Samsung Captivate Review
Just like how we were somewhat baffled by the lack of an LED flash on the Samsung Galaxy S I9000, our rapport is unchanged as the Captivate also sorely lacks one. Despite this shortcoming on a flagship Android smartphone, the camera interface is basically unchanged as you'll be presented to a decent amount of selections to optimize your shots. Thankfully this time around there's an option for macro mode to get you up-close and personal with the things you're shooting. Sizing up at a respectable 5-megapixels, the camera's production quality indoors is average at best as shots tend to have a fuzzy haze to them while colors are softer and lighter in tone. However, taking shots outdoors in good lighting is a bit more respectable as detail and colors improve. By no means are they stunning, but the Captivate's performance should be more than enough to swallow for most people.
When it comes down to shooting videos with the Samsung Captivate, it's ability to capture them in 720p was surprisingly good thanks to its smooth capture rate of 29fps. Videos taken in both indoor and outdoor locales are detailed and for the most part consistent with an occasional jerkiness to them, but we'd imagine that the quality should be more than pleasing to the eye during playback. It would probably be less noticeable if you have a steady hand, but hopefully manufacturers can somehow implement anti-shake in video recording down the road. However, we did notice that there was this constant wind sounding noise that can be heard in the background even though we were indoors and away from any wind.
Samsung Captivate sample video 1 at 1280x720 pixels
Samsung Captivate sample video 2 at 1280x720 pixels
When it comes down to music playback, the Captivate is one of the few handsets that excel in both presentation and performance – catapulting it into the upper echelon of the pack. The tabs on the top of the music player allow sifting through your collection by artist, album and playlists, or display all at once. Landscape mode brings along some eye candy like CD cover flow-esque interface or an alphabetical wheel, to pick your music poison. Sharing the song via email or Bluetooth is done from the context menu while playing. The current song keeps going in the background when the screen is locked, and you can pull down the notification area then to display the controls. Aside from showing the album cover while playing a selection, we like how there's an option to enable a visualization to run. Tunes emitted from the phone's speaker were more than powerful, while still retaining a level of clarity when placed on the loudest setting. However, we adore the notion of 5.1 channel sound effect in place when throwing on a pair of headphones – without it enabled, audio sounded more muted and softer.
What's more fun to do than anything else when you pack on an above average sized display? Naturally watching videos easily comes to mind and there's no arguing that the Captivate is one compelling handset in this category to provide the best level of performance. The high-flying handset didn't even stutter at all when playing a video encoded in H.264 720x306 resolution – at the same time, colors were vibrant and easily showcased Super AMOLED's superior performance in this sector. If there's a handset you want to draw attention with, then the the Captivate will undoubtedly be able to accomplish just that.
The multimedia files get organized in the Gallery, which offers some 3D effects, batch view by date/time, and grid view. It automatically indexes the pictures and video on the card and in the phone. The gallery syncs with Picasa upon launch, assigning different icons to the pics depending on their source. The Picasa images are just thumbs and you have to download them for a full view. Images can be rotated and cropped right in the gallery, uploaded on Google's Picasa, or sent via email, MMS or Bluetooth. The Samsung AllShare function is also here, if you happen to have a DLNA capable TV to watch the pics or videos from the phone on the big screen. Videos can also be uploaded straight from the gallery, to Google's YouTube.
The Samsung Captivate is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100 MHz) handset which makes the perfect solution for the global trotter. In addition, it packs 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for an alternative internet connection and Bluetooth 3.0 to pair up with various devices for wireless transfers.
The default browser worked wonders on the huge capacitive screen. Multitouch feels well for precision zooming, but you can also double-tap for crude enlargement. The WebKit based browser is minimalistic, which we always like – just a thin green line at the top notifies of page loading status, and it loads, scrolls, and reflows text quickly. Hit the context menu, though, and a plethora of options for window management, bookmarking and downloads show up. Great experience, which will probably get even better when Froyo comes up for the Samsung GALAXY S series, and brings along an even faster and Flash 10.1-enabled experience. Until then we have to rely on the default YouTube client, which carries its duties with pride.
As it stands now, most high-end smartphones find 16GB to be the size of choice in order to satisfy the growing demand of media centric features – such as 720p video recording. Thankfully the Samsung Captivate does come in at that size, however, we found that there was approximately 13GB of free storage out of the box – which still is a decent amount, of course. Moreover, you can always supplement it with a microSD card if you find yourself eating away quickly on the phone's internal storage.
2. rtimi26 (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Mar 2009)
wow really and you only have 2 cons and you give it 8.5. Nice thanks I see how you do it now.
4. BlackSirius16 (Posts: 84; Member since: 21 May 2010)
yeah, did you even read what those two cons are???? average calling quality and medicore photos, pretty big deal
3. nak1017 (Posts: 322; Member since: 08 Jan 2010)
If I stuck an Apple sticker on the phone, would that make it 9.5 too?
5. networkdood (Posts: 4748; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
nak, good point, seems like veryone has ok call quality - I bought the HTC ARIA - AT&T - and it has great call quality - I usually ignore the call quality part of the review and focus on ease of use...I am tempted to trade mine in as it is under 30-days....but, I prefer HTC over SAMSUNG....soon HTC will have a super phone on the AT&T network and I will get it next year.
6. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2800; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
I would do it, this phone looks great. The only true con of this phone is its on the same network as the iphone.
7. martycota (Posts: 28; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)
Nice to see that a phone with so many pros and only 2 cons still manages to score below a phone that CANT EVEN MAKE PHONE CALLS! in your eyes. I used to respect phonearena's scores, but even as much as I hate ATT, this review pretty much sold me on finding a less bias review site.
8. osanilevich (Posts: 195; Member since: 29 Sep 2009)
what I don't understand is how samsung can screw up the two most basic functions of a phone but manage to make everything else perfect
10. jdh4455 (unregistered)
just so everyone knows, i have the captivate and the call quality is very good...good clear voices, loudness..and this is in an area that does not get decent reception;can't believe all that you read
12. Professor X (unregistered)
So where does your comment fall: something I read and shouldn't believe? or something I read and should take it with a grain of salt?
9. Husker62 (Posts: 13; Member since: 03 Aug 2009)
well i was just wondering if an unlocked version of the captivate is/going to be available without the AT&t bloatware? i am on at&t and really like these phones.
11. Brian (unregistered)
You can easily root the phone and uninstall all the ATT bloat with Titanium backup. Just search on XDA and it will give you an exact list of whats okay to delete.
13. person. (unregistered)
Maybe it's not such a big deal and maybe I'm the only one who noticed, but when phone arena mentioned about the Write and Go feature on the Samsung Captivate they didn't even use the Captivate; notice how there are only 4 signal bars when the captivate has 5.
14. LKgoalie (unregistered)
I personally don't care too much if the call quality is average. cuz that doesnt mean that you can't hear the other person and it shouldnt be a deal breaker for this awesome fone. also mediocre pix not too big a deal either in my opinion. if i wanted to take a photo of something that bad i would get a camera.