Samsung Galaxy S4 Australian Hands-On: The Same, But Completely Different

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the age-old motto recited by inventors and innovators the world over. When it comes to making something new and incredible, you don’t just abandon a successful design in favour of change for change’s sake. That’s what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S4: created an evolution of the Galaxy range, rather than a revolution.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S4: Full Australian Pricing

When you look at the Galaxy S4 in photos, you could be forgiven for thinking that it looks exactly the same as the Galaxy S III. In fact, unless you were on the design team that build the damn thing, I’d be surprised if you could even tell the difference to save your own life.

It’s the same plastic finish, the same white or gunmetal grey finish, the same logo positioning and the same oval button on the bottom, front of the handset. The rear cover looks identical, too, what with the camera in the same place. It’s only when you pick up the Galaxy S4 and physically go hands-on with the device that you notice the difference.

It’s lighter, cleaner, sharper and there’s more attention to detail than ever before. Despite the plastic finish, it’s beautiful and polished, right down to the fine crosshatch design on the rear of the device (ours is white).

It’s the same when you get into the device: you think you’re just going to be using just another Samsung-augmented version of Android. Actually, that part is true — you are — but TouchWiz is cleaner, less in your face, more beautiful, while still packing in a swathe of apps to make your life better. It’s like Samsung went to every feature of the phone — camera, screen, social networking, etc — and said to themselves, ‘how can we augment this to make people’s lives better?’.

The Korean gadget giant came out with an app that builds beautiful photo albums on the go, a function that lets you wave a hand over your device to swipe through photos like you’re strong with The Force, and there’s even a feature that lets you hover your finger over a day on your calendar or a photo album, and exposes what’s inside without you having to click and go to another screen. All these S-Functions might seem a little naff on the surface, but some of them are quite impressive when you go hands-on.

Yes, it’s disappointing that there isn’t the world-eating octa-core processor in the Australian model, but we won’t know how that affects the unit until we actually test it.

As far as networking capabilities are concerned, the Galaxy S4 is a Category 3, 4G device that will go on-sale through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. We’ll have official plan pricing up soon.

Outright price on the device is $899 at Samsung Stores in Sydney and Melbourne. Pre-orders start there tomorrow.

Stay tuned for our full review, and pricing information, for the Samsung Galaxy S4 soon.