Review: Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE for Sprint
The Victory's media tools are centered on the Google and Samsung content stores. The Google Play Store is front and center, which includes access to apps, music, movies, TV, magazines, and so on. The Google Play Music, Movies and Books apps are pre-installed in conjunction with the Play Store. These give you access to the content you've purchased from Google, as well as any you may have sideloaded yourself.
Then there's the Samsung Media Hub. The Media Hub is the Samsung-run store for purchasing movies and television shows. The selection is not as good as Google's, and the store software itself runs really, really slowly. For example, the simple act of browsing through movie titles was painful. It requires too many page refreshes, that take too long.
There is also a simple music player and simple video player for those who prefer featureless playback functionality.
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Lastly, Sprint TV is available. This is a video streaming application that lets users access a limited selection of television and movie content. The performance of this app rivaled what I've seen from the same service delivered to AT&T and T-Mobile devices. All three use the MobiTV backbone, and for whatever reason, Sprint's variant provides the best quality.
The Victory includes a 5-megapixel shooter that has a similar interface to other Samsung devices. The camera can be launched via the dedicated camera button, the lock screen shortcut, or the regular app icon. It takes about 2 seconds to launch.
The camera's controls are laid out in a way that makes sense and is easy to use. I had no problem making changes to the behavior of the camera or altering the settings.
Once you've spent a moment familiarizing yourself with the controls, the camera is a breeze to use. It focuses and shoots photos quickly. You can choose to use touch-to-focus if there is something in particular you want to be in focus.
The Victory's camera captures 5 megapixels. It is aided by auto-focus and a flash. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Though there's no denying the camera is a wee bit slow, it captures images that are in focus, have proper exposure, and show correct white balance. There was perhaps more grain in some shots than I cared to see, but in general, the Victory did OK.
I wasn't quite as pleased with the video I captured. Video can be captured at a maximum of 720p HD. For the most part, it is in focus and correctly exposed. The video I captured was wavy every now and then, with odd artifacts and smearing in the results. The problems aren't ruinous, but they leave you wondering just exactly what you're going to get.
The Victory's gallery application is very close to the stock Android 4.0 gallery app and includes only a minimal set of features. Images can be shared via every network or online service possible with but a few taps. If you want to edit photos, however, you'll have to work for it.
For whatever reason, Samsung's photo editing app is not installed on the device. If you're in the gallery app, and choose the "Edit" button, you'll be prompted to download the photo editing app. But, in order to do that, you may have to update the Samsung App Store and reboot the freaking phone. Only *then* can you edit photos. It's a hassle and a half the first time you want to edit a photo.
The gallery app does work with Samsung's Buddy Photo Share. This lets a group of people instantly share photos with the other members of the group. The only catch is it only works with other Samsung phones that support the feature.
Sprint has been getting better and better at keeping bloatware to a minimum. The Victory has only 44 apps pre-installed; many of them are the standard set of Google tools. The Sprint-branded stuff is limited to Sprint Hotspot, Sprint iD, Sprint Video, and Sprint Zone. However (and this is a *big* however), if you choose to install any Sprint iD packs, that adds a lot of extra apps you may not want.
The Victory has Bluetooth 4.0 and it works with just about every type of Bluetooth device out there. The Victory worked perfectly with each; I had absolutely no trouble pairing and connecting with any of the doo-dads I have in my office. Phone calls, however, sounded like crud through standard Bluetooth headsets. Music sounded pretty good through stereo Bluetooth headphones.
The Victory ships with the Android browser on board. It's a decent browser, no doubt, although I like Google Chrome much better. As noted earlier, download speeds were never all that fast on Sprint's 3G network. They ranged between 700Kbps and peaked at 1.1Mbps, with the average at about 900Kbps. I found the browsing experience to be lacking all around. This is the experience that most people will have with the Victory, given the limited coverage offered by Sprint's LTE network at this point. We'll update this section once we are able to text the Victory in an area that offers LTE coverage.
There's a white digital clock on the lock screen. It's big enough to be seen at an arm's length, but be careful with the wallpaper you pick. Light or white backgrounds will make the clock impossible to see.
The Victory ships with Google Maps (complete with Navigation and Latitude). Google Maps is free, and offers an ever-growing set of features for finding points of interest and planning routes there and back. The Victory's GPS radio performed quite well. It found me consistently within about 15 seconds and located me to within 25 feet.
Like Apple's Siri, S Voice is a voice-controlled assistant for the Victory. Double tap the home key and S Voice launches, asking you what you want help with. You can search for contacts, dictate SMS messages, check the weather, see alarms, and so on. Speed and accuracy of the application were hit-or-miss.
Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy Victory
Sprint's latest Samsung device is the Galaxy Victory. This $99 Android phone offers a lot for its low price, including 4G LTE, NFC, Google Wallet, and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
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