Billed by Samsung as the ultimate Android phone, the Galaxy S has been the centre of attention ever since its official unveiling earlier this summer. With an epic four-inch Super AMOLED panel and the kind of specs that make Apple look on in envy, it wants to be the go to handset for tech literate types as well as smartphone first timers. Can it do the business and stand up as the best Android phone since the HTC Desire? Read our review and find out.
It’s hard not to think of the iPhone 3GS when you first handle the Samsung Galaxy S. Similar tapered chrome edges, black exterior, central home key down at the bottom. But it would be disingenuous to call this a rip off. It isn’t. All touchscreen phones have something similar about them by their very nature and the Galaxy S is a true standout effort.
It combines achingly cool design with one of the best screens ever seen on a mobile device, not to mention the full power of Android 2.1 and a camera that can shoot video in 720p HD.
There’s no proprietary skin here, although Samsung has done some tinkering with the icons and fonts to make Google’s OS look sleeker than it already is.
Let’s be clear: this is the best-looking phone Samsung has ever created. The Korean giant has made some decent mobiles in the past, the Wave especially, but the Galaxy S wipes the floor with all of them.
The black backing doesn’t pick up fingerprints nearly as easily as its old-school Apple rival, or the iPhone 4 even, while the tapered finish means it sits comfortably in the hand.
And for a handset with a capacious 4-inch panel (of which more later), it doesn’t feel bulky at 118g and lacks the heft of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 which rocks a similar-sized screen, but doesn’t have anywhere near the same design nous. At 9.9mm thin, it’s one of the sleekest smartphones going.
The Galaxy S rocks some especially cool features, beyond its Android 2.1 software and 1GHz processor. The camcorder is undoubtedly one of them, offering eyeball-stroking hi-def shots and almost 4 hours of recording time for your home movie masterpieces.
The settings, too, are amazing for a for a smartphone cam, letting you enhance the screen for outdoor use, tickle the resolution to squeeze more time out of your clips, add effects such as negative and sepia tones and even adjust sharpness and contrast. The best thing about it is it’s so easy to use. The menus are clear and concise and slide out to dominate the 4-inch AMOLED screen. Camcorder makers must be bricking it with stuff this good on the market.
Now, about that screen. A Super AMOLED beauty, it clocks in at 480 x 800 pixels and looks amazing. We put it head-to-head with the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and can honestly say it took top honours. Only just, but it is the rendering of icons, the size of the panel itself for watching back videos and just the sheer brightness of it that really stun. It really sets the standard for all phones, not just its Android brethren. AMOLED is clearly the way forward.
Android 2.1 is amazing, with Google Goggles, a great keyboard and breezy functionality. The changes to the menu setup here are minimal, but enough to make it feel classier than vanilla Android rivals such as the Milestone XT720. You slip through menus by sliding your fingers across rather than vertically.
It’s all very iOS, but works well, so we’re not going to complain if it feels just a smidge derivative in places. Android 2.2, and with it Wi-Fi hotspot skills, is promised for September.
Ease of use
The screen itself is remarkably assured and stands up to closer inspection. The virtual QWERTY is ace and shows why Android leads the field when it comes to typing on on-screen keyboards. Slipping through menus is a breeze, while the home and back buttons are always there if you find yourself lost in drill down screens.
In fact, the buttons are very well thought out, with just a central, back and menu key on show. These always come in handy and none feel as if they’ve been tacked on, as with the hard keys on the HTC Legend.
The Galaxy S is a stunner, perhaps the best phone of 2010. Certainly one of the top three Android phones for touchscreen fanatics.
- 4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, 800 x 480 pixels
- Android 2.1
- HSDPA, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 2.1
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 122.4 x 64.2 x 9.9 mm 118g
- 803 mins talk time
- 750 hours standby time
- 5-megapixel camera with 720p video at 30fps
Overall Mark: 9/10