Galaxy S4: Great Gadget, but Battery life is Doubtful

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I think Samsung has a winner with the S4, though Apple fanboys will attest to it as a boring update. Personally I do think that the biggest rubbish to come out of Apple is the upgrade from iPhone 4S to iPhone 5 where you have a stretched screen and little hardware improvement. The Samsung S4 makes two clean hardware improvements over the S3 with the display and camera. The FHD OLED display is 441ppi while the camera has been upped to 13mp from 8mp. Then you also have 2GB RAM. Try comparing the iPhone 4S to the 5 and you won’t find such hardware leaps so to me, tech blogs which extol the “boringness” of the revised Samsung hardware are truly Myopic in foresight and Neandertal in hindsight.

Why is RAM important?

I have always had issues with devices with low RAM, including iOS devices. For true multitasking to work, you need 2GB of RAM. Not the paltry 1GB found in older Androids an iOS devices. The iPad mini only has 512MB of RAM, which to me is an absolute insult to tech buffs, but they never complained about it.

Multitasking does not exist on iOS, they have a Jedi mind trick to make you believe you have multi-tasking as long as you are listening to the music and surfing the Internet at the same time. But that’s not to say it is a bad thing, you have less problems with apps fighting to gain your attention and this goes some way to preventing system freezing and lagging.

Social media apps that gives you constant notification are some of the RAM hogs on Android, chief of them is Facebook which occupies roughly 20+megs of RAM. If you have several photo sharing, social media, and IM services running, you will notice that your RAM availability is severely limited, and with 1GB of RAM (which adds up to roughly 800+ MB after formating) you are not left with much storage to run other more pertinent apps.

The S3 released in the US had 2GB of RAM, and as such, is good value for money. The S3 International version only has 1GB of RAM.

2GB is about right but I hear the new LG will have up to 3GB of RAM. Androids with more RAM will run better. You’d be damn lucky if Apple adds 2GB of RAM onto the next iPhone 6.

Processor Questions

Samsung Galaxy S4 sports a quad core processor for the US, at least on paper, while there is also a rumored Octo-core processor for overseas release.

This sound zippy but I like to throw caution into the wind with such claims. The octo-core processor sounds ilke a great idea but has so far been unproven. I have a quad core Tegra device and that never really showed its real abilities even after switching on four cores to runs games and apps.

One reason I believe is the limited amount of RAM. If your RAM is all but used out, it makes it extremely hard for the processor to go any faster.

S4 Battery is Doubtful

For the record, I would like to state that the S4 with the spanking new quad or octo-core will need more battery juice to run, so will the Full HD OLED screen. This is why I have serious doubts about Samsung’s claims of the 2600 mAh battery lasting the whole 12 hours under normal use.

One of the problems is that social media apps tend to hog data streams—requiring constant updates and refreshes. When you have a handful of them running, your battery life will be impaired. Manufacturers never based their battery usage benchmark on social media and as such, you have been warned!

By the way, the S4 has the same spec battery on the original Galaxy Note and even with moderate use, it gives you roughly 10 hours. And we are talking about a AMOLED screen for the GN! The Full HD OLED of the S4 is a 5inch screen! It has been debated that the FHD OLED screen consumes less power than Super AMOLED but you have to use real world results to really compare that. Both these technologies are similar and both are touted to be more power efficient than retina displays. But in FHD OLED versus AMOLED, the significance in battery consumption may be negligible between the S3 and S4.

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Having used the Super AMOLED on GN, I think the battery life is overstated. By saying it last a day (24 hours of use) is a bit misleading. In most days, it last between 8 to 10 hours of actual use. The S4 comes pretty close to this, give or take a few hours. When you use a Battery Monitor like Battery Status Plus, the one thing that consumes the most battery juice is the screen! So if you happen to leave it on running without using the screen (impossible to gauge ) you will probably have 24 hours or more with one charge.

The problem as I have pointed out are Social Media and Message apps, each time you get a notification, you turn to your device to check—consuming screen time and battery. You are constantly engaging the screen when you use the device and do this often enough, your batteries will need a recharge.

Conclusion

The S4 is a great gadget, and if you are not a born again social media whore, you’d be quite safe from the battery niggles as I have pointed out. The camera’s capability remains to be proven, though the specs are impressive. It is one of the first to use Omnivisions’ 13 mp f2.0 sensor lenses. I haven’t tested it myself so I won’t add any fuel to the fire.

There is also an option for wireless charging, used long ago on Palm smartphones, and an optional gamepad. This is important as it shows that the Samsung Appstore is finally preparing itself to take on the world with games developed for Samsung S4 devices. The gamepad will make it easier for developers to optimize their app gameplay which at this moment, suck big time from control related issues. Racing simulators and FPS will benefit immensely from this.

I don’t give much attention to the “air hover” or “face tracking” features. These sound gimmicky. Watching a whole movie on the S4 is nothing short of ridiculous unless you have a spare battery pack.

The priorities for a smartphone these days are mainly for messaging, calls, SMS, camera, and social media. You might throw in some music playback but beyond that there is hardly anything which you might want to do with your phone unless you’re married to a wall socket.

Right now, I just want to know how much the S4 is going to cost. This, in the end, will be the ultimate deciding factor.

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