NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Samsung is the world's largest smartphone maker, dominating Androidand with a tiny market share in Windows 8. The Galaxy S4 is itsflagship 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 Androidsmartphone, the HTC One? 2. How does it compare to the Nexus, which is Google's ( GOOG) owninterpretation 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 feelsreasonably good in the hand. The major distinction vis-a-vis the HTCOne is the Galaxy S4 isn't slippery. I can't emphasize this enough. At least in my book, the first andmost important characteristic of any smartphone is that it must feelsecure in the hand. There is nothing worse than walking down thestreet with a smartphone in the hand, hardly being able to concentrateon anything else because it feels as if it may slip out of your handat 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 thenext consideration regarding the physics of the Galaxy S4? Well, it'stoo 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 aretoo big for easy one-hand use. The scenario is this: Holding the device with one hand and trying totouch something on the screen too far away with your thumb, you riskhitting something else on the screen with the rest of your thumb orwhere the palm of your hand meets the thumb. These inadvertent touches lead to errors of various kinds, which thentake time to backtrack and resolve. In essence, I think all of thesemajor Android vendors would do themselves a favor by making versionsof 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 thinnerbezels. 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. Theyfeel better in the hand because they conform to realistic use cases. I am not saying that all of these companies such as HTC and Samsungshouldn't make smartphones sized between 4.7 inches and 6 inches -- as someof them currently are -- but just that they should also make variantscontaining equally high-end components and resolution screens in the4.2- to 4.5-inch range. I have big hands, and I agree that the iPhone is too small with itsfour-inch screen. However, these other devices from HTC, Samsung, LGand others at 4.7 inches and up are also too big. There is a happymedium, and it is not being properly addressed by most.
Who asked for this? A Martian? No normal person, I suspect. It's asolution in search of a problem. Either way, I doubt than anyonebuying this device will ever use it. There is one of these Samsung-specific features that I thought mightbe useful, however, and that was the ability to split the screen intotwo. In other words, windows! I was looking forward to testing that one. Well, I couldn't figureout how. When Samsung finally invents something that sounds useful onthe software side, it has made it so difficult to find that one wouldhave to read the manual. No, I didn't read the manual. I neverdo. There is one good thing I found in Samsung's software and that is therelatively simple thing of including an extra row -- for numbers -- inthe keyboard. This means that when you enter things such as a username and password, you don't have to switch forth and back betweenmany characters. It saves a lot of time and frustration. Everyoneshould copy this simple thing.