The phone’s screen is a big deal, no doubt, but in my opinion, the other most interesting new real estate lies north of its display.
A 2-megapixel front-facing camera sits in the upper-right corner, neighbored to the left by ambient light and proximity sensors. To the left of the speaker grill is the phone’s IR, or infrared, sensor. There’s also an LED indicator at the top left corner. This will glow or blink green, red, or blue to indicate certain activities.
Sharing the top edge with the phone’s 3.5-millimeter headset jack is the Galaxy S4’s brand-new IR blaster, which you’ll use in conjunction with the Watch On app as a TV remote. All things being equal, I prefer how HTC integrated its IR blaster in the One’s power button.
Below the screen, the home button takes you home (press), launches Samsung’s S Voice app , and loads up recently opened apps. Press and hold the menu button to launch the Google Search app with Google Now. The back button is self-explanatory.
You’ll adjust volume on the left spine, charge the phone from the bottom, and turn the phone on and off from the right spine. On the back, you’ll see the 13-megapixel shooter and LED flash just below. Pry off the back cover to get to the microSD card slot, SIM card slot, and battery.
Sharper edges do make it look like a more premium device than its predecessor, but it won’t ever be as eye-popping as the gorgeous HTC One or as understatedly elegant as the iPhone 5. Still, it’s pleasant to look at and, in my opinion, more comfortable to hold than the other two.