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Huawei Honor Magic 2 Android smartphone. Announced Oct 2018. Features 6.39″ AMOLED display
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Quick Overview

The best price of Huawei Honor Magic 2 is 685.00 SAR at mobile57.com Store.

  • This Mobile runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) powered with Octa-core (2x2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2x1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55).
  • This Mobile has 16 MP, f/1.8, PDAF 16 MP, f/2.2 24 MP B/W, f/1.8 and has Mechanical pop-up 16 MP, f/2.0 Mechanical pop-up 2 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor Mechanical pop-up 2 MP, f/2.4, depth sens Secondary camera
  • This Mobile has 6.39 inches, 100.2 cm2 (~84.8% screen-to-body ratio) inches display AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
  • This Mobile has 128/256 GB, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB, 6 GB RAM of internal memory.
  • This Mobile has Non-removable Li-Po 3500 mAh battery
  • This Mobile has Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) sim
  • Compare prices for Huawei Honor Magic 2 in Saudi Arabia:
Lowest price for Huawei Honor Magic 2 is .00 SAR

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GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 CDMA 800 & TD-SCDMA
3G Network HSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 6(900), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700), 17(700), 19(800), 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
Sim Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Announced 11/7/2018
Status Available. Released 2018, November
BODY
Dimensions 157.3 x 75.1 x 8.3 mm (6.19 x 2.96 x 0.33 in)
Weight 206 g (7.27 oz)
DISPLAY
Display Size 6.39 inches, 100.2 cm2 (~84.8% screen-to-body ratio)
MultiTouch Yes - EMUI 9.0 or Magic UI 2.0 - DCI-P3 (100% coverage)
SOUND
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker Yes
3.5mm jack No - Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
MEMORY
CardSlot No
Internal 128/256 GB, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
DATA
GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A Cat21 1400/200 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Blue Tooth 5.0, A2DP, aptX HD, LE
NFC Yes
USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
CAMERA
Camera Primary 16 MP, f/1.8, PDAF 16 MP, f/2.2 24 MP B/W, f/1.8
Camera Features LED flash, panorama, HDR
CameraVideo 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 720p@480fps
CameraSecondary Mechanical pop-up 16 MP, f/2.0 Mechanical pop-up 2 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor Mechanical pop-up 2 MP, f/2.4, depth sens
FEATURES
OS Android 9.0 (Pie)
CPU Octa-core (2x2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2x1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
Sensors Face ID, fingerprint (under display), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS
Colors Gradient Black, Gradient Red, Gradient Blue
Others Fast battery charging 4A/10V 40W - DivX/XviD/MP4/H.265/WMV player - MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player - Document editor - Photo/video editor
BATTERY
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3500 mAh battery
MISC
Opinion: Phone resolution doesn't matter – here's why

It's often assumed that the higher the resolution we pack onto our smartphone screens, the better the product, and I've been guilty of this thinking myself. But over the past couple of days I've come to the conclusion that there's something to be said about packing a lower resolution. Before you pick up your pixelated pitchforks and form a mob, hear me out.

I've been playing around with the Huawei Ascend G7, a budget smartphone with a large 5.5-inch screen, but only a middling 720p resolution. The (far more expensive) iPhone 6 Plus and the OnePlus One come with 5.5-inch screens as well, but boost the resolution to 1080p. Does that mean they have the better screens?

Maybe not. Sure, the high pixel density (401ppi compared to the Ascend G7's 267ppi) offers gorgeous image quality but it comes at a cost, and when you factor in the compromises you need to make, getting an ultra-high resolution screen on your smartphone might not seem all that attractive after all.

The most obvious problem is price. The higher the resolution of the screen, the more expensive the phone is going to be. I think many of us could live with 720p over 1080p if it means shaving off a fair wad of cash from the asking price. You might even find the phone manufacturer allocates money it would have otherwise spent on a high resolution screen towards other parts of the phone.

Another thing to consider is that a high resolution screen puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the phone – especially the graphics side – to throw lovely looking images across the high def screen. Those of us lucky enough to have the most powerful flagship phones with the latest hardware probably couldn't care less, and are too busy diving into big piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

But mere mortals that have mid-range, budget or just plain old phones will have to seriously consider whether or not trading smooth performance for a higher res is worth it.

I noticed a stark example of this trade off with the Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact. Both phones featured pretty identical hardware (including the same CPU and GPU), but the Z3 came with a larger 1080p display, while the Z3 Compact ran a 720p screen. The smaller and cheaper Z3 Compact actually performed better when gaming with smoother frame rates, as the GPU only had to render in 720p.

A larger and higher resolution screen is also a bigger drain on your battery. Sure you can stream full HD content from Netflix, or watch that wobbly 4K home video you shot on your phone, but if the battery conks out after less than half a day was it really worth it? A screen that won't power on due to lack of battery looks the same regardless of how many pixels it features.

How about accessibility and ease of use? Even when we talk about 'large' screens on smartphones, we're really talking about screens that are often smaller than 6 inches, and packing huge numbers of pixels can make text smaller and harder to read.

OK, so Android and other mobile operating systems have settings allowing you to increase the text size, but it's not perfect. For a start it won't affect a lot of third party apps, and websites will continue to be displayed in the default font size, making it uncomfortable to read. Increasing the font and icon size too much also means you're paying for all these extra pixels without getting the benefits of more screen real estate. You're better off saving your money.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for higher resolutions when there's a good reason for them. I sulked for a week when my partner tried to put on a video tape rather than a Blu-Ray. However, when Qualcomm talked to me recently about getting 4K experiences on mobile devices, I just shrugged. I could see the pixels, but I couldn't see the point.


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Review: Updated: Google Nexus 5

Introduction

When the Nexus 5 launched in October 2013 it was lauded as "the best that Google has to offer", but more than a year on is that still the case or has the search giant's darling handset fallen behind the times?

The Nexus 5 has always been updated with the very latest software and it now boasts Android 5.0 Lollipop. I've updated this review to reflect this change and everything that the fantastic Lollipop update brings, as well as the increasing pressure from the new fleet of low-cost, yet highly specced competitors.

That said, the Nexus 5 is still a lean, mean Android machine, beyond the reach of OEM embellishment and carrier bloatware.

It delivers a streamlined experience that's stylish, refined and fast, and it does all this at a low price. Although, as already mentioned, that price isn't quite so jaw-dropping now.

You can snag the 16GB version of the Nexus 5 for around £239.99 or you can lay down an extra £40 and get the 32GB version for £279.99.

The price has dropped slightly since launch, but seeing as Google has discontinued the handset (it's now officially listed as "no longer available for purchase") only a handful of retailers have units left.

Google Nexus 5 review

In terms of hardware the Nexus 5 is still just about a premium smartphone, it just doesn't have a premium price tag.

The Nexus 5 was able to hold its own with the top devices of 2013, including the iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and Sony Xperia Z1, but hold it up against the flagships of 2014 and the Nexus 5 is left lagging behind.

Its 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip isn't as power efficient as the 801 or 805 models which adorn recent high-end smartphones and while we're still seeing 2GB of RAM and 1080p displays on some of them, others such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6 are moving to more RAM and QHD screens.

We're now in 2015 and starting to see Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chip take hold - it's already inside the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9 - which dates the Nexus 5 even more.

The Nexus 5 has been updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop; the biggest software jump for Android since Ice Cream Sandwich was unveiled in 2011 and proved Google could do software design well. 5.0 Lollipop completely redesigns the interface, brings in the new Material Design look and adds in many features OEMs have been including in skins for years now, a battery saver mode for example.

If you're wondering where Google cut corners on the Nexus 5 then you might point an accusatory finger at the camera and the battery life.

Google Nexus 5 review

When compared to the very reasonably priced OnePlus One with a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, 13MP camera and £229 price tag the Nexus 5 loses some of the value for money sheen.

There's also challengers from other firms in this space, with the likes of the Moto X (2014) and Xiaomi Mi 3 looking for a foothold.

I never expected to fall in love with the Nexus 5, but it seduced me. It certainly has its flaws, and I'll get into them in due course, but it's also a beautiful phone that sets a benchmark for Android.

While the Nexus 5 is no longer the flagship device in Google's arsenal, that honor falls to the 6-inch QHD display toting beast that is the Nexus 6, it's still for sale in some shops (though not from Google itself) and offers a pure Google experience to those who don't want a 'phablet'. You could say, it's the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6 Plus.

Google Nexus 5 review

As I rest it vertically on the arm of my couch it conjures visions of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. To soften it off and make it more comfortable to hold, the corners are rounded.

This black slab (which also comes in white and red) is all about the screen and the entire front of the Nexus 5 is glass. The only details that break it up are the round earpiece centre top and the front-facing camera to the left of it. There is actually an LED notification light down below the screen, but you'll only see that when it blinks into life.

Despite having a five-inch display, the Nexus 5 measures just 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6mm and the bezels are nice and thin.

Google Nexus 5 review

With a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which translates to 445ppi, the Nexus 5 display looks crisp and accurate. It's an IPS display, and while critics will point to AMOLED's superior brightness and black levels, you'd be hard pressed to notice.

The back and sides are soft-touch, matte plastic and it only weighs 130g. Flip it over and you'll see a couple of design flourishes.

The word "Nexus" is embossed in lowercase gloss, with a tiny LG logo below it. Up top on the left you'll find the glaring round eye of the 8MP camera, which is surprisingly big. A tiny LED flash is just below.

The bottom edge has a standard microUSB port and there are two grilles either side of it - the Nexus 5 only has one speaker in there; the other hides a microphone. Up top you'll see the standard 3.5mm headphone port and a tiny hole for an extra microphone.

Google Nexus 5 review

On the left spine there's a ceramic volume rocker, with no markings. On the right spine there's a ceramic power button and the SIM tray, which you'll need a SIM tool or a pin to pop out. The Nexus 5 does not open, so there's no microSD card support or battery switching.

The Nexus 5 is one of the most comfortable phones I've used. It is comparably slow to heat up, so there are no issues holding it while watching movies or during extended gaming sessions. The soft-touch finish contrasts perfectly with the ceramic buttons, which makes them very easy to find and use without looking.

There are negatives. The camera lens protrudes enough to make you worry about it taking the brunt of any impact when the Nexus 5 is put down on a flat surface. That glass expanse, without any protective lip or border, suggests that a drop could easily result in disaster and scratches might be easy to come by.

Unlike the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which also boast a sizeable camera hump, the one on the Nexus doesn't have the added protection that a sapphire glass covering brings to Apple's devices.

Google Nexus 5 review

There's also the inevitable smudging from fingerprints, which turns up on the back and the front, but that's a common problem.

It's not a flashy design, but the Nexus 5 does feel solid and well made. It may be a little big for easy one-handed operation if you don't have big hands, but the extra screen size will justify that trade-off for most people.

At this price, the design of the Nexus 5 is impressive. It's understated, almost making the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 look gaudy, and it feels more expensive than the Galaxy S5.

Key features

The price

Ultimately it's the price of the Google Nexus 5 which makes it an attractive proposition, and while the OnePlus One and co. may be trying to encroach on its territory, Google's own-brand is still the dominant force in the high-spec, low-cost arena.

£239.99 for a premium Android smartphone that's this good is very good. Even at £279.99 for the 32GB version, the Nexus 5 is still temtping.

Apple devices are expensive. The iPhone 5S, which was released at a similar time to the Nexus 5, now starts at £459 for the 16GB version and you'll have to lay out an extra £40 to get a 32GB model for £499. While a 16GB iPhone 6 starts at £539, that's almost double the price of the Nexus 5.

Google Nexus 5 review

While Apple is comfortable with its premium pricing strategy, the Nexus 5 has really put pressure on the competing Android flagships.

The Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and LG G2 have all witnessed dramatic price cuts over the past 12 months, while the Nexus 5 has managed to retain its sale price much better.

And now there's the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, Sony Xperia Z3 and HTC One M8 - all costing around £500 and a new wave of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 launching imminently.

Whatever way you cut it, the Nexus 5 is st a lot of phone for your money, and it looks like a real attempt to drive prices down, which can only be a good thing for consumers.

However, we've since seen the OnePlus One - better specs than the Nexus 5 and coming in even cheaper - is this the phone Google should be worried about perhaps?

Google Nexus 5 review

The camera

It would be fair to say that the camera in the Nexus 5 was a bit of a disaster on release. It's an 8MP shooter with optical image stabilization that's intended to be a good substitute for a point-and-shoot camera.

There's nothing wrong with the hardware, but the software let it down badly. The camera was far too slow to focus and could be slow to launch, which killed your chances of capturing those spontaneous moments with friends and family.

Google Nexus 5 review

In ideal conditions the Nexus 5 camera could capture stunning shots, but how often do you get ideal conditions?

Google listened to the criticism and quickly released an update to deal with the slow focus issue by balancing speed and image quality a bit better.

Where previously it would take forever to capture a shot, as you waited for the auto-focus, especially in low light conditions, or with fast-moving subjects, after the update it's much faster.

Google Nexus 5 review

It also enables the camera app to load a little faster, and improved the contrast to produce more vibrant colours.

Further updates to the Android camera application have also seen the UI changed a little, as well as the addition of a new feature - Lens Blur - and an easier to use settings menu. I was hoping Lollipop would help the camera too, but it hasn't.

Results are generally respectable, but it's still not the greatest shooter on the market. You can take a look for yourself in the camera section later in this review.

Speed

The Nexus 5 is really about speed and power. The snappy processor dovetails with the Android 5.0 platform beautifully.

Google did not cut any corners with the quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. It was a cutting-edge CPU at the time that had been paired with the Adreno 330 GPU.

Google Nexus 5 review

That's the same combination you'll find in the LG G2, Xperia Z1, and some variants of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.

While the power setup in the Nexus 5 has now been usurped by more power efficient and feature packed offerings, it's still capable of handling pretty much anything you throw at it.

Interface and performance

The display on the Nexus 5 is excellent, which makes this a great device for consuming entertainment.

LG's mature IPS LCD technology really delivers. The colours look accurate and the 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution on the 4.95-inch screen translates to a solid 445ppi (pixels per inch).

To put that in context, the iPhone 6 has 326ppi, the Galaxy S5 is on 432ppi and the HTC One M8 can only boast 441ppi. Though the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 both outmatch it with 534ppi and 515ppi screens respectively. Not to mention the 493ppi screen on the new Nexus 6.

Put it side-by-side with an iPhone 5S or Galaxy S5 and you might detect a yellow tint. The display on the Nexus 5 is also not as bright as its competitors, which has a slight impact on legibility, particularly in direct sunlight.

On the whole, Google's compelling proposition is a premium smartphone that doesn't have to feel uncomfortable in flagship company. It has achieved a winning price without compromising on quality.

Google Nexus 5 review

The Nexus 5 shows off the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop beautifully. It's also set to get Android 5.1 soon and should be near the front of the queue when Android M (Malteser? M&M? Marshmallow?) comes, though as Google only promises to support Nexus devices for 18 months, that's not guaranteed.

If you're coming from an earlier version of Android, which you most likely are as few devices are running Lollipop, then there are lots of little improvements to enjoy.

The interface has been completely redesigned, with new icons, animations and colours giving it a much needed freshen up. Speaking of animations, they're beautiful. I found myself swiping around, opening up the app drawer and diving into the calculator just to see how the operating system moves.

'Material Design', Google's new design language, has impacted every corner of Lollipop. It's lighter, gone is the dark 'Holo' style settings app and everything feels fresh and vibrant. Many of Google's own apps have been redesigned to match these guidelines and they too, especially GMail and Google Maps, look stunning.

You'll find the touch sensitive trio of back, home, and multitasking at the bottom, though these now resemble a Playstation-esque threesome of the circle, triangle and square, but the functionality is the same.

Google Nexus 5 review

The app dock sits above them with an app drawer icon in the centre which will take to you full app list. The rest of the dock is customisable so you can add your favourites and have them accessible on every home screen.

Swipe right to left and you'll access additional home screens. White dots at the bottom of the screen indicate how many home screens you have and which one you're on, although sadly you can't tap on them to shortcut to another screen.

Drag an icon to the right and you can create a new home screen. There doesn't seem to be a limit, and if you empty a home screen it simply disappears.

Long press on any home screen and you'll see your full scrollable list and get access to wallpapers, widgets, and settings. By dumping widgets from the app drawer and making the app icons bigger, there are now four across a screen instead of five, the interface is easier to navigate and clearer.

Swipe left to right on the home screen and you'll find Google Now, which can also be brought to life by the magic words "okay Google" uttered on any screen home screen (though you will need to set your language to US English in Settings > Google > Search > Voice for that to work).

Google Nexus 5 review

Android had the best notification system around when it was on 4.4, but the jump 5.0 has pushed it further into the lead. iOS and Windows Phone 8.1 could really learn a lot about handling notifications from Lollipop.

Notifications are easily accessed by pulling down the shade from the top of the screen, keep on pulling and you'll find the new quick settings menu. Notifications now appear on the lockscreen, can be prioritised based on importance and pop-up at the top of screen when they come in.

It's a lot less obtrusive than iOS and I struggle to keep a track of notifications when I'm using any other platform apart from Android.

Part of the reason that the interface is so accessible is the speed. The Nexus 5 is a top performer. It has a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 with an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

When I ran Geekbench 3 on the Android 5.0 the multi-core average was 2307, which is actually down from the 2832 score I averaged on 4.4.4. It's still higher than last year's Galaxy S4 and HTC One and only just behind the Galaxy S5 and One M8, though.

By combining that processing power with the carefully optimized Android 5.0 platform Google has delivered a completely lag-free and highly responsive experience. The Nexus 5 is a dream to use. The only downside I have found is that with the extended animations in 5.0, opening folders and the app drawer does take marginally longer, but that's only because the movements are designed that way.

You can skip in and out of apps and games without any stuttering. Even with more than 20 entries in the new Overview menu and there's no hint of a pause.

You can snag the Nexus 5 in 16GB or 32GB versions. The actual capacity is always less; in this case you get 26.7GB on the 32GB version and around 12GB on the 16GB version. If you consider that it's not unusual for graphically impressive games to be over 1GB in size, you'll see the sense in opting for the 32GB version.

Remember that you can get an extra 15GB of free cloud storage by using Google Drive, and it's worth automatically backing up photos and videos, so you never lose them.

Battery life and the essentials

Battery life

I have had to charge the Google Nexus 5 every day since I started using it. Starting out with a full battery it's generally 30% or below by the end of the day, and for really heavy usage days it needed a top-up before bedtime.

Google Nexus 5 review

Project Volta, a new addition in Lollipop, is supposed to eke more juice from a charge and help you go longer without reaching for the charger or plonking your phone onto a Qi wireless pad.

But I haven't really found a massive improvement, if anything there's a couple of worrying incidents where my phone has simply drained itself empty overnight when it was fully charged before. There have also been a few cases where it's been at 70% and then suddenly dropped to below 20%, without any obvious reason why.

Another part of Project Volta is a battery saver mode, which automatically kicks in when your phone dips below 15%. Apart from turning the status bars a rather bright shade of orange, this mode manages to save battery by turning off background data, killing those sweeping animations and toning down performance.

In my tests I did find that when 'Battery saver' was enabled the phone would last a bit longer, but no more than an extra 20 minutes. It is nice to have, but nowhere near the feature-rich battery saver mode that Samsung added to the Galaxy S5.

Now, there isn't really any such thing as "normal" usage, but it would be fair to say that I'm a heavy user. I take my phone everywhere and use it frequently. I left Wi-Fi and mobile data on at all times, enabled location tracking with high accuracy, and opted into Google Now.

A typical day will include a cumulative hour of gaming, maybe 90 minutes worth of web browsing, a couple of photos, and a smattering of app action in Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and Flipboard, not to mention obsessive email checks (even with it set to a 15 minute refresh rate).

What this reveals, beyond my worrying smartphone addiction, is that the Nexus 5 is fairly typical.

Google Nexus 5 review

Initially the battery life is very erratic, but this is no cause for concern, because you should find that it settles down after the first few days. Remember that downloading and installing a burst of apps tends to eat the battery life fast.

Downloading and installing an exceptionally large game, such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which is 1.6GB, using Wi-Fi actually ate a staggering 10% of my battery.

If you use the Nexus 5 to navigate with turn-by-turn directions or play a graphically intensive game, like the aforementioned Asphalt 8 then you will really notice a major drain.

The Nexus 5 battery dropped 4% in ten minutes of playing the excellent Monument Valley. Streaming a 55 minute episode of Breaking Bad through Netflix ate 18% of the remaining battery life. A 15 minute call drained just 2% away.

The Nexus 5 battery is rated at 2,300mAh, a bit lower than the Galaxy S4's 2,600mAh battery.

Our 90 minute video NyanGareth battery test, with the screen at full brightness, knocked the Nexus 5 from fully-charged down to 74%.

The essentials

Inside or outside, in a busy shop, or a deserted street, the Nexus 5 made and received calls with no problems. Callers reported my dulcet tones came through loud and clear, even with my four year-old son screaming in the background, which points to some good noise cancellation skills.

I also found callers came through with plenty of volume and clarity on my end. The speakerphone isn't as clear, but it does the job.

Google Nexus 5 review

The phone app has been overhauled again in Android 5.0 and it's very convenient to use. The last call is listed at the top and then you get big contact spaces for your most frequently contacted friends and family.

When you do need to call a more distant contact you can just type in the search bar at the top and you'll rarely have to enter more than a couple of letters before they pop up.

You can also search for local businesses in here and call them directly, which can be very handy when you need a pizza at short notice.

I love the keyboard on the Nexus 5. Google has definitely made improvements, because for the first few days I would pause after a staccato burst of typing to go back and make corrections, only to find that the text was error-free. The swiping option has also been improved, making one-handed typing much easier.

Google Nexus 5 review

Hangouts is no longer the default messaging app in Android 5.0 Lollipop, replaced by a new Material Design infused SMS only app.

Why Google did this, I'm not really sure. Sure, you can change your default app back to Hangouts (which still does SMS and comes pre-installed), but I had hoped Google would do away with the basic SMS app this time around.

The purity of the Google experience on offer here is unmatched anywhere else. Cast an eye over the pre-installed apps, from Maps to Hangouts, from Gmail to Google Docs, from the Chrome browser to YouTube, the strength of the Google ecosystem is impressive.

Swipe to the right on the home screen and there's Google Now, ready to serve. The Nexus 5 offers everything that's good about Google in a streamlined format.

Camera

The Nexus 5 has an 8MP main camera with a 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor and an F2.4 30mm equivalent lens. The OIS (optical image stabilisation) helps you eliminate camera shake, and it's pretty easy to point-and-shoot and get good results.

You tap the shutter button to take a shot and you can tap on screen to choose a subject to focus on, but there's no tap to focus and shoot in one. You get vastly superior results if you're able to take your time, hold tap and hold on the shutter button and just lift your finger off when you're ready to capture.

Extra options are accessible via the small circle icon sporting three dots just next to the large shutter key. Here you'll find controls for flash, countdown timer, HDR+, gridlines and the ability to flip to the front snapper.

Google Nexus 5 review

This is an easier setup to the awkward arc which adorned the camera app pre Android 4.4.4, and it makes getting to various functions much quicker.

If you fancy a few camera modes slide your finger in from the left side of the screen, where you'll be greeted with Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, Camera and Video modes.

Lens Blur is a recently added mode, as Google jumps on the background defocus bandwagon that many manufacturers are already riding.

Google Nexus 5 review

It takes a few seconds for the Nexus 5 to process the Lens Blur image before you can tinker with the effect.

Swipe from right to left to jump into your camera roll, and any image taken with Lens Blur will have a circle lens icon in the toolbar allowing you to adjust the level of defocus.

It works reasonably well, but it doesn't match the accuracy of the HTC One M8 or Xperia Z3.

Google Nexus 5 review

The more in depth settings menu also been made easier to navigate thanks to recent updates - slide to open the camera modes panel and then tap the settings cog in the corner of the screen.

From here you'll be able to tweak a number of settings including photo and video resolutions, aspect ratio and toggle manual exposure.

There's also a 1.3MP front-facing camera which is really for video calls and quick selfies.

Google Nexus 5 review

It takes just under two seconds to launch the camera on the Nexus 5. You can swipe right to left on the lock screen or unlock and tap the camera icon.

Once open you can also use the volume rocker to take a shot, rather than the on screen shutter button. The way you'll typically hold the Nexus 5 to take a photo makes the volume rocker much easier to use than the on screen button.

Occasionally I found my fingers dropping into shot because the camera is offset to the left. When holding it in landscape the lens is at the top left, quite near the edge, but you soon get used to it.

Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Google Nexus 5 review

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Media

Streaming movies or TV shows is a simple prospect on the Nexus 5. The screen quality is perfect for high definition video, and your chance of encountering stuttering is entirely based upon the strength of your internet connection.

Google Nexus 5 review

As you'd expect audio sounds better through headphones. The speaker is fairly loud, but it can get a little crackly when there are sudden jumps in volume.

Google would prefer you to use its services, so you'll find the Play umbrella of apps in the shape of Movies & TV, Games, Books, Music, Newsstand, all offering filtered windows on the Play Store content and your own collection.

Music

Whether you're listening to music you own and load into the device, or via Google Play Music's streaming service, it all takes place within the app. The only thing is when you want to purchase stuff, it will redirect you to the Google Play Store app. It makes the experience feel disjointed, but it's not a deal breaker.

Music quality through the speaker is not very good. As I mentioned earlier, the speaker isn't very loud, and there is only one small speaker at the base of the phone. With decent headsets on, however, it sounds great.

The nice thing about Lollipop, and KitKat before it, is that it will show your music art and music player controls from your lock screen. Other apps will do this sometimes, too, like Spotify, but it's a nice touch that just adds to the overall experience of using the device.

Whether you're bringing over your own music or using Google Play's service, or other apps like Spotify or Rdio, you won't have much to worry about when it comes to how the Nexus 5 will handle it.

Movies

Videos and multimedia are handled by a few apps depending on what you're doing. First, there is YouTube, which is an obvious one. If you're opening YouTube videos from apps like Facebook or Twitter, or from the web, they will open in the YouTube app.

Otherwise, you guessed it, it's more Google Play stuff.

If you're on the home screen, you'll see the film icon that says "Play Movies & T.." and in the app list it's shown as "Play Movies &.." It's a little ridiculous, but what you're looking at is Play Movies & TV.

If you have a Google Play account, you can download and stream movies and TV shows. The nice thing about that is if you're offline, you can still view your downloaded movies.

Google Nexus 5 review

If this is your first Android device, or your first time using Google Play for multimedia, you should know that when you purchase something, it's yours. At least as far as playing it when you want, on any Android device you want.

This means you can play your content on your Nexus 5, and other Android tablets and phones running Android 4.0 or higher, which is pretty great.

HD movies and TV video quality and sound have been great, but we do have to reiterate that it sounds best through a headset given the Nexus 5's speaker issues.

In all, the video quality is generally good whether you're viewing streaming or downloaded content, or videos recorded with the device, and even better when viewed in HD thanks to the 1080p display.

Games

For gamers the Nexus 5 can handle pretty much anything you throw it at it. Extensive sessions with simple games like Monument Valley presented no problems, and neither did graphically intensive titles such as Asphalt 8 or Dead Trigger 2.

Google Nexus 5

If you do plan on playing a lot of games, or you'd like to store an extensive music or video library on your Nexus 5 then you should definitely opt for the 32GB version.

It's worth remembering that you can upload 15GB of files to Google Drive, or use Google+ as an unlimited photo backup, as long as you store them at standard size (the longest edge must be 2048 pixels or less). You can also store up to 50,000 of your own songs in the cloud with Play Music and stream them to your Nexus 5.

Comparisons

It's becoming debatable whether other Android device manufacturers, building unique user interfaces, and including their own apps and content hubs, can actually improve on what Google is offering, especially as Lollipop is such a beautiful and well equipped operating system.

In the early days of Android, HTC's Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz added important features. With Android 5.0 it's tough to find areas where the platform is lacking. Let's take a look at how the Nexus 5 compares.

OnePlus One

The biggest competitor to the Nexus 5 arrived a good six months after it launched, and it came all the way from China.

The OnePlus One beats the Nexus 5 when it comes to pricing, but also in the spec war with a meaty 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, the choice of 16GB or 64GB of storage and a 13MP rear camera.

Some may find the 5.5-inch full HD just too big to handle on the One, and there's no doubt the Nexus 5 is far more manageable in the palm - but it also lacks in power.

OnePlus One

Battery life is another advantage the Chinese handset has over Google's offering, yet the operating system is intriguing.

The OnePlus One runs Cyanogenmod - a community developed version of Android which looks pretty similar to the stock version, but with lots of added extras.

These aren't the extras you get with over the top UIs from the likes of Samsung or HTC though, instead they are implemented in a more subtle fashion and the wealth of extra control allows you to get your phone working just how you want. You can also now optionally replace the UI with OxygenOS.

Of course there are question marks over the support for the handset if things go wrong, and it's a little tricky to get hold of, but if you're looking for ultimate power vs value for money the OnePlus One offers just that.

Motorola Moto G (2014)

If you're really watching your pennies and are looking for the best value for money smartphone you can't do much better than the Motorola Moto G (2014)

It may not have quite the same levels of specs and features as the Nexus 5, but it still rocks the same vanilla Android KitKat OS, with the Lollipop update already rolling out in some areas. It is also half the price of Google's smartphone.

You get a 5-inch 720p display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, 2MP front snapper and the choice of 8GB or 16GB of internal storage with the Moto G. There's also a microSD card slot too, for adding more storage.

Motorola Moto G 2014

There's no 4G on the Moto G (2014), so it's not the device for you if you're looking for super-fast data speeds.

The Moto G is great then for someone looking for a cheap, but still highly functional smartphone which isn't going to be used a great deal for high-def video gaming or movie playback.

iPhone 6

You could argue that the Nexus 5 is the device Google hopes will try and entice iPhone 5S users from upgrading to the iPhone 6. While the Nexus 6 is meant to go up against the iPhone 6 Plus.

There are no conflicts. It is as close as you can get to Google's version of Apple's walled garden.

It also manages to feel more minimalist than the iPhone, and there's very little between them when it comes to accessibility or ease of use. The mud traditionally slung at Android from the parapets of competing platforms like iOS 8 simply can't stick to the Nexus 5.

Considering that the 16GB model of the iPhone 5S is still more than £150 more expensive than the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 6 is more than double the £299 price-tag Google slapped on its 2013 flagship, there are plenty of reasons to take it seriously.

iPhone 5S

The iPhone 6 has a 720p, 4.7-inch display, still smaller than the 1080p 5-inch panel on the Nexus 5. Battery life and camera ability are easily better on the iPhone 6, but the Nexus does pack double the RAM, with 2GB.

If money is no object then the iPhone 6 might be for you, but the Nexus 5 is far better value.

Hands on gallery

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Google Nexus 5 review

Verdict

Back when the Google Nexus 5 launched you couldn't find a better smartphone for the money. More than a year on and the Nexus 5 is still good value for money, but it now has some tough competition.

It's still satisfyingly fast and refreshingly minimalist, but the truth is that there's no real star feature on the hardware side.

Don't get me wrong, the hardware is extremely good, but it doesn't really trump other Android flagships on the market. It's also a lot harder to come by now with none of the main networks or key retailers still stocking the Nexus 5, so you'll have to search if it still takes your fancy.

We liked

A focus on the really important features means that the display and processor are still up there with the better smartphones around - the Nokia Lumia 930 sports the same Snadragon 800 chip under the hood. The display is excellent for reading, watching videos, or playing games.

The Android 5.0 Lollipop update has really given the Nexus 5 a new lease of life, it's like I'm using a completely new phone.

From the Material Design look, to the new Guest User mode, to the swathes of beautifully rendered animations and the fantastic way it handles notifications, Google's latest Android update is one of biggest changes to an operating system I can remember and Android 5.1 is set to add a few more features.

That price makes the Nexus 5 a really compelling proposition. It puts pressure on other premium smartphone manufacturers and potentially frees people from the tyranny of the contract.

We disliked

Better battery life is top of most people's wish lists when it comes to mobile technology and it's easily the worst thing about the Nexus 5. It's distinctly average, even with Project Volta in Lollipop.

I'm used to a daily charging schedule already, so it's not much of a hardship, but if you're out and about for long periods then this is the only potential deal-breaker I can see. The fact that you can't remove the Nexus 5 battery will exacerbate the issue for some.

It's always nice to have the option of extra storage with a microSD card. Google doesn't gouge you like Apple does, but £40 is still a lot of money for an extra 16GB and there's no 64GB version. Not everyone wants to be forced into the cloud.

The camera is much improved after the update, but low light performance is poor and it doesn't match the 2014 flagship brigade in terms of quality.

Verdict

Google has learned from the OEMs. It has learned from previous smartphones in the Nexus line; there are no obvious omissions here, like the lack of LTE in the Nexus 4.

The really important things have been nailed. What you are compromising on when comparing the Nexus 5 with the rest of the premium market is the camera, storage options and the battery life, but you get a decent processor with a wonderful display.

You also get Android 5.0 as Google intended, refined, elegant, and efficient, with a full eco-system of services.

It doesn't have it all its own way though. If you're looking for the best bang-for-your-buck high-end smartphone then there are a few, such as the OnePlus One, which trump the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 still represents decent value for money, and for the Android purists out there who aren't desperate about having the latest and greatest specs it still offers an excellent smartphone experience.

First reviewed: October 2013








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Review: Updated: Samsung Galaxy S4

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is now two years old, and not only was it replaced by the Korean firm's 2014 flagship offering, the Galaxy S5, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 was recently launched at MWC 2015.

That means that the Galaxy S4 is now feeling a little long in the tooth. To make matters worse, Samsung has also released the innovative Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, a version of the Galaxy S6 with a curved screen that wraps around two edges.

Without the fancy new bells and whistles that Samsung is including in its latest flagship phones, the Galaxy S4 can almost feel as if it is a relic from another age. However just because two years is a long time in smartphones, it doesn't mean that we should write off the Samsung Galaxy S4 just yet.

Its replacements haven't spelled the end for the Galaxy S4 - it's still on sale, at a lower price point of around $368. It has also dropped in price on contract.

That isn't too bad for a handset that is still pretty well specced. What's more, Samsung is continuing to churn out software updates for it.

Samsung was quick to upgrade the Galaxy S4 to Android 4.4 KitKat. Together with a few minor Samsung additions and modifications, it tightens things up behind the scenes for a slightly sprightlier navigation experience.

And here's some good news for followers of the latest smartphone trends: the Samsung Galaxy S4 is getting an upgrade to the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop with the upgrade rolling out now.

If you've already got a Samsung Galaxy S4, head over to our guide on when to expect the Android 5.0 Lollipop upgrade. We update it constantly, so it's your best source for finding out when the new operating system will reach the Galaxy S4.

But let's consider the S4 in context: as an upgrade to the how-is-it-still-on-sale Galaxy S3. One of the most impressive things about the phone was the fact the size hadn't changed from the S3 - the Galaxy S4 comes in at 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm, meaning there's no extra heft to try to work with in your palm.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

However, despite this fact, the screen on the S4 has been increased once more, to a 5-inch display with Full HD resolution. OK, so it's no longer a big deal when compared to the QHD offering on the 5.5-inchLG G3 and 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, but that doesn't mean it's not a greatly impressive screen.

I should also note that the Galaxy S4 is considerably smaller and lighter than its successor, the Galaxy S5, despite conceding a mere 0.1 of an inch in screen size. This is evidently a result of the S5's tougher water and dust-resistant construction, but not everyone will count this as a worthwhile compromise.

The Galaxy S4 shared a lot with the other top smartphones of its era. Both the Sony Xperia Z1 and theHTC One have screens that use the same resolution, but neither of them have the still impressive clout of the Super AMOLED HD screen on offer here.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

On top of that, there's a much faster processor packed under the hood, ample storage space for media thanks to an expandable memory card slot, and 4G, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and pretty much any other connection you care to mention on board.

Samsung has tried to supplement this with a tranche of software upgrades too, meaning a more powerful camera, a better way to communicate with your friends and consume media, and interestingly a big push into health through dedicated apps too.

Design

Before I dissect all the possibilities the phone has to offer, let's look at the design. As I mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is impressive in its form factor, thanks to the sub-8mm thickness. At 130g it manages to still be light without shaving off so much heft that you feel like you've got a flimsy piece of plastic.

That's probably the biggest compliment I can pay the Samsung Galaxy S4 - where its predecessor felt a little bit cheap in the hand, the S4 manages to bring a much more solid build and better construction to boot.

So while the "faux metal" band makes a comeback on this model, it looks a lot more premium. And there's very little flex in the chassis when you hold it tightly, which was another problem with the Galaxy S3.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

It can get dented very easily though, and be careful not to crack your screen if you do so - I've heard of a few instances where this has happened to Galaxy S4 users, although that can be said of many other polycarbonate smartphones.

That doesn't mean that the phone is completely remodelled from the S3 - it's very similar in appearance, so much so that a number of people asking to see it during my review thought I was palming them off with my old S3. The polycarbonate chassis remains, but that brings with it the faithful battery cover, which conceals a removable battery and microSD slot.

I'm not so fussed about the battery being able to drop out of the phone - so few people carry around a spare battery, and nowadays portable charging blocks are becoming so cheap and light that they make much more sense.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

I'd almost prefer something like the Sony Xperia Z3, which has a refined and packaged chassis but doesn't need a removable battery instead it makes use of a slot for the memory card. This integrated nature would make for a slightly more premium feel to the phone.

However, it's a small gripe with the Samsung Galaxy S4, as while the cover feels flimsy, it's better than it was on the S2 and the S3, and they both sold like hot cakes.

In the hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 feels much better than any other Samsung phone I've held (apart from the gargantuan smartphones the brand used to make - the i8910 Omnia HD might have been built like a brick, but it felt wonderful to hold). The screen's spread towards the sides of the phone means a much narrower bezel, and the effect is certainly impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

It might look very similar to the S3, but when you take the Samsung Galaxy S4 up close, you really start to appreciate the nuances.

I'd say it feels a lot more like the old LG Optimus G range now - when I first picked it up, I was struck with how similar it felt in terms of sturdiness and the polycarbonate construction to the LG Optimus G Pro.

It's since been mimicked once more by the LG G2, which was a real competitor to this handset when it first launched - it's got the same ugly plastic case, but much improved innards at the same price.

That's no criticism, as the device is well built, but it has a similar rounded feel. This is intriguing given the history of the two companies, and shows more of a leaning towards the plastic shell from the Asian brands in general.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

The buttons have barely changed from before - the power button has been shifted slightly on the right-hand side, and is now much easier to hit. Samsung has clearly taken some lessons from the Galaxy Note 2, which has a really well positioned power/lock button.

The volume key is less easy to hit, and could be lower down in, but the travel on both of these buttons is satisfying, and you'll always know when you've hit them.

The plastic used on the home key has been upgraded too, with a more solid feel under the thumb when you press down to get back to the main home screen. The two buttons flanking it give you access to menus or take you back from whence you came, and while both are easily hidden, they light up nicely with an even glow when called into action.

Samsung Galaxy S4

There are loads of sensors on the front of the phone above the screen, including cameras to track your eyes, a 2MP camera for HD video calling and a proximity sensor for knowing where the phone is in relation to your ear. On the white review unit I had their presence looks rather ugly either side of the generous earpiece, but on the darker models this is less of an issue.

The other notable addition to the design of the Galaxy S4 is the infrared blaster on the top of the phone. This enables you to control your TV, satellite box, DVD player, amp and even air conditioner. Again, this isn't a new feature, but it works well in practice, and despite being small is powerful enough indeed.

Other than that, there's not a lot more to say about the design of the phone, as it's just a little underwhelming. I know it's unfair to lambast a brand for not overhauling the design every year, but in the One X and the One, HTC proved that it is possible to offer up a new design over successive generations and still keep things attractive.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Looking so similar to the Galaxy S3, you can't help but feel Samsung has gone a little too Apple and created something more in keeping with the Samsung Galaxy S3S - a minor update to a great phone to keep those coming out of contract happy that they have a premium phone to upgrade to.

I do implore you to get the phone in your hand before making your judgement though. While it's not got the best design on the market when it comes to materials, it's a big step forward compared to the Galaxy S3 and allows for a grippy and easy-to-hold phone, with a whopping screen inside.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

It still feels cheap as chips compared to the iPhone 6 and HTC One M8 though.

To just dismiss it for being plastic would be doing the Galaxy S4 a disservice as it has so much more going for it than that. But it's worth remembering that to a lot of people, the way a phone looks is as important as how much RAM it's got on board and how fast the CPU is - if not more so.

Key features

At the time of its release, the Samsung Galaxy S4 came with what I felt was the best display you could find on a smartphone. While it's since been superseded by the likes of the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, it still holds up to scrutiny today.

It's the same Super AMOLED technology used in other Galaxy smartphones, but it was the first in the range to be cranked up to Full HD resolution, which is 1920 x 1080 pixels, if you're asking, meaning a still-sharp 441ppi.

This uses the same PenTile matrix that's drawn so much criticism over the years, as some state that Samsung is using too many of one colour of pixel, or that the sub-pixel (the colours within each pixel) arrangement is too basic. All of this has meant that older Galaxy smartphones have had something of a blue or green tint, or been a little low-resolution when viewed (admittedly very) close up.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Well, and you'll forgive me for saying the same thing that I did with the Galaxy S3, close up now there's no way you can see any jagged edges or elements within the icons. It's simply superb, and makes everything from web pages to video look brilliant.

There's no worry about the tints of old, nor the criticisms levied at Samsung for making over-saturated screens, as often people have claimed that the colours look too strong on these devices thanks to the OLED technology used.

It is a feature of the technology, and not just because of the high contrast ratios on offer, but with the Galaxy S4 Samsung added in a mode to make the colours look more natural, should the user so wish to have it that way.

This method does drop the brightness somewhat, and that's already lower than you might find on theHTC One, but that extra brightness isn't needed thanks to the contrast ratio I mentioned earlier.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

One of the strengths of OLED technology is that when a pixel is displaying a black image, it's completely off, and therefore draws less power and looks darker. Compared to LCD screens, which have a backlight to light the colours in front, this means that the blacks will never be as black as found on an OLED.

So, as I said, there's nothing to want for with the Super AMOLED Full HD screen found on the Samsung Galaxy S4. It might not be as high resolution as the HTC One or the Google Nexus 5, simply because it's slightly larger with the same amount of pixels, but viewed up close you'll struggle to find a flaw with it.

You can change the brightness from the notification bar, accessed by sliding your finger down from the top of the screen, but if you want to make things easier you can just tag the auto button here and have the Galaxy S4 work away at deciding the optimum brightness for you.

You can also customise the auto level - so if you like things a little lighter or darker, then you can choose such a thing. It's a good way to manage your battery even easier.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Another display feature is the improved capacitive technology used in the screen. This is designed to ape a feature brought by Nokia on the Lumia 920, which enables you to wear gloves and still use the phone - which will be a key feature to those in colder climes, or who like to wear gloves for sport or similar.

There used to be an issue whereby this feature rendered the screen a little too sensitive and twitchy to the gloved touch, but having used the phone after the Android 4.4 update, it doesn't appear to be such an issue. Naturally, I'll let you know if extended use reveals otherwise.

All of which means there's not a thing that I can criticise the Samsung Galaxy S4 screen for in any way, as it's still close to perfect for a smartphone - making it a great device for so many more functions as a result.

Devices such as the LG G3 are starting to up smartphone screen resolutions to QHD standards, but the jury is out on whether this is wholly necessary, or whether the benefits outweigh the inevitable hit to battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Until that's answered the Samsung Galaxy S4's screen will continue to be one of my favourites - particularly for the price.

Over recent years, Samsung has increasingly turned to software gimmicks in order to differentiate its smartphones from the crowd. It could be argued that this really started to get silly with the Samsung Galaxy S3, and looking at the Galaxy S4 afresh today confirms that Samsung tried to pack way too much in here.

There are tons of gimmicks, like Smart Stay. This isn't a new feature for the Galaxy S4, but it's a better implementation than we saw on the Galaxy S3. Back then the result was a little patchy, and also contributed to some dodgy auto-brightness levels.

In case you don't know, Smart Stay is another of Samsung's eye-tracking technologies, one that can tell when you're looking at the screen and won't dim or put it into sleep mode as a result.

This time around it's nearly flawless at checking out when your eyes are looking at the screen, although when it does get it wrong and things begin to dim there's no way to save it (despite us blinking and flashing our eyes at the display in the vain hope the S4 might recognise the effort).

Of course, you could just tap the screen with your finger - but come on, this isn't 2011.

Then there's Smart Scroll. This technology was designed to also monitor your eyes, but when it notes you're looking at the phone the Galaxy S4 will enable you to tilt the handset back and forth to move the text or email you're trying to read up and down the screen.

Well, this is what Samsung said at the Galaxy S4 launch, but it turns out that there's another, cooler, trick at work here: you can hold the phone steady and tilt your head up and down to achieve the same thing.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

You have to make a pretty strong movement with your head to make this function work, but when it does it's pretty cool indeed and one of the 'down the pub' moments that will make people sit up and take notice.

However, and this is a big one: because the feature isn't perfect, I can't say it's a useful way to navigate around the screen. Using your finger remains a more useful way of scrolling around a screen.

Air View, meanwhile, allows you to hover your finger over certain items to see inside without opening.

Samsung has imbued a number of applications with this functionality, but in truth only a few really need it. For instance, being able to see which speed dials are assigned to which number is really useful, as otherwise you'd just have to press and find out.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Less useful are things like video scrolling, where you can flick through the video using the timeline bar without having to disturb the main action. While this is a useful feature, there's not a lot of point to having to hover the finger over the screen to achieve it when you can just slide your finger on the screen, which is a much easier way of doing things.

Where Air View was somewhat useful, Air Gestures is possibly the least practical things on the phone. It's designed to let you simply wipe your hand over the front of the phone without touching it and means you can skip tracks, move between photos and answer calls without touching the phone.

I'll say that the latter functionality is good, but only when you're in a hands free situation, such as the car. There you don't want to be having to root around for the 'Call accept' function when you're supposed to have two hands on the wheel, where a simple wipe to answer is really cool.

I've got nothing against the option of doing things this way, and it's got a lot more accurate with the new software update. This means that there's no more (well, far fewer) missed gestures, and it won't activate when you don't want it to, which is another real bugbear I found at the start.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Other uses, such as moving between tabs in the internet browser and moving app icons around, are cool and could be useful in very niche situations... but it's still not really better than just touching the screen and doing it without worry.

There are some more instances where it's really, really useful – you can wipe over the screen and flick through PDF pages, scroll through web pages a large jump at a time or flip between tabs.

It's a clever system, but like I said, it's not useful enough – it's cool to do, but takes a little more effort than it should to be a natural flowing part of your phone use.

Like so many new features on the Galaxy S4, a little annoyance means you'll turn them off, and it's unlikely you'll ever turn them on again, which makes me feel bad for all those engineers that were asked to come up with all this innovation.

Samsung made a big deal about S Health with the launch of the Galaxy S4, and it's clear to see the intent: it wanted to get a slice of the lucrative fitness market, and wanted to leverage the technology contained within the smartphone already.

It's a novel idea to have it so entrenched within the phone itself, but it does have some good ideas on how to use your phone to improve one's fitness. For instance, once you've entered all your weight, height and exercise details, the phone can tell you an idea weight to aim for, and how many calories per day you should ingest to achieve it.

On top of that, you get a guide to exercise levels each day, in a way that mimics Nike's FuelBand, which uses points to tell you how to get more active.

The S Health app can also now sync up with a Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and it'll even figure out when you've duplicated recorded steps and discard one of the data sets (the lowest one, thankfully). You'll have to download the Gear Manager app for this, though.

While I like the sentiment behind the S Health app, and the fact it works so much better than other similar apps, there's still a lot to wonder about in there.

You'll be set a 'steps per day' goal, whether walking or running. While on the days I took the Galaxy S4 running it had a larger uptick in the percentage of running steps, it was far from accurate.

Even on sedentary days, the S4 was congratulating me on running for a portion of it. Seems a bit unfair to all those people that were out sweating and pounding the streets, but I took the kudos.

Perhaps I'm being a little hard on this app, as it works well - just too simplistically. You can track your weight here nicely (and even more effectively if you purchase Samsung's Bluetooth scales) enter the food you've eaten to keep an eye on calories, and if you're organised enough, track all your exercise in one place.

But there's so much more to be done; what if you had running app capabilities within S Health, so it can monitor your runs in a similar way to Nike+, Adidas MiCoach or Endomondo? Samsung is missing a trick here - plus it needs to make the pedometer more accurate.

Interface and Performance

Update: The Android Lollipop software is about to land for the Galaxy S4, so we'll be updating this section to let you know how / if it improves the TouchWiz overlay - according to our findings on the Galaxy S5, it certainly makes things look a lot slicker.

The interface on the Samsung Galaxy S4 didn't arrive as an officially new release of TouchWiz, the Korean brand's name for its Android overlay, but it did bring a whole host of new features to the Galaxy range.

It's been updated to Android 4.4, which means there are several upgrades from the previous version, though it's fundamentally similar to the version of Android 4.2 the phone shipped with - although Android 5 will change that quite dramatically.

In the drag down notification bar, you're still greeted with two icons in the top right-hand corner; one takes you to the internal settings from anywhere in the phone, and the other gives you quick shortcuts to turn elements within the S4 off and on.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

You can also get access to the full grid of options instantly by dragging down from the notifications bar using two fingers instead of one..

This is an idea Google pushed with the new iteration of Android, and works well. However, it's a little redundant here, as the phone already has these in a long line in the notification bar. You can also edit these quick toggles too, so it means that you'll rarely push the other button to get the full list.

Speaking of the full list, it now contains two toggles that weren't present in our initial review, and which actually appeared in the previous Android 4.3 update: smart pause and reading mode. Reading mode optimises the screen brightness and tone for reading in selected apps, while smart pause uses the front camera to read the orientation of your face when watching video, and will pause when it turns away. Both worked well when tested.

Android 4.4 includes smoothness upgrades too, and while this works on the likes of the Nexus 4, I'm not sure what it's really added with the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Considering that this phone is running the quad-core Qualcomm 600 chip, clocked at 1.9GHz and combined with 2GB of RAM, I would have expected this phone to run faster than anything I'd seen prior to its release.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

While that is true for the most part, it's only a touch more than we've seen on the Galaxy S3. Apps will open and close faster, but elements like the time taken to open the multi-tasking menu (triggered by holding down the home key from anywhere in the phone) still take a beat to activate. This is even emphasised by a vibration to recognise your command, followed by a notable (if brief) pause before the menu pops up.

In case you're wondering, there were two versions of the Galaxy S4 launched: one with Samsung's own Exynos 5 octa-core, and this one (model number GT-1905) that has the Qualcomm Snapdragon quad core. This version is clocked at 1.9GHz, which means it runs faster in general - however, the octa core has two sets of four cores, with one for day to day stuff and the other for heavy lifting, such as photo processing and such.

While I'm a little upset we never got the option of this other version (it smashed the benchmarks in many tests at the time of release, legitimately or not) there are questions about whether the battery will hold up as well as the device flicks between the two quad core processors inside. Qualcomm's chips have proved themselves to be the more energy efficient in recent times.

The general Android / TouchWiz interface is still the same as ever: this means that you can throw as many widgets and apps all over the seven home screens that you like.

It's still a great way of doing things, and with Android KitKat you can flick items out of the way just by dragging them onto the screen and holding them in the place you want.

What is interesting is that Samsung still hasn't added the functionality to drag and drop app icons on top of one another to create a folder. I'm pretty sure Apple is trying to patent such an idea, but given rivals have managed to use this method (such as HTC with the One M8) I'd have expected Samsung to do the same.

It's not a big deal, but having to drag an app to the top of the screen, create a folder, name it, then drag other apps in is a bit of a hassle.

One area that has been changed massively from S3 to S4 is the lock screen. Firstly, there's a new way to mess around with this UI: where once you could only touch the screen and watch the water ripple around, now you can choose to have your finger trigger a little light that hovers under your finger.

Lock screen

Combined with the Samsung Galaxy S4's improved screen technology that's been super-boosted, in terms of sensitivity, to enable you to use gloves with it, you can now hold your finger a centimeter or so above the display and watch the light flicker along under your digit. It's not a big thing, but one that I found myself constantly playing with.

The lock screen also enables you to have widgets on there before you open the phone, enabling music control, remotes to display and messages to preview.

While there are some useful implementations of these (the music player is really handy to have, and can be resized by dragging the track list up and down) others, like favourite apps, really don't help as much. You can still thankfully have all the lockscreen shortcuts, which means you can interact in the same way as before.

To open the phone from a widget you just tap it. I initially wanted to criticise the phone for this, but after a few days it really becomes second nature.

There are a number of issues I found with the interface though: for instance, Page Buddy being removed, which is available on older Samsung devices. This function would display a new home screen when certain actions are initiated, such as connecting a pair of headphones or roaming in another country.

You can't get this on the Galaxy S4, and its omission is terrible, as it was one of my favourite features of the pre-updated S3. You can get recommended apps when you plug in headphones in the notification window, and in fairness Samsung appears to have improved the relevance of these recommendations since launch.

Rather than Facebook and Chrome, for example, I now get YouTube and Music Player.

I would say the blocky nature of the UI really isn't attractive. It basically adds a load of features into a previously simple experience, which may or may not please some people. Thankfully, all this is switched off by default - and you can even have your own message saying hello every time you open the phone.

It's clear that Samsung has toed the Google line in using Android 4.4 on the Galaxy S4, as this lock screen functionality is straight from the search giant's design board (with a few Samsung ideals placed on top).

It's also present in the menu system, which, rather than one long list of all your options, is divided into four screens: connections, my device, accounts, and more. It's a neat way of packaging things all up, but it can be hard to hit the categories on the top given the size of the screen.

The interface on the Samsung Galaxy S4, to the uninitiated, is great. It has loads of innovative ideas and works blazingly fast. I can see why some people find TouchWiz a little cartoony and convoluted at times, but in my eyes this is a great combination of power and simplicity in a smartphone.

In terms of performance, it's worth repeating that I was testing the quad-core version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 here - which means that when it comes to benchmarking it's not quite as strong a performer as the octa-core version.

In all of tests the Samsung Galaxy S4 is shown to be a very strong device when compared to its direct rivals. It's matched in many ways with the HTC One, for example, while it sails ahead of both the Nexus 4 and the original Sony Xperia Z.

Bringing our benchmark tests up to date with Android 4.4 installed, and utilising TechRadar's favoured Geekbench 3 test, the Galaxy S4 managed to score an average of 2213. That's double the score of the Snapdragon 400-equipped LG G2 Mini, and is just 600 behind the Snapdragon 800-equipped HTC One M8. Not bad at all.

The Samsung Galaxy S4's follow up, the Galaxy S5, managed to score a respectable 2909 in the same tests, so if you're after a little more juice, you might want to go for the newer model. It's a safe bet that the upcoming Galaxy S6 will include a similar improvement in performance.

Gaming on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is handled by the Adreno 320 GPU, which can still work its magic when it comes to giving smooth, real to life gaming on the go.

I tried the phone on a number of games, from Super Hexagon to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and the 2D beauty that is Badland. As expected the Galaxy S4 handled them all with aplomb, with not even a hint of judder or slow down when in heavy use.

Badland Galaxy S4

More impressive was the lack of battery juice-down when using the handset, as it managed to only consume a few percent of the power even when getting a little warmer in the hand.

It seems as if the floodgates have finally opened in the world of Android gaming, so the fact that you can experience the best of it without compromise on older technology like the Galaxy S4 is great news.

Battery life

The battery life test is one of the world's most difficult things to rate, thanks to the sheer range of things you can do with the phone to keep it from throwing out all its juice in a heartbeat.

For one person the Galaxy S4 is a treasured beast, only brought out into the light to check emails manually once an hour for most of the day. For the next it's an all-powerful media player, one that will be streaming movies over a 4G connection while auto-updating every app under the sun.

The good news is that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is able to handle all the things you can throw at it and still keep the 2600mAh battery chugging along at the end of the day. I found that in general use it was very well received.

TechRadar's usual test is performed on the commute to work, the time when we're all glued to our screens. For this test, like all other phones, I streamed audio over Bluetooth headphones (Rockaway Novero, if you're asking).

A 10 minute cycle ride with music playing dropped things by 1%. Streaming video over 4G for 10 minutes with full brightness on the screen pulled down another 3%. Then it was more music for 30 minutes, which ate another 2%, and then downloading a 86MB game file over 4G, which munched 3%.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

A little more music playing, combined with general email checking and testing out the air gestures, air view and smart scroll saw a battery drain of just over 10% for the hour I was trundling to work. That's really impressive, as I reckon high drain capability of 10% per hour will lead to more than enough juice come the end of the day.

I never found myself in that situation, which is great. You can always pop in another battery, thanks to this being removable, but in truth, it wasn't needed.

I will say that those that like gaming, movie watching and internet browsing will struggle to make the battery last on this phone, as the screen is the biggest drain. That sounds obvious, but I'm actually happy that the Galaxy S4 isn't one of those devices that will see your battery juicing down from an overly-enthusiastic background syncing process.

After a few months of using the Samsung Galaxy S4, I found that the battery life was definitely better than other models on the market. With medium to low usage, you'll easily get to 50% by the end of the working day, and that's including some music streaming, internet browsing and video watching.

The Galaxy S4 has an excellent sleep mode that means that when it's inactive it can really drop the drain on the CPU, and achieve that in a much better manner than other devices.

While the S4 is OK, the lower-end CPU isn't up to the power of the Qualcomm 800 seen in the LG G2and Nexus 5, these are much more power efficient and are even more adept at connecting to wearables without an impact on battery life.

The essentials

While the Galaxy S4 may have inevitably dropped behind the curve in a couple of key aspects, its basic functions are as good as any other Android smartphone

Calling on the Samsung Galaxy S4 carries on from its predecessor - namely in being excellent. It's got a slightly narrow earpiece range, which means that you have to be careful where you position it in relation to your ear, but that's a really minor quibble as the overall effect is impressive and works well thanks to some clever volume management.

The Galaxy S4 has noise reduction built in, and many people commented how clear the sound was over the airwaves. The S4 supports HD voice as well, which is carried over the 3G/4G networks (depending on your provider) so you'll always get the best clarity on offer.

In short, this phone worked well no matter where I was. Dropped calls should be a thing of the past on all handsets, but that's not always the case; however, with high end handsets there's no reason to think it should happen, and the power of the Galaxy S4 to keep hold of signal is impressive.

In fact, the signal strength was regularly impressive, making very few trips down to the dreaded 'no bar' icon that means you might have a connection but, hey, you might not. Nobody enjoys that smartphone lottery, right?

There are a number of extra bells and whistles to play with here too, which offer varying success. You can set something called "adapt sound" which asks you to pop in a pair of headphones and listen to a range of sounds at different frequencies, thus tailoring the output to your ears.

You can also choose to have "clear sound" or "soft sound" during the calls, but when I tried these modes all I got was a slight variation in volume. There are other tricks that are more useful in call, like being able to turn noise reduction on and off and being able to boost the volume when needed.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Otherwise, it's the same great calling experience we've all come to expect from the Samsung Galaxy range, even down to the three options that come up when you end a call (Message, Call or Video Call) so you can get in touch with the person if you've forgotten pertinent information.

In short, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the best phones for actually, you know, phoning, out there. Its size isn't horrendous next to the ear and people can hear you - and vice versa. Job done.

The messaging experience on Samsung smartphones has never been the strongest, and thankfully it's getting better and better with each iteration. I'd go as far as saying that it's actually GOOD on the Samsung Galaxy S4, and that's coming from a place of wanting to throw the Galaxy S3 out a window once or twice when the email client doesn't connect properly.

Let's start with one of the most important points: the keyboard. The previous Samsung versions have been woeful, with bouncy word prediction, inaccurate typing and cramped conditions.

Thankfully with the S4 Samsung appears to have realised this and made a larger option, and thanks to the larger screen you've even got a row of numbers on the top so you don't constantly have to keep pressing shift to get them up each time.

There's also a Swype like option on board, and while the jury is still out on whether this is more efficient than tapping away, I found it to be more accurate thanks to the larger amount of space afforded by the 5-inch screen.

I still instantly downloaded another option (SwiftKey might be underpinning a lot of what this keyboard is about, but the native option is still preferable in my eyes, as it takes less customisation at the start).

As for text messaging, you still have Samsung's functional if somewhat ugly messaging app, but the current software also includes Google's superior Hangouts app, which can be set as your default SMS app. I'd suggest doing so.

Internet browsing on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is covered by two applications: the inbuilt browser and Google Chrome. This might lead to some confusion as, for the most part, the two applications do precisely the same thing.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

However, the default browser (Samsung's own) still comes with a few tricks of its own, and has been upgraded since the Galaxy S3. It's not any quicker, which is odd given the upgraded processor, but that's likely because the Galaxy S3 was already running at the top end of the speed the connection would let it.

I'd opt for Chrome every time though. It's newer and slicker, with shared tabs and history between it and the popular desktop version. Also, with it being Google's current browser of choice, it's constantly being improved. The current version on the Galaxy S4 runs very smoothly, with the full TechRadar website loading up in around five seconds.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S4 camera represented a big upgrade over previous sensors it had put into phones, and with a 13MP sensor you can see why. It is still capable of taking some stunning photos and comes with a decent auto mode, which enables you to get really great shots no matter what the framing.

This means you can be taking a picture of a landscape one minute, then trying to get an extreme close up of a daffodil the next, and the Galaxy S4 camera will handle both with aplomb.

There are also a number of clever modes available on the handset that take their UI cues from the original Samsung Galaxy Camera, and which have made their way into subsequent Samsung phones and tablets. This means that a quick tap of the "mode" button below the on screen shutter will give you a scrollable wheel of options to choose from.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

These options include drama, eraser and beauty face, as well as queuing up the likes of rich tone (HDR) mode to improve the quality and light levels of your snaps. For the most part they have a good role to play in your photography, and I'm glad Samsung hasn't over-burdened the user with too many modes.

There are some issues with this method however, and I'm not sure how you'd solve them: eraser mode enables you to take five pictures and if someone walks into the shot the phone will recognise the intruder and ask if you want to remove it.

This is a brilliant idea in theory, but the fact you have to enable it as a setting before taking the shot means that unless you leave the camera in this mode all the time, you'll only get the full benefit when you know you're likely to get people walking behind.

The other problem I have is the settings side of the user interface. I applaud Samsung for going with simplicity first, and by that I mean that users aren't presented with a settings menu as long as their arm when trying to take a quick picture of a cat or child doing something funny.

However, as you'll see in a moment, the Galaxy S4 camera does struggle in some conditions, and as such the only way to mitigate these problems is to do things like increase the exposure or enable night mode. If you want to do this then you'll have to acquaint yourself with the settings menu in the top left-hand corner of the camera app, which has a number of icons to toggle on and off.

That said, what is on offer does really work. Night mode is a good way of increasing the brightness of your photos when things are getting a little dark - although you'll have to make sure that you're able to hold the camera steady if you don't want blur. I've tried a number of smartphones with this mode though, and the Galaxy S4 was one of the better ones, plus being able to enable it automatically is brilliant.

Other tricks, like being able to take a drama shot, are pretty close to the innovation spawned from other manufacturers. In this case, the functionality is almost identical to that seen on the Nokia Lumia 925 and (more recently) the Nokia Lumia 930, although I'm glad to see it again as it does enable you to make some pretty funny GIFs.

The other new ideas, such as being able to take a picture using the front and back camera simultaneously, are niche at best. Samsung made a big deal about this new function at the launch of the Galaxy S4, but in reality I can't ever see a scenario where you want your face to be in the picture too. I do like that you can have loads of frames for your face though, so there are scenarios to use it - it's just not a USP of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

I also found that, following the Android 4.4 update, this latter feature seemed to crash the camera app from time to time. In fact, the camera app in general wasn't quite as stable as I would have liked. Hopefully this will be fixed with the Android 5.0 upgrade that's coming soon.

But enough about what it can do; how good is the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera in day-to-day use? In all honesty, it's brilliant in many ways. I mentioned that it's possible to take some stunning shots, but then I'd expect it from a 13MP camera with Samsung's burgeoning photography heritage.

When stacked against the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 camera is superior in one way, but less useful in another. For one, the focal length is much poorer, meaning you have to stand further away from the subject to get the same shot you would on the One.

In theory this sounds great, but as you can see from my comparison shots, the HTC is much better at pulling out the object of the photograph. Then again, the Galaxy S4 has a more balanced composition, meaning the chance to get a brilliant photo is stronger. It doesn't over expose for the sake of it, so while photos might look better on the One's phone screen, the jaw dropping effect of the S4 is higher.

In low light, the HTC One with its UltraPixel technology is streets ahead of the Galaxy S4, unless you place the latter into Night Mode after which it's more even. However, the One manages low light shots almost instantly, while the S4 needs a lot of processing.

In short, as you'll see below, the Galaxy S4 is a good phone to take a load of pictures on. It has since been superseded by more recent efforts like the Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z3, of course, but it still holds its own if you take your time to get it right.

If you're looking for a more even picture with the ability to zoom in on certain parts of the shot it's a decent option, but for point and shoot ability I would recommend the HTC One or its successor, the HTC One M8.

Camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Galaxy S4 review

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Galaxy S4 review

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Samsung Galaxy S4 review

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Galaxy S4 review

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Media

I always enjoy talking about the media functionality of the Samsung Galaxy range as it's so good - and I'm happy to do the same here. It's a media marvel in every sense of the phrase, from music to video to even the FM radio, and if you're after a spot of entertainment on the go there's still very little better out there regardless of its age.

In terms of the overall media experience, only the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C really offer anything distinctly better. Even then there's the matter of those smaller screens, though that has been rectified with the recently released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The Galaxy S4 has done away with the FM Radio of the S3 for some reason though – it's a shame as the Samsung app was one of the best out there for listening to some tunes over the airwaves. Sure, there are dozens of excellent internet radio apps, but for free music that you could record when needed, I loved that ability on the Galaxy S3 and Note 2.

It's also worth noting that Samsung has upgraded the rear speaker as well, which is now a little richer in the bass tones and makes watching videos or YouTube clips without earphones that little bit better. It's nowhere near as good as BoomSound from HTC, but it's definitely a big step forward.

Samsung Galaxy S4 review

Sonically, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great device for music consumption. You can lob in as many tracks as you like through the microSD slot, the interface is fluid and easy to navigate, and comes with so much control that if you've got quality headphones and high bit-rate tracks, it should be impossible not to get an excellent experience out of the phone.

One of the real winners here is the music player itself - there's just so much to do.

I'm talking about the main player here - there are other options in the shape of Google's Play Music, and of course you can check things out using the music portion of the Samsung Hub (the South Korean brand's version of iTunes, helpfully now packaged all up in one place) but the main way to transport tunes to your ears is through the main music app.

It's easy to get to the tracks you want here too, as when you open it up you're presented with either a big long list of all the albums or songs you own, although if you have missing album artwork the phone won't be able to find it for you.

That said, there are so many apps on the Google Play Store that you shouldn't have an issue with it - I'd recommend you look at something like Player Pro to help you out with this.

Once you've selected the track, you can continue building a playlist or press the album artwork icon at the bottom of the screen where a little music player has started. From here there's all manner of things you can do: from searching through a song using a visual representation of the volume to setting the sound to mimic your ears perfectly, it's all here if you open up the menu.

The latter functionality is really nice. AdaptSound takes you through a wizard that asks you to listen to a variety of frequencies and determines which ones you can hear. It will then boost the sound to make sure it fits into the range you can actually hear, which will diminish as you get older.

Music also supports voice control here as well, which in theory would be really useful. The ability to play, pause, skip, and toggle the volume is a really nice thing to have - except it doesn't really work very well.

General performance is hit and miss, volume up and down go up and down very slowly, and if the phone is in sleep mode (which it will be most of the time) then the commands don't work at all.

I loved it when I forced the screen to stay on and could just command the phone to change tracks by asking, and without having to press any buttons, but that kills the battery. When it doesn't pick up yo
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UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








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