Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Thought Leadership, Speed Desk and How-To. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
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ExpertiseContent strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Don't worry, that's what charts are for. I stack up the specs below, then roll through some of the key differences that could help you make up your mind.
Super AMOLED Screen
5-in. 1080p HD
5-in. 1080p HD (LCD)
4.3-in. qHD (960x540)
4.3-in. qHD (960x540)
13MP; 1080 vid
8MP; Aqua mode
16MP; 1080p vid
1.9GHz quad-core OR 1.6GHz octa-
1.5GHz dual-core (varies)
Up to 64GB
Up to 64GB
Up to 64GB
Up to 64GB
5.4 x 2.8 x 0.3
5.5 x 2.8 x 0.4
4.9 x 2.4 x 0.4
4.9 x 2.5 x 0.6
Nexus UI (Google Ed.)
Samsung Galaxy S4
The original Galaxy S4 dropped this spring, bringing with it an impressive 13-megapixel camera and a veritable arsenal of software addenda, a few of which you may actually use.
The handset isn't terribly fancy-looking, but it's easy on the eye and has a rounded-out feature set that's hard for competitors to beat.
It's a pricey one, especially off-contract, but as Samsung's global flagship phone, it's available nearly everywhere.
If you're planning to buy a Samsung phone in the near term, this one's the default choice. Read the full Galaxy S4 review.
Watch this: Samsung's Galaxy S4 powerhouse
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Outdoor enthusiasts, klutzes, and people who work or live in more rugged environments should keep an eye on Samsung's Galaxy S4 Active.
This variant is dustproof and waterproof for up to 30 minutes. It's so hydrophilic, in fact, that Samsung has given the phone's 8-megapixel camera its own aqua mode for snapping underwater scenes.
The camera resolution and sturdier body are about the phone's only major changes compared with the original S4, so you'll be getting top specs along with mastery of the elements.
AT&T will snatch it up for $199 for its U.S. network, but also look for the S4 Active to arrive elsewhere around the world. While the phone isn't as rugged as the name suggests, its underwater camera feature makes it a fairly unique offering.
Watch this: Samsung's Galaxy S4 Active makes waves
Samsung Galaxy S4, Google Play Edition Available for $649 from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Google's online Play Store, this version of the handset keeps all of the GS4's hardware specs and instead swaps out the software. T-Mobile may offer the phone for a smaller down payment and monthly installments thereafter.
Instead of running Samsung's TouchWiz interface, the Google Edition uses Android's stock Nexus experience. That means no bloatware in the preinstalled apps; clean, "pure Google" visuals, and a bootloader that's already unlocked for you. As a bonus, it'll get Android OS updates faster than non-Nexus phones.
Aimed squarely at developers, prospective buyers should keep in mind that they'll lose out on the extra features built into TouchWiz. However, many of Samsung's preinstalled apps are also available from the Google Play store.
Get this version if you're a developer, you heavily customize Android, or you strongly dislike TouchWiz. It also helps if you don't mind paying the full phone price up front.
Watch this: Google's Samsung Galaxy S4 in all its minimalistic goodness
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini More compact, but also with leaner specs, the S4 Mini follows a precedent set by last year's S3 Mini to sells a less expensive version of the flagship phone in specific markets.
While the Mini's midrange feature set is still quite strong, this is no budget phone. For instance, its 390-GBP price point comes out to about $580. It's currently available globally, but there's no U.S. announcement yet. If it were to make landfall on these shores, it would assuredly cost closer to the $50 or $100 range with a new, two-year contract.
Watch this: Hands-on with Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Still a little more camera than smartphone, Samsung's new version of its Galaxy Camera reshapes the 16-megapixel zoom lens into a flatter form that's all compact camera on one side and all Galaxy S4 on the other.
Last year's model took great photos for a smartphone, but not necessarily for a pocket camera. As such, it'll appeal to a more limited set. Apart from the advanced camera action, the Zoom's specs take a step down from the Galaxy S4, but they're still plenty rich for many folks.
I don't know pricing yet, but expect the Galaxy S4 Zoom to cost a pretty penny above the Galaxy S4. After all, that larger sensor and 10x zoom components won't come to Samsung cheap.
Watch this: Hands-on with the crazy Galaxy S4 Zoom
Samsung Galaxy S3 still a contender If all these Galaxy S4 spin-offs weren't confusing enough, there's also the Galaxy S3. Last year's model still has a lot of life left in it, and prices are now lower than ever. CNET's Maggie Reardon offers some compelling reasons why you might want to buy the Galaxy S3 instead.
And what about HTC? Then there's the sleek and oh-so-stylish HTC One, which beats the pants off the Galaxy S4 when it comes to its tuxedo good looks and audio quality. Here's a full punch-out between the HTC One and original Galaxy S4 that will hopefully help you decide between the two if you're torn.
Pick your poison Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, or are you thinking of getting one? Which appeals to you most? Have your say in the comments below.