Destiny’s Child, Hanson, BLT – beautiful creations come in threes, and Samsung’s new line-up of three new GALAXY S4s is no exception.
Kicking off with the Samsung GALAXY S4 Active, Samsung has pumped flagship specs inside a water resistant, dust-proof body. Enhanced inside and out to cope with life’s knocks and dunks, it couples both hardy hardware and software enhancements to ensure whatever your pace, the GALAXY S4 Active will keep up.
Taking the key elements of Samsung’s fine flagship and shrinking them down, the Samsung GALAXY S4 mini is the second of the three GALAXY S4 spin-offs. With its more pocketable form-factor and lower price, it’s set to appeal to anyone who wants solid specs inside a more compact, affordable body.
Finally, it’s Samsung’s boldest innovation to date, the category crushing convergence device of the year – the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom. With a 10x optical zoom and a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, it touts more camera smarts than most dedicated cameras on the market, let alone camera phones.
Industrial styling isn’t just for show on the S4 Active thanks to its IP67 rating.
IP stands for Ingress Protection. It’s the scale used to measure how resistant something is to the elements. Each number refers to a different type of resistance, with the first relating to dust, and the second to water.
The ‘6’ in the Samsung GALAXY S4 Active’s IP67 rating certifies the smartphone as dust-proof, meaning nothing can get in, and nothing can get out. The number ‘7’ refers to the water resistance, with the Active submergible in up to one metre of water for as long as thirty minutes.
Thanks to the rest of the phone’s smarts, you can be at the pool recording a spot of Full HD video, in the bath streaming a movie or doing a triathlon, tracking your progress and your GALAXY S4 Active can be at the heart of the activity the whole time.
In spite of water resistance and dustproofing, the Samsung GALAXY S4 Active is still an incredibly smart smartphone. Not only does it offer the same speedy processor as found in the original GALAXY S4, it also supports expandable memory up to an additional 64GB and packs LTE connectivity.
The flagship rivaling specs don’t stop there. The Samsung GALAXY S4 Active is the latest smartphone from Samsung to get a Full HD display since the resolution debuted on the original S4 just months ago.
This means a pixel density of 443 pixels per inch across the S4 Active’s generous five-inch display – pin sharp.
So whether you lather on a handful of mud, pour on a pint of milk or trickle a tipple of mojito over your S4 Active, not only will it survive, it will look fantastic in the process.
Being the only submergible Samsung GALAXY S4 device, it makes sense for the technology behind the GALAXY S4 Active’s camera to be fit-for-purpose, and it is.
On top of the 8-megapixel camera sensor and Samsung’s trademark, high quality camera UI, the GALAXY S4 Active offers an ‘Aqua’ shooting mode for underwater action. Enhancing this normally challenging environment, with the S4 Active, submerged stills pop.
Its f/2.2 aperture means the S4 Active also captures low-light ambience, flash free, in most light conditions. And what if you want to take a photo in the dead of night? Fret not – with one of the strongest LED flashes around, not to mention an AF assist lamp, you’ll get in focus, well-lit shots, every time.
Good things come in small packages and the Samsung GALAXY S4 mini is testament to that fact.
With its 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display, Samsung’s diminutive take on its flagship still offers ample screen size and resolution, keeping the experience premium while shaving off some surface area and pounds.
What it also does is give GALAXY S4 admirers a choice, striking the perfect balance for anyone who doesn’t need flagship specs or size, without compromising too heavily on performance.
The dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz, coupled with 1.5GB RAM makes sure the GALAXY S4 mini glides through TouchWiz. There’s a high-resolution 8-megapixel camera around the back for your photos, as well as a 1.9-megapixel HD front facing camera for video calling or some very competent selfies.
Taking its queue from the Samsung GALAXY S4 in terms of colour options as well as design, the GALAXY S4 mini also comes in either Black Mist or White Frost.
Why these dramatic names? Because, upon close inspection, there’s more to the GALAXY S4 mini’s black and white, than just black and white.
A fine lattice pattern lies beneath the surface of the plastic body on both versions. This adds a depth to the material while still ensuring a smooth, easy to handle finish; endowing the S4 mini with the same design finesse as its bigger brother, it looks stunning.
If you’re thinking about buying a Samsung GALAXY S4 mini, it’s likely because you’ve seen or heard of the GALAXY S4 and are smitten.
If you aren’t sure how the two differ though, here’s a quick run through to help you decide which is right for you.
Starting with screen and the GALAXY S4 measures in at 5-inches while the S4 mini is 4.3-inches.
Sporting a smaller fascia means the GALAXY S4 mini sits more comfortably in smaller hands accustomed to smaller phones, though gamers and HD videophiles will likely appreciate the additional screen size of the GALAXY S4.
This is also reflected in the two phones’ other main difference, their processors. The 1.9GHz quad-core processor powers along smart features exclusive to the to the GALAXY S4, such as Air View, also making it relatively future-proofed to handle even the most intensive upcoming 3D games. For advanced day-to-day tasks though, the hardware on the entire GALAXY S4 range, including the GALAXY S4 mini is more than capable.
From the front, the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom is 100% phone. Sporting a familiar, Samsung GALAXY design, it looks like a welcome addition to the GALAXY line-up rather than a piece of mind-blowing convergence and innovation.
Start to tilt the phone ever so slightly though and a Zoom Ring, not to mention its incredible optics start to creep into view. The Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom is loaded up with high quality glass giving it a 10x optical zoom lens coupled with optical image stabilisation.
It also boasts a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and a Xenon flash – on a phone! It’s safe to say the GALAXY S4 zoom doesn’t stop at blurring lines, oh no – it shatters them.
So is it a phone or a camera? Simple, it’s both.
We’ve already got zoom on cameras, what’s so good about optical zoom and optical image stabilisation?
Thanks to moving lens elements, the glass inside the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom physically magnifies a given scenario, delivering a lossless zoom.
Optical image stabilisation, also on board, takes moving lens elements a step further, by counterbalancing handshake and steadying your shot.
This means high quality zoom with minimal handshake for the clearest shot possible.
Almost all phones, in contrast zoom digitally, lovingly referred to as destructive zooming by many photographers.
This works by cropping into the sensor, in the same way one would crop into an image. Producing more pixelated, lower-resolution output, it’s been a major area camera phones have fallen short of dedicated cameras in the past – until now.
Optical zoom therefore makes the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom an instant game-changer.
Smartphone plus camera equals very smart camera, and that’s exactly what the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom is.
It's loaded with all the traditional shooting modes found on the Samsung GALAXY Camera, not to mention those introduced with the Samsung GALAXY S4 such as Sound & Shot and Drama, as well as new shooting modes of its own.
Our favourite mode exclusive to the Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom is without a doubt, Smart Mode Suggest. Lock focus onto a scene, and Smart Mode Suggest will suggest three shooting modes it thinks is right for the scene.
This couples the brains of a computer with human judgement for the best shot possible, helping the GALAXY S4 zoom edge ahead of the competition when it comes to imaging software as well as hardware.