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Galaxy S4 Software Differences: Verizon vs. AT&T

galaxy s4 verizon att

With the Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 (quick overview) now in hand, along with its step-brother on AT&T, we decided to take a look at the software each is running to see if there are any major differences. Since Samsung is now releasing one phone in one size on all carriers, with identical specs (at least in the U.S.), we don’t have to worry about comparing hardware. These devices are identical in physical form outside of a logo here or there. But software can certainly differ from one carrier to the next – we have seen that with the Note 2 and even Galaxy S3.

So what’s different? Let’s look. 

About screens

The About screens won’t show any differences other than the model numbers and the slightly newer (by 2 days) kernel in the Verizon version of the device. Each is still running Android 4.2.2 (JDQ39), however, Verizon has chosen to show the hardware version, while AT&T leaves that out.

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Notifications

The notification panels on each will differ ever-so-slightly, and I’d argue for the worse on Verizon’s model. Just as they did with the Note 2 and Galaxy S3, Verizon has removed the WiFi toggle from the quick toggles section of the notification pulldown. Instead, they have placed an ongoing (non-removable) notification reminding you to turn WiFi on whenever you can. I still don’t know how this ongoing notification makes things any easier than a toggle at the top of the device would, but this is what Verizon has chosen to do.

Also, if you flip over to the full list of toggles, you’ll notice that Big Red has removed a couple that are present on AT&T’s Galaxy S4. Toggles for Blocking Mode (we’ll get to this in a second), WiFi, and Air Gesture have all been removed. The first two make sense, but why on Earth they removed the toggle for Air Gesture is beyond me.

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Blocking Mode

Speaking of Blocking Mode, Verizon removed (or at least hid) it again from the GS4, just like they did with the Galaxy Note 2. This is another head scratcher, as Blocking Mode is a great feature that allows you to set your phone to disable calls, notifications, alarms, and the notification light during specific hours.

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Bloatware, App Drawers and Home Screens

When it comes to the bloatware battle, Verizon wins because they are now preloading their phones with the entire suite of Amazon apps. So thanks to those five coming pre-installed, they lay the smackdown on AT&T in terms of un-removable garbage that no one in this world wants to see installed on their phone.

Some other things that you’ll notice being different have to do with the way the phone handles transitions. On the AT&T version (and all other versions to my knowledge), Samsung uses an infinite scroll, meaning whether or not you are on your home screen or in the app drawer, you can continue to swipe even as you approach the last page – you’ll simply return to the start or next home screen. With the Verizon version, they have taken away the infinite scroll and instead stop you at the end of each app drawer or home screen. It’s a subtle difference, but something that stood out from the moment I fired up the phone.

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Subtle Text Changes

Throughout the device, you’ll see subtle text changes on buttons or in areas that the AT&T or international variants may not have. For example, if you long press on the Home button to get into the task switcher, you’ll see that the Verizon version displays text for “Task manager,” “Google,” and “Close all,” where as the AT&T version shows logos for each button.

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“Starter” Mode

The other difference I was able to find was the name of the basic home screen mode on the phone. Samsung and every other carrier on the planet are calling it “Easy” mode, but Verizon went ahead and had it changed to “Starter” mode. There really seems to be no point to this change other than some marketing guy with a big title at Verizon HQ thinking “Starter” makes more sense to a new user than “Easy” does.

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Missing Apps

The Verizon version does not have the Samsung Optical Reader app, Samsung Apps (store), or ChatON. The rest of the Samsung apps appear to be there.

So outside of those minor changes, you won’t find many other differences between these two devices. All of the gestures, Air View stuff, camera enhancements, and power are the same on both.

  • chelsea

    Verizon also removed half of the camera modes that are offered on other networks. Feel like I’m being ripped off to have a Verizon phone

  • Mariojp

    How can we, as consumers and some long time Verizon customers, DEMAND that they (Verizon) change some of the features differenced you pointed out? I for one would REALLY like to have the optical reader option and the blocking mode.
    I was able to install the Samsung Apps from the Samsung website; however, when I attempted to install the Optical Reader I received a message saying that the app cannot run on my galaxy S4!!! This is trully upseting!!

  • SamsungFTW

    So Verizon “blocked” blocking mode. Great. Now how the **** am I supposed to turn it OFF!?

  • Richard Yarrell

    Piss on Verizon and it’s comical changes. Anything to make something seem less than it’s crappy Droid line up of devices. Verizon always has been a sad conclusion from a carrier standpoint. What they did to the Galaxy Note 2 last year was criminal stripping out functionality in the Multi Window feature as well as all the other comical changes which are beyond unnecessary. This is what people love to pay for on Verizon where the carrier thinks they are the manufacturer and decides to strip out whatever features they please. Then people walk around actually thinking Verizon is the place to be. Verizon sucks monkey balls and is the WORST CARRIER IN THE CARRIER GAME.

  • Avery Dejuan Herron

    I hate that on going notification for wifi its stupid and should be there.

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    My God Touchwiz is awful.

  • misterE33

    dang, guys. i voluntarily installed all of those amazon apps :(

  • Brian P.

    I’ve noticed the optical reader is not working or not available with the Verizon S4…Anyone else noticed this? If so, what’s the deal?

  • eddy

    “un-removable garbage that no one in this world wants to see installed on their phone”…..that made me lol…

  • Will Frame

    Verizon: Ruining Android Smartphones since 2009.

    • Mark Mann

      i dunno…the og droid was a pretty b.a. smartphone, some would argue one of the best ever…that was on verizon…

      • Will Frame

        That’s actually why I said “since 2009″. That was when the Origina Droid was released. I had it and it was before Verizon started putting in all of their bloatware and taking away features.

        • T4rd

          So you should have said 2010 since Verizon didn’t add any bloat or remove any functionality to the OG Droid =p. They started doing that in 2010 with the Incredible and locked bootloaders with the Droid X and Droid 2.

        • Mark Mann

          i also had it in ’09…held onto it until 2012…there wasn’t a phone worth upgrading to until the razr came out(my opinion only)…

  • BulletTooth_Tony

    Did they disable the… uhhh… Disable option in the Apps setting like they’ve been doing on other phones to prevent bloat removal?

  • Tim242

    The at&t version has the ongoing WiFi notification as well. I tested it a few weeks back.

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      No it doesn’t. There’s a notification when it’s on and connected to something. Verizon’s is constantly there, on or off.

  • http://twitter.com/vdefender Taylor A.

    An important thing to keep in mind here (not that I’m supporting Verizon) Is that these differences we are seeing, could be choices from either carrier. I definitely agree that adding the persistant wifi toggle was verizons choice they’ve always done that crap. But some of the text changes could have been either party. Maybe samsungs base software had it labeled as “starter mode” which was a mad translation to english, and AT&T spotted that and has them change it to “Easy mode.” So any of these alterations could have come from either side, you cant look at each difference and say that verizon chose it. Now if you line up the Sprint version the AT&T version the T-Mobile version and the verizon version and confirm that 3 out of 4 have the same feature, and the 4th doesn’t,

    • jmwinters

      Considering some of these features Samsung is advertising (just saw a commerical for “Easy mode” in fact) i would be willing to wager that Verizon initiated all of these changes for their phone only.

  • Bionic

    Kellex, we need LTE battery life test

  • droidftw

    Verizon’s WiFi toggle doesn’t make it any easier. They just don’t want you on their network.

  • droidftw

    Verizon’s WiFi toggle doesn’t make it any easier. They just don’t want you on their network.

    • Bionic

      just use HD widgets toggle

      • Nathan D

        Power Toggles and Notification Toggle are much better apps.

  • brkshr

    This is all Verizon thinking they know what’s best for us. As for the wifi notification. I’m gonna guess that they just want people off of their wireless network whenever possible.

  • brkshr

    This is all Verizon thinking they know what’s best for us. As for the wifi notification. I’m gonna guess that they just want people off of their wireless network whenever possible.

  • BeardedB

    Verizon S4 has Hispanic Mode under their toggles. Press it and S Voice and Google Now have Jennifer Lopez voice overs. In the Viva Movil version, Hispanic Mode is unremovable.

    • EC8CH

      J Lo picked out these fonts by the way…

    • EC8CH

      J Lo picked out these fonts by the way…

      • BeardedB

        Same brand Consuela uses to clean the kitchen counters.

        • jadezakozyl

          мy вeѕт ғrιeɴd’ѕ ѕтep-ѕιѕтer мαĸeѕ $68 нoυrly oɴ тнe coмpυтer. ѕнe нαѕ вeeɴ oυт oғ α joв ғor ɴιɴe мoɴтнѕ вυт lαѕт мoɴтн нer pαyмeɴт wαѕ $16515 jυѕт worĸιɴɢ oɴ тнe coмpυтer ғor α ғew нoυrѕ. ɢo тo тнιѕ weв ѕιтe αɴd reαd мore Zap2­2­.c­o&shym&shy

        • Marz09

          No clean

      • BeardedB

        Same brand Consuela uses to clean the kitchen counters.

      • Butters619

        Looks legit.

      • Butters619

        Looks legit.

    • brkshr

      Does it add a strip of chrome around the screen?

      • EC8CH
      • EC8CH
      • BeardedB

        Yes with a big Rhimestone instead of a home button.

      • BeardedB

        Yes with a big Rhimestone instead of a home button.

      • slik101

        Is that a hispanic stereotype? I’ve been mexican for 20 years and have never heard that..

        • BeardedB

          What were you before the 20 years?

          • wamper

            lmao

        • brkshr

          In the Central Valley, Cali, yes it is.

        • Eric

          In the west coast and southwest it is a very hispanic (typically Mexican) thing to do. Not sure how them east coast hispanics do things though.

        • mcdonsco

          Everywhere ive seen yes, its a mexican thing to clean out the accessories section of auto parts stores.

          like bearded, I too would like to know what you were before being mexican?

      • Brian P.

        No, but the new S-Whipe feature is a welcomed addition!!

    • brkshr

      Does it add a strip of chrome around the screen?

    • paul_cus

      You win, sir.

  • BeardedB

    Verizon S4 has Hispanic Mode under their toggles. Press it and S Voice and Google Now have Jennifer Lopez voice overs. In the Viva Movil version, Hispanic Mode is unremovable.

  • EC8CH

    Someone remind me again why the tube my 1’s and 0’s travel through should have a say in how the OS on my phone works.

  • EC8CH

    Someone remind me again why the tube my 1’s and 0’s travel through should have a say in how the OS on my phone works.

  • viewthis66

    WTF Big Red!?!?!?! i’m sick of them pulling the F@#king WiFi toggle!!!

  • viewthis66

    WTF Big Red!?!?!?! i’m sick of them pulling the F@#king WiFi toggle!!!

    • BroRob

      U mad Bro?

  • http://twitter.com/howzball Mike

    One thing that works on the Verizon model is FoxFi which is nice. Try sharing your unlimited 4g on your AT&T S4.

    • Futbolrunner

      Oh snap! Now that I like

    • Futbolrunner

      Oh snap! Now that I like

    • Chris

      one of the first things i put on my vzw s4 today…. was very pleased to see it work without any issues

      • Guest
    • Will Frame

      It’s simple. There are two options for the AT&T model: Elixer Widget and ES File explorer. Neither requires root and both are free.

      • bionicwaffle

        No, neither is a replacement for FoxFi. I just tried them both and all they do is try to enable the built-in tethering. At least on Verizon they both fail because this causes a subscription status check.

        FoxFi does the tethering on its own. No, this is not illegal. At least on Verizon, because of an LTE band they acquired and restrictions that were part of the deal Verizon may not block tethering apps or force you to pay for tethering – though they can still make it a little bit of a pain if you don’t pay.

    • DanSan

      good to hear about foxfi, especially for those with unlimited. was about to install it

  • http://twitter.com/howzball Mike

    One thing that works on the Verizon model is FoxFi which is nice. Try sharing your unlimited 4g on your AT&T S4.

  • Christopher Heuer

    No wonder Verizon updates phones so slowly, they have to make annoying changes such as these before approving it.

  • Christopher Heuer

    No wonder Verizon updates phones so slowly, they have to make annoying changes such as these before approving it.

    • michael arazan

      It’s like the way HTC has to over complicate android with sense, they think different

      There’s an old saying my grandfather taught me as a child, “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”

      • George264

        The only thing that HTC “complicates” is with the button layout. If you were actually using the phone it takes 3-4 hours to get used to. It’s not the best thing, but it’s easily livable. It’s like the way Touchwiz looks. It’s not the best thing, but using it for a LONG time, you’ll get used to it. It’s butt ugly, but it’s fuctional

  • tu3218

    I hate Verizon and I hate giving them my money. They are just a bunch of arrogant morons with too much power. The changes they made on the sgs4 are asinine and make everything more difficult rather than easy.

  • tu3218

    I hate Verizon and I hate giving them my money. They are just a bunch of arrogant morons with too much power. The changes they made on the sgs4 are asinine and make everything more difficult rather than easy.

  • braves

    On the Galaxy S3, when I launch applications like Facebook or Email or even Chrome (list is endless) in the 4G LTE network, there is a 1/2 sec lag! On Wifi, these apps open instantaneously. I didn’t see this in the AT&T and Sprint Versions. Did you notice this on the S4 as well?

    • Stephen Freeman

      Why the hell is this? I’m so torn and discouraged form buying another android phone with Verizon. Then again I can’t leave their network due to where I live! I experience this lag with my GNEX and my wife gets it on her RZR MAXX HD.

    • Stephen Freeman

      Why the hell is this? I’m so torn and discouraged form buying another android phone with Verizon. Then again I can’t leave their network due to where I live! I experience this lag with my GNEX and my wife gets it on her RZR MAXX HD.

      • nate

        Are you running stock android on your GNEX? I just tested this with mine (CM 10.1 RC2) and there was no difference in opening times of chrome, email, or gmail when the phone was on WiFi vs 4g.

      • nate

        Are you running stock android on your GNEX? I just tested this with mine (CM 10.1 RC2) and there was no difference in opening times of chrome, email, or gmail when the phone was on WiFi vs 4g.

        • Stephen Freeman

          I am running stock android. I went back due to the need to properly test the accessibility features for my job. I have not tried CM though. Will installing that ROM require me to wipe my phone? Wife can’t complain too much, she does not run as many apps as I do and her phone last a full 2 days without charging (She likes to rub it in my face everytime -_-).

        • Stephen Freeman

          I am running stock android. I went back due to the need to properly test the accessibility features for my job. I have not tried CM though. Will installing that ROM require me to wipe my phone? Wife can’t complain too much, she does not run as many apps as I do and her phone last a full 2 days without charging (She likes to rub it in my face everytime -_-).

          • nate

            I think your phone gets completely wiped when you unlock the bootloader, and you have to do a factory reset before installing CM. I just backed up the whole /sdcard folder onto my computer before i did anything.

            Both times when i wiped the phone, all of my apps automatically downloaded (Im not sure if this is a just a feature of having your Google ID synced with your phone, or if it’s something you have to turn on) as soon as i turned the phone on. I had to re-enter all of my usernames and passwords into the apps though.

            I bought a couple extra batteries that came with a charger from amazon, and that’s the only way my phone can make it through the day lol. normally I only go through one and a half in a day, but having three is definitely nice.

          • Stephen Freeman

            Yeah I bought a bigger batter, 2300map? It was an upgrade form the 1800 that came with the phone. Bought me 2 hours. Thanks for the tips, Ill try some out and see how I do. Last question, will I lose accessibility feature with CM?

          • nate

            What accessibility feature(s) in particular? There are quite a few available on CM. I’m pretty sure everything in stock android is in CM.

          • Stephen Freeman

            Its the feature that are the blind, deaf and Hard of hearing. I test alot of these feature for my job.

          • nate

            I mean what options under the accessibility section in the settings app do you need?

          • Stephen Freeman

            Mainly the screen reader and touch feedback. I doubt I have to worry about the cameras for the deaf and hard of hearing.

          • nate

            They seem to be there but they might be a little buggy. When i click on TalkBack, a popup comes up and says that it forced closed, but then it starts reading me my volume levels and it is running in the background lol… you might want to stay away if you depend on those features. Its still not a final release, though. Not even sure if the devs know about this bug (unless it’s just my phone)

          • SkylaC90

            try Paranoid Android, AOKP, or XenonHd those roms are awesome. btw switching between roms will require a clean install otherwise your gonna bootloop or worst. remember no matter how much it sux to always always always make a backup.

      • SkylaC90

        man i feel your pain, if not for my unlimited plan i’d have left there ass a long time ago to teach them a lesson, but seeing as how they always add 2 million new customers here and there. they don’t really give a F@ck about me. so every month I try to use 200gb or more of data (finally succeeded last month) that way at least some of money i’m dishing out is worth it.

        • slik101

          don’t they throttle you? Seems like it would take a lifetime to reach 200gb on throttled speeds…unless you’re referring to their home internet service

          • Tom

            I don’t use as much as him, but I’ve never noticed Verizon throttling my phone. I average around 32 gigs a month and torrents are always downloading around 1.5-2MB/s

          • Brian P.

            No throttling…. I tether EVERYTHING from my GNex and have reached 100GB/month twice, but normally average about 30. Can’t complain because my service has been flawless for years!

  • elemeno

    Ugh, thanks for reminding me why I won’t be getting this phone. TouchWiz looks gross and Verizon bloatware is annoying. Just fell in love with my GNex again.

    • WickedToby741

      I’m keeping a close eye on that Nexus edition S4. Great specs, updates straight from Google, zero bloat, and a choice between T-Mobile or AT&T with LTE support.

      • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

        As soon as they port the Nexus S4 ROM to Verizon, and i get to keep my unlimited, I’m dropping full price on that bitch!

        • WickedToby741

          Well it won’t be a straight port strictly speaking, but it should help immensely with driver support. The only thing the community would need to hack to get it to work would be the radios.

  • elemeno

    Ugh, thanks for reminding me why I won’t be getting this phone. TouchWiz looks gross and Verizon bloatware is annoying. Just fell in love with my GNex again.

  • Blue Sun

    I’m sure you’ll notice a difference in the way Google Wallet behaves on the two devices.

  • http://twitter.com/imnuts07 Mark

    Blocking mode may not be there because it does not work properly with VZWs network. Or, they want you to pay to block people’s calls.

    • LionStone

      I can block calls on my stock DNA…and if you use Google Voice, you can block calls that way too.

  • Blue Sun

    I’m sure you’ll notice a difference in the way Google Wallet behaves on the two devices.

    • titaniumweasel

      You can’t use Wallet on AT&T either, Verizon just gets called out on it because they’re legally required to not block any apps or hardware as part of a condition of them buying the spectrum their LTE currently resides on from the US government.

  • http://twitter.com/imnuts07 Mark

    Blocking mode may not be there because it does not work properly with VZWs network. Or, they want you to pay to block people’s calls.

  • trwb

    It’s kind of a given that a Verizon version of a phone is a little lesser than the same model phone unlocked or on a different carrier.

  • trwb

    It’s kind of a given that a Verizon version of a phone is a little lesser than the same model phone unlocked or on a different carrier.

  • T4rd

    There’s no excuse, but I really want to know their logic behind removing the WiFi toggle and blocking mode. I’m disappointed that Samsung kneels to them when they request these nonsensical modificaitons. Verizon needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Verizon, esp. since Verizon screwed themselves out of the One.

    More reason to root. No way I would have kept my Note 2 if I wasn’t able to put the International Note 2s ROM on it to make it as Samsung intended.

    • ARP

      Probably because it’s more annoying to users, so they’re more likely to turn on wi-fi, thereby easing the load on Verizon’s network.

    • ARP

      Probably because it’s more annoying to users, so they’re more likely to turn on wi-fi, thereby easing the load on Verizon’s network.

      • WickedToby741

        Seems like the next logical step for Verizon is to simply remove the ability to turn Wi-Fi off. I wouldn’t put it past them. And we wonder why Google doesn’t want to make another Verizon Nexus

        • chris125

          actually the logical step if verizon wanted more money would make wifi harder to access so that users had a hard time finding it thus using more data and getting overage charges. This is actually counterproductive from a money making stand point.

          • sgtguthrie

            That’s what they used to do…WAY back they were really stingy with the WiFi…

        • http://profiles.google.com/cory.simpson Cory Simpson

          It’s ironic being Verizon use to permanently disable WiFi radios on phones back in the day to force you to get a dataplan.

      • WickedToby741

        Seems like the next logical step for Verizon is to simply remove the ability to turn Wi-Fi off. I wouldn’t put it past them. And we wonder why Google doesn’t want to make another Verizon Nexus

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.wray Jeremy Wray

        But they can’t charge you fee’s for overages that way.

    • sgtguthrie

      To give people like you and me another reason to root and rom it (as if we needed one)…lol!

  • T4rd

    There’s no excuse, but I really want to know their logic behind removing the WiFi toggle and blocking mode. I’m disappointed that Samsung kneels to them when they request these nonsensical modificaitons. Verizon needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Verizon, esp. since Verizon screwed themselves out of the One.

    More reason to root. No way I would have kept my Note 2 if I wasn’t able to put the International Note 2s ROM on it to make it as Samsung intended.

  • Caleb Martin

    I like the text vs. icons in the task switcher. I hate icons, especially when they’re like that… pie charts? How in the world am I supposed to guess “task manager” from that? The “close all” icon isn’t much better.

    • XBIRDIE98

      Hm… They (the logo versions) look like action buttons… Do they give tooltips on long press? Icons with tooltips would be consistent with the rest of Android’s Holo UI.

      • WickedToby741

        Maybe not on long presses, but probably on hovers.

  • XBIRDIE98

    Odd difference in “a” vs. “the” in the “Standard mode” text blurb. I’m not sure which one is more correct.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Heh that is different…so random.

      • XBIRDIE98

        More: AT&T has NFC Forum logo in Quick Settings & Statusbar, while VZW replaces it in the Quick Settings and I’m not sure if its in the statusbar.
        I see AT&T is still doing the “make everything the iPhone, show AT&T everywhere thing” with the carrier label in statusbar.
        Also, What’s the Box in the VZW statusbar?
        (The more I look at this the more nutty it gets!)

        • Christopher Heuer

          That box in the VZW statusbar looks like either a missing sim card or missing sd card notification.

          VZW also removed the “Smart Stay” quick setting tile.

        • Christopher Heuer

          That box in the VZW statusbar looks like either a missing sim card or missing sd card notification.

          VZW also removed the “Smart Stay” quick setting tile.

          • Chris

            Thought the same thing. They didn’t. They just re-arranged everything in a stupid order. Look on the first row on the Verizon picture for the “Smart Stay” quick setting.

    • dirty_vato

      Grammar Nazi here, neither one is “more correct” but rather just a preference of noun determiners . ‘A’ would notate non-specific or a generalized idea of “standard mode”, while ‘the’ can mark a specific/singular “standard mode.”

      Tldr; grammars.

      • XBIRDIE98

        Awesome. Thanks!

  • coolsilver

    That AT&T logo looks off center from the camera. Might be just an illusion though.

    • Chris

      Nope… you’re smoking crack :p