The Samsung Galaxy S4 hit the shops on Saturday and a number of reviews have now appeared online. In the wake of claims that Samsung has been using underhand tactics to slate reviews of the HTC One via the comments, we took a look at the latest wave of Samsung Galaxy S4 reviews and the comments attached to them to see if there is any evidence of anti-Apple sentiment.
The general consensus appears to be that the Galaxy S4 is not as much of a revolution as the S3 was before it. Many reviewers pitch the new handset against the HTC One, rather than the iPhone 5, although those reviews that pitch the Galaxy against Apple's phone tend to conclude that the Galaxy offers more features than the iPhone, but that sometimes less is more.
The Independent writes: "Take a quick glance and you might think you’re looking at the S3. Comfortingly familiar, then, if you liked last year’s model," emphasizing how similar the S4 is to its predecessor.
That review goes on to criticize the new Samsung phone: "For many, this phone will be just too big. For some it won’t be premium-looking enough. And it will be just too gimmicky for those wanting a simple experience. This is a highly efficient, capable smartphone with more features than you can easily use."
The Telegraph is slightly more pro-S4, but still suggests that the new phone is no revolution. The Galaxy S4 is described as: "Not a revolution after the S3 – but a compelling evolution," by The Telegraph.
Wired has a similar stance, that reviewer writes: "It should certainly be seen as an improvement on its predecessor than a radical reinvention." Although that review praises the S4 saying: "There isn't a better smartphone out there at the moment - Samsung has set the new standard."
AllThingsD's Walt Mosberg (one of Steve Jobs' preferred journalists) writes that the Galaxy S4 is "a good phone, just not a great one. He concludes: "It's an evolution of the prior model and despite some improvements, it still is especially weak in the software Samsung adds to basic Android. I found Samsung's software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional," he writes.
Samsung S4 Bloatware
Time's Harry McCracken points to the fact that Samsung has loaded the phone with its own software despite similar tools being available from Android. He notes that as a result the S4 phone has a number of competing features, and overlapping functionality. He concludes: "If you want the most polished phone with the best selection of apps, the iPhone 5 still has no peer."
The Galaxy S4 has too many features, according to ReadWrite, which suggests: "It [Samsung] packs the Galaxy S4 with so many of its own branded apps, so many features of questionable value that don't even work properly, that it detracts from the overall quality of the device."
"Samsung's insistence on loading you down with bloatware, pre-loaded apps and features that you will likely never use and just get in the way," concludes that report.
A Business Insider from earlier in April also suggested that the S4 just offers "a bunch of flashy extras," concluding: "If you want the best apps, get the iPhone 5."
The Verge really doesn't like the S4: "I don't like holding this phone. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand," writes that reviewer.
The Guardian rounds up a number of other reviews.
Is the Galaxy S4 too expensive?
Another criticism for the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the price. However, carriers in the UK are discounting it. We checked some of the best deals and compare them to the equivalent deals for the iPhone 5. There isn't much difference really.
You can get a pay monthly deal on 3. This is a 24-month contact at £35 a month. You get the 16GB S4, 500 minutes, 5000 text, unlimited data.
In comparison, a 16GB iPhone 5 on 3 will cost £25 per month but you pay £99 upfront. You get 500 mins, 5000 texts, unlimited data.
Phones4U has a Vodafone offer for £33 a month, plus a £59 upfront price. It includes 500BM data, 600 minutes, 24 months
A similar Vodafone deal for iPhone 5 includes 600 mins, unlimited data and unlimited texts for £38 a month with a free handset.
Any evidence of underhand tactics?
In the wake of claims that Samsung had been using underhand tactics - the company has already admitted paying college students to post comments that criticized rival HTC, writes iDownloadblog and the Fair Trade Commission is now investigating this, according to Patently Apple - we took a look at the comments on the reviews to see if any were particularly pro-Samsung.
As yet there is no evidence of particularly pro-Samsung commenting on the S4 reviews that have appeared, although one commenter Javier Ruiz on the pro-Samsung Wired review notes: "The boundaries between journalism and advertising are getting thinner every day!"
In general the comments appear quite anti-Samsung. For example, one commenter, who appears on both the Telegraph and the Independent, refers to "Fandroids". Chris Townsend writes "For fandroid sheep. It's an S3S. Baaaaahhhhh" in the Telegraph comments.
"So it look exactly like the S3, but is a bit faster (for doing what precisely?) An S3S for sheep Fandroids into cheap plastic" he writes on the Independent.
Gavin Fabiani-Laymon comments on The Telegraph review, noting that: "There is a lot of surprise on many forums over the lack of memory free to use on the 16GB S4. The phone hogs 7GB. And what Samsung hasn't told anyone is the memory card expansion cannot be used to save apps or games. So with games approaching 2GB, 9GB will be used up."
He notes that there are claims that Samsung will not offer 32/64GB versions of the S4 in the UK and suggests that 9GB of free space will not be enough.
Galaxy S4 sell out?
Regardless of the reviews, how well did the first weekend of sales go? As yet no word from Samsung, however, report have appeared suggesting that there is "overwhelming global demand". However, Patently Apple is suggesting this news should be taken with a pinch of salt.
That report notes that a Canadian report suggested that wireless carrier TELUS was offering customers a $100 credit to delay their Galaxy S4 orders because of the high demand. In addition an Economic Times report suggested that the Galaxy S4 had hit supply snags in the US due "to overwhelming global demand of Galaxy S4."
The Patently Apple report adds that the Korea Times writes that Samsung has stated that it's been receiving ''explosive orders." Samsung is apparently aiming to sell 100 million S4 units in the next 12 months, double that of the Galaxy S3.