Cricket Galaxy S4 Review - Part 2
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is an incredible smartphone that is arguably the
top available phone on the market at the time of writing this,
comparible only to the HTC One. Sorry, the iPhone 5 doesn't
to be in the same class, even with iOS 7. The coming of this
handset on prepaid virtually at its market launch is telling as to how
far prepaid has come. No longer can people complain that no
contract wireless doesn't have any top tier exciting phones!
If you landed on
this page first, you'll want to visit the first part of this review by
visiting the Cricket
Galaxy S4 Review Introduction
. That page also
allows you to share your comments.
- The Samsung keyboard has an extra dedicated numbers row
above the QWERTY keyboard that makes entering numbers a breeze.
Though the extra row consumes additional screen space.
- The Samsung keyboard provides three predictions, but also
allows you to pull down a drop-down list with an additional 6
predictions to choose from; this is a nice feature compared with other
SwiftKey Lite vs. SwiftKey
- Swype is a third-party technology that allows you to trace
without lifting your finger. It fits 5-6 predictions in
orientation, and 7-8 predictions in landscape orientation.
orientations allow you to use your finger to scroll to the right to
view all predictions, though you would likely never take the time to
- The Samsung keyboard actually integrates pieces of another
third-party keyboard called SwiftKey. The advantage of
is that it learns your writing style over time, which allows it to even
better predict your next word. If you allow it to, it will
learn from your Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Swype
said to also learn, however, supposedly not as well as SwiftKey.
- Upon discovering that Samsung had licensed this third-party
software (what I'm calling SwiftKey Light), I decided to
download the SwiftKey 30-day
trial, which allows for a plethora of additional options and settings
that Samsung didn't build in. What you do lose is the
numbers row (which I mitigated by adjusting the SwiftKey hold
settings), and you only get 3 prediction options displayed.
SwiftKey has a similar swiping technology that Swype has;
they call it SwiftKey Flow.
- In addition to a ton of additional personalized settings,
what you do gain with the full version is the ability to swipe (one
finger tracing) through the space
key. This allows you to enter multiple words without having
lift your finger between words. I find this to add a
amount of speed to typing. In fact, my brain can't usually
up with my finger, so I need to lift it up to process what I want to
enter next! The Samsung version of SwiftKey, nor Swype have
- Ultimately, my decision regarding which keyboard to commit
to using was between the Samsung keyboard (with
SwiftKey light integrated) vs. SwiftKey (which is $3.99 after the
trial). I decided to use SwiftKey, which provides for an
better experience, and allows me to get upgrades without having to wait
for Samsung to provide an updated OS. It also means that if I
don't use a Samsung smartphone in the future, I'll be able to keep a
consistent keyboard across device types by using SwiftKey.
the typing and swiping experiences on SwiftKey are so good, I'm still
figure out which method I prefer to use. I tend to find
more (i.e. using SwiftKey Flow) because it feels faster,
however, prediction is so
good that actual typing rarely requires that you have to type a
complete word before you see the correct predicted text displayed.
Swiping requires more brain power to see where to move your
finger next, that you are rarely able to tap a prediction before
completing the swype of a given word. Note, however, that
even swiping in the general direction of the letter usually yields the
correct predicted word!
Notice in the screen shots of the three keyboard above that both the
Samsung and SwiftKey keyboards start predicting before you even enter
any letters. The prediction is not at all gimmicky; it's
actually scary accurate. It learned that I often say "Hi" or
"Thank you" as my first response word, and displays those options!
To the contrary Swype starts predicting only after beginning
I know I spent a LOT of time describing the keyboard options.
I did so because I believe that this can completely change
experience with any smartphone. Rather than being a
painful experience (as I've had with other virtual keyboards), typing
is actually fun. Perhaps I should actually say "text entry"
swiping isn't really typing! There has been such a paradigm
in the quality of screens, as well as typing technology (like SwiftKey
and Swype), that it can have a radical impact on the type of device
you're willing to use.
As for the Galaxy S4, I find the 5" screen a great size for portrait
text input. Landscape slows down the process as you have to
your fingers too far to get to each key. If the phone were
wider, I think it would become much more difficult to do one-handed
navigation and text entry, which is why I'm hesitant to consider
devices like the Note 2 or upcoming Note 3.
This is the area where the phone really
anything I've experienced. I know there are a number of other
current smartphones that have great cameras, so I'm not saying that the
Galaxy S4 is the best, as I haven't compared it to the other
competitors. Here are some key features that I'm enjoying:
- It takes great pictures is most lighting conditions.
that even in poor lighting conditions, the night setting (no flash)
does a better job than actually using the flash.
- Shutter speed is quite good
so I capture fast moving children in action without blurring!
- I love the animated photo setting that takes a 10 second
converts it into an animated GIFT. The GIF will loop
forward or backwards depending on the setting you select. You
also choose to freeze portions of a photo that you want to remain
stationary. So you can have flags waving in the background,
freezing the rest of the scenery in the shot (ex. people, cars, etc.).
- The Drama mode allows you to capture a moving object
frame of the photo and select which shots you want to appear in the
photo. This is great for action shots like soccer or karate
- The panorama setting works quite well, though if you get
excited and try to take in touch much, the photo becomes way too small.
This seems like an iOS ripoff, but works well nonetheless.
- The Best Face setting comes in handy as it captures 5 burst
shots, and allows you to select the best face from each person.
So if one person has their eyes closed in one pic, and
frowning, etc., you can combine the best faces into one photo and save
that. I have encountered an issue where sometimes it doesn't
recognize all of the faces thus only provides alternate face options
for some of the faces in the photo.
- The eraser mode will automatically delete background moving
objects (like people running through your picture!). I
had a lot of opportunities yet to test this is the real world.
figure the next theme park visit will provide a lot of opportunities!
- The 20 pic burst shot allows you to simply hold down the
to capture continuous photos for the times when a photo is more
appropriate or desired than a video. Note that all modes that
burst shots save the photos to the phone's memory and NOT to the SD
card due to the required write speed.
- You can take a photo using both the front and rear cameras.
It's kind of gimmicky, but I've taken some fun photos with
this feature, which also includes various framing options.
It's a fun feature.
- I've received great feedback that during Skype video calls
sound and picture quality is great. Unfortunately, the
use both cameras simultaneously isn't available for some reason, even
though Android Jelly Bean is supposed to support it.
Overall, I love the camera to the point where we leave our DSLR at home
sometimes knowing that we have a decent camera easily on hand.
wouldn't even consider buying another phone that doesn't have these
camera features as I enjoy using them that much. I also enjoy
using it with Dropbox, which automagically uploads camera photos and
videos to your Dropbox account (I use the WiFi only mode to avoid going
over my data allowance).
Yes, it's still a phone that can make phone calls! I haven't
had any reception issues. Coverage seems very much the
same as Sprint. Though keep in mind that 4G LTE coverage is
extremely limited where I live, with no ability to roam on Sprint's 4G,
so for all intents and purposes, it's a 3G phone until Cricket can
strike an LTE roaming agreement with Sprint.
As inferred in the above sections, the overall phone is speedy with
little lag. Sometimes loading the photo gallery from the
app can take a little too long, but otherwise, I'm very
happy with the device's performance. I find Jelly
Bean to be
zippy, and I don't find that Samsung's TouchWiz adds any noticeable
delays. Note that Jelly Bean doesn't allow you to install
the SD card, so don't be surprised, and plan in advance when you
consider how you want to use your internal 16GB of internal
memory. Cricket currently doesn't offer the 32GB model.
Here's where I have pain! I can start by stating that the
life is no worse than any other smartphone. The problem is
due to all of the phone's capabilities, I find myself wanting to use it
more than any smartphone I've had in the past. Unfortunately,
that means more strain on the battery. It won't get through
day without charging it. With moderate use it could make it
through a day, however, making calls, playing music, writing emails and
text messages, using the camera, navigation, etc., result in high
battery usage. I even disabled all real time data syncing,
have email check only every hour.
Personally, I don't feel that
there's any value in making phones even more thin. I'd rather
an extra millimeter or two if that could result in an extra 10-20% of
battery life. I feel that the next breakthrough in mobile
technology isn't going to be any sexy features, but rather a massive
increase in battery life. Lastly, note that
you'll need a 2A car charger to actually be able to charge your phone
while using it in a car. Anything less than that, and the
will drain faster than it can charge.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a tremendous smartphone that not only allows
high productivity, but is also fun to use. The fact that this
smartphone is available on prepaid at nearly the same time as it
launched on the big carriers really denotes the coming of prepaid
wireless. The price is a little steep at $430, however, so
you have the cash, you'll either want to go for the Galaxy SIII, or
wait six months for the Galaxy S4 to drop a $100. Note,
however, that I
feel that the Galaxy S4 is so much better than the Galaxy SIII in terms
and overall performance, that I'd recommend waiting for the price to
before opting for the Galaxy SIII. I highly recommend this
phone, on any
carrier for that matter; I can't imagine anyone that would be
disappointed. I caution iPhone users not to use this phone,
you'll immediately understand how far behind the iPhone is in terms of
features and personalization capabilities that you'll immediately
become depressed ;-).
To comment on this review or your own personal experience with the
Samsung Galaxy S4, head over to Cricket
Samsung GS4 Review Comments