Phones

Samsung Galaxy S4: The best and worst bits

The S4 has arrived and it's packed with features -- but which look genuinely useful and which will we turn off after 5 minutes?

All hail the Samsung Galaxy S4! Down with the Samsung Galaxy S4! Hooray! Boo! The S4 has arrived and it's packed with features. Some are good and some are, well, not so good. But which are the best and which are the worst?

Glad you asked, phone fan. Here, in no particular order, are the best bits and worst bits as they jump out at us in the first flush of excitement following the announcement.

Take a look at my picks then fly down to the comments for a wholehearted attaboy of agreement, or an incensed rant about how I've totally missed the point and should be horsewhipped for my dashed ignorance.

The best bits

First off, the things about the S4 that make us feel all warm inside.

5-inch HD screen
The latest episode of EastEnders has never looked better than it will on this vast, superbly detailed screen. If the 5-inch screen is too big for you, there's a wealth of smaller phones -- I can think of one beginning with an i, for a kick-off -- but if you like watching movies and TV shows when you're out and about, then the S4 has you covered.

S Health
Technology that helps you get fit and stay healthy is all the rage these days, so I've put down my chip butty long enough to consider the S4's S Health app. There's a whole gym-full of apps that help you track your food intake and activity, but Samsung has taken things a step further with a changing room-full of accessories to go with it. They include a wrist-worn S Band pedometer -- pictured above -- and Bluetooth scales that beam your weight to your phone, in case you haven't seen your feet for a while.

S Translator
One step closer to Star Trek's universal translator, this lingo-decoding app works on its own, and is integrated into email and ChatOn instant messaging chats, so you can chat with foreign folk in near real-time. Clever stuff.

IR blaster
Who needs remote control? We do. As your phone or tablet becomes the second screen that you play with while watching television, it makes sense to use your mobile device to control the telly too. While it won't replace the extra functions on your many remotes, the infrared blaster in the S4 lets you change the channel or adjust the volume without having to dive down the back of the sofa looking for the zapper.

Smart stay
You're watching The Notebook on your phone when a squirrel goes past on a unicycle. Naturally you're distracted -- and previously you'd have missed the crucial moment when Ryan Gosling jumps off the bus to run after Rachel McAdams. But the S4 tracks your eye movement and is all "that's cool, I can wait", pausing the action so you don't miss a moment of Gosling heartbreak.

13-megapixel camera and 1,080p video
The HTC One is reversing the megapixel race with its 4-megapixel 'Ultrapixel' camera. But we're not going to argue with the S4's 13-megapixel job if it's as good as the camera on the S3.

Cinema Photo
The camera comes with a bunch of gimmicky features, which I'll get to in a minute -- here's a hint: they're not in the 'best bits' section -- but the only one that I could see myself using is Cinema Photo. It's a feature that lets you create and share animated gifs of your mates, and if that doesn't strike you as a source of endless LOLs then you need funnier mates.

4G
The S4 comes equipped with all flavours of 4G. So not only will it work on EE, the UK's first 4G network, you should be able to buy it safe in the knowledge that it'll work on other 4G networks when the others big players launch their superfast services a month or two afterwards. You'll be able to use it on 4G networks around the world when you go on holiday, although that's likely to be ridiculously expensive.

The worst bits

And now the bits that make us want to chuck the S4 down a well.

Design
The hottest new phone in the world is coming! It's going to be the best phone ever made! It's going to be the best-selling phone ever! It... looks exactly the same as the one you've had in your pocket for a year.

Dual Camera
When it's not enough to see what you're seeing but you feel people need to see you seeing it, Dual Camera takes a low-res snap of your phizzog with the front camera and slaps it on top of the photo taken by the main camera. As if Instagramming and tweeting everything we wear, eat and are momentarily distracted by isn't bad enough, what kind of monstrous narcissist feels the need to insert their own own face into every recorded moment?

Sound and Shot
Take a photo and add 9 seconds of sound to it. So profoundly pointless I'm billing Samsung for the time wasted in typing that sentence.

Group Play
Wirelessly bind together up to eight phones to play games together or share files or gggbbll -- woah sorry, drifted off for a minute there. Johnson, take a memo: "Dear mobile phone industry. Nobody cares about NFC. Regards etc, Everybody in the world."

Smart scroll
In theory this sounds like a great idea: when the phone spots that you're looking at it, all you have to do is tilt the phone to scroll up or down. Useful for one-handed operation, like when you're clutching a handrail on a train.

Yeah, because nothing brightens up a commute like tilting your phone frantically back and forth, hang on, I've read that bit, scroll d... no too far, go back... no I've read that b... stop! Stop! No! Go back! Go... aaarggh!

Air gestures and Air View
Let's face it. You're going to turn this off after 5 minutes.

We haven't made up our mind yet

We've had the good and the bad, but there's one feature we're on the fence about...

Eight-core processor with 2GB of RAM
That's an awful lot of grunt. All else being equal, the S4 is likely to be faster than a greased eel that's running late. But that gorgeous screen and all those movies, games and clever features could chomp through your battery like it's going out of fashion. So look out for an exhaustive battery test in our full in-depth review heading down the pipe as soon as we've spent a bit of time with the phone.

What are your best bits about the S4? What are your worst? Fire off your S4 thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.