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4.1 out of 5 stars
Samsung Galaxy S4 5 inch UK SIM-free Smartphone - Black Mist
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773 of 803 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2014
In January 2014, I purchased a Galaxy S4 from an Amazon marketplace seller who claimed to be a UK seller with a UK trading address.
I wanted a genuine UK/EU smartphone (SP) with a genuine UK/EU warranty, which is what you must have to have your phone repaired in the UK under warranty, should it develop a fault.
The SP arrived from Hong Kong (HK), with a HK receipt.
I charged the SP, and when switched on, the text was in Chinese.
This rang warning bells, so I rang Samsung support, and gave them the SP's unique IMEI number and serial number, which can be found in the battery compartment.
They checked this and confirmed that this SP was registered to HK and had a Hong Kong warranty.
The very helpful Samsung advisor explained that this was a `grey import', and confirmed that if I had any problems that it would have to be sent back to HK for repair.
Presumably this would entail high postage costs, absence of the phone for a long period, and an immense amount of inconvenience.
When I purchase an item, I would expect to be told, (and am entitled to know), that the SP does not come with a UK/EU warranty.
Conveniently for the seller, this was not mentioned.
I rang to complain to Amazon and got connected to the Philipines call centre.
It was difficult to understand the advisor, and I'm convinced that my concerns were not fully understood, though the person, without hesitation, did agree that I would be entitled to a full refund, (I would not have expected anything less under the circumstances).
I wanted to voice my concerns to a UK CS advisor, and asked to be put through.
They could not do this, and explained that I would have to keep ringing the same number, in the hope that one of my calls would be connected to UK CS, (it's a random process).
I kept redialling and connecting to call centres all over the world.
Eventually, I got through to to the UK, but they were no more understanding than the Philippines.
I asked to be put through to a UK CS Manager, but all he could do was to compensate me with £20 for having spent the best part of an afternoon on the phone.
Amazon contacted the seller stating that they had to refund my full costs.
The seller contacted me and apologised saying he was not aware that this was a non-UK/EU SP, and that he would refund my money. He also offered me £30 if I would I retracted my feedback. A somewhat dubious gesture if he had nothing to hide. I declined his offer.
I find it somewhat difficult to believe that the seller was `not aware' of these issues.
Instead, I've decided to warn others of my experience in the hope that it helps others to be aware of this issue and to take steps to ensure that they have purchased a UK/EU SP, with a warranty that is going to be useful to them should a fault develop.
Incidently, at that time, the HK SP came with a 1 year HK warranty, but the UK/EU SP had a 2 year warranty.
So, before you purchase a SP, ask the seller to confirm that it will be a UK/EU SP, with a UK/EU warranty.
Ask them where it's being despatched from, and if the answer is anywhere other than the UK/EU, then beware.
Then when the phone arrives, note the IMEI number and serial number before you fit the battery.
When fully charged, switch it on and check if the first page that comes up is in a far eastern language or a EU language.
Contact Samsung support, and ask them to confirm to which country the phone is registered to and where the warranty cover is.
If it's not UK/EU, then complain to Samsung and Amazon
In my case, I have purchased another Samsung S4 from a reputable UK seller. I did not get the second SP from Amazon, as they had quite a number of sellers with dubious names, many with no information of where they are based. A UK profile address does NOT mean the SP will come from the UK/EU.
Having put out this warning, I shall now be preparing a letter to the Amazon UK CS Director, (full details were provided by UK CS Manager, when I insisted on being given these).
Tread carefully, and good luck.
PS. The SP itself is brilliant ....... and I have 2 years hassle-free peace of mind.
PPS. I have scored this review as one star, so that prospective purchasers looking to details of problems come across this review. Had I scored it five stars, it would have got lost amongst the massive numbers of five star reviews.
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220 of 230 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2014
(Read the warnings at the bottom)
Amazing phone, cannot praise it enough, with after market extended battery (double the capacity lasts 2 days with everything on) and a fast Micro SD memory card this phone has no competition. it is expandable and that is the amazing thing about it.
I was struggling to choose between 32GB iPhone 5s and Galaxy S4. Expandability (the battery life and memory) alone is the reason to go for this phone.
I bought extended batteries, a gel cover to fit the added thickness AND 64GB class 10 superfast extended Micro SD memory card with the phone. IT IS AMAZING and it only cost £500 with all accessories. iPhone 5s (64GB) would have cost £730.

Phone Galaxy S4: £409 - iGT-9505 UK Phone
Extended Battery: £20 - 5200mAh Anker OR Lopedo 7200mAh
Protective Cover: £6 - Gel cover to fit the added thickness (Generic Black TPU Silicone Extended Battery Back Cover Case For Galaxy S4 i9500 Black)
MicroSD Memory: £72.99 - SanDisk Extreme Plus microSDHC Card Class 10 UHS-I 80MB/S 64GB + SD Adapter

There are sooo many fantastic features that will take days to write about. Air gestures, Air View, Content Hover and Multi Window (Running 2 apps simultaneously ) are the ones to look into. you can backup your data in Google and Samsung accounts, photos to dropbox so they can be accessed from anywhere.
as a 2-week-owner of iphone 5 i should say Galaxy S4 is fast, very capable, user friendly (my 65 year old mum has a Galaxy S3), reasonably priced, great camera, can watch flash videos (unlike iPhone), more apps on android Play Store than App Store, Samsung's own bespoke apps, quick setting menu.
You can download different apps and make it the default one such as: browsers(Opera, Chrome), Video Players ...
voice commands and google voice search are very good.
Widgets are a feature that i certainly welcome and use for quick access. Music access and BBC news.

When buying Galaxy s4 be sure that seller is a UK Seller and that the phone is a UK phone and not an import. because then your phone will not be covered by Samsung UK Warranty.
As the Phones are cheaper elsewhere there are huge number of imports specially on GT-i9500 & GT-i9505 models.

I was asked by many to add this bit as well - Ask seller for the IMEI number before you buy it. Check your phone's IMEI number against the w w w . and contact Samsung UK with this number and they will let you know if it is a geniune Uk phone. it takes few minutes. CLICK Email Us send them an email they are quick. hope this helps. mine was a UK provider EE returned phone.
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80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2014
I bought this to replace the previous s4 I managed to accidentally smash. Seller is ykmenterprise2012. I received the box which stated it to be a general European model and not a specific UK model. One of the labels was broken however the other two were intact but covering other labels beneath them. This left me wondering whether the box had been previously opened. The plastic on the back of the phone looked a little dirty and like it had been taken off and reapplied. The main part of the phone had a screen protector already applied - I have never seen that before. The front of the phone is always covered in a manufacturers stiff peel off plastic - not a screen protector. I will be querying this with Amazon tomorrow, I am not convinced the seller has sent me a brand new phone. UPDATE; I have now expressed my concerns to Amazon who believe the item may well not be new and they have contacted the seller for me. I am awaiting a response from the seller.

I received a phone call from the seller within minutes of amazon contacting them. The man had a very, very strong Indian accent. He tried to assure me the phone was genuine, that the reason my one had a broken seal was because it must have been checked for quality control and that the reason it had a screen protector already applied was because that is how Samsung now sell their phones. I did not believe this. He told me he would refund me if I wanted and asked me to deal with him directly, which sounded pretty suspicious. I said I would look into it first. After the Easter holidays I went to carphone warehouse for advice as that is who my contract is with. They said it is of their opinion that the phone is refurbished. Given all the issues I noticed while I opened it, I also believe this to be the case. I paid for a brand new UK S4, not a refurbished European model. I have spoken to Amazon again as I do not want any further contact with the seller. Amazon are now arranging the refund themselves as soon as the seller receives the phone back. Amazon now have this phone in stock and are selling it directly themselves so I am about to reorder with them. Be very, very careful who you order from. I love the phone, but as a previous seller has said, I too am leaving this as a 1 star review so that people may be more cautious and hopefully learn from what I have just gone through.

The phone itself is fabulous, I love Samsung but be prepared for battery issues. Any decent usage drains the battery and it swells and soon stops working. I have had this with my last 3 samsungs, but I am happy to just replace the battery when needed. Other than this I cannot fault the phone. Beautiful big screen, comfortable to hold, easy to use and excellent customisation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2014
I was a big fan of Samsung and I even became obsessed with the brand. I have a Samsung phone, a Samsung note, a Samsung TV, a Samsung dvd player, a Samsung laptop and a Samsung washing machine (just to see the logo in the kitchen). My partner on other hand loves and respect Apple products. One day I went with her to Apple genius as she had problem with the headphone of her mobile. The guys in the store apologised and replaced the headphone with a newer version with zero charge (the process lasted for less than 4 minutes). I was impressed with the way the staff handeld my partner's needs and I thought that it will be the same kind of service Samsung provides. Guess what, I was very wrong as it happened to face a similar scenario with my Samsung phone, but in my case the phone itself stopped working completely. When I phoned Samsung , I was asked to send the phone in the post and wait for 14 days to be fixed. I asked them to make an appointment for me to visit one of their stores and the answer was that the nearest Samsung store from where I live is 22 miles away, and I don't need to make a booking. I had no other option then to travel this far to fix my phone as I couldn't stay without a phone for 2 weeks. On arrival, I found that the customer service in their stores is not better and even worse than the service I received over the phone. To add more disappointments, I was charged to fix a phone which was under warranty. The impolite and arrogant supervisor who I spoke to came up with endless list of things that are not under the warranty. This experience changed completely my emotional feelings and the positive perception of the brand. I have now MacAir and I am planning to change my phone and get an iPhone. Don't buy Samsung products as they provide very bad customer service. In addition to this point, you will be better off financially buying Apple products.
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104 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2014
Hello I’m writing you From Portugal, and I’m here to denounce an unlawfulness and for everyone to know what is actually the real true about the scam that is Gamecybershop or POWERTRADE CO, based in Rm 904, 9/F Wealth Commercial Centre42-56 Kwong Wa StreetMong Kok, Kowloon Hong Kong. On the beginning of Last December and after some research I decide to have a go and buy my galaxy S4 for Christmas, so the nightmare starts when I bought it through amazon on December 3rd.
1st - they took 20 days to deliver, and they ended up to deliver it on December 23rd, just in time for Christmas, and the only concern was shown in one of the last email's from someone called "Michelle" just before I got the package, and that was:" I guarantee the problem will be resolved quickly. Please refrain from opening a dispute and/or leaving me a negative feedback or neutral/positive with 1 or 2 star as it will cause my Amazon seller account to be suspended by Amazon. Thank you for your understanding and kindness." This was only the start!!!
2nd - After I received the phone I wrongly did rate this store in Amazon website with as excellent score, convinced that I had bought a proper Galaxy S4 with warranty and everything, just like an usual one, like the ones we buy in a street store, wow I was so glad and so far from imagine what was so close from happen to me.
3rd- On the first days of February I start realize that my phone has some kind of problem because the battery won’t last more than 10 minutes, and the screen was getting curved. So on thirteenth day of February I went to Samsung technical and customer care site in Portugal. In there they diagnosed the battery was dead, despite having only one month of use; unfortunately I would come to pay for a new one later. They demanded a proof of warranty or an invoice in order to replace the defective battery for a new one, and that document should have the Cell phone ID known as IMEI, Unfortunately I didn’t had none of the two.
4th- They didn’t solve my problem, and after I told them where I bought that equipment, the technicians took a look and they find out that my Galaxy S4 was manufactured by Samsung to be used by someone in Asia, more precisely in Singapore, so By Samsung policies, my Galaxy isn't covered by EU Warranty. I felt deceived, I was far from imagine how difficult would be to solve this huge problem, the same problem I keep having after three long months.
5th- So I cried for help from Amazon, and they didn’t do nothing more the start a connection between me and the seller (Michelle from GameCyberShop), they didn’t properly monitor our conversations despite my requests, After 75 e mails!!! Michelle didn’t stop making fun of me, completely unprofessional, delaying all the conversations we had trough e mail trying to tire myself in order for me to give up, denying any guilts, and denying any responsibility in order to to replace it for the same devise that would have an EU warranty, and she didn’t even supply me a proper invoice like I asked, she completely refuses to accept she deceived me, and now after I paid, I find myself in a blind alley, nobody wants to assume the guilt, that somehow they sold me a wrong equipment, I Have My rights as a customer , I don’t have any warranty at all, I demand an equipment with one, because I bought the phone convinced it was like the advertise“ Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone 16GB 3G/4G UK SIM-Free Unlocked”
6th- In one of the conversations, I asked please to Amazon to get me in contact with someone in their company who speaks Portuguese, because I don’t feel comfortable to have a dispute completely in English language, because it’s obviously hard for me to understand all the legal procedures and methods inherent to this kind of sales, but unfortunately they inform me they don’t have nobody,
So they demand a proof from Samsung Portugal, explaining why I don’t have the right to a proper warranty, and after two months waiting for their answer, it’s like I said earlier, a blind alley. Samsung question me about a proof of warranty, and I answered I don't have any, and they said the clause about international warranties is mentioned on the papers that come inside the box along with the mobile phone. So now what can I do??? More than I already did? I’m now in the hands of Amazon I don’t have any guilt in this; I’m the victim here, I just want my problem solved, Accept my phone back and reimburse me or swap mine for a new one, I don’t care, what I really don't wont it’s to keep this one without any warranty. To finish in beauty my headset who came along with the mobile phone, just died, and obviously without any warranty I can’t get a new one.
I definitely rate the GameCyberShop as trash.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2014
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2013
I've gone through a lot of phones. iPhones, BlackBerries, Palms, HTCs, and Samsungs. Each has had their own ups and downs but this phone has been the best of them all.

The phone I owned directly before this was an iPhone 4. This is of course a very outdated device by today's standards and I was pretty eager to get shot of it. Needless to say, the Galaxy S4 is a massive step up. So far I've been using it for a week, so here are my impressions.

The screen on this is beautiful and it's full 1080p HD, yes that's just like a modern TV, and actual HD content plays wonderfully too; it can also act as a remote control for pretty much any TV; the Android OS is very good these days and on this hardware it's blazing fast; Samsung's additions - unlike the additions added by most manufactures to Android - are actually very cool and useful, if overwhelming; there are a lot of settings which let you customise everything to your liking; some of the gesture based stuff, although gimmicky, can be genuinely useful if you take the time to set it up to your liking; the camera is brilliant; the internet over the phone network and WiFi is very speedy and it even comes with LTE; and the bootloader is unlocked so you can easily root and/or flash custom ROMs if that tickles your fancy (so far I've not felt the need to on this phone).

The only downsides I've observed so far are minimal. First off, the battery life has been pretty bad, but since charging the battery a few times and fiddling with the power saving settings, it has improved noticeably. It's worth noting that new batteries often show sub-par battery life until they've been cycled a few times, so this is not abnormal for any new phone. Second, the massive screen is amazing, but because it's so big and there's not much space on this phone to simply rest your hands, you will probably find yourself accidentally pressing things a lot as I did. This should be alleviated by the right case however.

But aside from that? Everything is brilliant. I wouldn't recommend any other smartphone on the market today, this thing absolutely kicks the crap out of the iPhone 5 no question. If you want a high end smartphone that can do just about anything you will not be disappointed.
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292 of 325 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2013
It might seem a little reductive to say there isn't much difference between the S3 and S4. But the truth is this: for everyday use in the hands of anyone who isn't pushing their phone to the limit with as many apps and widgets installed as possible there's not much in it.

Samsung, in a way not dissimilar to their main competitor Apple, haven't been able to make such a large leap in innovation this time around. Whereas both physically and functionally the S3 offered quite a lot more than the S2, that leap is more of a short hop when comparing the S3 and S4. There are plenty of new features and these take the form of far too many Samsung brand apps that serve little purpose: in most usage cases they will be launched once or twice when first owning the phone, then switched off and forgotten about. This applies to other features like air gestures which are quite inaccurate, even as compared to touchscreens thsemselves which aren't known for their pinpoint accuracy. The WatchON remote is an interesting idea, but I can see the need to wait for third party apps so users can have a soft universal remote with fully programmable/remappable keys; by default control is too limited and if you want a universal remote any cheap One For All URC or Logitech Harmony model will do a better job.

The bulk of these new apps and features are smoke and mirrors gimmickry: they exist to create a seemingly important yet ultimately superficial out of the box "wow factor". Manufacturers use this to fool consumers who already have perfectly good smartphones into thinking they should upgrade right away when in a majority of cases there is no significant advantage in doing so. These sorts of things are fun for five minutes but will serve no practical purpose over the 12-24 month period the S4 will be owned for. Case in point if you own or owned an S3: I bet you switched the auto-brightness and eye tracking nonsense off as well as trying to purge all the pointless apps Samsung preinstalled all within the first week of ownership, didn't you? Well, be warned: the S4 has more of the same if you did.

The most important difference I can see is that the more powerful processor and increased RAM combined with the 1080p screen now allow you to play 1080p video files from most sources easily, without having to transcode to a very specific standard as you would do with the Galaxy S3. Personally I have no need to watch anything but short HD clips on a smartphone as I already own a good home cinema setup and know that HD videos decoding and played at full brightness will kill batteries in short order, but that for me is the biggest improvement the S4 has over the still very competitive and powerful S3, other than the 13MP camera which although good is still nowhere near digital SLR camera standards for stills or videos. Are these two improvements enough of a reason to upgrade? For my money, no.

I suppose the more universal thought less specific to me is, will any of this extra power get used? For most users the answer is still going to be no. If you need an example as to why this is, think of how many new laptops come with 1TB harddrives as a key selling point and remember that over the course of a few years most users won't even fill one fifth of that with their data, even though they paid extra to have that capacity.

Smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple and HTC have had their period of incredible innovation and all that's left now is pushing up spec sheets to try and convince consumers that their barely one year old phones which are still incredibly fast and do everything they need with gusto and precision should be upgraded. Your average user who keeps it simple and just needs core features like SMS, email, Google Talk, Whatsapp, phone calls, the odd YouTube clip and light web browsing will barely notice the difference, honestly.

The S3 is more than fast enough for me and I do a lot of multi-tasking, with the need to connect to my home computers via VNC and transfer large files over the WiFi from time to time, and lack of easy 1080p playback aside there's just not a big enough performance upgrade to warrant my upgrading to the S4. Even the S4's improved 13MP camera isn't hugely better than the 8MP one on the S3, which produces respectable results using the freeware CameraMX app to shoot in widescreen and is more than good enough for quick snaps taken at concerts, on holiday, during family reunions or just down the pub drinking with friends. Any serious photographer is still going to be relying on their nice Nikon/Leica/Fuji kit with adjustable focal lengths, swappable lenses and ability to shoot in RAW rather than JPG like all point and shoot smartphone cameras seem to do. And yes, just like the S3 the S4 still has a tendency to distort when presented with loud music during video recording, so wonky smartphone videos with blown out sound uploaded to YouTube aren't going away any time soon even if you're an S4 owner I'm afraid!

Negative points aside though, there can be no detracting from the fact that the S4 is an excellent smartphone. All the things which made the S2 and S3 great are still here and of course are faster than ever, even though the UK isn't getting the Exynos 5 octocore processor for whatever reason. As the S4 benchmarks in the top 10% as compared to all other phones which can be benchmarked there is very little it can't do, especially in terms of mobile gaming. It will soon be the most powerful easily available smartphone in all the major territories and won't disappoint anyone looking for a world leading Android experience in mobile form, especially for users who remove the bloated Samsung TouchWiz platform and install something slimmer and more efficient like CyanogenMod when an S4 version becomes available.

The conclusion to draw from this review is, if you already have a smartphone that's less than a year old and is doing everything you need it to (Galaxy S3, iPhone 5, some of the better HTC and Windows phone handsets) then there is really no need to spend so much on the S4, which is an incrementally improved and polished version of the S3 with a few extra bells and whistles crammed in which are purely gimmicks you'll want to ignore/disable/remove as soon as possible. But if you have an older smartphone (Galaxy S2/Ace, iPhone 3GS/4, most things made by Nokia) then this is worth the time, effort and expense of the upgrade.

Either way, good as it might be, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is not a five star product. For the price to improvement ratio as compared to the S3 which can now be had much more cheaply (a nice ancillary benefit of the S4 launch) it just doesn't represent good enough value. For the fashion conscious who live and die by bragging rights or have had their current smartphone two years or more it will be a must buy, but for the rest of us it's worth waiting until the next Galaxy S or iPhone iteration.
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287 of 320 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2013
I am in a lucky position to be able to directly compare the s4 with my dearly departed iPhone 5 (a washing machine was involved in its demise). I am aware that the iPhone is half way through its production cycle but I honestly feel the s4 has reingnited my love for a new phone.

First things first: the screen, it is much crisper and brighter even on auto brightness than the iPhone. It is, of course, bigger as well and this does make a difference for me. It is difficult to reach the top corner when holding the device with one hand but it hasn't proved too much of an issue for me so far.

The user interface: I like the layout and customisable ability of the home screens. The widgets are a huge advantage over the iOS home screen, I particularly like the Google Now. It is a clever app in which it "learns" the preferences you have and changes accordingly, one example is when you initially start it it tells you about your local area and local restaurants that are well reviewed, useful if you travel a lot. The ability to move and change the size of different widgets to suit you is beneficial and allows you to see more without manually entering apps first.

Play Store compared to App Store: I have been a dedicated Apple junkie for over 2 years and was reluctant regarding the Play Store as previously I had struggled with the Android Market and did not like the spam it had in shed loads. I am impressed with how it has been streamlined and de-spammed to some degree and feel that it is now a strong contender to the App Store with the majority of the apps I use being available on both formats and being easier to find on Android. I don't feel I will miss the App Store greatly but having only been Apple free for 5 days, that may change in the future.

I have seen many complaints regarding its plasticy nature, I wouldn't say this is an issue for me. I always out mine in a case so I don't notice the back being plastic. I am a little concerned that the steel painted rim will rub off during the next two years before my upgrade. I like my kit to be well kept and looked after so if it were to degrade over time this would be a huge downside to me. However, only time will tell with that issue.

My overall impression is that of excitement for my new gadget. It is nice to sit and explore a new device when you get it, an experience I missed with my iPhone. Turning on my 5 from my previous 4 proved disappointing as it was exactly the same. However I do not know if this would be a similar issue if I had owned a previous galaxy model. I am thoroughly enjoying my new phone and hope I will for the next 24 months. However, time will tell.

Hope this review has helped you choose between an iPhone and the s4, I couldn't find any reviews that compared them on a practical level and not professional "a6 chip, quad core" etc. if you are interested I would go for it. You won't regret it. I definitely don't!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The LTE edition of Samsung's Galaxy S3 was my first introduction to the 'modern' Android OS after using an Apple iPhone 4 for a number of years. I really enjoyed using the phone and so, despite a number of uninspiring handset releases since then, I do still have a soft-spot in my heart for Samsung.

One of those uninspiring handsets was the Galaxy S4 which, whilst garnering mostly positive reviews, didn't really set anyone's imagination on fire due to it essentially coming across as a beefed-up Galaxy S3. Whilst I was never really interested in it at the time of release, when I got the opportunity to use an S4 recently my 'S-Affection' got the better of me and I jumped at the chance to see how it holds up today. What I review below is a genuine UK model locked to the EE network.

It's hard to deny that the specs overall did receive a decent bump up from the S3. The Samsung Galaxy S4 rocks a 5" Super AMOLED Full HD screen, 2GB of RAM (though the LTE version of the S3 came with this also), a Snapdragon 600 Chip, a 13mp main camera and a 2600mAh battery. It also offers a plethora of connectivity options with 2G, 3G, 4G, dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0. I was not able to test the 4G connection however 3G mobile data connections worked respectably where I had a strong enough signal.

Visually, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is incredibly similar to its predecessor borrowing the rounded 'pebble' design language but dialling it back a notch. Samsung managed to cram a larger 5" screen into a body that is just about the same size as the S3 and this means the left, right and lower bezels are slightly reduced. Sitting beneath the screen is Samsung's traditional physical 'Home' button flanked on either side by capacitive 'Menu' and 'Back' buttons. Above the screen we have the the speaker grille, notification light, front-facing camera, ambient light sensor and finally a gesture sensor.

Surrounding the phone we have 'chrome effect' trim which on the left hand side houses the volume rocker and on the top, the 3.5mm headphone jack, noise cancelling microphone and an IR blaster. On the right we have a single Power Button and on the bottom we have the Micro-USB port and main microphone.

On the back of the phone we find the 13mp camera, dual LED flash and the rear-facing speaker. The back cover is removable and gives us access to the removable battery, SIM card slot and thankfully a MicroSD card slot. The overall feel of the phone is the same smooth plastic of the Galaxy S3. To the dismay of many, Samsung did not return to the textured back cover of the Galaxy S2.

Day-to-day performance of the S4 is very, very good. Whilst it doesn't offer the blisteringly fast performance of the new, flagship smartphones it is by no means a slouch, holding up very well for a handset that is coming up to its second birthday. I've had it running recent games such as Asphalt 7 and Modern Combat 5 without any trouble and they all look great on the colourful, full HD screen, as did photos and videos. The rear facing speaker is loud and high volumes resulted in no distortion. Call quality presented no problems, my callers came through clearly and none of them in turn reported any problems with hearing me either. The 13mp rear-facing camera is also predictably solid as per usual with Samsung phones. In good light the photos are detailed with accurate colours and low-light photos are still good but less sharp and do show a fair bit of grain.

The negative issues with the handset come from the software, however some of these issues are solvable and some are not. Samsung have their own skin for Android called 'Touchwiz' and it is a very Marmite overlay. Whilst some like it's colourful stylings others think it looks childish and bemoan the sluggishness it introduces to everyday actions like scrolling through menus and swiping through the app drawer. The S4 is sluggish in menus and the app drawer, however since the problem is software and not hardware related then the situation can be improved to some degree with an alternative launcher. I downloaded and installed Nova Launcher from the app store and since this launcher is notoriously light on resources then swiping through the app drawer was suddenly a lot smoother of an experience. This is because the raw power of the S4's hardware was no longer being stifled by the software.

What is not so readily fixable is the result of Samsung's decision to weigh down Touchwiz with it's alternative software offerings and gimmicks that you'll likely never use. As well as Samsung's duplication of existing Android features you have S-Voice, Air View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, Air Gesture - the list goes on. These are features you'll likely try out once and then disregard, using your phone as you would normally. The problem is that all of these software additions take up roughly half of your 16GB phone memory whether you use them or not. This very fact landed them a prime spot on BBC's Watchdog and much derision in the mobile press. If you're confident and know what you're doing you can switch off a lot of these features and disable others in the App Settings screen. This will free up system resources but you can't really delete them and get the space back.

So, my keyword for this review is 'solid.' This is a solid (now) mid-range handset that comes with respectable specifications and the day-to-day performance backs that up, once you can get Touchwiz out of the way. The S4 is also purportedly on Samsung's roadmap to receive a future software upgrade to Android 5 'Lollipop,' so Samsung also seems to believe that there is still some life left in this device. My recommendation is that if you're buying a device out of contract then the S4 is a compelling alternative to newer mid-range devices, which are sometimes priced higher than their specs would merit. If, however, you're looking to buy a new contract handset then I would maybe look for a newer device, with a more recent chip, so that it remains usable over the length of your contract term.
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