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The Samsung Galaxy S 4 is great, but do we all have awe fatigue?

A roundup of early reaction to the GS 4, plus some other Android bits and pieces.

By , Network World
March 21, 2013 02:21 PM ET

Network World - Now that the Galaxy S 4 has finally landed and the Android blogosphere collectively cries out for something else to obsess over, it's interesting to look at what the reaction to the official unveiling of The Next Big Thing™©® has been like.

The least surprising part of media reaction to the Galaxy S 4 has been its positivity. One of the only actual negative reviews I could find comes from a website whose name begins with "Cult of" - again, not a humongous surprise.

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But while there are plenty of posts and news articles breathlessly detailing the Galaxy S 4's frankly absurd range of new features, the only slightly less common hands-on and review pieces have tended to be startlingly muted in their praise. The phrase "evolutionary, not revolutionary" crops up time and again.

Slashgear's Vincent Nguyen says "it's clear that Samsung hasn't strayed too far from the formula that made the Galaxy S III so successful." Engadget writes that "we get the sense Samsung could've called this device the GS III Plus."

That's not to say, of course, that there haven't been some raves. BGR says "the Galaxy S 4 the Android smartphone by which all others will be judged in 2013," and Android Central asserts that "it's easily the best all-around smartphone money can buy."

Perhaps the most interesting opinion so far comes from CNET, which calls the Galaxy S 4 "the Gap clothing of smartphones. While you may not use or even like every item on display, it's long on basics, represents a certain high standard, and you'll be able to get it anywhere."

It's important to remember that many of these are preliminary reviews based on limited actual use of the phone - not final judgments. Android Central might decide that, actually, it's not so sure about yet another top-end Samsung flagship being made out of plastic, and Slashgear might realize that some particular combination of goofy new software features actually is revolutionary.

For the moment, though, it's beginning to look like the Galaxy S 4 was a little overhyped. It's a problem that even Apple has had to deal with lately, given that its last two iPhone announcements haven't managed to combine the company's usual deafening level of pre-launch hype with fulsome, messianic critical reviews.

Of course, the iPhone 5 and 4S were still both very good phones, and have sold approximately a bazillion units each, so it's fair to question whether the critics not being as wowed as they could possibly be actually matters that much. However, I'm seeing more and more pieces like this one from the WSJ's tech blog asking whether the pace of innovation is dropping a little in the mobile sector.

I'd put it like this - Apple set the bar incredibly high when it fired the starting gun on the modern smartphone marketplace in 2007, and we got used to each new release actually being revolutionary. Once the Android world got itself sorted out and competitive, we got used to those OEMs consistently turning out something genuinely new and different, as well.

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