Throughout the lifetime of Samsung’s Galaxy S line, one of the biggest complaints levied against the manufacturer was — and is — how its plastic construction and flimsier-looking industrial design fall short compared with premium rivals from Apple and HTC.
No, Samsung sticks by plastic, and points to only a handful of Android enthusiasts who really care about vaunted materials like aluminum and glass. Yet the phone maker has also made an effort to add more “refined” touches to the Galaxy S4.
Indeed, when you compare the S3 and S4 side by side, you note a more rectangular home button, and metallic accents around the rim. The S4’s 5-inch screen is taller and the bezel surrounding the display slimmer. Its volume and power/lock buttons are metallic-looking polycarbonate, and tooled to have slanted sides and a flat top. Look closely, and you’ll see that the gaps around these controls are narrower, too.
The GS4’s metallic spines are also reworked to be steeper and less curved than the Galaxy S3. In fact, while Samsung boasted its GS3 was inspired by nature, the GS4’s straight sides seem to be inspired by the iPhone 5 or HTC One.
At 5.4 inches tall by 2.8 inches by 0.3 inch thick, the Galaxy S4 is actually 0.7 millimeter thinner than GS3, and at 4.6 ounces, it’s 0.7 ounce lighter as well. Yet, the S3 and S4 generations still look so similar, you might not know the difference if you’re not looking closely. When in doubt, flip the S4 over to see the new tiny black-and-silver diamond design on the black mist model, or a similar pinprick design on the white frost edition. As with the Galaxy S3’s brushed-plastic backing, the newer generation is so reflective, you could use it as a makeshift mirror.