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AP Reviews New Smartphones: Samsung Note And More

â¿¿ Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer

GALAXY S4, SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO.

The S4 is an excellent device from a hardware standpoint. Its 5-inch screen is larger than its predecessor, yet it's a tad lighter and smaller. The display is sharp, at 441 pixels per inch. Samsung packed the Android device with a slew of custom features, including new camera tools and the ability to perform tasks by waving a finger over a sensor. Many of the features, however, make the phone more complicated to use. In some cases, custom features work only some of the time. In other cases, you're confronted with too many ways to do similar things. The S4 might be for you if you don't mind spending time customizing it. Otherwise, you must bypass all the gimmicks to get to what otherwise is a good phone.

â¿¿ Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer

HTC ONE, HTC CORP.

The One is a phone that can match Apple's standards of feel and finish. Plastic and metal are joined together so well that you can't tell by feel where one ends and the other starts. The 4.7-inch screen is also quite a sight, its 468 pixels per inch among the best. Two front-facing speakers give you real stereo sound when turned sideways to watch a movie. HTC's camera has a lower resolution than most. Promises of better low-light shots from its larger sensors only partly delivered. Like other Android phone makers, HTC adds confusion by customizing the interface. There are four different "home" screens from which to launch apps, for instance. The One is worth checking out as an alternative to the Galaxy S4 from Samsung, which also adds complication with its custom features.

â¿¿ Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

GOOGLE PLAY PHONES

Google has worked with both Samsung and HTC to come out with a "Google Play" edition of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One phones. Instead of using customized software from Samsung and HTC, the Google phones run a pure version of Android, as developed by Google. Essentially, the Google versions of these phones are replicas of the originals, with most of the bells and whistles removed. That's a good thing, as many of those "improvements" added to Android by Samsung and HTC actually make the phones more complex to use. The bad news: The Google edition of the S4 sells for $649, while Google's HTC One goes for $599, compared with the $100 to $200 that you can typically get the original models for with a two-year agreement. And the phones don't work on Verizon and Sprint's CDMA networks.

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