The tech2 Round Table takes up topics that have been in the news and presents opinions about them from the team on a common platform. Today, we talk about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and its prospects in India. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has sparked a lot of debate regarding its plastic body and more recently, the bloatware that hogs half of the onboard storage.
Below we present you with three points of view. It would be great to see you participate in this conversation, too, by offering your opinion in the comments section below.
Samsung Galaxy S4
I think the Samsung Galaxy S4 is an okay phone and will sell alright. But it could’ve been barnstorming great and sold like steaming savoury buns, if only Samsung realised that the 4th iteration of anything must be all about keeping things simple and milking the franchise, not making it more complicated with unnecessary software “innovation”.
Wake up everyone! Smartphone innovation (in its current form) has peaked, and so has pricing. What will happen over the course of this year and next will be a string of inexpensive smartphone releases (including cheap iPhones!), lowering of the flagship phone pricing and a general acceptance that while smartphones are revolutionary, there is nothing revolutionary happening in smartphones. And the next wave of innovation will come via some other device altogether. A watch, maybe (I don’t fancy glasses too much, got my lasik done nearly a decade ago and want to stay glasses free as long as I can).
In such times, Samsung has spent an inordinate amount of effort and money in building and adding gimmicky features to its phones. Imagine if the Galaxy S4 was the same phone without any of the bloatware and priced at Rs 34,000! No one in their right mind would’ve then complained about its "plasticky" body and lack of innovation. It would’ve been a great Android phone with a native Jelly Bean experience, priced just right. Nope! Instead, what you have is a phone with half of its storage taken away by "stuckware", making the device painful to use and more expensive, and parking it right next to phones with better build and no bloatware. Oh, and it will take twice as long for any Android update to come around to this phone, because all the nonsenseware will have to be compatible too. Best of luck with the next Android update, Samsung!
I feel the Galaxy S4 will sell a lot better than the S3, even at the launch price, and will be the phone to beat in 2013. The HTC One is a brilliant offering and is by far one of the best flagship phones we’ve come across to date. Sadly, it’s nowhere to be found and even when it does become available, it’ll be too late because people would have bought the S4 by then. Nothing comes close to the S4 in terms of sheer power and the fact that Samsung has managed to fit a larger screen into the same size chassis is a feat in itself.
The plastic chassis does take away the premium look and feel of a unibody aluminium shell, but thankfully, it does feel a lot better than the S3 did, both in terms of looks and ergonomics. I don’t think current owners of the S3 should sell their handsets for an S4 purely because there’s not a very noticeable difference in real world performance between the two phones. Also, most of the gimmicky features should make it to the S3 sometime in the future via an update, whether you want them or not.
Having seen the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One in person now, I can safely say that the Galaxy S4 will sell more than the latter and perhaps any other phone this year. Of course, this point is moot for many. The HTC One is definitely better built and has a more pleasing interface out of the box. But here’s why Samsung’s phone will succeed: More of the same. The very reason many are predicting the S4’s doom could be Samsung’s trump card. For all criticism about the S4’s build quality and skewed signal-to-noise ratio of the TouchWiz interface, Samsung fans (and that includes my neighbour’s chihuahua) will feel right at home with the S4. Heck, I think almost anyone familiar with Android will feel comfortable with the S4 because not much has changed from TouchWiz's past iteration.
If there’s anything that riles up people, it’s change for the sake of change. One example is the two-button setup on the One. For years, people have come to be used to the three-button setup on Android. It feels odd to have anything less, even though the learning curve will eventually flatten out. A customer facing both phones in a store might have trouble navigating with the two-button setup initially, but will be comfortable with an S4 immediately.
Of course, many customers won’t even see the HTC One in stores when buying a new phone, because it has not yet reached stores in India, despite being launched early last month. The fact that we can buy a Galaxy S4 if we want one counts far more than any unibody design or newfangled Ultrapixels.