After selling millions of Galaxy S3 handsets, Samsung has the tech world’s attention. With countless eyeballs fixed on the reveal of the Galaxy S4, the company presented – apart from some cheesy comedy that went over like a ton of bricks – a minor hardware update with tons of new software features. Is the Galaxy S4 significant enough to warrant an upgrade from the Galaxy S3? Let’s see how the specs – and other features – of Samsung’s hottest Galaxies compare.
The Galaxy S4’s physical design is hardly a radical departure from the Galaxy S3. Considering the success the company has had with its 2012 model, you can’t blame Samsung for merely modifying the same script.
The biggest physical difference is that the S4 is thinner: by around eight percent (0.7 mm).
It isn’t a monumental difference, but the Galaxy S4 is 3 g (0.11 oz.) lighter than its older brother.
For all of Samsung’s hyping of the S4’s barrel full of new software features, its display is probably its killer feature. It matches recent Android handsets like the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, and Droid DNA with a large 1080p screen.
This looks like a big advantage on paper, but remember that anything over around 300 pixels per inch (PPI) is going to look plenty sharp. Unless you’re holding your phone an inch away from your face, your eyes may not notice a huge difference.
Both phones ship in two variations, each with a different processor. For the Galaxy S3, the dual core model ships in North America and the quad core edition ships elsewhere. Will we see a similar split with the S4?
The North American version of the Galaxy S3 matches the Galaxy S4’s 2 GB of random-access memory (RAM).
Both phones ship in three different storage models: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. You can also add more to either phone with a microSD card (up to 64 GB).
Depending on where you live, you'll get a model (of either handset) that will max out on LTE (faster) or HSPA+ (fast, but not as fast) speeds.
The Galaxy S4’s battery holds a bit more juice. Many other factors determine actual battery life, though, and the Galaxy S4’s battery powers a display with over a million extra pixels. We’ll have to wait for hands-on time to see how long the S4’s battery holds up.
The Galaxy S4’s camera gets a big upgrade, jumping to 13-megapixels. In its keynote, though, Samsung heavily emphasized its camera's software-based features:
These include Dual Camera, which combines video or images from the front and back cameras; Drama Shot, a burst mode that merges multiple shots into a collage; and Sound & Shot, which records audio clips along with your still shots.
Wrap-upIs the Galaxy S4 a major upgrade over the Galaxy S3? Probably not. Much like Apple’s S-series phones (iPhone 3GS, 4S, and possibly 5S), the design doesn’t stray much from its predecessor. The Galaxy S4 does, however, get a larger display, a faster processor (no matter which model ships to your region), and a ton of software bells and whistles.
If you’re in the middle of a Galaxy S3 contract, our advice would be to enjoy the phone you already have – knowing that it’s still one of the best Android phones around. If you’re due for an upgrade, though, the S4 improves on it in nearly every way ... albeit incrementally.
To see how Samsung's arch rival compares, check out our comparison of the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5.