This post was published 2 years, 10 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
Over the last few months different versions of the Galaxy S4 have started receiving their updates to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Strangely enough though, the two least common variants were updated first, leaving the more common I9505 in the cold. However, that changed last week when the I9505 was finally updated to 5.0.1. I’ve been using it since its first release so I thought I’d go over what you can expect if you are still waiting for the update.
Samsung have changed the S4’s interface before, but only in very minor ways. For example, in terms of TouchWiz changes all KitKat brought was white status bar icons and a camera shortcut on the lockscreen. This update is much more noticeable though.
When you get Lollipop on the S4 you’ll find it changes pretty much everything about the way the S4 looks. It’s basically a direct port of the software from the S5 – minus ultra powersaving mode and the anything related to the fingerprint scanner which the S4 doesn’t have of course. Other than that, everything is as you would find it on the newer Galaxy S5.
The colours are much brighter than before and while some might say they make look like a toy, I actually rather like them. It makes the phone feel vibrant and fun.
Lockscreen notifications are now present, however a maximum of three are displayed at once and then a small bar appears under the third with a small plus icon. This means notifications are confined to the top section of the display rather than filling the screen as they do with stock. This is something I find disappointing as it limits the usefulness of the notifications which are supposed to be there to allow you to simply glance at them.
The Samsung apps have all undergone a redesign and they’re looking pretty good I have to say. The dialler and contacts are much nicer to use, as is their SMS app. In fact the new SMS app makes me very happy. In my opinion it has always been one of the best functionality wise but until now the design had let it down. It used to look drab, dark and generally very miserable. Now it’s nice and bright and even has a dynamic compose button. It’s actually rather beautiful.
All of their apps have adopted (to varying degrees of success) the material design style and I’m happy to see that. The phone is much more pleasant to use and the colours are better matched than before.
Even today the S4 isn’t too shabby in terms of the internal specifications, however the software has always let it down when it came to day-to-day performance. There were many reports of severe lag when it first went on sale and despite several updates it never completely went away. KitKat made it feel a lot faster, but it was still slower than it should have been. Lollipop has drastically improved this. Even the TouchWiz launcher is smooth now. Multitasking is smooth and slick and apps open much faster than before. All in all the device feels brand new. Samsung have surprised me greatly here. I wasn’t expecting much but they really have made an improvement.
Storage usage has also slightly improved too. I have around 500MB more available storage than I did before which is always nice. This is likely due to the fact that all of Samsung’s “Hub” apps have been discontinued and removed. It’s not a lot of extra space, but it is enough you’d certainly notice and every little helps!
Battery life is pretty good now. I’m getting around four hours of continuous screen time and mixed use while at college resulting in about around twelve to eighteen hours between a charge – depending on how mixed that usage actually is. This is a lot better than what I was getting before. It doesn’t come close to newer flagships, but it’s certainly an improvement.
Overall this update is a significant improvement over what we had before. The phone performs really well and the battery life will easily get you through the day. I basically think of my phone as the S4.5 now.
It’s all too little too late however. There’s no way it should take Samsung two years to make a phone perform like it always should have. Unless Samsung make another Nexus this will certainly be my last Samsung device. In November my contract will be over and whatever the next Nexus will most likely find itself winging its way to my letterbox.
All that said, if you want a phone that performs really well (at long last) and you don’t want to break the bank this may be a device you want to consider. Also, credit where credit is due, the update didn’t take as long as expected. They’ve really improved there.
The new Moto G is obviously an excellent choice in this price bracket, but if timely updates aren’t your main priority and you want a phone with what is still a stunning 1080p 5-inch display and a more than decent 13MP camera combined then this may well be a solid choice for you. If so, hit up the relevant link below for the colour of your choice which will take you to the product listing on the correct Amazon site for your current location.