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Samsung has loaded the Galaxy S4 with a lot of rather interesting features. Some are usable on a daily basis, some are not. We try to justify the reasoning behind each.
Samsung started walking down this path with the Galaxy SIII, and it continued with the Note II and the Galaxy tablets along the way. However, with the Galaxy S4, the feature list has officially become too long to remember! It is a numbers game that Samsung seems to be playing – offer 10 features, and hope a decent percentage of them hit the target. The advertising is geared up for that, and all other ways of attracting you to the Galaxy S4, be it to get you to the store or be it in the store, revolve around the list of features. We assess all the features packed into the Galaxy S4, to analyze better as to which ones you will use on a regular basis, and which ones are just faff!
The ratings for each feature will work as follows-
High: Very high probability of usage, maybe even on a daily basis
Medium: You may keep this feature active, and may use it quite often
Low: Good feature to show off, but better turned off most of the time
Zero: Absolutely no chance you will ever use this feature
Usage probability: High
This is one of the neatest multi-tasking features that we had seen at the time the Galaxy SIII arrived in the market. Samsung has tweaked that further, and for the better. You now have the ability to resize the two windows within the same screen, allowing you to give more real estate to one or the other on the fly. More apps are added to this, which is good. Very useful, and rather than minimizing an app before opening another, you can have both open simultaneously. For example, mails could be open in one, and you could be doing a video call with someone at the same time. This is the perfect feature for anyone who tends to multitask on the phone.
Usage probability: Medium (till it becomes a habit)
This is one feature especially for the early morning, when you are literally squinting to see what is on the phone’s screen, with sleep still in control of your eyes. All you need to do is hover the finger above the sensor that sits to the left of the earpiece and the display turns on momentarily to give you the important information at a glance – date, time and notifications for missed calls, messages and mails – things you may have missed while away for the phone. There are times when the sensor does not seamlessly detect your finger, but when this feature does work, we feel it is a rather neat one to have. Good to have in a meeting as well, when you may not really want to pick up the phone.
Usage probability: Medium
We have given this feature a medium rating because this may really only be useful for someone who uses the phone extensively for viewing videos or movies. And any person would know how annoying it is to be disturbed in the midst of watching a movie and end up missing a few minutes. And inevitably, those minutes end up being critical! With Smart Stay, every time you look away from the phone, the video playback pauses. And resumes every time you look back at the device. Very neat, and it works seamlessly every time. Contrary to general belief, Smart Stay does not search for your eyes, but the entire face. Must use feature for someone who prefers to enjoy videos uninterrupted. For the rest of us, it doesn’t really matter!
Usage probability: Zero
This is one of those features that would do well when you show them off to your friends, the ones who don’t own a Galaxy S4, and specifically the ones who own a HTC One or an Apple iPhone. Smart Scroll works when the sensor detects you are looking at the screen, notified by a little notification that pops up on the screen at regular intervals. The head up and head down motion controls the page scroll. It works well, but we aren’t sure how often you would want to exercise those neck muscles. This will work only of you are sitting up straight, and kept the phone at the typical book reading distance from the face. Will not work if you are lying down or sitting comfortably on a recliner.
One of the smartest features that Samsung could have thought up, and has been a success on the Galaxy Note II. Now, the same feature has been added to the smartphones, the Galaxy S4 being the first, and your finger replaces the stylus. Position the finger just above the display, without actually touching it, and a summary of that item opens up as a pop up. This is a momentary popup, and disappears the moment you move the finger. Works brilliantly if you have a lot of mails or messages to sift through to get to that particular one. We saw this feature work brilliantly in mails (though not in the Gmail app), Gallery folders, calendars and messages. Something that we would use on a daily basis, without fail!
We would like to hear from you, your experience of using any of these features and your views on how they would work and what you can do to improve them.