DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the successor to the hugely successful Galaxy S3 and as such the latest model in the Korean manufacturer's Galaxy S line of flagship smartphones. The Galaxy S3 did well in our review from October 2012 and was one of the first Android-powered smartphones that could establish itself as a valid rival to Apple's iPhone both in terms of sales figures and consumer appeal.

So expectations were high among industry insiders and consumers alike when the S4 was launched in April and Samsung did not disappoint. The Galaxy S4's design is very similar to its predecessor but under the hood the new model comes with the latest hardware and software technologies.

Like many high-end devices this year, the S4's camera features a 13MP backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and a 1080p 5-inch screen. Depending on region, the phone is powered by a 1.9 GHz Qualcomm quad-core chip and the latest Android version 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. From a mobile photographer's point of view, the most interesting novelties can be found within the camera app.

The S4 comes with a number of new imaging features and modes that demonstrate that, in some situations, smartphones can be better imaging tools than traditional compact cameras. Dual-Shot allows for image-in-image effects by capturing still images and video with the front and rear cameras at the same time. Drama mode creates composite action images and Eraser mode deletes unwanted subjects from the frame. Of course all the usual software assistants such as Samsung's Beauty Face mode, HDR and Panorama are still on board, too. The latter now captures impressively large panoramas pictures that are approximately 22,000 pixels wide, a massive improvement from the S3's 6,000 pixel width.

We had a close look at all the new imaging features, the S4's image quality and the camera operation on the following pages. Read on to find out how the latest Samsung flagship smartphone did in our tests.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 13-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor
  • F2.2 lens
  • 31mm equivalent focal length
  • ISO 50-1000 (100-800 manually selectable)
  • Image aspect ratio 4:3
  • 2-megapixel front camera
  • LED flash
  • 1080p 30fps video recording
  • Dual-image capture 
  • Various filter and special modes
  • Digital image stabilization
  • 4x digital zoom

Other Specifications

  • 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor (depending on region)
  • Android 4.2.2
  • 5-inch 1080p (441ppi) Super-Amoled screen
  • 7.9mm thin
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32/64 GB storage versions, Micro-SD card support up to 64 GB
  • 130g4G LTE 100Mbs down, 50Mps up
  • Barometer, temperature and humidity sensors
  • IR-transmitter
  • 2600MAh battery, removable

Our 11-page review

We've considered every aspect of the Samsung Galaxy S4, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the device's many special feature modes. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.