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. The S4 is our favorite Android handset on Verizon, despite solid efforts by the LG G2 and Motorola Moto X. The Apple iPhone 5s, meanwhile, shares our Editors’ Choice for its forward-looking features and unbeatable array of apps.
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, Verizon’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 CDMA on 850/1900/2100MHz bands, 750/1700MHz LTE, and 850/900/1800/1900MHz GSM. Verizon had the best nationwide LTE coverage in our Fastest Mobile Networks survey, but the fastest speeds belong to AT&T. 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.
Note: The slideshow below is of the T-Mobile Galaxy S4, which is physically identical to the Verizon S4.
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. Like all S4′s, you can tweak the sound profile to suit your personal preferences, making it one of the best phones for call quality. In our tests, the Verizon S4 lasted for 10 hours, 53 minutes of continuous talk time, which is on par with other carrier models we’ve seen.
Of the 16GB internal storage, only 8.67GB is available to users out of the box. Verizon went a bit overboard with the pre-loads on its S4. There are seven Verizon branded apps, ranging from the useful Visual Voicemail app to the useless Verizon Tones app, and nine third-party apps. None of these can be uninstalled, which is a big letdown considering carriers like Sprint at least let you remove some of the bloat. There’s a microSD card slot under the back cover that worked fine with our 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards.
Pricing and Conclusions
You can get the 16GB S4 on Verizon for $199.99 with a two-year contract, which is the same price as the LG G2, HTC One, and iPhone 5s. With it come your standard Verizon options for voice, text, and data plans, which tend to be on the expensive side compared with other carriers. Plans start at $40/month for unlimited talk and text, but data must be bought separately on via Shareable Data plans. Those start at 500MB/$40, with 2GB/$60 in the middle, and top out at $80 for 6GB. AT&T plans are a bit more complicated, but one smartphone and 2GB of data will add up to $90 per month versus the $100 per month Verizon charges.
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. For those looking for a more refined device and the best selection of apps, the iPhone 5s is an excellent choice that shows some real potential with its forward-looking features.
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM, CDMA, UMTS, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||1920 x 1080 pixels|
|Dimensions||5.38 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||10 hours, 53 minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||8.67 GB|
|Processor Speed||1.9 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core|
|Total Integrated Storage||16GB GB|
|High-Speed Data||EDGE, UMTS, EVDO Rev A, LTE, CDMA 1X, HSPA+ 21|
|Screen Type||Super AMOLED HD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.2.2|
|Camera Resolution||13 MP Rear|
|2 MP Front-Facing|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||441 ppi|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||5 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc