Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T) review

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 is the ultimate kitchen-sink smartphone with features you'll still be discovering months after you buy it. It's our top Android pick on AT&T.
Photo of Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T)

Nearly half a year after its initial release, the Samsung Galaxy S4 ($199.99/16GB with 2-year contract) remains a top option on every carrier it’s available on. The blinding number of features and impressive performance keep the S4 at the front of the pack. It’s our favorite option on AT&T right now, despite a solid effort from LG with the G2. Also keep in mind that the iPhone 5s is officially here, though we haven’t had a chance to test the AT&T model yet. We fully expect it to build on the success of the iPhone 5 with its promising new features, but these two phones have an entirely different appeal. 

We’ve already reviewed the Galaxy S4 on a number of different carriers, so we won’t get into all the details of this do-it-all Android phone. See our original T-Mobile Galaxy S4 review to get the full run down on its extensive set of features.

Performance, Call Quality, and Bloatware
Aside from carrier logos, AT&T’s S4 is more or less identical to T-Mobile’s version inside and out. And performance is the same thanks to the 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. This model supports GSM on 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands and LTE on 700/850/1700/1900MHz bands. In our Fastest Mobile Networks survey, AT&T came out on top with the fastest nationwide LTE speeds. Reception was excellent during our tests in New York City, as the S4 was even able to maintain a connection in our office basement, where signals are typically weak.

The Galaxy S4 sets the bar for call quality. Beyond the sound profile personalization, you have the ability to toggle noise cancellation and jack up the volume in noisy situations. There’s no HD Voice like you get with Sprint or Wi-Fi calling like you get with T-Mobile. Voices come through clearly in the earpiece and calls made on the phone sound superb. The AT&T S4 lasted for 12 hours, 35 minutes of continuous talk time, which is actually a bit better than we’ve seen from other carriers.

Aside from the bevy of Samsung features packed into the S4, there’s a good deal of carrier bloat onboard. In total there are eight AT&T branded apps, along with Trip Advisor and Yellow Pages apps. Unlike the Sprint version, you cannot uninstall these preloads, which is a shame since only 8.55GB of the 16GB internal storage is available. There is a microSD card slot under the back cover, though, and our 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards worked fine.

Pricing and Conclusions
AT&T sells the 16GB Galaxy S4 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, which is the same price as the HTC One, Apple iPhone 5s, and LG G2. It’s the standard going rate for a flagship smartphone.

We give a slight edge to the S4 over both the HTC One and LG G2, both of which are fine phones in their own right. The One will appeal to users who put a premium on design, while the G2 is the first device to feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 800 processor and might appeal to those who want the latest tech in their pockets. Still, the dizzying array of features, superb call quality, and excellent performance keep the S4 at the top of the pack, even half a year after its release.

Specifications
Phone Capability / Network GSM, UMTS, LTE
Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels
NFC Yes
Dimensions 5.38 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 b/g/n/ac
High-Speed Data UMTS, LTE, HSPA+ 21
Available Integrated Storage 8.55 GB
Processor Speed 1.9 GHz
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core
GPS Yes
Service Provider AT&T
Total Integrated Storage 16 GB
Weight 4.6 oz
Screen Type Super AMOLED HD
Operating System as Tested Android 4.2.2
Physical Keyboard No
Camera Resolution 13 MP Rear
2 MP Front-Facing
Screen Pixels Per Inch 441 ppi
Bands 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100
microSD Slot Yes
Form Factor Candy Bar
Screen Size 5 inches
Bluetooth Version 4.0

Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S 4 is the ultimate kitchen-sink smartphone with features you'll still be discovering months after you buy it. It's our top Android pick on AT&T.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc