The rose-colored glasses have come off now that Samsung’s “Next Big Thing,” the Galaxy S4 smartphone, has been released. Many owners are finding a number of problems with the device, notably with battery life and memory as well as its display.
Many of the features that made the Samsung Galaxy S4 one of the most anticipated phones in recent history -- such as its 5-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD Super AMOLED display, its powerful processors (Samsung Exynos 5 Octa in the international version and Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 in the U.S. version) and 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options -- are now bringing grief to those who rushed to purchase the fourth-generation Galaxy S series smartphone upon its late April release.
While it is common for newly released phones to ship with various bugs that are usually smoothed out over time – let's not forget the gripes Apple consumers had upon the release of the iPhone 5, including “Scuffgate” and problems with iOS 6 Maps – Samsung Galaxy S4 owners should prod Samsung to act fast to get them resolved.
Galaxy S4 Problems: Battery Life
A number of Samsung devices are known for their lackluster battery performance, and it seems the Galaxy S4 is no different. Owners report the battery life of the Galaxy S4’s massive 2,600 mAh Li-Ion battery is quickly exhausted overnight, leaving less than 50 percent charge by morning.
In addition, many apps, such as Google Play Music and Media Server, drain battery power inexplicably. It remains uncertain at this point whether this is a problem specific to the Galaxy S4 handset itself or its operating system, Android 4.2.2. However, battery life issues are typically resolved with bug fix updates or major Android updates. Galaxy S4 owners also have the option of buying an extended battery or external battery.
Galaxy S4 Problems: Display
The display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is particularly vivid, with a pixel density of 441 ppi. The Korean manufacturer also used a diamond pixel structure in order to achieve Full HD on the 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED display. This has many owners seeing, not red, but rather purple. Samsung Galaxy S4 owners on the XDA-Developers forum report seeing smearing and ghosting when scrolling on the phone. This especially occurs when scrolling among darker colors, which begin showing up as purple. Many suspect that the smearing is a software problem that like the battery issues can be fixed with a big fix update; however, this remains uncertain.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Problems: Memory
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been advertised as having variants with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of internal memory, but only the 16GB handsets are available at this time. A number of carriers are expected to offer the 32GB and 64GB variants at some point, but we currently have no news on when those handsets will be available.
Meanwhile, owners of 16GB Galaxy S4 handsets are finding that nearly half of the memory in their device is used by “system apps” upon unboxing. The phone notably has a number of “innovative” new features, which are supposedly designed to benefit the user experience despite taking up a considerable amount of memory, Samsung argues. The company said in a statement to CNET that the approximately 6.85GB of internal memory being used powers the Galaxy S4’s high-resolution display and other powerful apps. This leaves approximately 9GB of space free for users. Samsung is reportedly now bundling Galaxy S4 handsets with a free microSD card, according to Android Authority.
But even this may not be a solution, as many note that apps cannot be stored on the an microSD card on Android phones, only in internal memory. On the upside, those who store a lot of photos and video on their phone can take advantage of expanded memory through a microSD. Samsung Galaxy S4 owners can also take advantage of a number of cloud storage options provided by their carriers.
These glitches probably won't be a deal-breaker for those interested in purchasing the Samsung Galaxy S4. Notably, the HTC One, a recently released competitor to the Galaxy S4, comes with much larger internal storage options. Still, many consumers are favoring the Galaxy S4 for its MicroSD capability, which the HTC One lacks. Despite its problems, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is still set to be a heavy hitter among 2013 flagship smartphones.
Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.