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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review: The Best Android That's Not Nexus

Stocks in this article: GOOGAAPLBBRYNOK

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker, dominating Android and with a tiny market share in Windows 8. The Galaxy S4 is its flagship Android smartphone, going up against the iPhone, Nokia's (NOK) highest-end Windows Phone 8, and BlackBerry.

There are two things almost everyone want to know about the Galaxy S4:

1. How does it compare to the other current ultra-high-end Android smartphone, the HTC One?

2. How does it compare to the Nexus, which is Google's (GOOG) own interpretation of Android?

The Galaxy S4 is made from plastic. If that sounds too proletarian, too unsophisticated for you, just say it is made from polycarbonate.

Unlike the HTC One, which is of similar size, the Galaxy S4 feels reasonably good in the hand. The major distinction vis-a-vis the HTC One is the Galaxy S4 isn't slippery.

I can't emphasize this enough. At least in my book, the first and most important characteristic of any smartphone is that it must feel secure in the hand. There is nothing worse than walking down the street with a smartphone in the hand, hardly being able to concentrate on anything else because it feels as if it may slip out of your hand at any moment.

The Galaxy S4 passes this test; the HTC One doesn't.

Okay, now that I've beaten this horse deep into the ground, what's the next consideration regarding the physics of the Galaxy S4? Well, it's too big.


This is something it has in common with the HTC One, among others. Slippery or not, the fact is that both the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are too big for easy one-hand use.

The scenario is this: Holding the device with one hand and trying to touch something on the screen too far away with your thumb, you risk hitting something else on the screen with the rest of your thumb or where the palm of your hand meets the thumb.

These inadvertent touches lead to errors of various kinds, which then take time to backtrack and resolve. In essence, I think all of these major Android vendors would do themselves a favor by making versions of their flagship phones that have screens between 4.2 inches and 4.5 inches. Screens 4.7 inches to five inches are simply becoming too much, even with thinner bezels.

One can certainly appreciate the ergonomic work done by both Apple (AAPL) and BlackBerry (BBRY), and their 4-inch and 4.2-inch touchscreen smartphones. They feel better in the hand because they conform to realistic use cases.

I am not saying that all of these companies such as HTC and Samsung shouldn't make smartphones sized between 4.7 inches and 6 inches -- as some of them currently are -- but just that they should also make variants containing equally high-end components and resolution screens in the 4.2- to 4.5-inch range.

I have big hands, and I agree that the iPhone is too small with its four-inch screen. However, these other devices from HTC, Samsung, LG and others at 4.7 inches and up are also too big. There is a happy medium, and it is not being properly addressed by most.

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