Galaxy S4 on the left, and iPhone 5 on the right
Picture courtesy of Business Insider.
Pros: It's fast. Okay, super fast. Again, my only comparison is my Droid X, whereupon it would take several long, agonizing seconds to display even the simplest of apps like Twitter or Facebook. This was on WiFi or 3G. Obviously, the S4 has a faster processor. It also has 4G. And it also has the most updated Android software. So any or all of those things are contributing to my experience.
It also seems to do a lot better reception-wise. I'm unsure what my Droid X's problem was, but reception at my work site (I won't even mention at home because we get no reception at home regardless) was deplorable. Even with 1/2 - 2 bars of reception, it would take forever trying to send texts, and most often would fail. The same exact thing was happening with WiFi and (for example) Facebook Messenger, even though our building has WiFi boosters all over the ceilings around here. GPS was also a joke; using my CardioTrainer (which uses GPS to map your walks) was an exercise in frustration. Using Google Navigation was a joke, because it would take so long to "triangulate my position" that I'd either be there or in another state by the time it was done. The S4 has none of these problems. And again, it's probably due to the fact that it's just... well, newer.
I also like the size. I know some people think it's like holding a elephant to your ear, but when you buy a smartphone like an S4, your intent is not to make calls. That is so the last thing on your mind that even with the CNET reviews of the S4 I don't think reception quality while making a call was even on the list of things they reviewed. I buy 450 minutes a month through Verizon and I doubt I'd ever get close to using them all. But the screen is vibrant and beautiful; sharp and crisp. The colors seem accurate on pictures. And it's much easier to use apps like Facebook and Twitter with that slightly larger screen.
The camera. My God, the camera. 13 megapixels to be exact. But megapixels aren't everything by any means. All megapixels do is allow you to zoom in (or expand) more without losing the quality of the photo. Usually, my Droid X, under the right conditions (with its 5 megapixel camera) took really good photos. As long as the lighting was right and I didn't zoom in AT ALL. Once I started zooming in, the quality decreased exponentially. Not so with the S4. Check out these side by side photos of Mt. Rainier:
Taken with Droid X back in April
Taken with S4 Yesterday
Both of these pictures were taken within the same location in my office. I did, however, zoom in using the S4 to see if the quality diminished. If I had zoomed in with the Droid X, it wouldn't have been pretty. The colors are much more vibrant and realistic on the S4.
Neutral: Svoice. It's Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri. I've only used it a couple of times and it's cute. I asked it what it was wearing once, and she answered "my birthday suit". It's a fun piece of technology to play around with, but I'm not sure how much I would use it in my daily life.
Also, all the interesting "features". The auto-scrolling when your eyes move down, the air-swiping so you don't touch the screen, and the plethora of camera options when you take photos. Although they are cool, they're more gimmicky than anything else. I still love having them, but I rarely get a chance to use them.
Cons: The keyboard. It's my biggest gripe out of all the gripes I've ever griped. The stock Samsung keyboard does not have auto-correct. What kind of idiot doesn't include auto correct at LEAST as an option?! It has predictive text. Which says "hey, is this what you mean?" but doesn't actually change the word for you. It's frustrating.
Here is an example text I sent: "but omg it sucks heliy valks it doedntcautocoredct anythinf! As h xan see!"
Translation: "But omg it sucks jelly balls it doesnt auto correct anything! As you can see!"
I was finally able to fix this problem by circumventing the keyboard entirely and downloading another one called "TouchPal". It has predictive text, auto-correct, AND spellcheck. My best friend. lol
The buttons to the left and right of the home button. They drive me nuts. I went from having actual buttons, to ones you just brush in order to activate. It's cool for your TV, but on the phone it's annoying. I accidentally brush these buttons constantly. You can't hold onto the bottom of the phone without touching one.
The sound options. You would think it would be a good thing to have the option to change the volume on several different sounds the phone makes, right? (ringer, notifications, operations, etc), but really, it just makes life more complicated. Facebook Messenger has no options for "sound volume", nor does gmail. And "notifications" on the phone basically just covers text messages, I guess. Turning the main volume down only affects the ringer, so I'm left with extremely loud facebook and gmail notifications. When I'm at work, it would be much easier just to turn the main volume down, and have everything be quiet.
In Conclusion: There are a lot of minor things that I love about this phone that would be too numerous to list here (like the contact list, the stock calendar, the weather app right on your main screen etc), which are probably just as prevalent on other phones close to the S4's caliber. But compared to my old Droid X, this phone is a dream come true. I agree with most of the other reviewers that state "if you're barely upgrading you probably shouldn't bother, but otherwise go for it" because it makes a big difference.