Samsung Galaxy S4: Opinion roundup

T3 has searched the web and Twitter high and low to bring you what everyone else is saying about the new phone from Samsung

You can find out we at T3.com think about the Samsung Galaxy S4 in our hands-on review, but what do other major technology websites and well known figures think about it? Read on… (hint: it's surprisingly negative).

Fortune Magazine is critical of the new Samsung Galaxy S4, going as far as to say the battle is now between Apple and Google and that Samsung isn't even in the running anymore.

"Samsung's lack of power designing the core software that runs on its flagship mobile device makes it tough to celebrate the launch of the S4 -- even if it can do a few new things. Copying hardware is not the game anymore; rather, it is more about who can build a long-standing, sticky relationship with customers after that initial sale is made. Apple and Google are basically the only two players in this new war -- one in which Samsung, for the time being, can't even participate."

ZDNet worries that the new design – or lack thereof – could pose problems for Samsung (along with other smartphone makers).

"While Galaxy fans will likely be happy that the S4 has taken design cues from the S3, it could begin to wear thin if Samsung doesn't break the mould eventually. While this could seem of little concern at the launch of another flagship handset and new addition to Samsung's stables, the overall design choices taken for the S4 could illustrate a growing trend, and growing problem, for smartphone makers."

All Things D wasn't overly impressed with the Galaxy S4, but admitted that the direction that Samsung is headed in is likely to ensure it retains – and grows – its current lead in the smartphone space.

"Some of [the] upgrades in the Galaxy S4 feel incremental, or are simply borrowed from other Samsung smartphones. But the Korean electronics giant’s baby steps and increasingly desirable flagship phones are beginning to set it apart in the high-end smartphone market."

CNET was among the publications praising the device. However, even it warned that Samsung cannot continue to rely on hardware advances to sell its new phones.

"The new Galaxy S4 was clearly an evolutionary leap in terms of hardware. But hardware innovation is what Samsung fans have already come to expect from the company. Even the early Galaxy devices offered more in terms of hardware features than a comparable iPhone…But now Samsung is trying to add more software features and capabilities to its devices to show consumers why they need all those hardware bells and whistles."

The Verge was another publication unsure about how much to praise and critise the new phone, saying that the majority of new features are: "mostly small improvements, though, and in some ways the Galaxy S4 feels like an upgrade designed less for people who own the previous generation and more for those looking for a first smartphone, or upgrading from a two-year-old device. (Call it the Galaxy S IIIS.)"

It did however heap praise on the new camera, and some of the software that comes along with it: "One aspect did get a significant upgrade, though: the GS4’s new 13-megapixel rear-facing camera comes with both upgraded hardware and some new software flourishes. For starters, Samsung adopted some of the menus and options from the Galaxy Camera, like the on-screen mode dial and a few of the scene modes. The Eraser mode is one of our favorites: it takes a series of quick pictures, then automatically detects motion in the background and lets you seamlessly remove it. Goodbye, photo bombers."

Gizmodo however was quite clear about how it felt:

"There has been a ton of hype and build-up to this device, and ultimately, it left us feeling cold. The S IV feels uninspired. There are small spec bumps from the previous generation and there’s a ton of software which will largely sit unused. There’s just no wow-factor here."

Comparing it with the HTC One they took with them to the event, they said: "When you pick up the One, you feel like you’re holding something amazing, both in the build and the screen. When you pick up the S IV, you feel like you’re holding an S III with a few extra bells and whistles."

Engadget was also critical, saying Samsung had suggested what was going to be unveiled was a major evolution, but ended up just being an update:

"You say you want a revolution? Too bad, because this Galaxy smartphone update is just that... an update. Samsung's newly unveiled Galaxy S 4 is an incremental step up, an evolution less "inspired by nature" and more by last year's GS III."

Apple blog Apple Insider focused less on the hardware and software, rather questioning Samsung's apparent desire to avoid using the A word... Android that is.

"Samsung's Galaxy S 4 launch appeared poised to leverage Android to further distract the public's attention from Apple's iPhone. Instead, the company appears to have created its own apps and services to distract away from Android."

Twitter celebrities have also be muted about the new phone launch; in stark contrast to the usual post-Apple buzz.

After an hour of looking, T3 was only able to find tweets about the Samsung's new phone from Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury and Labour MP (and self confessed techie) Tom Watson. Even Stephen Fry has remained quiet on the subject.

Jason Bradbury ‏@JasonBradbury

Galaxy S4 - cool features like eye detection - pauses movie when u look away. Mind control in the S5??? :D

tom_watson ‏@tom_watson

When the boss describes a phone as "a life companion for a richer,simpler life" you know they've lost touch.

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