After being officially announced by Samsung last month, the Galaxy S4 is due to go on sale in the UK this week. Reviews are already up and below we've compiled five of the best.

JK Shin Galaxy S4 review round up
JK Shin, Samsung's head of mobile, shows off the S4 at the launch event in New York. (Credit: The Guardian)

The general consensus from people who have had hands-on time with S4 seems to be that although it's not a vast change compared to the S3, it's nevertheless an improvement.

At 7.9mm thick and weighing just 130g the S4 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. It also features a larger, better quality display. The S4 screen is 4.99in with a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, compared to the S3's 4.8in screen which had a 1,280 x 720 resolution screen.

These incremental improvements aside, many of the reviews have centred on the S4's bigger, wackier new features.

First is the Dual Camera, which allows you to take two pictures at once using the S4's front and rear mounted cameras. Then there's Air View, which, similar to the Galaxy Note's ability to recognise the stylus without you touching the screen, allows you to preview links and documents without actually touching the S4 with your finger.

Similar to that is Air Gestures, another motion sensitive feature that lets your scroll up and down by waving your hand in front of the S4's display.

Here is our round-up of the five of the best Galaxy S4 reviews:

Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal

Mossberg doesn't believe the Galaxy S4 is going a game-changer:

"I've been testing the Galaxy S4 intensively for four days and while I admire some of its features, overall, it isn't a game-changer. It's an evolution of the prior model and despite some improvements, it still is especially weak in the software Samsung adds to basic Android. I found Samsung's software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional."

He also found those wacky features didn't actually work for him:

"I had almost zero success with a suite of features that claim to take certain actions by detecting whether you're watching the screen. For instance, Smart scroll will scroll the screen based on the angle of your head and Smart pause will stop playing a video when you look away. I only got these to work about 10 percent of the time. Samsung blamed lighting conditions, even though I used it in many settings."

However in terms of hardware, the Galaxy S4 delivers Mossberg says:

"On many key hardware specs, the Galaxy S 4 shines. Its screen and camera resolution beat the iPhone 5's and I found its pictures to be slightly better than those from the Apple phone, which is nearly a year old. Its removable battery gave me a full day of use."

However when it comes to the crunch, Mossberg directs readers towards another Android smartphone:

"I urge readers looking for a new Android smartphone to carefully consider the more polished-looking, and quite capable, HTC One, rather than defaulting to the latest Samsung."

David Pogue at the New York Times

Pogue believes Samsung is playing it safe with the Galaxy S4:

"When it was a distant would-be, Samsung had nothing to lose. 'Let's try making the screen really huge!' 'Let's try hand gestures!' 'Let's try eye recognition!' But now here's the Galaxy S4, the fourth incarnation of Samsung's best-seller. And here's the funny thing: Now Samsung is starting to play it safe."

Pogue adds that the phone could easily be called the Galaxy S3S, such it the minor nature of its update:

"The Galaxy is still a beautiful, high-horsepower Android phone. But basically, it's an updated Galaxy S3. If this were Apple, who adds the letter S to denote a slightly upgraded model ("iPhone 4S," for example), Samsung might have called this phone the Galaxy S3S."

The reviewer highlights the cameras as being a strong feature of the phone:

"The camera is very good, but the 13-megapixel photos are slightly soft and, in low light, grainy. The Camera app has received a makeover, too, following the same feature philosophy: anything goes."

Pogue concludes that the Galaxy S4 is a worthy successor to the hugely popular S3:

"The S4 may be buggy in spots and laden with not-quite-there features. But the basics are excellent; this phone is still a fast, bright, handsome pocket rocket. It easily earns its place as a successor to the Galaxy S3 and a rival to the iPhone."

galaxy s4 review round up

David Pierce at The Verge

While Pierce has no problems with the Galaxy S4 as a piece of hardware engineering, this is no longer the most important thing for a high-end smartphone:

"But part of what has me so excited about the smartphone market is that manufacturers are finally starting to step back from the relentless forward march...I don't need more cores, more gigahertz, or more software features that ostensibly help me use my phone more easily. I need a phone that feels good in my hand, looks good on my desk, does everything I expect it to."

However, the Galaxy S4 falls down when measured against these standards, siding with Mossberg and choosing the HTC One over the Samsung phone:

"If the GS III is any indication, millions upon millions will choose the GS4. Me? I think design matters. Polish matters. The Galaxy S4 is fast and impressive, but it's also noisy and complex. The One is refined, quiet, comfortable, beautiful, and above all simply pleasant. I love using that phone, in a way I haven't experienced with anything since the iPhone 5. That's why, when my contract is up in June, I'll probably be casting my lot with HTC instead of Samsung."

Jessica Dolcourt of CNET

Dalcourt admits some of the features may be pointless, and don't even work in some cases, but in total they do add up to something special:

"It's true: most of the GS4's featurettes aren't essential -- and some aren't even very useful, like the camera's Eraser mode, which I never got to work, a sub-par optical reader, and a translation tool that just duplicates what Google Translate already does. While none stands out as a must-have, cannot-possibly-live-without extra, these features do add up to a compelling testament that the Galaxy S4 is more than a step ahead of the pack."

Dolcourt concludes that if you are looking for the pinnacle of smartphone technology, then you can't look past the Galaxy S4:

"So, if you want a lovingly crafted statement phone that barely strays from Android's core offering, then buy the HTC One, which also has double the internal storage for about the same price. But if you're looking for a superphone that surpasses all other handsets on the features front, then you'll find in this deserving all-around flagship a strong mix of extremely competent hardware and aspirational software with very few major drawbacks."

Galaxy S4 review round up

Jordan Crook of TechCrunch

Crook points out that all these new features could overwhelm the novice user:

"The Galaxy S4 has an easy mode, and more importantly, the Galaxy S4 needs an easy mode. This necessity is a double-edged sword. It means that the technology built into Samsung's latest generation smartphone does things you've never seen before, and maybe couldn't even imagine. However, really using that technology isn't as simple as you might think, and could be downright overwhelming to a novice smartphone user."

Crook finds the design and feel of the Galaxy S4 leaves him cold:

"I can't say the GS4 is revolutionary by any means. It's thin and light, just as it should be, and looks pretty meh. It's made almost entirely of plastic save for a polycarbonate strip that runs along the edge of the phone, and it has a finish that gives the appearance of some texture, but is actually smooth.

He concludes that Samsung needs to take a step back and think about its customers and what they really need:

"As Samsung continues to push the edge of technological innovation, it needs to take a quick breather and, first, think about what truly solves problems for consumers and, second, think about how to take high-level technology and make it easy to use and understand for the user."

If you are thinking of buying the Galaxy S4, we've already rounded-up the best UK deals for the Galaxy S4.