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Hands-On with Samsung's Galaxy S Phones for the US

Galaxy S series Differences Video Comments  24  

Jun 30, 2010, 12:22 AM   by Rich Brome & Eric M Zeman

Hands-on with the new Samsung Galaxy S series phone, including the Captivate for AT&T, Fascinate for Verizon, Epic 4G for Sprint, and Vibrant for T-Mobile.

Announced over the past few days, Samsung on Tuesday officially unveiled the Galaxy S series of high-end Android phones for the US market at a press event in NYC: the Captivate for AT&T, the Epic 4G for Sprint, the Vibrant for T-Mobile, and the Fascinate for Verizon.

It's unprecedented for a manufacturer to launch a high-profile phone for all four major US cell phone carriers at the same time. Sure, some phones like the RAZR made it to all carriers, but it took a while. And while these four phones do have differences, a close examination reveals enough similarities to make the Galaxy S heritage clear. They may not be identical quadruplets, but fraternal, perhaps.

The Vibrant for T-Mobile will ship first - in July - followed by the models for other carriers "in the coming months". That makes sense, since the Vibrant is the US model most like the Galaxy S model for international markets.

All four phones sport a huge 4-inch "Super AMOLED" display, which is a fancy way of saying Samsung's latest generation of OLED displays. (Unlike most other manufacturers, Samsung does actually make it own display components, which gives them a distinct advantage.) It's big and gorgeous. Samsung claims 30% better color reproduction compared to LCD and a 50,000:1 contrast ratio. Indeed, colors are amazingly saturated and really pop.

The other key feature shared by all four models is the 1GHz "Hummingbird" Cortex A8 processor. This should offer impressive speed. Together with the phone's GPU capabilities, it can encode and decode 720p video at 30 frames per second, meaning HD video can be captured and displayed smoothly.

All Galaxy S phones are remarkably thin and light. They're also all plastic, which combined with the light weight, makes them feel a bit "cheap", at least compared to some competing phones that are clad in more metal and glass. But that's not to say the Galaxy S phones feel poorly-built; quite the opposite, they feel well-made.

The Galaxy S phones for the US all have a row of four touch keys below the display. That's not unusual, but we'd much prefer physical keys. Unfortunately, all four US models lack the one big physical key on the front of the international Galaxy S; it's a frustrating omission.

Also on the hardware side, all four have Bluetooth 3.0, a first in the US. They also sport Wi-Fi 802.11n plus DLNA for streaming HD video to your HD TV wirelessly. You'll also find a memory card slot and GPS navigation on all four, plus a six-axis motion sensor, enabling advanced motion-based gaming.

All include standard connectors on the top, including a 3.5mm audio jack for your favorite headphones, and a micro-USB jack for charging and transferring data.

All include a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera. Not all include an LED flash or dedicated camera button. However, they do all include Samsung's most advanced camera software to date. It's easy to use and has every feature you can imagine plus the kitchen sink, including touch-to-focus, face detection, smile detection, and blink detection, where you pose for a self-portrait, blink when you're ready, and it takes the photo a second later. There's also an advanced automatic panorama mode where you just press once to start the panorama, then sweep the camera to the right. As you sweep, a big green box and yellow arrows help you line up the next photo, but as soon as it's lined up, it automatically takes the photo and you just keep moving the phone to take the whole panorama. When it's done, it stitches them all together for you.

 

Galaxy S Interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

All Galaxy S phones run Android 2.1 from day one, and are upgradeable to the brand-new Android 2.2 OS software from Google. They all sport Samsung's interface customizations on top of Android, which include some social-networking widgets and a main menu with pages of icons that you swipe side-to-side exactly like an iPhone. Each model has its own unique unlock screen. The Vibrant has a very cute one where you put a puzzle piece in place to unlock it. Most other parts of the interface seem to be relatively standard Android.

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Subject Author Date
Captivate availability @ AT&T BarnettJr2 Jul 10, 2010, 5:24 PM
Captivate 130 Jun 30, 2010, 12:15 PM
Oh hey, T-Mobile gets a good Android we can actually **sell**! justfinethanku Jun 30, 2010, 8:41 AM
T-Slowble ? davidvisser Jul 1, 2010, 4:55 PM
So Impressed with Sprint! DE 2 Philly Jun 30, 2010, 1:02 PM
Pre order for Vibrant start today - July 1 2010! ConceptVBS Jul 1, 2010, 9:30 AM
Beautiful hardware... muchdrama Jun 30, 2010, 7:22 PM
 
 
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