The Samsung Galaxy S4 is arguably the best phone in the world at the moment. Although it has been around for most of the year, sales are still very high and more people are getting their own ‘Life Companions’. The S4 boasts of an i3 2.2Ghz processor, multiple sensors, Gorilla Glass II Screen, Android 4.2 Jellybean OS, 13.0MP rear facing camera and 5MP front-facing camera, 3.8V Li-ion battery, 4G, EDGE, Wifi, Wifi Hotspot, NFC, S Beam, Wifi Direct, Bluetooth 3.0, 16Gb inbuilt memory which is expandable to 32Gb with an SD Card, and of course the various S-packages.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is built for ease-of-access and integration (something Windows Phones are trying to do and failing); it brings everything we need to one place and makes usage so easy that we can do so much without even touching our screen. The ‘Air Gestures’ features allow us to scroll through webpages or emails by just tilting the device up or down or simply looking at the sensor and then looking down or up as the case may be. We are able to view scenes of videos without actually fast-forwarding or rewinding them (useful if you are looking for that awesome fight scene in the Matrix :D), pick up calls by waving at the screen or simply bringing it close to our ears! (Pure awesomeness I tell you!) Air Gestures also allows us to check notifications (also without touching the screen) and the Google voice typing feature takes the S4 to a whole new level. Air Gestures was very useful when our hands were wet or when we finished Mama Ngozi’s Egusi Soup 😀 Needless to say, it makes the S4 so much more fun than anything we have ever handled and it gives simplicity a whole new dimension. The only downside of Air Gestures and using the various sensors is battery life; these features will suck your battery dry and you will have to charge it every now and again which is a buzz kill really.
The screen quality of the S4 is unrealistically crisp and clear (it makes Lumias look lame). Taking pictures, recording videos or playing games, the S4 delivers. The picture quality is excellent in all lighting conditions and the HD videos are awesome as well whether captured on the device or downloaded online. Gaming on the S4 is excellent as the RAM and graphics card make even basic games like Temple Run look and feel so awesome. The wide screen and the silky smooth way it feels under our fingers makes the gaming experience altogether wonderful. No sore thumbs or screen burns! NOTE: To take a screenshot, simply swipe the width of the screen with the side of your hand, making sure your fingers slide over the sensors.
The music player is also very good, with reasonable volume levels and various other packages. The music player has a sound adaptability feature for earphones; this feature fine-tunes music to suit the way your ears pick up sound. It also has the Music Square feature which arranges music to suit our moods (we really do not understand how this works but so far it has been good). The video player is also cool but there were no new features that freaked us out; of course VLC Media Player is installable and there are other options on the play store.
The Galaxy S4 is fast! It eats webpages up for breakfast and spits out their bones for lunch. The stock browser is faster than Chrome on most other devices and Chrome on the S4 offers the experience of surfing the web in a whole new way. Download speeds reached 500-600 kb/s with MTN 3G and was in the same vicinity when we used wifi. Opera and Skyfire also worked well and reached laudable speeds with the S4; while Chrome is still our favourite browser, Opera did exceed our expectations on this device. App sync speed is also lightning fast; our Instagram and Google+ Photos and Facebook pages refreshed very fast and the tweet refresh speed was also very neat. All these come at the cost of data though; the S4 eats data really fast and the only plan that could meet our needs for a month was the Etisalat 1.5Gb plan which is a tad expensive at N4, 000. The speed of sharing through Bluetooth and Flashshare was also very good and the S4 synced very well with all our unorthodox apps whose names shall not be named 😀 Flipboard and the weather forecast services and apps were also very accurate although they were not able to pinpoint our location accurately. Google Maps & Navigation and Earth and the general GPS are unreasonably accurate and we were able to see the buildings where people sent out tweets from when they used the Geotagging feature. Augmented Reality apps also did well on the S4 although we blame some of their faults on some networks everywhere you go who will not be named. Calling and reception quality with GSM was very good and we were able to conference and multitask reasonably well. Skyping and Line were also lovely and the image quality was really great.
The S4 comes with a load of other features which we have not found time to use or have not really enjoyed or are constrained by carrier issues. All in all, we love the S4 as it is a very well rounded phone. The S4 could do everything realistic that we thought of (and more) and did them very well. The feel of the phone, the awesome keyboard, the otherworldly camera quality, the speed and the special features all make the S4 the king of the mobile phone market for now, not to mention that at N94, 000 it is cheaper than a lot of devices in its class. It comes with a 12 month warranty and a special screen repair warranty which lets you take you device to the Samsung Service centre for fixing should your screen get broken (at no extra cost).
Although we love the S4 and feel it is a great buy when compared to other high-end devices, we feel that it is a bit over-priced at N94, 000. At N50, 000 – N70, 0000, we believe the S4 would be truly valued as we cannot see why we should pay so much for Air Gestures and a lot of other features we would never use or use nearly enough to warrant such prices. Economically, we do not believe it is wise to get the S4 at N94, 000, but strictly speaking it is a damn good device and one anyone would appreciate.
We do hope this review helped some of us out there to make a choice; we would love to know what you think about this article, holla at us in the comment box on what you think about the S4 and if there is a special device you would love us to review. See you next time, nerds and nerdesses!
Informed, Empowered, Active: The Osai Effect
Hello nerds and nerdesses and potential gadget buyers, welcome to The Osai Effect. Tonight we are finally reviewing the Tecno Phantom Pad which has been in the market for just around six weeks.
The Tecno Phantom Pad runs on Android Jellybean OS (4.2) and boasts of a quad-core 1.2GHz processor with an 8 inch capacitive touchscreen. The Phantom Pad sits quite well on the hand although it may be a little slippery; however it comes with a smart case which makes up for the not-so-awesome grip.
It possesses a 5MP rear-facing camera (without a flash I must say) which produces just about basic pictures and was frankly disappointing; it has a 2MP front-facing camera which can be used to take ‘selfies’ and can be used with apps such as Skype and Line. The 8-inch screen makes for awesome quality high-res images and quite frankly exceeded our expectations.
Gaming on the Phantom Pad is smooth and fun although the graphics card is a bit poor and some games may look tacky or basic. Temple Run 2, Subway Surfer, Highway Rider, Spartan Wars, NFS: Shift and a few other games we tested ran superbly when we got over the not-so-awesome graphics.
Browsing on the Phantom Pad is first class! It blows through sites in a matter of microseconds with MTN 3G. The default browser is good enough for basic surfing and is really quite good generally. The speed further improved when we used Chrome and Skyfire although Opera was slower than the stock browser. Message delivery speed and connectivity are also lightning fast on Whatsapp, Line, Twitter and Facebook apps. Image refresh rate and general speed of loading were pretty neat on the Instagram and Google+ Images apps and websites. When tested with Wifi, the speed was totally unrealistic and we have to say the Phantom Pad is fast!
The music player is really wack though; there are no dedicated keys for skipping tracks and the search function was pretty difficult to find. This means that if you have 2,754 songs like we have on our memory card, you are in for a long thing. The headset equalizers are pretty nice but too focused on bass boost and certain songs sound really weird and uncool. There is no voice control in the music app and this is another turn-off for us. Some of these issues can be corrected by downloading and installing VLC media player which we are sure a number of us are familiar with.
The video player is considerably better than the music player. We can fast-forward, rewind, skip, and take screenshots from the comfort of the initial screen. VLC also helps with some of its flaws as well.
Bluetooth connectivity is pretty neat with Bluetooth 3.0; Flashshare also comes as an optional app which can be installed with the Assistant. Making and Receiving calls (which we did exclusively with the stock earbuds) are also simple and easy to use. The calls come across really clear on our MTN network and we are able to conference quite simply. The is no voice control here either which sucks 😦
The battery life of the Phantom Pad is also unrealistic as all Tecno devices are. We found out that we could use our Phantom Pad for 8-12 hours when fully charged and optimized for longer battery life. Tecno boasts of 800 hours standby time (we will take their word on that ha-ha) and 13 hours talk-time but we are yet to verify those stats for obvious reasons 😀
The Phantom Pad comes with the Android Keyboard set to default but there is also the option to install Go Keyboard (which is pretty neat) and to download SwiftKey from the Play Store or One Mobile Market. Voice Typing with the Android Keyboard is also pretty accurate (although it could not get my name right no matter how many times or how hard I tried 😦 ) and is a welcome relief from having to type with our fingers all the time. The Voice Search option is also pretty cool and fun to use as well.
Wifi Hotspot, Bluetooth and USB tethering worked reasonably well although we were expecting much more from the Pad. We really loved the sensor as it orients to any way you hold the device (even upside-down). The GPS is also first class; we were able to go from Challenge District, Ibadan to Apata Market, Ibadan (about 5km) without hitches and it was accurate up to the point of traffic and landmarks and there was very little lag when our connection acted up. This was of course using Google Navigation app which comes pre-installed on the Pad.
Synchronization with Google and other accounts is also first class on the Phantom Pad. The Pad has no screenshot button but screenshots can be taken by holding down the power and volume-down key simultaneously.
Downloading apps OTA (Over the Air) is quite bad as most sites were unable to read our device type and we ended up downloading incompatible apps with our precious ‘MB’. This problem can be solved by downloading all apps from Play Store and One Mobile Market and we are sure the situation will improve as more people pick up the pad.
Generally, the Phantom Pad is an awesome device and really is worth its price. At a retail price of N36, 000 we can more than say it gives absolute value for your money. We cannot vouch for the hardware as of yet as we have just been using ours for about 3 weeks but we will make updates to our reviews in time. We did find a huge glitch in the programming of the Pad and we can only hope our particular devices (yes, two) were defective. Your Pad may become unresponsive if you swipe your screen in any direction other than the down-direction when an alarm is blaring.
To be safe, we would advise us not to use the alarm function. We were only able to get another device because of the warranty which governs the usage of all Tecno phones. It would be wise therefore for us to get our Phantom Pads from only authorized dealers and outlets.
We do hope you were enlightened by this review. Do leave your comments in the comment box below.
Informed, Empowered, Active: The Osai Effect.