This is one of the hardest Final Thoughts I've had to write. I put off writing my S4 review for a couple of weeks because I was so tied on my thoughts, and didn't want to hastily write a review of the smartphone to just get it out of the way.
I apologize that my review is up months after the Galaxy S4 was released, but we didn't get a sample until a month after its release, and I really wanted to take my time with this one. I feel like my real-world testing idea has really worked, because if I had written this review in the first week, it would've scored a much higher score, and I probably would've dunked it in our Editor's Choice Award.
But, I haven't. It has been scored appropriately, to what I recommend it receives. The Galaxy S4 is a great smartphone, don't get me wrong. It is fast, it's light, the display is amazing, the battery life is mostly good, but I feel like there's this huge "but" written all over it.
I feel like Samsung has reached the point where they're just making slightly bigger, slightly faster, slightly more feature-packed smartphones as time goes on. The Galaxy S4 looks, feels and acts like an S III, but it's not an S III at the same time.
I feel like my Final Thoughts can be boiled down to a few questions I'll ask, which is what I say when people ask me "which smartphone should I buy?" Here it is: if you have a smartphone that is two years old, say the Galaxy S II, or iPhone 4/4S-era smartphones - the Galaxy S4 is great.
But, if you have a Galaxy S III - you should skip the S4. If you own an iPhone 5, you're going to upgrade to this. If you have something like the Xperia Z or HTC One, you have the better end of the stick here, in my opinion.
I think the Xperia Z had its high points, but I do enjoy the S4's screen. I'm yet to use the HTC One, but I think that is something Samsung should be scared of. They should also be frightened of Google/Motorola, and Sony.
I think Samsung has reached a fork in the road with its Galaxy smartphones... they need to make a premium smartphone, and offer it with stock Android or a downloadable (or provide an 8GB microSD card in the box that includes TouchWiz) add-on for TouchWiz.
A premium feel would be a killer feature on future Galaxy smartphone, something I think we're going to see in the coming months leading up to the Note III. Early next year we should see the Galaxy S5, which should be a very, very interesting device.
If Samsung can release a premium-made Galaxy S5, at the time when Android 5.0 "Key Lime Pie" launches, and give users stock Android, they could truly become the undeniable leader of the smartphone market.