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printed November 27, 2014
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Review: Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G for MetroPCS

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G (Lightray) is an interesting beast. It is the first device from MetroPCS to offer the Dyle live mobile TV service, but is wrapped in hardware that hails from early 2011. It doesn't have the flagship sex appeal that some of Samsung's current devices have, and its whopping $460 price point is more than twice that of any other smartphone in MetroPCS' lineup.

The Lightray is somewhat akin to the Droid Charge sold by Verizon Wireless. The Lightray is mostly black, with some shiny charcoal tones tossed in to break things up a bit. The overall footprint of the device is significantly smaller than, say, the Galaxy S III. It's a comfortable, average size that makes it easy to grab and hold onto. It has a dense and solid feel to it that gives it presence and authority when gripped.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The materials are plastics and glass of good quality. Nothing about the Lightray feels cheap or hastily designed. The manufacturing and build quality is quite impressive. The battery cover has a great tactile feel thanks to its brushed metal (even though it's plastic) texture. I wish some of the surfaces had more grip to them, but the overall experience of using the Lightray is a positive one.

As with most Android smartphones, the front of the Lightray is all display. The normal Android 2.3 Gingerbread controls are placed along the bottom edge as physical buttons. I found them easy to use, and I liked the amount of feedback they produce when pressed. Capacitive buttons may look better on most devices, but there's no beating a real, physical button when you want a response.

The volume toggle is on the left edge of the phone. It's easy to find, but I wish it had physical markings (whether it be a nub, or ridges, or whatever) that made it easier to tell which end you're pressing. Instead, it's a smooth piece of plastic. It offers plenty of travel and feedback.

As is typical for a Samsung device, the lock button is on the right edge. This button is not the best. It is too flush with the side of the phone, making it difficult to find. The excellent travel and feedback are its saving grace.

The Lightray includes a microHDMI port for easier media sharing. It is on the right edge and protected by a hatch. The hatch isn't a problem to use. The microUSB port is tucked on the left edge of the Lightray, and the 3.5mm headset jack is on the top edge. The battery cover comes off with little effort. The microSD card is accessible without removing the battery, as is the 4G SIM card, which is a pleasant surprise.

In order to help with Dyle TV reception, the Lightray also has an antenna. The top of the antenna is tucked in the top-right corner of the phone. It takes some thumbnail action to coax from its hiding place, and extends out perhaps nine inches. It has a hinge where it meets the handset, and can be angled and spun in any direction to aid in collecting Dyle TV signal.

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