004), we've never had a top-of-the-line one. That's not so strange, I don't guess. We got in late, bought our first phones just for emergencies and convenience. And as we progressed every two years, we got better, fancier ones. But never the best, newest ones. This time, we realized that if you're going to be stuck with a phone for two years, you should start out with a great one. It's going to stay "new" much longer this way, and not be so far behind the times as our outgoing Samsung Epic 4G and HTC Evo 4G were.

So, this time I was determined to wait until the time was right. My contract was up in March, and The Other Half's just this last week. I'd been running Google Alerts on the Samsung Galaxy S4 (S4 from here on out) and the HTC One for months, so I knew I had to wait for a few weeks. Through all of this, you just get dribs and drabs about what is coming, when it's coming, and hints about how much it'll cost. But it's all mostly rumor. The cell phone manufacturers and the wireless companies (ours is Sprint) are ridiculously secretive, and cagey, and won't be specific about anything. I'm sure it's a competition/one-upmanship issue, but it is maddening.

From Gingerbread to Jelly Bean (I missed Honey Comb
and Ice Cream Sandwich).
Next comes Key Lime Pie.
Especially when your old phone is starting to act up. And only one of the two phones you're torn between is released, and you can't compare them. And then when the other one comes out, but in  limited amounts, and eventually is in stock, but only for full price. Costco, I had learned through my studies, sells the phones about $50 cheaper, taxes you less, and includes an accessory package. But when I'd called them earlier in the week, they had none, and had six of them coming in on Monday. Next Monday.  So, who could believe it that when I called on Friday, the six (not cases, phones) had just come in. I reserved two, one black, one white, and now I have them. I couldn't believe it.

When new-phone lust turns to actual acquisition, you come back down to earth. You have to remember all of the stuff you want to save from your old phone. And what you want to dump. You have to transfer to a new ecosystem, even if you're still in the same brand name. I went from
"Gingerbread" Android to "Jellybean" and from HTC's to Samsung's. And with the new S4, there are so many new features (and three years of progress), that I just have a lot to learn.

This is why I didn't even ponder the iPhone.
I picked the S4 over the HTC One for several reasons. The HTC is gorgeous, no doubt. So, I made a pro/con list in my head: what would I regret about getting one over the other? When it came down to it, all that I'd regret about not having the One is that it was pretty, and that it has dual speakers. If I'd skipped the S4, I'd be giving up the replaceable battery, the expandable memory, a bigger screen, a better camera and a bigger company behind it that will probably roll out updates faster. So, S4 it is, and I finally got them.

So, how is it? It is about time I got to that, isn't it? Well, it's pretty nifty. The big screen is gorgeous, and much, much clearer than I'm used to. The touch screen is responsive (though I haven't quite got the new hover-finger thingy down yet). Though the phone is very large, it isn't unmanageable at all. It'll take you a little while to get used to where to place your hands when typing. I like the improvements since my old 2010 phone in the ease of typing, the auto-fill of words. . .it's a little more correct than it used to be. The speed is very definitely better, and I'm not even getting 4G speeds in Las Vegas (of course we rarely did, even with their old WiMax 4G). Searching for something on the internet is getting comparable to to using a desktop PC, and that's new.

They're ugly, but we need more of 'em.
The plastic back of the phone--the key sticking point for so many people--didn't bother me at all. It's got a nice prismatic design, it feels fine in my hand, and most people put cases on their phones anyway, don't they? That was actually the clincher for me before I bought the phones, I wasn't put off by the design. Aesthetically, the Samsung TouchWiz interface is a little disappointing. It's kind of like Windows XP in its cartoonishness, after the improvements of Windows 7. I think that's just me having gotten used to HTC's Sense interface. It's probably even something you can tweak. And who knows what Android Key Lime Pie (due very soon) will be like.

I haven't had the phone long enough to give a more extensive review, though I may write a follow-up. I need to go through the manual, check out all of the new features. But so far, I'm pleased. The getting is rarely as satisfying as the chase makes it feel, but it's obviously a much better phone than I had, and I doubt that two year's hence I'll feel as far behind as I did this last time. Especially if Sprint finally gets those 4G towers up. But that's a whole other post.

My (early) grade: A


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I understand. I was confused by them telling me they were getting SIX phones in. SIX? For one giant area of Las Vegas? What is even the point of that? Might as well not have any. Then again, it (amazingly) worked out for me, so I really shouldn't complain.

  3. When your phone starts acting up, you can either try having them fixed or you can sell them to buy a new one. Well lo and behold! Doesn't it feel good that, after all those years, you finally have the phone you've been dreaming to have? Thank you for sharing the good news with us and for imparting practical tips on buying new gadgets!
    Joanna Daniels @

  4. Excellent blog you’ve got here.It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!! Please check out my site.
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