Features & Controls

The Samsung Galaxy S4 runs on Android 4.2.2 Jellybean, and has a 5.0-inch full HD Super AMOLED display (1920x1080 pixels).

In addition to the primary 13-megapixel camera, you can spot the small secondary lens at the top left of the body. This 2-megapixel camera is handy for self portraits ("selfies") since you can use the screen to frame your shot.

The S4 employs a 1.9Ghz Quad-Core or 1.6Ghz Octa-Core Processor and has 16GB or 32GB memory options, plus a microSD slot (for up to 64GB of additional memory).

Samsung Galaxy S4-lens.jpg
The rear camera captures 13-megapixel images, and sits beside the flash. The camera captures attractive photos in broad daylight, though even late afternoon shade begins to tax the limits of the small lens, resulting in distortions at the edges, some digital noise, and some blurriness.

The lens is fixed, of course, and does not telescope beyond the body, so no optical zooming. Also, if you've been spoiled by a wide angle on another camera, you might find the 31mm (35mm equivalent) fixed lens to be a little limiting. This can be disappointing in close quarters where you're trying to capture a broader scene than the lens can take in. On the plus side, the range of view works well when shooting outdoor landscapes (where you may not want an overly wide angle).

The LED flash is handy for close shots, but it's not surprising, given its size, that its usefulness is pretty much limited to to a few feet. You'll be hard pressed to get a background illuminated in addition to foreground subjects. I found the flash sometimes left skin tones with a greenish cast.

The camera records 1080p Full HD Video Recording (at 30fps), and the quality is quite good.

Samsung Galaxy S4-sideA.jpg
Shown here screen up, the right side of the chassis is where the power button resides. Note the thin body, being just 0.31 inch thick.

Samsung Galaxy S4-sideB.jpg
Shown here face down, the opposite side of the body is where the rocker button is located, which you can use to activate the 4X digital zoom. However, unlike optical zoom, using this digital magnification will deteriorate the quality of your images. Even at 2X, digital noise is clearly evident in the details. At 4X the images are not attractive. If at all possible, get closer to your subject.

Samsung Galaxy S4-top2.jpg
On the top of the smartphone body is the (left to right): IrLED, microphone for speaker phone, and a headphone jack. (Note that for this photo, the camera was mounted in a holster).

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On the bottom of the body you'll find a microphone and multi-use USB port. The smartphone's battery can be charged via USB.

Samsung Galaxy S4-cards.jpg
Popping off the back reveals two card slots and the battery compartment. You have the option of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of memory, plus a microSD slot holding up to 64GB. (Note: no card is included, however the phone is available with 16GB or 32GB of internal memory).

Samsung Galaxy S4-battery.jpg
The 2600 mAh battery is USB-chargeable. Batter life is rated as follows:
  • Up to 8 h Internet Usage Time (3G)
  • Up to 10 h Internet Usage Time (Wi-Fi)
  • Up to 11 h Video Playback Time
  • Up to 62 h Audio Playback Time

Samsung Galaxy S4-charger.jpg
The Galaxy S4 comes in an attractive faux wood box with the following:
  • Battery charger
  • USB cable
  • Earbuds

Samsung Galaxy S4-recording.jpg
The typical camera screen in recording mode includes buttons on the right side of the screen for most functions. Here, you launch movie recording mode, trip the shutter for still images (camera icon button) or pull up the shooting modes with the Mode button.

At top left, the icons are (left to right): secondary self-portrait camera, dual shot, and settings.

In Dual Shot mode, the camera takes two photos simultaneously, one with each lens. The primary lens captures the main image and the secondary image is overlaid inside a postage stamp frame (see Samples Page).

The icon at bottom left takes you to playback mode.

Samsung Galaxy S4-recording2.jpg
Tapping on the Settings button (gear icon) on the main recording screen expands the icons at top left.

Recording menu settings icons (default):
  • Settings menu
  • Flash mode (Auto, on, off)
  • Auto night detection (On, off)
  • Voice control (voice commands "smile," "cheese," "capture" and "shoot" can be used to trip the shutter)
  • Movie recording mode menu
  • Share (Off, share shot, buddy photo share, ChatON photo share, remote viewfinder)
Three of these positions can be customized from 11 options. In this screenshot, the flash, auto night detection, and voice control icons can be replaced by other settings, such as GPS tag, metering, ISO, and anti-shake. Using the camera's main menu button, you select "edit quick settings" and drag-and-drop new icons for desired settings.

Samsung Galaxy S4-recording-modes.jpg
Pressing the Mode button brings up the shooting modes options in a thumbnail view.

Shooting modes menu:
  • Auto
  • Beauty face
  • Best photo
  • Best face
  • Sound & shot
  • Drama
  • Animated photo
  • Rich tone (HDR)
  • Eraser
  • Panorama
  • Sports
  • Night

Samsung Galaxy S4-shooting-mode-drama.jpg
On of the more interesting shooting modes is Drama. In this mode, as indicated by the icon, the camera superimposes a moving subject multiple times over a static background. In other words, don't move the camera while it repeatedly trips the shutter or the camera will likely not be able to create the image. Note how in the sample on the Samples Page, there's a minor artifact in the top left corner (perhaps a breeze was blowing the leaves).

In this mode, the camera does not create a full-resolution file, but a reduced resolution JPEG.

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Using the Sound & Shot mode, the G4 captures a short audio clip after taking a photo. The audio plays when you view the photo.

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The recording menu can be reached via the Galaxy S4's main menu button, or via the menu button on the touchscreen (gear icon).

Recording menu:
  • Photo Size - 13M (4:3), 9.6M (16:9), 8M (4:3), 6M (16:9), 2.4M (16:9)
  • Burst Shot - Off, On
  • Face Detection - Off, On
  • Metering - Center-weighted, Matrix, Spot
  • ISO - Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
  • Anti-Shake: Off, On
  • Auto Night Detection: Off, On
  • Save As - Rich Tone and Original, Rich Tone Only

Samsung Galaxy S4-playback.jpg
The default playback view shows photos without any text overlay.

Samsung Galaxy S4-playback2.jpg
If you tap screen, menu choices appear at the top of the screen (left to right: sharing, e-mail, edit, delete) and a ribbon of thumbnails along the bottom, which you can swipe across the screen to navigate to other photos.

Note that the email icon above will be replaced by whatever sharing option you've last used.

Samsung Galaxy S4-playback-share.jpg
Tapping the sharing icon brings up a six-icon menu of options.

Sharing menu:
  • ChatON
  • Group Play
  • AT&T Locker
  • Bluetooth
  • Email
  • Flipboard

Pressing the S4's main menu button in playback mode brings up a smorgasbord menu of playback, editing, and sharing options.

Main playback menu:

  • Favorite
  • Slideshow
  • Photo frame
  • Add note on back of image
  • Copy to clipboard
  • Print
  • Rename
  • Set as
  • Buddy photo share (using face detection)
  • Rotate left
  • Rotate right
  • Crop
  • Detect text
  • Details
  • Settings

Samsung Galaxy S4-playback-multiview.jpg
Pressing the top left arrow in single-image playback brings you to a mutli-thumbnail view. Here you can make an album using the button at the top of the screen.

In playback mode, you get a variety of editing options. The most extensive and artistic are the Color, Effect and Portrait selections detailed below. The frames are fine and fun as far as frames go (one effect is of a print that appears to have been folded and put in a pocket). And, you get a lot of digital stickers to paste on your photos, but these are simple little distractions for the younger crowd that don't add up to the artistic results you can get from the sophisticated effects.

Photo editing menu:
  • Rotate
  • Crop
  • Color (8 options)
  • Effect (20 selections)
  • Portrait (7 adjustments)
  • Sticker (19 brush icons, 20 comic icons, 20 paper cutouts, 20 icons)
  • Drawing (pen and eraser)
  • Frame (10 frames)

Samsung Galaxy S4-playback-portrait-edit.jpg
The portrait editing menu offers a lot of options for making your people shots more attractive. However, the results are not always ideal.

For example, the out-of-focus option sounds like a good way to blur the background, like a large lens can do naturally using a wide aperture. But when I applied this effect to my photos, the camera ended up blurring the edges, in some areas, of the people in my photo, resulting in an unnatural look. Similarly, I had a difficult time trying to apply the spot healing edit. Despite the generous size of the screen, zooming in and applying the spot healing brush was a little clumsy. Even when I did apply it, I found the results to look unconvincing and unnatural.

Portrait edit menu:
  • Red-eye fix
  • Airbrush face
  • Face brightness
  • Out-of-focus
  • Beauty face
  • Face reshaping
  • Spot healing

The eight options in the color edit menu are a handy assortment for getting the look you want. With the exception of Auto Adjust, all of these adjustments let you adjust the severity of the effect, which you control with a slide bar on the touch screen.

Color edit menu:
  • Auto adjust
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Saturation
  • Adjust RGB
  • Temperature
  • Exposure
  • Hue
The effects menu offers a very generous 20 choices for affecting you photos in a number of ways. Unlike the color treatments these are one-stop shopping; there is no adjustment to the intensity of the effect. Many of these mimic film processing techniques and the effect of specialized lenses and filters.

Effects menu:
  • Vignette
  • Grey-scale
  • Sepia
  • Vintage
  • Faded color
  • Turquoise
  • Tint
  • Cartoon
  • Moody
  • Fisheye
  • Negative
  • Nostalgia
  • Engraving
  • Sketch art
  • Downlight
  • Blue wash
  • Yellow glow
  • Sharpen
  • Blur
  • Soft glow

Samsung Galaxy S4-settings-menu.jpg
In the settings menu, you can turn many features on or off, such as GPS tags, playback review, shutter sound, and voice control. The settings menu can be reached via the main menu button, and selecting Settings. Navigating via the touchscreen button (gear icon) will also bring you to this screen if it is the last menu used; otherwise, it will launch the shooting menu.

Samsung Galaxy S4-recording-movie-mode.jpg
Tapping the movie camera icon in shooting mode brings up this pop-up menu. There are four options. Limit for MMS records in lower quality so the file is easier to share via email or social networks.

In playback mode, the only edit option is to trim the beginning and end of a movie clip, adjusting the beginning and end points on a slide ruler.

Samsung Galaxy S4-record-movie-menu.jpg
Tapping the video camera icon atop the settings menu allows you to adjust the video size and turn video stabilization on or off.

Video size menu:
  • 1920x1080 (16:9)
  • 1440x1080 (4:3)
  • 1280x720 (16:9)
  • 320x240 (4:3)

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.