Tag Archives: Samsung Galaxy S GPS problem

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.