Tag Archives: Galaxy S review

The Definitive Review: Samsung Galaxy S

26 Jul

Samsung Galaxy S reviewThe Galaxy S is Samsung’s most ambitious smartphone foray, ever. The Korean handset vendor, known for its affordable touchscreen phones, set out to make its presence felt in the elite list of smartphone vendors like Apple and HTC. Will the Galaxy S enable Samsung to win some respect in the high-end smartphone space? Let’s find out…



For those who have not read my first part of the review, let me do a recap. The Galaxy S is by far the most heavily specced Android smartphone available in India at the moment. With a 4-inch touchscreen, a 1 GHz processor and 16 GB of internal memory, it dwarves every other Android phone on paper. It runs on Android 2.1 and we have received confusing signals from Samsung whether it would be updated to Android 2.2 in India or not.



The Galaxy S looks intimidating in pictures but is surprisingly sleek and light for a phone with a 4-inch display. Tipping the scales at under 120 gram and less than a centimetre thick, it fits easily into trouser pockets without creating a noticeable bulge. Initially, it does not even feel like one is holding an actual phone and takes time getting used to it, it is that light. The front has one physical button, the home button if you may, and two touch sensitive buttons on either side of it – for menu and going back. The power button is on the top right edge while the volume keys on the left. The top edge houses the microUSB and the 3.5 mm audio ports.



Like most other smartphone vendors, Samsung has created a complete UI skin on top of the stock Android UI, which it calls TouchWiz 3.0. The UI seems heavily inspired by Apple’s iOS, complete with four icons on the bottom of the display and a page-flick application menu rather than Android’s stock scroll-down menu UI. You can even uninstall apps by ‘deleting’ them a la iOS, the only difference being that rather than pressing the display for long to get the option, you have to press the menu key and select edit.



This is not to say that Samsung has blindly copied iOS. One of our favourite features on the Galaxy S is the social network integration in the phonebook. You just need to sign in to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and everything gets synced automatically. Multiple entries for a single contact (usually happens when you source contacts from multiple sources) can be easily linked together to create a single entry. To sum the UI experience, we liked it and found it less irritating than those we encounter on Android phones from other brands.



The Galaxy S might be your regular Internet-centric Android smartphone but an area where it really shines is its camera. Its 5.0 MP camera delivers excellent results, especially with videos. It shoots them at 720p resolution and it is amongst the best video outputs that we have seen from a cellphone, ever. It might not have the editing capabilities of an iPhone but the output is high quality. Though the Galaxy S has a TV-out feature (you can connect it with a high definition TV and watch the video you shot on it), the company does not give a TV connector cable in the box. It needs to be bought separately and is not widely available.



Still photos are also above par, but the absence of a dedicated camera shutter button is a bit disappointing. Imagine this, to click a photo, first you have to touch a part of the display where you want the camera to focus. Once it focuses, you have to touch another part of the display to actually click. I got a blurry photo five out of ten times. Probably it is just me and my shaky hands but I don’t face the problem with the Motorola Milestone that has a dedicated camera button. Having said that, the photos that did not get ruined by my shaky hands turned out to be above par for a 5.0 MP camera.



Talking about its multimedia performance, the Galaxy S can even play videos in DivX format. Couple it with a bright 4-inch display and you have a high quality PMP on the move. I wonder why other Android phone makers don’t support DivX across their portfolio.



To cater to those who are looking at a more serious use for their smartphone, Samsung has pre-installed a complete MS Office suite in the form of Think Free Office. You can create new documents or edit existing ones. I’m not a big fan of creating lengthy documents on a phone without a physical keypad but it did come handy when I was on the move and had to quickly send across a document. In a nutshell, the Galaxy S comes across a well-rounded product – be it for social networking, multimedia, Internet browsing or just working.



That is not to say that the Galaxy S is perfect. Our unit failed to get a GPS lock even when we were out in the open under clear skies. It just would not get a lock. Some users have complained of this while others say they have never faced this problem. Another thing we noticed was apps downloaded from Android Market crashed more frequently on the Galaxy S as compared to the Milestone. Despite having a faster processor, the Galaxy S suffered from frequent UI lags. Probably it is the firmware at fault and Samsung would issue an update soon (our unit was running baseband version DDJF3). Plus our unit had a stuck pixel. Probably, it is just a case of getting hold of a bad unit than anything. (If you are a Galaxy S owner, do let us know if you face any of these problems.)



A single charge lasted us for about 22 hours with two hours of calls, one hour of Internet browsing, two Gmail accounts set to push, two Twitter accounts set to ping every hour, Wi-Fi turned on throughout and about a dozen of photographs. With similar usage, the Milestone lasted for about 18 hours.



To sum things up, the Galaxy S is an exceptional multimedia-centric Android phone. At about Rs 29,000, it is the best alternative that you can get for an iPhone. Other option could be the Motorola Milestone XT720 which has an 8.0 MP camera and can also record videos in 720p resolution, which should be available shortly for about Rs 30,000. Another option could be the HTC Desire, which is now expected to be launched in August.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S (Part One)

12 Jul

With Android being the flavour of the season and every handset brand trying to outdo the others by launching high-profile smartphones, it is becoming difficult to keep a track of which phone deserves to be crowned “the best of the best.” In March, I gave that title to the Motorola Milestone, which offered the best combination of form, function and features at a great price. And three months down the line, it seems the Milestone is likely to be dethroned by the new phone in town – the Samsung Galaxy S.



Samsung Galaxy S Android Smartphone The Galaxy S i9000 starts to overwhelm right from the word go. First impressions are formed while checking out its specifications that scream out a 4.0 inch display, a 1 GHz processor, a 5.0 MP camera that can shoot videos in 720p HD and all this in a frame less than 10 mm thin and weighing just 118 gram! Yup, this one is ready for the runway. While the front is dominated by the display and a couple of soft-touch keys and a ‘home button’; the back is made of glossy plastic that houses the 5.0 MP camera and a tiny speaker.



Customized Widgets in Samsung Galaxy SWith specifications out of the way, let’s take a look at the extent of customisation that Samsung has done on the stock Android UI. While I tend to prefer the stock Android UI like the one found on the Milestone, I understand that there are lot of people out there who’d prefer having something more fancy and attractive. Samsung has done a fair bit of skinning on top of Android though not as much as HTC’s Sense UI, which I believe is a good thing. On the bottom of the display are four non-configurable shortcuts – phone, contacts, messaging and applications – making it easy to access the phone functions from any screen. The applications shortcut basically opens the ‘drawer menu’ in the stock Android UI. Rather than having applications open in one never-ending vertical scroll UI, Samsung has customised it to open in horizontal pages with each screen housing a maximum of 16 icons. However, users cannot change the order in which these icons would appear (it turns out the the location of icons can be customised by pressing the menu button and selecting edit while in the applications menu). Samsung has also added some cool widgets like the ‘Accuweather Clock’ widget shown in this pic and a ‘Buddies Now’ widgets where you can add your buddies and see their latest Facebook status messages, comment on their status and call or text message them directly from the home screen.



The Galaxy S runs on Android 2.1 aka Eclair and though this version of Android automatically links your phonebook contact’s Google and Facebook (among other social networks) identities, Samsung adds more customisation to it. Not only can you choose which Facebook friends you would like to see on your phone but you can also see their recent updates and media uploads from a variety of places. Apart from the phonebook, you can also see the latest updates of all your friends from the phone menu or only selected friends through the ‘Buddy Now’ widget. In short, one does not really require a standalone Facebook app on the Galaxy S.



This is the end of the first part of our Samsung Galaxy S review. In the next part of the review, we will cover our user experience of the device and its multimedia capabilities. If you have any queries regarding the Galaxy S, do let us know in comments below and we will try to answer them in the next part of the review.