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Quick take: Samsung Galaxy S4 versus the Nokia Lumia 920

Today here in New York, Samsung finally pulled the sheet off of the Galaxy S4, their next big flagship Android phone for 2013. Due at the end of April, the phone looks almost exactly like the S3 save a few minor differences, but it’s the guts and software that make this a killer device. It will launch on a massive 327 operators in 155 countries for complete global reach.

We’ll spare you all the details of the S4, though it does feature 2GB of RAM, an eight-core Samsung Exynos 5410 running at 1.8GHz, a triple-core PowerVR SGX 544 graphics chip with a massive 2600mAh battery. Oh yeah, it also has a swanky 5” 1080P Super AMOLED display at 440 PPI and various sensors, including Infrared gesture, temperature and humidity sensors, which while gimmicky is still really neat. Finally, it sports a 13MP rear and 2MP front camera, with some new "innovations" like two-way shot.

We briefly put it up against our Nokia Lumia 920 in a video and while this is far from a controlled “versus” battle, you can at least get an idea of how Samsung’s beast looks against Nokia’s.

Should Windows Phone and Microsoft be worried?

As much as we hate to admit it, yes. Samsung is a juggernaut right now with a lot of momentum. Just as the S3 is peaking globally they’re showing off the next version, which nicely builds off of its predecessor. For all of Android’s faults (and yes there are plenty), since the 4.2 1 update the operating system has stabilized with a more coherent feel to it.

The problem is becoming clearer with every release: Samsung (and other Android OEMs) can out maneuver Microsoft and its partners, both for phones and new iterations of the OS (though carrier updates are a separate issue).

Don’t get us wrong, loyal readers, we’re not down on Windows Phone at all and still prefer it. But we’re not blind either to recognize that tonight, the completion just ratcheted up to a new level. And if you saw the money and determination behind the Galaxy S product line, you’d be concerned too.

For more hands on video of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and more information, head to our sister site Android Central for all the details.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

432 Comments
  • Already an s4 really? That's crazy.
  • I know right.. I can't stand the galaxy S3 because of the cheap feel and the UI is just disgusting. I wonder if they'll fix that.
  • Samsung won't move from plastic for awhile. In my opinion, the Ativ S is the best built Samsung phone.
  • The problem is that Microsoft limited hardware specs. No full hd displays, no quad-core. They also limited some software. No custom keyboards, etc. These limitations shut out Windows phone from enjoying the limelight that comes from the newest hardware and some software.
  • lol why do you need 8 core? oh becuase andriod lags so eat resources so thats why.
  • But that's simply not true.
    I've owned an Galaxy Nexus(a dual-core phone) and I can't remember having any notable lag on anything on the device.
    The last device I ever had any serious lagging problems was the HTC Hero.
  • Not true either, I too had the GNEX and it did lag from time to time and it was 100% stock... WP with half the power never lagged.
  • It did lag randomly that was probably the phone uploading your information to google lol.
  • +100   
  • I owned a HTC One S before getting my Lumia 920. Great phone but there was still quite a bit of lag at times especially after installing a fair few apps. My 920 is just quicker and slicker. Be interesting to see how much quicker the S4 is over the 920. Time for Nokia to reveal their S4 beater yet?
  • My fiancee has a Galaxy Nexus loaner phone right now and she absolutely hates that phone. Says the UI is clunky and unituituve. She doesn't understand why people line up to get Android garbage,
  • Funny my Nexus 7 lags an anoying amount, its usually fine flicking through menus, but if you actually try and start doing things quickly it can become stuttery. Ats thats with stock, overclocked, and all roms I have tried. I even noticed lag just flicking through menus on an Xperia Z, not anywhere near as much as droid used to have. But using it and going back to the 920, you realise just how smooth it can be, and how much improvement there is to make on android. In fact the best least laggy phone I have used was a stock GS3, but the interface is ugly.
  • Liar! I own a GNexus and it lags all the time even with Jelly Bean. Though with Jelly Bean I've seen massive improvement from ICS.
  • I too have a GNex and it almost never lags....
  • Android lags!
    even on my HTC One X, which has very decent specs!
    It's just the way the OS is built.. clunky.
     
    All Android hardware manufacturers can do is woo people with more CPU cores and more RAM..
    it's just silly. In 2 years is Samsung going to introduce a 20-core phone? and for what?! to browse the web? While the OS UI, performance and the phone design are still horrible.
  • Because at inexpert eyes it looks more advanced. it is marketing
  • At this moment yes. But it will be a GDR2, GDR3 and Blue update for Windows Phone:
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Windows-Phone-8-Update-Roadmap-GDR2-GDR3-and-Blue-333490.shtml
     
    So I suppose  the next Nokia flagship that will replace the Lumia 920 will have all this stuff to.
     
  • I agree
  • It is effectively a quad-core because it only uses a maximum of 4 cores at a time. 1080p should be supported, but personally I don't want it in my phone.
  • No full HD display ? excuse me ? Lumia 920 has HD man ...
    The keyboard doesn't need customisation has it is already good enough in itself
    Actually your whole comment is just full of completely wrong details ...
  • Full HD = 1080p. The Lumia does not have a display capable of 1080p.
    Your argument should be: "Why does a handset designed to fit in one hand NEED 1080p"
  • Perfectly said, very good points! Samsung is an OEM that wants to win iPhone users and but WP8 is not enough for them. I mentioned the same points to MS feedback about WP8. MS has to feed these OEMs well ahead ..like how?
    1. WP8 can't limit 720p, instead should support 4K ( I am not kidding, there could be Hardware limitations that OEM are forced to manufacture, rather than they wait for MS to release next OS that supports 1080p)
    2. MS should certify Quad core processors as soon available in the markets, not necessary for mere Phone users, but sure it's a futre proof when consumer signs 2 years contract!!!
     
     
     
  • Paul Remember High Hardware Requirments mean OS is heavey. if you will talk about S3 ...even S3 was very high Hardware specs....but still S3 was
    Buggy
    Halted during use
    Crashing
    Restart it self
    Slow apps open
    and many more.
    now in S4 again they use very high specs no doubt but just think WHY....because of ANDRIOD OS.
    if we will talk about Windows Phone OS or Apple iOS they are much mature than Android. that is why they don't need high specs becayse they know their OS can run on midum level hardware.
    ANDROID is OPEN SOURCE you can do whatever you want that is why at the end OS *ucked up.
    iOS and WP OS don't allow to cooking that is why they are stable, non hackable, very very less crashing chances. and very responsive. ;)
  • Well, the good thing about Android is that on Google Play, you can download a number of different launcher skins to use in place of TouchWiz, which I'm not a fan of either.  Nova Launcher and Apex, in particular, are very nice.
  • S3 is 9 months old now, given the speed of changes happening with hardware improvements i think 9 months is fair enough time for a new flagship.
  • Well im not against the galaxy but damn it feels like just yesterday the s3 came out
  • no. the s3 is one year old.except if you are from the u.s. i think they launched it there later
  • It was launched internationally in May 2012.
  • The S4 won't be launched until April 26 so that makes sense.
  • No this is the 118th galaxy phone so its the Galaxy S118
  • Lmao
  • lol! nice!
  • Watching the live event now and... some of their features already exist in windows phone... Just better presentation and i presume, marketing. Microsoft need to really be worried. Hahaha. I love windows phone but i do recognize a good device and featureset when i see it. 
  • I'm watching it too. Their presentation is so classy and grand. The software features are killer though. Microsoft needs to take the limits off hardware and software if we want to keep up. We got our hands full here folks but I'm hoping Microsoft can make a strong counter.
  • I don't feel need of more hardware but software, being an app dev, i'd love a little more power :D
  • As an App developer myself, i totally agree,.
    Android makes up for lack of its OS features with a more flexible API, which allows people to make killer apps. Microsoft is following Apple by severly restricting the API which is a dampner. 
    If Microsoft opens its API a little more and adds true multitasking, nothing can stop WP from gaining huge ground. 
    Open up the API already :D
     
     
     
  • I am watching it...and they are showing stuff 920 has but in a way as if its their innovation.
  • It's called marketing, and my oh my will The Verge just lap it up.
  • What, specifically, are you referring to?
  • Microsoft better be worried. If this comes to Tmobile before a Nokia 920 variant or ATIV S I'm caving in on W8. I LOVE W8 phones but I need a hero type device. A 4.3 screen and only 16 GB want cut it anymore.
  • Fyi the 920 is 4.5 and 32gb. In case you were unaware.
  • I'm very aware... In a lusting kinda way. Tmobile needs something like this ASAP. They have nothing on the W8 front to compete with the Galaxy line phones. People swarm to my sons Galaxy 3 and look right over my puny HTC 8X. What's sad is even I do. Come on Nokia give Tmo a 920 variant.
  • FYI the 920 isn't available from T-Mobile and most people in the U.S. are unwilling to pay $700 for a phone.
  • I know the 920 isn't available on Tmo. That's what I'm complaining about. Tmo don't have no High end phone to complete with the Galaxy line. That's why I'm considering a Galaxy 4/Note 2 if Tmo don't get something like Verizon is getting.
  • yes just look at the effort samsung had done to promote the s4. 300+ carriers or is that 600+ in 155 countries. Just so aggressive and the fact that the way they talk about their features even if it existed three years ago in WP is like they have invented the whole idea (text to speech anyone a la mango?). 
    Microsoft really need to drive their OEMS to make a HERO device, a WP Flagship that just smokes the S4. I have all the faith in WP and i want it to really shine.
    Another note on how sad the situation of Windows Phone. here in Philippines, the two biggest carriers are promoting the BB10 as if it's a godsent phone. BUT I DON'T SEE ANY LUMIA 920 BEING MENTIONED OR OFFERED
  • Your fanboism is too much. You must agree that android has a lot more features than crappy Windows Phone. I know probably someone is going to say android is bad, but you can't change the truth... lol so fuck you all WP fanboys and NokiaMicrosoft ass lickers.
  • Every smartphone has some competition now. Hopefully Nokia and HTC can top it soon. ! Some features clearly copied from Nokia though. Built in Eraser feature to camera? pssshhh, Nokia Smart Shoot. (: Although, some camera apps have done it before, but still.
  • There maybe some truth to Nokia's claim Samsung stealing technology and ideas. Samsung's Galaxy game controller add-on proves it. Looks just like Xbox's.
  • And MS has yet to tweak the WP8 to allow display resolutions higher than 1280x768. In 2014, maybe...
  • No, Microsoft needs to do it this year. We can't lag behind in an uphill battle forever.
  • Yeah, I know. It should be available since Day-1. I was being ironic about 2014, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happens.
  • Oh yes we can. It is increasingly apparent that Microsoft's plan is to do just enough to get by. They are not going to be the superstar in smartphone anytime soon and are not doing a lot to change their position.
  • Do you want a longer battery life and a lower hardware requirement in terms of ram, CPU and GPU power?
    Or do you want pixels you cannot see with the naked eye?
    The way I see it having a 720P screen is a bonus.
    I'm wondering if this will be the year that marketing gets trumped by common sense when it comes to specs, 8 cores is ridiculous, okay only 4 active at a time, but even 4 is pointless in a 5" or smaller handheld device.  The XBOX 360 and PS3's are old now, but they offer far more performance and only are equipped with 512mb of ram.
  • It's a very odd thing to argue against technological advances...I'm not sure I can get on board with that, sorry.
  • These technical advances though have no benefit for the user, they appear to instead be driven by marketing reasons.  For the screen for example its either a choice between having pixels we can see or better battery life, people brought into the "retina" argument, but no one has stepped out and made the argument why we need to go beyond it yet.
    Although honestly I expect that unless things change marketing wise all top end phones will require a 1080P screen to compete.  Looking at Nokia so far they have only included a feature if it will have an actual benefit - Wireless charging, OIS, super sensitive screen, fast update screen etc.  Maybe this is the year to start attacking competitors for poor battery life, as its one of the features of a smartphone that effects everyone.
  • I agree about the screen. I have the Surface RT with a lowly 768 display and it's gorgeous. Why we would need more than that on a phone is beyond me. I would much prefer a longer battery life and improved functionality than more pixels.
  • Except the S4 will have a higher res screen AND better battery life than the Lumia. Not to mention the fact I can get my movies and series simply across to the device and play them, no matter what format they are, and play them using one of the many free video players available on the market - including subtitles and alternate audii-tracks. In WP, I have to convert them. Again. I like WP a lot, but let's not pretend it doesn't lack basic functionalities available on Android.
  • ... "will have..."? Are you from the future? AFAIK, that remains to be seen. One would have to do the same day-to-day tasks to see which has better battery life. Also, no one was denying that Android has more apps and openness than WP.
  • 720p is more than sufficient for a 4.5" screen. The S4's specs are plain unnecessary -- 8-core CPU, 3-core GPU and 1080p screen? That's going to kill the battery in a very short amount of time.
  • EXACTLY. The 2600mAh battery is not going to give you what you think it will. With Androids power management, a 1080p screen, 8 cores (although only 4 can be on at a time and Android/Linux has very more multicore support) and gimmic features like that IR beamer this thing will be lucky to get 6 hours of normal use. Then of course there the issue of battery wear. Higher capacity batteries are great for phones that don't chew through the battery, but for ones that do, you will get crap battery life after a couple of months.
  • Intel actually mentioned that even with 4.1(jb) android does not utilize even dual cores to full potential...which explains why a WP with the same processor smokes an android
  • Not a surprise at all, but its clear Intel are not pushing extra cores as hard as the competitors, probably because they know they can smoke them with performance per a core and get a real benefit in power consumption.
    With multiple cores a lot of performance then gets lost in the memory management as the cores try to read and write the same block of memory, coding something to efficiently use multiple cores at once takes a lot of effort.
  • Spec is what drive sales. The first thing that tech sites do with phone is bench marks. Everything else comes second. If it doesn't pass their standards, the product is more or less done.
  • Spec doesn't drive apple sales,  its ux
  • Sufficient = not good enough.  
    Need's got nothing to do with it.  It's about want, and the tech public wants specs.  Give them spects.  Telling the public they don't need higher resolutions isn't going to win WP8 converts.  
  • You say that because you're fanboy. Simple as that, you can't accept the truth.
  • By the time WP gets 1080p Samsung will be releasing a Note with a 4K screen.
  • S4 is ugly as fuck! I should be saying S3, shouldn't I?
  • Depends on you. I don't know about the S3, but I do admire that the S4 has a similar metal frame lining as the Galaxy S2, with a few aesthetic differences like the microUSB port not surrounded by the metal. Hopefully, it makes the phone more durable. Man, now I have to tell myself NOT to think about switching platforms. I don't want to abandon my Lumia 920.
  • I thought the lining was polycarbonate instead of metal.
  • Isnt that lining what all the cheap tuners put round their cars to make it look cool?
  • That's a shock what the specs are but i wouldn't count Nokia out just yet there Nokia code name catwalk or 928 still yet to be shown to the world
  • im really liking that s4...im no android fan by any means but damn if windows doesnt top it by august im gonna have to pick one up.(definatly keeping my lumias tho)
     
  • Same here. I love Windows Phone, but these Android superphones' specs make our devices look like cheap, plastic toys.
  • Does your phone run the programs you have on it smoothly?  Do they lag?  Do you have to reboot on a regular basis?  What will the so called extra "specs" do for you?  How will they change how you use your phone?  If you tell me it's faster, is that .9 or 1.0 seconds destroy your ability to use your phone?  I'm really curious.  And I'm not talking about features necessarily because we know every phone has it own features.  I'm talking about capability of phone usage.  Do extra specs change the way you use your phone?
  • im all for windows phone i really am but the fact is microsoft doesnt seem to care half as much as everyone who buys thier product does. and my 900 is on its way to nokia atm because of black screens and speaker problems so you cant say they are perfect nothing is but atleast samsung cares enough about thier product to actually support it and push it to developers and carriers. I like Nokia and microsoft but i also like Samsung and right this moment its very clear that Samsung and Google care more about thier product then Microsoft. and to think that Nokia can carry WP8 all by itself well come on be serious. All that being said if nokia releases another windows phone better then the 920 i will get that for sure and if this mysterious Microsoft windows 8 phone ever shows up i'll get that too but as it sits right now Galaxy S4 seems to be top dog.
     
  • im not just bashing microsoft. 8 cores in a cell phone is pretty friging gimmicky what purpose could 8 tiny lil baby cores do for a cell phone that 2 couldnt.
  • Stop blaiming MS. You really have an obsesion against MS. They can't advertise more on windows phone. It's not like you buy a WP cd with license and install it on any phone. Thay can only make OS and make it usable for users and easy to incorporate by OEMs. Im sure they do everything to advertise its capabilities to OEM but in public they cant advertise as they don't sell it to end user so advertising to end users is useless and actually stepping on the OEM toes. And belive me MS cares and tries to make this a better ecosystem for users and developers. It's not MS fault OEM have to keep spec race in order to sell. A windows phone does not need new bigger processors to not lag. A 2 month old android device needs because of how messy it gets when you keep installing apps. Apple and MS don't need huge CPUs for their phones to work good. And google honestly cares nothing for android. They only want you to use their product and grab your data for their bussiness.
  • ugh i just wrote you a huge response but it wouldnt post then copy and paste wouldnt work so screw it im just gonna say your wrong go home i like ms and windows phone i dont like android but i do like samsung (they make the best tvs) but what im saying is microsoft doesnt seem to support windows phone the way nokia supports it. Samsung backs it products on android because they sell. even apple treats its tech like its gods gift. but microsoft is just "like yeah we made a phone you should buy it but if you dont thats fine".
  • when was the last time anyone went to a phone store like best buy or future shop and the phone rep was like you should buy this latest windows phone.. probably next to never. when I bought my 900 from future shop the guy working never seen one turned on before.
  • You are right. And it's not MS fault. Is OEMs fault, carriers fault, shopping fault. They look at charts. See the iphone is best seller and see that samnsung is best seller so they concentrate their marketing efforts there. If an OEM will make better deals with shops and carriers you would see more advertisesment for wp phones. It's manufactureres, shop and people fault. Remember the videos right after iphone 5 launch when users on the streets were given iphone 4 devices and were all asked what they can say about the new iphone 5. And people were saying how better is because it's taller and how better it works never realizeing they are playing with a simple iphone 4. Those dumb people are buying what is advertised to them. And advertising is done by carriers and OEMs who sells phone not by MS who is making an os not for end users but for OEMs
  • Again MS does not sells phones. What do you want MS to do???? Nokia sells phones and they do their support and stuff. HTC makes WP phones and they are somehow trying. MS has some campaigns on WP (the challenge campaign with free phone giveaway). Google is not advertising their android involvemnt. And it's in the same positions as MS. Samsung sells phones so yes they advertise their phones. Blame the OEMs if you want. But better blame the consumer users. Think of instagram and users. Chicken and the egg issue. Instagram does not want to make an app because of the lack os wp users. Users don't buy wp phones because of lack of instagram. Is instagram at fault??? Of course not they are a company and look at charts. Are users at fault? Yes definetly. Do you think an instagram app can't be made by 3rd party developers? Sure it can be made. Would you pay for it? No. So you won't have it. So please everyone stop bashing MS when it's not the case
  • ChMar, nowhere in my comment did I state that Microsoft is to blame for any WP phone's specs. I simply stated that the GS4 is making the phones in our beloved platform look miniscule or inferior. Next time, read one's comment thoroughly before you blatantly accuse them.
  • Still won't perform anywhere near as well as the Lumia 920.
  • They care as long as the product is a Galaxy, at least...
  • GREAT POINT on the mircosoft not caring. i thought i was the only one who felt that way i have had a wp phone since the htc hd7 came out and i love the wp platform and the nokia lumia 920 is the best phone i have ever had BUT with what i feel is lack of support from MS who owns skype but cant get wp a good solid skype app and also they  cant get us what they promised like pandora available in januuary 2013  BULLCRAP! the way i felt was they hyped and promised so much with the windows phone 8 and once they released it theys topped caring. nokia cares 100 times more than microsoft so unfortunatly i have had enough and now i am a proud owner of htc one x on att- the gs4 to me is so unsexy i think the sony xperia z shits on it!  and the conseption that android phones need to be rebooted and lag all the time is all non sense i have had the htc one x for a month and it has been as reliable as my 920
  • Dude, did you ever had a GS3? or an HTC One X/S device?,  those 2 phones are solid phones in hardware and software, I gave WP7/8 a chance (WP8 twice) and came back to my GS3, I have never had to reboot my GS3 other than to install a theme or a side loaded app.  JB on the ONE X and the GS3 is smooth as butter whit no lag what so ever.  I had the 920 at launch but the camera issue and lack of app selection got me going to a HTC One X, then the update for the camera came and I switch again to the 920 only to go back to a GS3 (app selection been the deal breaker here).  WP8 is smooth and a great OS but the app selection is just not there and I can have the same smoothnes and flow on my GS3 with no lag and all the apps and customizations avaliable on earth.  so in short... stop been a fanboy.