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iFixit tears into the Samsung Galaxy S4

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It's simple to crack open the Samsung Galaxy S4 and peer inside.

While we've been starting to test the camera capabilities of the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 review unit we just got our hands on (don't miss our super shootout which puts the S4 up against the HTC One, iPhone 5 and Nokia Lumia 920), the folks at iFixit.com have been tearing theirs apart.

The iFixit crew cracked open the S4 to see what its inner workings tell us about the latest flagship phone from Samsung, and how easily it may be repaired. The S4 came through iFixit's teardown with flying colors, receiving an 8 out of 10 repairability score for its replaceable battery and straightforward disassembly.

The removable battery is a boon to customers and the environment.
The rear-facing camera boasts 13 megapixels.
The 2-megapixel front-facing camera is utilized by the S4's new Dual Shot mode that lets users insert a smaller-sized image or video into the primary image.

Amongst iFixit's findings: 

  • As expected, the device is quite similar to the previous model, the Galaxy S3. 
  • You can trick the S4's Smart Pause feature. This new function detects if you've taken your face away from the screen during video playback, and if so, pauses the action for you. The iFixit team found a photo of your face will also do the trick.
  • A removable battery ups the S4's repairability factor.
  • Samsung has opted for a rear-facing camera boasting 13 megapixels. It also sports the now-standard LED flash, a back-illuminated sensor, and the ability to record full 1080p HD video at 30 fps.
  • The daughterboard is home to a full-featured micro USB port. With MHL and USB OTG support, users can use this port for HDMI output and USB peripherals in addition to charging and transferring data.
  • The touchscreen controller, a Synaptics S5000B, is hiding behind the screen. This chip is responsible for the S4's super-sensitive touchscreen, which even works with gloves.

You can check out the full teardown on iFixit's website. We'll share our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 on Connect soon, until then, see our first hands-on review of the device.

Comments

Total comments: 55
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Apr 30, 2013)

Refreshing.

If this was Mac Rumours, we'd have 400 posts from 400 people explaining how good the iPhone is because it doesn't have the option to replace the battery, and how crap the Samsung is because it does!!!

Personally I love both the removable battery and wireless charging; just this (IMO) BIG convenience is enough to make me chose one phone over another ... unless of course you're an iSheep LOL ... where yet again, Apple not offering wirelesses charging is a benefit over other phones that do.

You know its true!!!!

1 upvote
danijel973
By danijel973 (Apr 28, 2013)

The removable batteries are generally preferrable but generally speaking, I would be satisfied knowing that a battery *can* be replaced at a dealership or a service center. It's not such a big deal if it *can* be replaced at all. But if it can't, then it's a big no-no.

0 upvotes
yitwave
By yitwave (Apr 29, 2013)

Removable batteries are cheaper to replace and easier to find. What if you don't live next to the apple store? How much do you enjoy waiting in line for hours at a service centre? It IS A BIG DEAL.

5 upvotes
Martin_PTA
By Martin_PTA (Apr 29, 2013)

Couldn't agree more! A fixed built-in battery to me is a deal-breaker. If I cannot replace the battery myself I don't take the phone, period!

2 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (Apr 30, 2013)

It's not a big deal when you don't replace them for 2-3 years. Are you saying that in 2-3 years you have not once been near an Apple store? And lets get real here - how many phones have you used for more than three years anyway?

The only time a replaceable battery is useful is someplace like a plane where you are out of power for a while. But even then an external battery pack takes up no more space than a spare battery.

0 upvotes
boogielazy
By boogielazy (Apr 30, 2013)

about Charging on the go, It's inconvenience to bring charger with the wireless than small slim extra battery in my pocket

0 upvotes
JohnMcL7
By JohnMcL7 (May 3, 2013)

A li-ion battery is highly unlikely to last anywhere near three years, even two years old retaining full performance is unlikely and in practice I find on many batteries (Apple included) 12-18 months is about as much as you can expect before performance drops. Hence the manufacturers only warranty the battery for 12 months or even 6 months, bearing in mind most phones are now on a two year contract that means the battery is likely to need replaced at least once.

With a removable battery you can pre-empt a failure with a spare backup battery so when it does bite the dust, it's no inconvenience. External battery packs are much larger than a spare battery and far less convenient as they have to remain attached to the device for over an hour, a spare battery can be swapped over in around 60 seconds and then the phone is back to normal with no wires needing to hang off it.

1 upvote
Josegaut
By Josegaut (Jun 7, 2013)

Fully agree. I could use my Samsung Galaxy Note (1.5 year old) until 5 days without recharging. I don't know if the recent update to Android 4.2 is the reason for a higher power consumption but it's now difficult to last much more than 3 days with one charge.

It would really be a PITA for me to go to an Apple store (there is absolutely none close to where I live) and it's sooooo easy to order a battery on the net (19 EUR + freight, not a big deal) and replace it myself.

There's no way I would buy an iPhone for many reasons, but that one is really a decisive one.

0 upvotes
tocar
By tocar (Apr 28, 2013)

A user replaceable battery is much better than a built-in one as it's easy to replace. With built in batteries you have to bring it to the store to be replaced and hopefully they have the battery on hand otherwise you have to wait for one.

3 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (Apr 28, 2013)

and the purpose of iFixit is what exactly?

0 upvotes
Essai
By Essai (Apr 28, 2013)

take a guess, if you cant find it, we will help you

4 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Apr 28, 2013)

I think their analysis is used by insurers - the more trouble a phone is to fix, the more you will pay to insure it against breakage, other things being equal...

0 upvotes
dccdp
By dccdp (Apr 28, 2013)

Deep. Maybe your next question should be "and the purpose of science is what exactly?". That will nicely wrap up things for you.

5 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (Apr 27, 2013)

What is this talk of built in batteries are better than ones you can replace.......I bet the people in favour would say different if for instance the Nikon D600 had a built in battery.

I'm an iPhone user and it would be great of I could put another battery in the phone when needed.

Remember the Nokia 6310? Why can't we have smart phones with batteries like that...........

2 upvotes
Jakob Varming
By Jakob Varming (Apr 28, 2013)

I loved my Nokia 6310i... what a great phone, but small in size.

0 upvotes
Bruce Clarke
By Bruce Clarke (Apr 29, 2013)

Still got my 6310i, and the battery still holds charge. However, the screen resolution was 1.5" 96x65 mono. The S4 5" 1920x1080 colour screen and maybe a thousand times the processing power uses vastly more power!

0 upvotes
JohnMcL7
By JohnMcL7 (May 3, 2013)

I think Motorola have been producing thicker smartphones with particularly high capacity batteries at the cost of thickness but the 6310 was obviously a very low power device in comparison to modern smartphones.

0 upvotes
mrsfixit
By mrsfixit (Apr 27, 2013)

I don't know if all their stores do this- but my local Best Buy has bins inside the store for customers to drop off batteries for recycling.
They take all kinds of batteries too.
Since I go to BB often, I have found this to be a really handy way to recycle old batteries. Too bad all stores don't do this.

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Apr 28, 2013)

so, if it is an HTC One battery, you have to dump the whole phone in the bin ;)

0 upvotes
knize10
By knize10 (Apr 27, 2013)

And why would one want to repair a landfill tossable piece of electronic?. Just get a new Made In China one.

0 upvotes
Goodmeme
By Goodmeme (Apr 27, 2013)

Are you joking? This will retail at ~500 euros. Just being able to replace the battery easily means it might last 5 or more years versus just 2; typically rechargeables lose their charge after repeated use; they're not eneloops :).

Incidentally I had to have my Samsung screen replaced due to a defect - they automatically have a 2 year warranty - so I just took it to a Samsung registered service centre and got it done for free. They bill Samsung. They wouldn't have been able to do that if it had been hard to repair. They'd have had to send it to Samsung lab, like they have to do for motherboard replacement, meaning 2 weeks without the phone.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Apr 27, 2013)

Anyone else here that hates phone manufacturers calling the led LIGHT "led flash" ?

3 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Apr 27, 2013)

It's used as the camera's flash so why not call it what it does?

4 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Apr 27, 2013)

no

2 upvotes
tocar
By tocar (Apr 28, 2013)

It's an LED and a flash so what's wrong with LED flash? What would you suggest?

1 upvote
WarthFire GTX
By WarthFire GTX (Apr 28, 2013)

Hold on a sec, let me just turn on my torch.

Erm, what?

Yeah, my torch. I call it a torch because I don't like the idea of it being called an LED flash.

1 upvote
Mark B.
By Mark B. (Apr 28, 2013)

It's a flash that uses LED. What is there to hate?

2 upvotes
herworsehalf
By herworsehalf (May 1, 2013)

Hmm, maybe because it doesn't flash?

0 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Apr 27, 2013)

The Samsung phone is so so.

Who cares if it's easily repairable?

4 upvotes
atlien991
By atlien991 (Apr 27, 2013)

You sound like someone who hasn't owned many smartphones

13 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Apr 27, 2013)

most important feature. I hate to go to the service center

1 upvote
bikinchris
By bikinchris (May 21, 2013)

The Samsung phone is so-so compared to WHAT?

0 upvotes
Couscousdelight
By Couscousdelight (Apr 27, 2013)

The crazy fact is that it looks like a progress to have a removable battery.
thank you apple...

14 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Apr 27, 2013)

Actually rapid charging and integrated battery is the way of the future. Think of all the new ultrabook, electric car and tablets, all integrated battery.

2 upvotes
Jakob Varming
By Jakob Varming (Apr 28, 2013)

Just because some companies decide to make integrated batteries, does not make it the smart or wise choice and battery driven electric cars all have replaceable batteries.

7 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (Apr 30, 2013)

If battery driven electric cars have replaceable batteries, then so does EVERY battery powered electronic device ever made, including the iPhone - because just like the iPhone you are going into a dealer to change out the VERY LARGE battery pack in an electric car.

0 upvotes
Laurie Wilson
By Laurie Wilson (Apr 27, 2013)

It's great to hear that the S4 is easy to repair.

Hopefully Samsung will be able to provide a better repair service than they currently offer. My S3 is currently challenging their technicians, although I am starting to suspect they are targeted on turnaround rather than whether it works or not when returned.

Three mobile have become so frustrated with Samsungs repair capabilities that they have taken themselves out of the loop and insist that customers grapple with Samsung themselves. They refuse any loan phone during the painful process no matter how many phones or how good a contract you have with them. Bear this in mind when choosing your supplier.

4 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Apr 27, 2013)

Interesting observation. If the repair is under warranty (i.e. the phone developed a fault, not that you dropped it), then your claim is against the supplier, it is their porblem, and they can not fob you off with the manufacturer.

1 upvote
mrsfixit
By mrsfixit (Apr 26, 2013)

I think the removable battery is great.
Most people who have cell phones do NOT have multiple batteries for them. You use the battery that's in the phone until it starts to die, then replace it.
With devices with integrated batteries- you have to toss out the device.
It makes no sense to throw a whole device out- one that may still work perfectly and still suit your needs- just because the battery wore out.

9 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Apr 27, 2013)

Maybe Samsung ought to talk up the green benefits? It would be a point that many other makes could not compete on.

3 upvotes
atlien991
By atlien991 (Apr 27, 2013)

Agreed. But the manufacture of electronics is so ecologically destructive that none of the phone companies want to get into that conversation. They lose no matter what.

3 upvotes
ptodd
By ptodd (Apr 27, 2013)

Well, a device like the Nexus 4 apparently only requires removing a couple of screws to get at the battery. If changing the battery is just a one-off when the old one dies, then that level of accessibility is fine.

3 upvotes
shigzeo ?
By shigzeo ? (Apr 27, 2013)

The only thing about removable batteries is: customers probably won't recycle them properly. I would imagine no more than 20% would take them to a proper storage facility. Most will end up in landfills. I can't see how that is more 'green' than having the company recycle the parts for you. Time-consuming yes, but certainly more green.

2 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Apr 27, 2013)

That's not certainly something new.

@shigzeo
If one doesn't know that a battery should be disposed in a certain way, then they will also throw their iSomething in the garbage.
That way your hypothetical landfill is also full of smartphones (and all the related elements and more or less harmful metals) in addition to the batteries...

3 upvotes
mrsfixit
By mrsfixit (Apr 27, 2013)

Yes, exactly.
I take really good care of my devices so I get years of service from everything I buy.
My current cell phone is a 6 year old Motorola. It's built like a tank, and I'm on my 4th battery. I'll keep using it until it either dies, or I finally decide to upgrade to a smartphone.

0 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Apr 29, 2013)

although, I have to wonder how many people even stick with a device for so long that the battery goes out. I feel like most people upgrade or something before the battery starts to fail.

Exception for me being my unreliable 2009 white Macbook...little failures everywhere, including a short lifespan battery (without huge numbers of cycles either). Also a cared for adaptor that broke (costs almost as much as the battery to replace, stupid), and chipped off wrist rest area (which apple at least repaired that for free, after i showed them a google search revealing how widespread the problem was).

I digress...

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (Apr 30, 2013)

The reality is that you can use an iPhone for 2-3 years and never replace the battery. Meanwhile, with replaceable batteries I was having to replace them every six months with older cell phones...

So why is it an advantage that you have to replace batteries and in the real world I never do? I'm still using a 3Gs on the original battery from time to time!

Also you are throwing out your dead batteries, where if I had to take a phone into Apple to replace they also would recycle the battery for free.

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Apr 26, 2013)

How is the removable battery a boon to the environment? It promotes copious consumption. People will be multiple back-up battery and never use them. When the phone is outdated all will be throw out. It is not like you can drop in a S3 battery into S4 or S4 into S5.

Integrated battery last longer because it is less affected by the environment and never really discharged. They are also more likely to be recycled with the phone than just sit in a drawer somewhere.

5 upvotes
Duncan Dimanche
By Duncan Dimanche (Apr 26, 2013)

I wish my iPhone 4 could have its battery replaced.
it's a silly thing not being able to.
I agree with mrsfixit.
I'm currently looking for a replacement juste because I spend my day hooking it up to a power outlet...
So waisting a phone because of a battery.... helllllo we are in 2013 !!

8 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Apr 27, 2013)

iPhone 4 replacement battery is between $8 to $15. Don't replace something until it breaks.

9 upvotes
-Teo-
By -Teo- (Apr 27, 2013)

I prefer an external battery. It has a standard USB port so I can charge multiple devices with it.

1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Apr 27, 2013)

Who buys multiple batteries just to put them into a drawer and forget about them? You seem to trying to describe a downside that does not exist.
My phone has a replaceable battery - I certainly have not bought a second battery, but if the original one starts to fade then I will, and so I will put back the day that I have to buy a new phone - big green win. And the old battery can be easily sent to a proper recycling facility.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
13 upvotes
atlien991
By atlien991 (Apr 27, 2013)

The HTC HD2 was originally a Windows 6 phone but devs hacked it to run many versions of Android, Ubuntu, Windows 7, Windows RT and other systems a well. None of this would have happened if the phone couldn't age. And irreplaceable battery phones don't age well at all.

0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Apr 27, 2013)

With replaceble batteries the phone will not be outdated. I use a phone at least for 5-6 years.

2 upvotes
tocar
By tocar (Apr 28, 2013)

A battery is a battery, integrated or not. All batteries needs to be replaced sooner or later and integrated batteries aren't less affected by the environment as opposed to user replaceables. When your integrated battery dies and you have no chargers available you're essentially dead in the water while someone else just changes theirs.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 55
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