The Samsung I9000 aka Galaxy S is making Waves (pardon the pun) in the Android sector. As Android handsets go it’s being frequently discussed as one of the most powerful devices in this segment. But before you break open your piggy bank, take a closer look.
If ever there was a legit iPhone clone, the Galaxy S is it. I had way more people ask me how I managed to get such a slim iPhone, than ‘Wow, is that the Galaxy?’ The handset’s biggest asset is the 4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen (480 x 800 pixels, 16million colors). It’s crystal clear and colors always appear vibrant and precise. At just 116g this wide device is extremely easy to carry around without feeling an uncomfortable bulge in your pocket. A micro USB port that doubles up for charging is located at the top. It can neatly be hidden with a sliding panel. The 3.5mm handsfree socket is also located at the top. Once again I had an issue with using other handsfree kits. Seems like a Samsung Phenomenon. The bundled kit is extremely conformable and well built for clear audio so no worries.
Volume/zoom keys are located on one side and a rather buggy screen lock/Power button is located on the other. The Galaxy S is available in 16GB capacities with support for external memory (microSD Hot Swap). It has touch sensitive Menu and Return keys with a single Home button in between. Even if it does come off looking a bit iPhone-ish, the Galaxy S has a well balanced easy to use, comfortable design.
Features and Performance
Even with its ARM Cortex A8 processor (1GHz), after installing a few very basic apps and games, the device started to get a little crazy. The phone would ring for a good 5 seconds before the call screen popped up for me to answer and the overall system began to get a bit buggy in certain places. Accessing games and heavier apps seemed to be a generic issue as I found out from a few others who were using the handset. I didn’t like the fact that this TouchWiz 3.0 UI didn't give me the choice of how many desktops I could have. This is very unusual as Android handsets do allow you to select just how many you want but for some reason the option did not show up on this test device. An even bigger issue was that the internal memory showed 7.++ GB available when I hadn't installed any data on the device. I was also informed that the device is selling in India with 16GB of on-board memory while it is available in an 8GB capacity in certain other places.
Samsung initially informed me that the 8GB version was selling in India with an 8GB memory card. This was of course incorrect and that information was clarified just this morning thanks to some of our readers and a call from the company. I flashed the handset again and found that most of the buggy bits of the UI remained unchanged but the glitch with in the memory section was gone and the internal memory now showed me 13.43GB of space. I was also now bale to add and remove desktops.
I've spoken with the company about this and in case you've had the same problem do let us know.
The social networking integration with the phone book could have been better organized. This is where HTC has them beat. Thanks to TouchWiz, the otherwise simplistic Android UI is transformed into one a little more colorful. Other than a few buggy instances though, the UI was smooth and quite responsive when it came to navigation, multi-touch and using the extra large keypad. Swype is an added bonus and is built in. Once you’ve gotten used to it, it will definitely speed up your typing speed. The handset did however take unusually long to access the data card every time I added files onto it and removed the USB cable. I timed it at almost a whole 50 seconds almost every single time.
The Galaxy S excels in the media department. Even without Samsung’s DNSe system, the audio capability of the device is brilliant. Tones have a significant amount of depth with a rich audio clarity. The decibel level the handset can reach is more than you’ll ever need so peaking the volume is not something I recommend. A set of EQ presets are available and so is a customizable option (8 band setting). There are also addition effects that can be added on from Bass enhancement to a 5.1 Channel option for AV out or use with the earphones. The FM radio worked out really well and the reception was quite satisfactory even while commuting through the city. It took just about 15 seconds to find and store the nine radio frequencies available.
On a large screen Super AMOELD like this, DivX and XviD codec support is a real Godsend. There’s no need for any conversion just drag and drop your video files and you’re good to go. .FLV files didn’t play though. The video player also has a stretch to fit setting those who don’t like black bars. It also supports TV out but cables are not included.
The built in Aldiko eBook reader is very similar to Apple’s iBook app. The interface is easy to use and the formatting of the pages is designed to be extremely convenient for reading. You can also zoom into make the font as large as you wish. The best part is that Samsung has included some of the very best in book titles that you can download for free.
The Galaxy S is a 3G ready handset (HSDPA and HSUPA supported) but of course, for now you’ll have to make do with EDGE connectivity. Other modes are of course Bluetooth (v3.0) with A2DP naturally, USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi. I did have a bit of an issue with Wi-Fi connectivity though as the device would connect to available networks but still not allow me to access the web or any feature that required me to do that. It seemed like this was also a generic issue with others who I spoke with who were using the device.
Setting up email accounts is never an issue with Android handsets. From Push Email to, MS ActiveSync and Exchange, Instant Messaging, and of course plenty of social networking (Samsung’s Social Hub) the handset is well equipped for connectivity. The native browser is more than adequate to handle all of your web needs of course we’ll have to wait for Froyo to see it take on a whole new level of Win! For now, even without proper Flash support, it still gets the job done with any issues. Samsung has preloaded the Layar Augmented Reality browser onto the device. The Android Market and Samsung’s own App store are also available for downloading apps, widgets games etc. For its built-in GPS module Google Maps is pre-loaded of course.
Samsung’s AllShare app is great for those with wireless home network setups. You can use it to play videos form your phone on your TV that supports DLNA or Wi-Fi, or play media on your phone from your PC. It even allows you to play media on your TV or stereo system from your PC or laptop using the handset itself as remote.
Other than the basic mobile phone features that you’d expect on any and all devices like the Calculator, Calendar, Voice recorder etc. the Galaxy S also comes preloaded with some very handy apps for daily use. Samsung’s Mini Diary app allows you to keep records/memos in a visual format by using the camera or images from the gallery. It even saves the weather in each note. A Write and Go app is a very hand feature as it allows you to essentially create notes that can be sent via email, SMS, or updated to your Facebook and Twitter accounts directly. Voice Search and Voice Command options are also available. Think Free Office is a document editor application that supports all MS Document Files. It allows you to access an online document storage account that you can create.
The 5MP camera comes with a ton of features for all conditions. From scene modes to auto-stitch Panorama mode, Face/Smile/Beauty shots, geotagging, touch focus to color and other settings the Galaxy S’ camera has quite a bit to offer users for taking some really interesting pictures. I was however, disappointed with image reproduction. In most pictures taken in broad daylight sections a few portions would often get a little too bright, like the lens didn't quite adjust to the light.
The camera seemed to have quite a bit of a problem focusing on objects in macro mode as well. On the whole the camera, even with it’s abundance of features didn’t turn out to be much of an asset.
Another disappointment was the battery life. From a 1500mAh battery you tend to expect exceptional battery life, and even more so considering it has an AMOLED display that uses less power. With regular usage for calls, messages, emailing, social networking and a little media thrown in, the battery would be almost bone dry in a day and a half. Talk time averaged in at just about 4 hours which is not what I expected at all.
The Bottom Line
While the Galaxy S has a lot to offer users from a media and connectivity stand point I didn’t find it all that impressive at the end of the day. The sometimes buggy UI, poor battery life and just about average camera would not make this my first choice if I were looking for an Android handset. Of course some of the issues as I pointed out are attributed to just this singular piece being faulty since it's a test model and I did have a few odd glitches.
With a price tag of Rs. 31,500 for 16GB there are better options on the way like the MILESTONE XT270 or HTC’s Desire. You might want to hold out for those. Hopefully you won't end up with a device with big issues like displaying the wrong memory.
If you're a Galaxy S user, I'd like to know what your experience has been with the device. If you've had similar issues or non at all share your views via our comments section.
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Oct 21, 2016