The Samsung Galaxy S4 is bigger, lighter and faster than its predecessor. It's also easier to break, a phone-insurance firm has concluded.

The flagship phone by Samsung Electronics Co. also scored worse than Apple's iPhone 5 in tests in which the phone was dropped and dunked in water, SquareTrade Inc. said today. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being worst, the S4 got a seven, compared with a 6.5 for its older cousin, the S3, and a five for the iPhone.

Samsung is counting on the S4 to help extend the Suwon, South Korea-based company's lead in smartphone sales. The phonemaker had one-third of the global smartphone market in the first quarter -- almost twice the size of Apple's share, research firm Strategy Analytics said last week.

The new Samsung Galaxy S 4 smartphone is launched at the Sydney Opera House on April 23, 2013. GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images
The new Samsung Galaxy S 4 smartphone is launched at the Sydney Opera House on April 23, 2013. GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images ( GREG WOOD )

Whether the S4 is more susceptible to accidents or not, consumers will still be attracted to the phone, said Kevin Roe, an analyst with Roe Equity Research in Dorset, Vermont.

"People want thinner phones and bigger screens," said Roe. "That might trump the concern that the phone is more breakable."

With a 5-inch (13-centimeter) screen and 13-megapixel camera, the S4 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor and also includes new software that responds to gestures and facial movements. The larger display screen and slippery grip made it more susceptible to damage, in part simply because its surface area is bigger, SquareTrade said.


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"While the S4 proved slightly more water resistant than its predecessor the S3, Samsung's new Galaxy phone actually performed worse in most other categories," SquareTrade said in a statement. SquareTrade is a San Francisco-based seller of phone warranties.

Ashley Wimberly, a spokeswoman for Samsung, said she hadn't seen the report and declined to comment.

The phone is getting a mixed reception from reviewers, which may hinder Samsung's ability to build a buzz around it. AllThingsDigital's Walt Mossberg said the Galaxy S4 software is "especially weak," while Bloomberg News's Rich Jaroslovsky called the Galaxy S4 "soulless."

David Pogue at the New York Times said Samsung was "playing it safe," while Mashable's Christina Warren called the S4 the best smartphone based on Google Inc.'s Android software.

After earlier supply delays, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is "now flowing" into stores, said Mark Elliott, a spokesman for Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier.

One in five Americans will buy the S4, according to SquareTrade. And one in eight people in the U.S. who buy the Galaxy S4 will break it within six months, according to SquareTrade's estimates. The company didn't provide a similar statistic for the iPhone. In general, one out of three smartphone owners break their devices within the first year, the insurance company said.

SquareTrade hasn't yet tested HTC's One device, an Android phone that has was praised by Pogue and Jaroslovsky.