Although Samsung has introduced a few devices running on Android, its Galaxy S has been among the most talked about.
The all-black phone is made of plastic with metal lining running around the front panel. It comes with a 4 inch WVGA Super AMOLED display, a key feature of the device, which is a pleasure to work on.
Super AMOLED display enables more comfortable viewing angles and improves legibility in sunlight.
We had no problem working on the 4 inch capacitive touchscreen even in bright day light. The touchscreen is intuitive and responds well to the gentlest of touches.
What’s even better is that despite the large screen, Samsung Galaxy S is slim and light. It is 9.9 mm thick and weighs 118 g.
Below the screen are three keys, two of which are touch-sensitive– there’s menu on the right and back on the left–between the two is a hard key for home.
Long pressing the menu key launches the search field and pressing and holding the home key activates the task switcher.
A single key for power and screen lock is placed on the right side of the phone. On the left spine is the volume rocker while the charger slot (with a sliding cover) and the 3.5 mm jack are placed on the top.
The dotted back panel sports the 5 .0 megapixel camera and the loudspeaker grill. There is also a secondary camera for making video calls.
Multimedia on the Galaxy S
While we loved the display and have no complains with it, the features and performance was a mixed bag.
To start with the Galaxy S comes with a 5.0 megapixel camera, which has almost become a norm these days. The quality of photographs clicked and videos taken during the day was very good.
However, the phone lacks a flash so low-light photography or video capturing is not possible.
Although there is no dedicated shutter key, the virtual shutter key works well.
Also, you can use the touch to focus feature which gives you the freedom to focus on what you want.
Additionally, the phone’s camera offers loads of features including blink detection, image stabilisation and auto contrast. Shooting modes include single shot, continuous, smile shot, self shot and panorama etc. There are several scene modes as well such as night, landscape, party etc.
The highest resolution for video recording that the camera supports is 1280×720 pixels. The phone also supports the playback of DivX and XviD video file formats.
For music lovers, Samsung Galaxy S is equipped with a music player and also comes with FM radio with RDS. Audio quality is very impressive through the earphones and good through the loudspeaker. Galaxy S comes with an option of 5.1 surround sound which works with the earphones.
The user interface is nice and easy to use for the music player as well as for FM radio. FM radio reception of the phone is quite good.
Equaliser settings also come with the music player. While most settings such as pop, rock, jazz, classic, live etc. are preset, you can customise and save a setting of your own as well.
Text input is fun
The Galaxy S has an interesting feature called Swype added to its on screen QWERTY keyboard.
Rather than requiring you to press each letter separately, Swype lets you sweep a finger across the keyboard. For e.g. to type Samsung, you need to put a finger at S and sweep to A, then to M, then S, then U, then N and then G.
A blue line follows the path your finger traces on the keyboard. Even if the trace goes over the wrong key, Swype recognises the intended word or offers you a list a words to choose from incase other combinations are available. Typing the word in the regular way adds it to the dictionary. This system enables faster and easier text input and also keeps the error rate low.
As expected from a high end Android device, Galaxy S packs in almost all features for your connectivity needs. The device is 3G enabled, hence, is equipped to support HSPA for high-speed downloads and uploads. It comes with Bluetooth 3, WiFi and GPS with A GPS support.
WiFi and GPS work fine. Our internet browsing experience was good. However, flash support for browsing is missing.
The Galaxy S runs on Android Eclair 2.1, and will be upgradable to Android Froyo 2.2.
Although it is powered by a 1GHz processor, the handset we received for review on occasion took time to open applications.
The User Interface integrates Samsung’s TouchWiz UI with the Android platform and is very smooth and easy to use.
All the seven homescreens are customisable (same as on other Android devices) and come with a fixed bar at the bottom of the screen with shortcuts to phone, contacts, messaging and applications.
To navigate through the applications menu you need to scroll horizontally, unlike other Android devices where in you scroll vertically. The new downloaded apps are added to the last available page.
The standard notification bar is available at the top of the screen. When pulled down, it reveals a fixed bar at the top with shortcut keys for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, silent and vibration.
Galaxy S comes with 16 GB of internal memory and also boasts of up to 32 GB of expandable memory through microSD. The microSD card slot is placed under the battery cover but is hot-swappable.
Battery back of the phone is good. A single charge would last you through a day and a half of average usage.
The Samsung Galaxy S is available for a price of Rs 27,000. Alternatives to Galaxy S include the HTC Desire and Motorola Milestone XT 720.