With the Samsung Galaxy S IV set to go on sale this weekend on AT&T and in another month on Verizon, the reviewers have taken the purported iPhone killer for a spin and despite all its bells and whistles, they still like another Android phone a lot better. At its very dramatic Radio City debut, Samsung announced the successor to its very popular Galaxy S III, which included what looked like a few too many bells and whistles. And, it turns out, all the extra features weigh down an otherwise solid device, which means it a good phone, but not a "game changer," to use the words of Walt Mossberg over at AllThingsD. But, there is an Android "game changer" that almost all the gadget nerds brought up while reviewing the latest Galaxy S IV: The HTC One.
Looking for contrived, useless add-ons? The Galaxy S IV is the device for you, says Mossberg:
If you’re a nut for lists of new features, love Samsung or crave an even bigger display, the Galaxy S 4 may be for you. It’s a good phone, just not a great one.
Not even the geeks are quite sure that's what they want out of a phone, admits Engadget's Brad Molen:
While our geek senses keep tingling at the thought of so many market-topping specs contained within the same chassis, we also aren't overjoyed, per se, with excitement. The design doesn't feel fresh, especially not next to the HTC One, but we can't deny that it's an improvement over the GS3.
TechCrunch's Jordan Crook is certain it's not what he wants:
At the end of the day, it’d be foolish to think that the Galaxy S4 isn’t a top-notch phone. Where specs, performance and software innovation are concerned, the company is clearly making strides. But in playing with this phone for a while, adjusting to the new features, trying to make the most of them, and sometimes failing miserably, I keep returning to the idea of “Keep it simple, stupid.”
If all the swiping and eye recognition stuff appeals to you, know that those things only work in Android's "crummy" browser, explains Wired's Michael Calore:
But all that business of waving your hand or moving your eyes to scroll while reading — it only works in the crummy Android browser. It does not work in Chrome, where I do all of my browsing. It doesn’t work in Google Reader or Flipboard or Instapaper or the Kindle app, where so much reading happens. Looking away from the screen doesn’t pause a video in YouTube, only in the Samsung video player.
If you can get past that, however, this phone has a lot to offer, argues Ars Technica's Florence Ion:
None of this takes away from the performance of the Galaxy S 4, though. It's an extremely solid phone, and it's going to be hard to go back to the S III after a week with this one. It feels great to hold, it's comfortable to use throughout the day, and it takes much better photos than its predecessor. The aluminum ring on its chassis makes the handset look more modern than its predecessors. The display doesn't hurt either—it's really something to look at. Samsung definitely has another hit on its hands.
Although, it's build is a bit chintzy, counters Steve Kovach over at Business Insider:
As long as you don't mind a bunch of plastic, you'll be perfectly happy with the Galaxy S4.
Ultimately, though, if you're in the market for an Android phone, The Verge's David Pierce suggests you consider the HTC One:
The Galaxy S4 is fast and impressive, but it's also noisy and complex. The One is refined, quiet, comfortable, beautiful, and above all simply pleasant. I love using that phone, in a way I haven't experienced with anything since the iPhone 5. That's why, when my contract is up in June, I'll probably be casting my lot with HTC instead of Samsung.
... as does Mossberg:
I urge readers looking for a new Android smartphone to carefully consider the more polished-looking, and quite capable, HTC One, rather than defaulting to the latest Samsung.
... as does The New York Times's David Pogue:
And the S4 is still made of plastic — lightweight and grippy, but not as classy as the iPhone’s glass or the HTC One’s metal.
... as does Kovach:
But is it the best phone? No. You're still much better off with the iPhone 5 or the HTC One if you like Android.
I just wish Samsung had put that same attention into the design of the physical phone. The HTC One and the iPhone 5 are simply better-designed and crafted pieces of hardware.
So, yeah, if you're going to get a new Android phone, consider the HTC One.