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Midterm review: Samsung Galaxy S

It’s a damn good phone.

Samsung has been hit or miss with their phones that run third party operating systems in the past few years. But after seeing their proprietary Bada OS and now, the Galaxy S running on Android, I can barely talk as my foot is in my mouth.

I squeezed a lot of time during a recent weekend dive trip to tinker with the Galaxy S, also known as the i9000. I’m a big fan of Android (I’m actually a big fan of a lot of things in tech) and what it has to offer users. I’ve also been reading about all the praise the Galaxy S has received worldwide; and now, an opportunity to finally use it.

The problem that potential buyers encounter when making the leap into Android isn’t really about the operating system itself. Rather, the decision is made harder because of fragmentation, which refers to the phenomenon of having many device manufacturers coming out with their own Android phones (running on different versions, mind you). With many Android devices being manufactured by Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola and Samsung, buyers may be overwhelmed with making informed decisions on what to stick with.

Samsung really gave everything to make the Galaxy S a beautiful device. There are three features that made this phone a head turner in all parts of the world: Super AMOLED, TouchWiz 3.0, and a huge 4 inch screen. Let’s tackle each feature.

The myth was that Samsung came with a new type of display called “Super AMOLED” which increased clarity and brightness on a 480 x 800 screen, the current resolution of their flagship device. The fact is not only is the Galaxy S brighter than the Google Nexus One or the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 (which has an even higher resolution at 480 x 854), the “Super” part about it makes this screen slimmer, which is why, if you hold the Galaxy S on its side, you’ll be amazed at how thin it is. The day after I unboxed the phone, I exposed the phone to three days worth of usage on the beach in Malapascua, Cebu. Despite the harsh sun, the rumors are confirmed to be true: you can use the Galaxy S under direct sunlight. Barely any glare.

Last but most important, AMOLED technology is by nature a battery life saver, which means that I got a good full day’s use on a single charge. By full day, this means moderate to low data usage (turn on 2G browsing to conserve battery life) and regular usage for SMS, calls and a bit of gaming.

If HTC has its Sense UI, Samsung has its TouchWiz and right now, it is up to version 3.0. In the past, Samsung lagged behind in the UI war with their widget based interface that didn’t really work out too well. Surprisingly, it seems to work well with Android. Or to be more accurate, it doesn’t look like Samsung had something proprietary embedded over the operating system, which is great! If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Now TouchWiz isn’t specific to Android as Samsung’s Bada software also uses this for their Wave phone. Nonetheless, it has a lot of practical yet subtle doodads that make the overall experience great.

Samsung didn’t pull any punches with the screen size: a 4 inch screen feels great to the thumbs. I’m honestly not a big fan of touch screen devices because of the whole texting thing, but among all the Android devices I’ve used in the past, this was the easiest. I know that the XPERIA and the Galaxy both have the same screen size — thank the UI or thank the actual screen itself, it’s much easier to SMS using Samsung’s device.

Oddly, in other parts of the world, the Galaxy S comes with a sliding mini USB cover to protect the input from foreign particles. The one sold in Asia doesn’t have this cover, exposing the port.

Also, not that I’m complaining but most phones to date come with a stock microSD card for memory expansion. The Galaxy S has 14GB of usable memory (2GB is used up by the system and a lot of the preloaded crap I had mentioned) and no microSD card. 14GB is great, but not for your media collection.

Overall, the Galaxy S comes highly recommended. I share the opinion of many other tech writers who have touched, sniffed and made love to the phone: it stands out as one of the better Android devices for 2010. Considering that the iterations of 4 inch screens for Android has just begun, Samsung got things right on its first try.

Right now you can grab the Galaxy S through Globe Telecommunications. They have it on exclusive for the rest of the month. They also have an Android page for this. Here’s a tip: if you’re running on Android it makes sense to enroll in those unlimited data plans like SuperSurf (Globe). To register, just text SUPERSURF220 to 8888. That’s unlimited internet for 5 days.

To make it easier, here’s the current Globe promo. The Galaxy S is free with the following plans:

Plan 2499 with 36 month lock in period from now till July 31 2010
Plan 3799 with 24 month lock in period from August 1 2010 onwards
PHP 32,995 for a prepaid kit with Globe SIM

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

9 replies on “Midterm review: Samsung Galaxy S”

“Oddly, in other parts of the world, the Galaxy S comes with a sliding mini USB cover to protect the input from foreign particles. The one sold in Asia doesn’t have this cover, exposing the port.”

Are you referring to the USB/charger port? I bought mine less than a month ago at Globe GB and it did have that sliding cover. 🙂 Pretty nifty feature. 🙂

That’s odd. Funny story, though. I found mine had one after two weeks of use. :)) I just noticed a protrusion and pulled it out. Voila! LOL! Baka nakatago lang? 🙂

I agree that the fragmentation is a problem and one thing the iPhone has going for it. Unfortunately, because of branding, many people might not realize the variety of user experiences you can have with an Android phone and choose to blame their bad experience on Android, instead of the manufacturer, who implements it.

Thanks for the awesome article, so I have been a samsung person for roughly 5 years now, and I latterly upgraded from a samsung omnia i910 to the Samsung Wave and so far I am loving it! (I do miss some options of my omnia despite the fact that) I am from Halifax Nova Scotia in Canada, I used to be originaly going to wait it out for the galaxy s to arrive at the bell network but determined to shop for the wave instead and store myself $400.

Got this a week ago and I’ve been loving every single bit of it! I need some help on good Android applications though coz there’s just too much reference material on the internet and I can’t seem to keep up 🙂 Any recos?

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