Last week, Carphone Warehouse got in touch and asked us if we wanted to test out the just-released Samsung Galaxy S4 – naturally we agreed, especially as we were challenged to give it a really decent road test on a family day out. Cue a trip to The National Space Centre in Leicester…
Our journey started with a trip into Nottingham city centre, where a nice man called Michael at Carphone Warehouse helped fit my SIM into the new phone, by way of a converter pack (£4.99).
Next, we stopped to stock up on lunchtime treats and then headed for the train – hurrah! Which we missed – boo!
Cue some waiting…
And more waiting…
Even though it was only 11am, we tucked into lunch as soon as we sat down.
And after a short ride, we arrived in Leicester, to be greeted by the exceptionally talented Red Leicester Choir, singing in aid of The Red Cross.
Next we took a brief bus journey (number 54) and finally arrived!
The underwhelming exterior luckily hid a rather fun interior, full of pieces of rocket, satellite and explorer, many of which had actually been in space (as JD kept telling me in amazement).
As well as some cool mini-models…
JD then persuaded me it was a good idea to go up 4 floors inside a plastic bubble to see the very top of the rocket hidden within. Looking back, it really was quite high.
Once up there, each floor had its own activities to explore. JD was rather keen on the moon.
And we did a spot of art.
Back on the ground floor, JD played spaceman.
Before we hit the cafe, and Miss J squealed with panic as she thought JD was caught under a real rocket’s thrusters.
All in all, a good day and we’d definitely recommend visiting the National Space Centre.
Thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S4
For those who regularly follow this blog, you’ll know I’m an Apple fan girl at heart, and that I’m also very attached to my Canon DSLR, so photographing and filming entirely on a Samsung for this post was something of a departure.
Here are my thoughts…
The look and feel
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is light, slick and shiny. At just 7.9mm thick, it sits easily in my pocket and doesn’t feel too large overall as there’s very little bevel around the 5 inch screen.
I have had black iPhones continuously since 2009, and really dislike the white models, but it works for the S4 and compliments the fresh feel of the interface.
It’s a good phone. A great phone, actually. Reception was good throughout the trip, Facebook and Twitter worked like a charm and I’m smitten with the big, bright screen, responsive buttons and intuitive home display.
The touch screen is fast to react, though feels a tad less swift and precise than the iPhone, especially when switching between activities. The ‘air gesture’ function which is supposed to allow you to control certain actions without physically touching the screen is inconsistent. Sometimes it works great, other times you’re left wafting madly at the air to no avail.
Samsung seemed to have nailed their aim of making a phone into a ‘life companion’ – the Android interface with multiple home screens just works great and now that I’ve customised it with the apps and widgets I need, it feels hard to imagine ever going back to an iPhone.
The 5inch Full HD screen (1920 x 1080) is breathtaking and watching videos is a dream, although I found the eye recognition that causes it to pause when it thinks you’re not looking to be insanely annoying and soon deactivated it.
There are two cameras on board. The main (rear) camera is a generous 13 Mega pixels, with Auto Focus and a built in flash, while the front-facing camera is 2 Mega pixels. Both respond immediately when the shutter is pressed.
In bright light, the rear camera is as good as you’d expect – better, even – but I was disappointed with the quality of the shots in low light. The focus seems to struggle and the shots often came out blurred and over saturated. If you’ve got an iPhone 5 (8 mega pixels), you’ll be expecting a lot more than you get from the S4 in low light.
That said, I’ve since discovered a multitude of manual settings (including metering, ISO and anti-shake) so perhaps that will improve as I learn to use the camera to its full potential.
The video camera
The video camera has a lot of features to love. It records in HD and at the same quality, as far as I can tell, as in photograph mode. The digital zoom is smooth and you can jump straight into video from photo mode at the touch of a button, there’s no delay as it switches over.
It was 60% charged when we left the house and lasted through 180 photos, 6 videos, 3 phone calls, 6 SMS, 1 MMS, some Facebook and Twittering before finally running out after 6.5 hours on the journey home. Not bad, I’d say.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great phone. Thin, light, intuitive and fun to use. The camera needs some work in low light, but unless you’re a budding photographer, it probably isn’t a deal breaker.
If you want to order one for yourself, they’re in stock now at Carphone Warehouse.
Carphone Warehouse sent us the Samsung Galaxy free-of-charge to test out. The image of the phone is an official one from the Carphone Warehouse website.