Review: Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G for MetroPCS
The Admire ships with Android 2.3.6 and a light user interface treatment from Samsung. No offense to our friends at MetroPCS, but shipping a smartphone with Android 2.3 in the year 2013 is inexcusable. I understand how long cell phone development periods last, but the base code for Android 4.0 has been available to phone makers for more than a year. Foisting such an old phone OS on customers is flat-out wrong.
The overall appearance of the menus is nearly stock Android. There are seven home screen panels for customization and plenty of MetroPCS widgets and apps plastered on them. The main app menu is a grid that slides left and right rather than up and down. The default view is an alphabetized grid, though the grid can be rearranged manually, or shifted to a list view.
The settings are standard for an Android device and allow users to make a wide range of adjustments to the Admire's behavior.
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On the performance front, the Admire has a 1GHz processor that had no trouble keeping up. I didn't see any lagging or other performance issues.
The Admire uses the stock Google calling and contacts applications, though they've been given new colors. From the home screen, press the phone icon and the dialer pops open, plus the usual options. The Admire offers haptic feedback when you dial numbers on the touch display. Call features include mute, speakerphone, add a line, etc.
The Admire will import all of your Google and Exchange contacts, as well as Facebook and Google+ if you so wish. Contacts can hold innumerable phone numbers, email addresses, notes, and so on. The Admire doesn't have any nifty contacts or calling widgets for the home screen; only the stock tools are available.
The Admire runs all of the stock Android 2.3 messaging applications. You get Gmail, email, Google Talk, and voicemail. There is no Google+, nor Google+ Messenger. Facebook and Twitter aren't pre-installed, either. You have to download these separately from the Google Play Store.
The one app that sets the Admire apart here is MetroPCS's new "joyn" messaging service. Joyn isn't preinstalled, mind you; it has to be downloaded through the MetroPCS-branded app store. Joyn is a standards-based app that collects and merges messaging services, such as IM and SMS. The app lets users conduct threaded text conversations and supports presence, which lets users know when their friends are available. It also makes it easier to share photo and video content when the user is on an active phone call. It also lets MetroPCS customers make voice and video calls to other joyn users via Wi-Fi.
I found the app easy to set up and use, but it is extremely limited. It only works with other joyn users who are MetroPCS customers. Unless you have a lot of friends that are also using MetroPCS, there's not much utility to it, and you'll have to use the standard Android messaging tools to IM and call everyone else in your contact list.