Reviewed: Samsung Galaxy S


27 Jul 2010

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

The Galaxy S is a testament to how much time and innovation Samsung has pumped into its smartphones in the past year. It looks good, it feels good and what’s more, it’s one of the most user-friendly smartphones on the market.

Usually, when you boot up a Samsung handset for the first time you exclaim something along the lines of ‘Ohh, look at the screen,’ because this is what the company is best known for but the generously sized 4-inch screen is only the first of many pleasant surprises on this Android phone.

Visuals

Having said that, the screen is huge and high definition, so suffice to say it is eye-catching. With Samsung’s ultra-bright Super AMOLED display it is one of the best screens you’ll see on a smartphone this year.

The crisp visuals work well with the 720p HD (high-definition) video recording and an impressive 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and blink, face and smile detection.

Watching video or flipping through photos and the Android operating system is taken advantage of because the latest version has a feature called ‘live wallpapers’ so fields of waving daisies or swirling galaxies keep you entertained in HD.

Using a HDMI adapter you can hook up the Galaxy S to your TV to play back HD video or alternatively the AllShare application allows you to wirelessly play multimedia files via Wi-Fi on your desktop. Very clever.

If you have DivX HD movies on your laptop you can always load them onto this handset for long journeys and it plays Flash videos on the web, too.

User interface

Although this touch-enabled phone defaults to a virtual QWERTY keyboard you can switch to alphanumeric if it is what you are used to and text can be inputted via handwriting recognition using your finger to trace the letters. This was fun for a while but I preferred the virtual keyboard.

Aside from the physical power button and volume button on either side of the phone, there is only a central button at the base bringing you back to the home screen and a dedicated menu and back button.

This gives the impression that you are simply holding a large touchscreen, and the chassis itself is lightweight and slim. Perhaps the shiny black plastic and lightweight combination does not give it as much gravitas as one would like but it is well-designed.

User experience

With Android, customising this phone is pretty straightforward and you have both the Android Marketplace and Samsung Apps store so there are plenty of apps and seven screens to put them on.

Samsung Apps are what make this phone different to other Android phones on the market because you are essentially getting a double whammy in terms of choice with two app stores to choose from and there are lots of widgets, too.

Touch response is excellent; very fast. The processor is zippy, too. I didn’t feel any discernible lag when multitasking, opening app after app, instant messaging and downloading apps all together.

Android’s settings can be tweaked to change how much you have running in the background and what apps sync regularly so you can easily control power and data consumption.

Connectivity

This is a 3G phone with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and Samsung has outdone itself on connectivity options with the Galaxy S. As mentioned, the Wi-Fi connection can be used to stream multimedia to another device but it also makes for cost-effective VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls through applications like Skype or Fring. The limitations are constrained to the kind of apps on Android Market and with a strong developer community there are few limitations.

Aside from accessing the web via 3G or Wi-Fi there is also the option to use the Galaxy S as a tethering device so that it shares internet access.

The best bit is that you can share your internet connection with more than one device by creating your own password-protected WAN network using the handset as a wireless hub. Simply activate mobile AP and connect it using your PC’s Wi-Fi settings.

Should your friends need internet access you can always whip out your Samsung S, turn on the mobile AP, and they can get online from their netbook, iPod touch or what have you.

Hardware Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S is quite powerful due to its 1GHz processor and multitasking doesn’t pose a problem due to the 512MB of RAM. Top compliment this it comes loaded with 8GB or 16GB of storage and should you require more, the MicroSD slot will take cards from 1GB to 32GB in size.

Apps

Twitter

The official Twitter app for Android is a bit cooler than the one for the iPhone. It’s all animated birdies and crisp images (well, that’s down to the phone’s screen) and floating hashtags on the homescreen. There’s even a Twitter wallpaper on Android Market so you can see what’s trending amongst your friends in your background or screensaver.

Layar

This augmented reality app is ingenious. It superimposes a virtual grid of the earth over what you see through your phone’s camera. Different ‘layers’ can be added, including Dublin Bus Stops, which displays the nearest stops and also gives the distance plus links to the timetable.

Google Goggles

This is a visual search engine. Take a picture of a movie poster, supermarket item or gallery painting and Google will go off and find a corresponding link on the web.

Google Maps Navigation

Using Google Maps and the GPS built into the handset, this free sat-nav application provides voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, and it runs in the background so should you wish to check email or have a document open it will continue to calculate your route, alerting you when you need to change direction.

Verdict

A powerful multimedia phone in its own right, this phone also uses the Android operating system to full effect. If you haven’t upgraded your phone in a while you’ll be most impressed with how big and high definition the screen is.