Samsung Galaxy S4 Review — The Perfect Phone for Travellers

Crystal review, travel

So the title of this post may be a little over the top, but I’m not going to lie. I love this phone.

I spent hours agonizing and researching phones before our move to Costa Rica. I had a Verizon Android, which wouldn’t transfer to another service provider, so keeping my phone wasn’t an option. I had a million questions. Did I really need a smart phone? If I got a smart phone, did I really need all the bells and whistles? The Chinese brand androids were cheap, would the price justify the quality? Which phones would actually work on Costa Rican and US systems?

Choosing a phone was probably the most stressful part of the whole thing. (Not, you know, the selling all our stuff and moving thousands of miles away to a country where the major language is not English. That’s the easy part.)

I realized my dependency on my smart phone when I accidentally left it at home one day, and then realized the number of times I reached for it to simply take a picture of something. I realized the camera had become one of the features I most used on my phone. Whether it was to take a picture of something cool, or just something I wanted to remember later, but didn’t want to write a note or email myself something that I would probably forget later.

I finally settled on the S4. I had originally wanted the S3 because of the price point, but it turned out that it wouldn’t work with the Costa Rican phone system. Spending more than $400 on a phone was not easy for me. You better believe I also ordered an Otterbox to protect it! I love this phone. It has a lot of nifty add ons, like it’s special air stuff, that I never use. I mean, I played with them for a couple days and then quickly forgot them. The contacts and phones and apps are all standard. No big surprises there.

What do I like about it?

The camera, ya’ll.

The camera is fantastic. I have pulled my big, beautiful Canon DSLR out twice in the month I’ve been here because the camera on the S4 is so fabulous, it’s all I need most of the time.


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20140212_182539_LLS           20140212_205541_Richtone(HDR)            20140208_172425_Richtone(HDR)

The weight

Without the case, it felt like a toy compared to my old Galaxy Nexus with no case. With the case, it’s still a little lighter than the Nexus. And with as thin as the case is, I don’t feel like I’m carrying around a giant brick, even with the overload of padding from the Otterbox.

It works almost anywhere in the world

Want to know if it will work where you are or where your going? Here are the frequency specs for the S4. You can take those numbers, and compare it to the country specifications here.

Frequency Capablity:

2G GSM 850/900/1800/1900
3G HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100

But it won’t be the best for ever…

And I know that. The S5 is supposed to be out soon, bigger, badder, and better than it’s predecessor. But with the price tag that comes with it. I’ll probably stick with the S4 for a year or two, and keep an eye out for new options. But if you’re looking for a phone right now, wait until the S5 comes out to get a price drop on the S4 if you can, then snatch one up.

Where to buy?

I bought mine and Jonathan’s at Amazon*, both from a Amazon fulfillment shipper and directly from a seller. The Amazon fulfillment item was *not* exactly what was advertised. It was advertised as black, International Unlocked, with the Octocore, and came white, T-Mobile Unlocked, with the Snapdragon Quadcore. The one shipped directly from the seller was exactly what was advertised, but took longer to ship.


* This is an affiliate link. If you buy something from Amazon within the next 24 hours after using this link, it will cost you nothing more, but may push a little extra money my way.