Samsung Captivate vs. Apple iPhone 4
Try as they may, Android's push with AT&T has yet to compare to the level seen with other carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon as they boast some of the most eclectic mix of high-end Android smartphones that can quench the needs of many. For the last few years, Apple's iPhone has cemented itself as the sole premier smartphone offering which has been able to captivate people with its intuitive performance, quality design, and straightforward experience – all the ingredients required for its successful recipe. However, we've just checked out the Samsung Captivate, AT&T's specific version of the Galaxy S, which easily impressed us by its stellar performance, refreshing interface, and eye catching looks. It's a safe bet to say at this point that the Captivate is easily the best thing out of Android on AT&T's lineup which can test the iPhone 4's recent tight grasp. So if you're an AT&T customer sitting idle to find out which smartphone to side with as your next device, then sit back as these two titans are plopped down in a cage to see who can tangle with who.
Undeniably, we were happy to see the Samsung Captivate exude a strikingly alternate look versus its other brothers and sisters. Although it still employs some plastic, it doesn't feel cheap at all while its metallic back cover adorned with a carbon fiber pattern does make it feel well constructed.
Meanwhile, in just about every angle you look at the iPhone 4, there is no shortage of premium materials used in its construction. Sandwiched in between two pieces of glass like material is a stainless steel band that outlines the usual look of the iPhone we're accustomed to seeing over the years. Clearly, the Apple iPhone 4 embodies all of the aspects that one would expect to find in a premium handset.
Streamline is the name of the game and both smartphones present themselves with some serious slim packages as the iPhone 4 stands in at 0.37” thick while the Captivate is at 0.41” – but we're quite impressed with the slim look of the Captivate when it's packing a sizable 4” display. Holding each handset in the hand, the difference in weight is night and day as the Captivate's (4.41 oz) choice of materials makes it especially light weight over the iPhone 4 (4.83 oz). When it comes to sheer durability, one would have to imagine for the lighter Captivate to hold up more in extreme situations – however, we were surprised to see our iPhone 4 still looking intact and pristine, aside from some minor blemishes, after dropping it from a height of 4 feet onto the hard pavement. As much as we were more careful in handling both units after that unfortunate incident, we accidentally dropped the Captivate from a height of 3 feet. Luckily it lived to see another day as the only damage done was also a minor blemish to its plastic casing.
These two powerhouse smartphones utilize two totally different display technologies, but which ever one you look at, there's no arguing that they're probably the most compelling things to be found. The Apple iPhone 4 relies on a 3.5” LCD IPS display dubbed the Retina Display as it boats a mind boggling resolution of 640 x 960 pixels with support for 16.7 million colors. Naturally with that sized screen and high resolution, it easily provides for more detail as each section of the display is littered with densely packed pixels. On the other hand, the Samsung Captivate explodes with a 4” Super AMOLED display at WVGA (480x800) resolution and equal support of 16.7 million colors. Sure you can see some fuzziness happening around some text from a closeup glance, but it offers for some stunning looking colors, which though can, at times, be too saturated. Although it may look extremely appealing, you can tell things are a tad oversaturated on the Captivate when you compare the color white – on the iPhone 4 it replicates the color perfectly while there is a slight bluish hue on the Captivate. However, the Captivate produces better pure black over the iPhone 4 as it boasts a higher contrast ratio. At times though, you can make out the individual pixels on an image or text on a web page with the Captivate while everything looks detailed and sharp on the iPhone 4. Both handsets are equally potent in the brightness category and in viewing angles as well, but taking it outdoors in the direct path of the glaring sun, we had an easier time seeing items on screen with the iPhone 4. Each handset has its unique attributes that stand out more than the other, but in the end, it will ultimately come down in how the end user perceives it with their own eyes.
Samsung Captivate - left and above, Apple iPhone 4 - right and bellow
Apple iPhone 4
Samsung Captivate - left
Apple iPhone 4 - right
Nowadays touch sensitive buttons seem to the trend in exuding a premium quality handset, just like what the Captivate offers, but we still find the physical button employed on the iPhone 4 to be less aggravating. In any case, there is a decent amount of spacing in between the bottom of the touchscreen and touch sensitive buttons to minimize any accidental presses. As for the rest of the buttons adorning the sides of each handset, we liked the ones on the iPhone 4 as they felt pretty good and well sized over the plastic ones in use with the Captivate. The iPhone 4 follows Apple's tradition in utilizing its proprietary port for charging while the Captivate sides with the standard microUSB port – but thankfully both find a common ground with their 3.5mm headset jacks. The iPhone 4's speaker is found where it should be towards the bottom edge of the phone while it can be found in the rear on the Captivate. Both smartphones include a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera towards the upper left corner on the rear, but the iPhone 4 tacks on an LED flash – so it's almost unimaginable to see a high-end phone to lack one, but it's omitted from the Captivate. Most users would like to see a removable battery and microSD card slot, which are present on the Captivate – but these are of course naturally lacking on the iPhone 4.
1. rtimi26 (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Mar 2009)
Now this is how reviews should be done. Give your opinion and be fair with it. Yes you gave the Captivate an 8.5 overall and 9.5 to the iphone i don't know why but at least anyone that reads this review will know it's up to their preference.
3. appleeater (Posts: 2; Member since: 16 Jul 2010)
Can you say FANBOY!!! What a totally biased review. Take it from someone who has been studying both of these phones for almost a month now(hands-on and online) and almost buying an iphail, the Captivate is the superior phone,from screen to proccessor. "equally impressive 1GHz Cortex-A8 Hummingbird processor" haha you mean superior.
4. BlackSirius16 (Posts: 84; Member since: 21 May 2010)
But the build quality on the captivate is terrible compared to the iPhone. you should probably just get the hell away from AT&T
6. rtimi26 (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Mar 2009)
Actually the captivate does way better than the iphone just check the browser comparison on pocketnow.com
9. spoonb1 (Posts: 77; Member since: 02 Jan 2010)
the captivate feels great and looks it too... im not personally a fan of the glossy gunmetal colored plastic that exudes samsung but it does feel nice, the textured carbonfiber'ish metal battery cover adds a nice touch. the glass of the iphone is still fragile as I have seen several-- yes, in person-- and owners stated that they merely dropped them from waist high(while putting(well, attempting) to put them in their pockets andthe expected result... a few shattered iphone 4 backs, and 2 fronts. also, for what its worth, the iphone 4 will not focus properly in complete darkness... it still needs "some light" to get a good focus, then will snap a pretty good pic. while, not sure what captain jitters was doing while taking the picture samples in this review of the captivate, but I have personally transferred unedited pics from a test unit over to the pc and the pics look great-- and sharp. both are great phones, and agreed that it may be a hard choice for the folks that are neither android nor apple fanboy types.
14. Windsponge (Posts: 90; Member since: 01 Nov 2009)
I agree with you very unfair. Even size of pictures were not correct. No real mention of documented droped calls. I am beginning to think phonearena is being paid by apple. I have been researching everything I can find on phones and checked out in person and I must say that I don't see the great quality of I Phone.I feel it looks like it is a little cheap around the glass. Just my feel. Apple should be scared , very scared.
20. de2philly (Posts: 31; Member since: 30 Jun 2010)
Build quality? You mean the uncovered Antenna on the iphone4 where when you touch it and youre not in 5 bar perfect signal your call may drop? Thats not good "build quality" in my book, no matter how the phone feels or looks.
34. CRICKETownz (Posts: 980; Member since: 24 Oct 2009)
I think when it comes to build quality Apple always accomplishes the visually appealing design. They have mastered that aspect with pretty much all of their products on the market. I think everything beyond that point comes down to personal preference. I carry an Android device right now and personally think that iP4 has a better menu design than the Captivate, but when it comes to HTC's Sense IU or Motorola's menu design I would disagree in this case. TouchWiz just doesn't do it for me but again its just personal preference.
41. E46titan (unregistered)
Better screen?, Better processor? The Captivate's screen is not nearly as high resolution and cannot display as much detail. The Iphone 4 is faster too so how is the processor better? The proff is in the facts. Looks like you're nothing but a hater.
49. LOL (unregistered)
Fail, the processor on the captivate is faster. While the A4 in both phones are meant to run at 1 ghz, the iphone 4 is downclocked to 800 mhz. Unlike the captivate that runs at the original 1 ghz, and with some rooting, can be overclocked to 1.2 ghz and such. Also, the samoled is absolutely gorgeous. now if you were a graphic designer you would want the ips panel of the iphone because it is more color accurate, as in closer to real life, but the samoled screen of any galaxy s phone, makes the picture look more vibrant and in return, better than real life. So, Graphic Designer-> iphone Average Joe -> Captivate Plus the fact that the sgx540 in the galaxy s phones rape the sgx535 in the iphone 4 in the ass. Captivate= winner
5. Supraman21 (Posts: 7; Member since: 09 Jun 2010)
Oh and ive actually seen both a video taken with the iPhone and the Galaxy S on a 42 inch tv and the Galaxy S definitely wins.
7. zyoose (Posts: 6; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)
Question PhoneArena, why does your review state that there isn't a front facing camera on the Captivate but when you look up the specs on your site it says that there is an additional camera. Can somebody who has played with the Captivate help ?
8. spoonb1 (Posts: 77; Member since: 02 Jan 2010)
there is no secondary cam on the captivate... there may have been one in the works on the original galaxy s when the specs were typed here on the site, prob an oversight of the web editors, but the captivate has but the one main cam on the back...
10. spiceguy (Posts: 10; Member since: 09 Jul 2010)
I'm pissed off about the little plastic unlock button on the side of the Galaxy. A function that must be used every time you use the phone should be prominent. The search button on the bottom right is never used and is the obvious choice to unlock the screen. A MAJOR Fuck-up! . If I can get over that then the Galaxy is the clear choice for me. I've had the Vibrant for 2 days now and I'm thrilled with the larger screen and Swipe is the deal breaker. Sorry apple.
12. aricept (Posts: 4; Member since: 17 Jul 2010)
The Search button is a required button on all Android devices. You'll see it on every model. Blame Google, whose primary business of course is search.
30. mmj (unregistered)
AT&T actually added that search button - it does not appear on the original Galaxy S. Nor is it a requirement on Android phones, though a lot of them do have it. On the ones that don't, you can usually search by holding down some other button.
11. BlackSirius16 (Posts: 84; Member since: 21 May 2010)
AT&T quarantine I won't have either of these phones because of total fail coverage Captivate is still better though
18. baldilocks (Posts: 411; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
I have far better coverage with AT&T than any other carrier in my area. What's good for you, isn't good for everyone else. So your comment is FAIL.
15. remixfa (Posts: 13885; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
all i have to say, is that for PA to give a glowing comparison next to anything with an apple logo, must mean that its the best phone ever.. lol I do have to say, im quite impressed with the battery life of the galaxy S. I ran it with gps,wifi,google earth, and mobi tv running and it still lasted about 7 hours without a battery warning. Show me another high end phone that can do that.
31. mmj (unregistered)
Certainly, after looking at those photo samples and then at the text analysis, I have no idea how they came to the conclusion that the iPhone took superior photos, it seems the actual photos show the opposite, heaps of detail lost in the iPhone due to over-agressive noise filtering. Compare the indoor, dim lighting samples.
42. dwayne (unregistered)
I test drove the Captivate while waiting for the IPhone 4 and the battery last 5-6 hrs at best. That's after shutting down the 5 or 6 apps that were running in the background. I might have more running that I'm not aware of.
16. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 885; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)
I like how they review the captivate without making it an i-phone killer within AT&T. both phones are worth getting and i think tht its a good alternative while the i-phone 4 works on its antenna issues. I work for AT&T and ive told customers about the phone and what its supposed to do. i think the captivate could be one of the best non i-phones within AT&T besides the Aria, Palm Pre Plus, and the Tilt 2 (when windows mobile doesnt freeze up lol)
17. networkdood (Posts: 4749; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
If people knew how good the captivate was - then, it would be an iphone killer - it is an awesome phone - call quality is better than what phonearena states it to be, too.
19. remixfa (Posts: 13885; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the only categorys where the captivate/vibrant/galaxyS doesnt stomp the iphone is Apps and lowlight camera usage. The rest belongs to the Galaxy. I'd say that makes the galaxy the winner. Oh yea, and the galaxy is easily rooted to make it faster, put a better camera app on there, so on and so forth, to make it even better than it already is.
21. de2philly (Posts: 31; Member since: 30 Jun 2010)
So if this competes w/ the iphone4... What will you say for Sprints version that also has a physical keypad AND 4G? Hmmmm
22. applesr4eating (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)
I want a physical keyboard also. I hate virtual keyboards.
48. thisguy (unregistered)
Sprints 4G network is only available in less than 10 cities nationwide
23. mikeytx (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Jul 2010)
My wife has the iPhone 4 and she likes all the ease of use like her music. I have the captivate and I like the large screen and I can customize the phone to my personality. I went from iPhone to captivate because of all of the article reasons but, it failed to mention 2 important features. Android 2.2 will have wifi tethering which is expected release for Captivate in fall. iPhone you still need to pay the extra 10 a month and it's cable tether to a laptop. 2nd feature is memory is expandable where iPhone you are set to whatever you purchased. One thing I do not like about the captivate is file management on and off the phone but that's a Android limitation.
25. mikeytx (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Jul 2010)
i take that back about file management off the phone. There is an third-party that syncs itunes and androids. it's called doubletwist. what still kills me is the list of good games on the android. not list of games but GOOD games.
24. shimmyx20 (Posts: 280; Member since: 03 Mar 2009)
Just changed to the Captivate from an iPhone...glad I made the switch!
26. baldilocks (Posts: 411; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
After owning both of these and using both off and on for almost two weeks --- the Captivate is going back. Sorry, it's just not ready yet. Get all the software bugs fixed, make the bottom soft keys stay on longer than 2 seconds, fix the reception issues and the GPS. Then it MIGHT be close to being ready to compete. Now that the iPhone 4 is jailbroken, I can customize it nearly as much (if not more) than I could the captivate.
27. Mike Wong (unregistered)
@baldilocks won't you miss the 4 inch display on captivate? After using mine for one week, I still think captivate is better than iphone. there is some many things I can do to customize the captivate. You can google GPS fix for captivate. I tried it and it works great...
29. FrozenComa (unregistered)
There is already a temporary fix for those problems that you can easily do yourself and Samsung is working on a mass update that should be out shortly.
38. allmotor91 (unregistered)
When I had mine it couldn't even find my location inside and outside it took allmost ten min to find me. I tried all the fixes but did not help, so i now using my iPhone 4 trouble free.
28. FrozenComa (unregistered)
Rooting my Captivate was by far the easiest thing to do on a phone ever. I was then able to remove the AT&T bloatware, enable showing every app that AT&T blocks in the Android Market, and enabled installing of non-Market applications. As soon as Froyo (2.2) gets released for this phone; it's going to make it a lot more powerful then it already is. Also Gingerbread (Temporary 3.0 name) is already in the works and boasts a 1280x760 resolution.
32. Tracybjazz (unregistered)
I've got an iPhone 3G but ready to upgrade - it's either iPhone 4 or Captivate. Can someone (please) answer this question? The above article did not address ease of syncing media (music, video) and files calendars, contacts, bookmarks, etc with my main computer (a Mac). iPhone 4 will be simple. How easy will it be to manage media and files with the Captivate? Will I need to switch to Google mail, calendars, contacts to make it work seamlessly? Any advice is appreciated, thanks.
35. royalty316 (unregistered)
If you've got a MAC, get the iphone 4. other reviews I've read say it's difficult to sync across systems unless you're used to doing that already. BTW, I'm getting the Captivate
39. allmotor91 (unregistered)
Id say go with the the iPhone. I found it very easy to manage averything on my iPhone but the captivate did not have the options I needed. And for mail google works well on the captivate but yahoo or my home email was very disappointing. Also if you plan on having tons of apps know that you can't store them on the captivate's sd card.
33. stavs (unregistered)
is everyone forgetting that the app store completely DESTROYS android marketplace. My friends hate it when i play GTA, streetfighter and a ton of other games on my iphone. They even have admitted that the android marketplace is garbage mostly which leads to my next arguement... if you dont have the software to run with the hardware, who the hell gives a sh*t if your phone is "x'' times better than the iphone on paper, if you dont got the software (apps), it doesnt matter how superiorly advanced your phone is. I'm not saying android is a bad Operating system, I've played with it for a little and its very good, but it needs time. Apple will still lead the industry for a couple of years unti android can catch up fully.
40. We been doin that (unregistered)
I gotta nes, snes, genesis, and gameboy emulator on my captivate and they were all free. I can download roms directly from my browser. Can iphone do that?
44. So has everyone else (unregistered)
Yes, the iphone can do that too. It's not a big deal
36. gtsmoker (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Aug 2010)
Having tolerated frequent dropped calls on the iPhone 3 for two years because I did not want to pay the high termination fee I decided to try the new iPhone even after the antennagate story when they announced that with the rubber boot it was now perfect. It was worse then ever. This one I returned the next day for the full refund. I'm always astounded when I read these reviews about what a great phone it is if you just ignore how bad the phone is. Nonsense, even on a smartphone I use the phone 99% of the time just like on a pc I read my email and surf the web 99% of the time. All the other tricks are great but if its primary function is worthless the entire thing is useless.
37. Shield and Defender (unregistered)
I HAVE BIG, FAT FINGERS, so the downside of the iPhone for me IS the QWERTY keys. I tried the Swype on a demo Captivate phone and loved it !!!! Other than that, my Question for you is: What happens to the iTunes music bank I already have and my purchased movies? Will AT&T or 'someone' let me transfer them?
43. dwayne (unregistered)
Before all the phone "techies" get ready with their hateful comments, I would like to preface my review by saying, I'm an average phone user. I do quite a bit with my phone, but far less than it's capable of. I recently broke my 3G IPhone and was talked into the Captivate by the sales person. He said I could try it out and if I didn't like it, I could bring it back in 30 days. Here's what I didn't like: 1. I spent over two hours on the computer trying to download programs to convert all my IPhone stuff. Was not successful. 2. I don't like the side power button. 3. The buttons on the bottom weren't always responsive. I did like the vibrate feature, but had to turn it off to save battery life. 4. I didn't think the picture quality was a good as my IPhone. 5. The power cord isn't secure when charging. I bumped my phone and easily dislodged the power cord. 6. I couldn't use the phone while it was charging. 7. The battery life was terrible. 5-6 hrs at best. I realized I had several apps running in the background and even after shutting them off, the battery didn't last the day. 8. I couldn't easily go back and correct typos without erasing the message up to that point. The Captivate is a good looking phone with a vibrant, large screen and was very quick on the internet. I've had my IPhone for years and it may be I'm just to old to work this hard on my smart phone. I'm taking it back and asked to be put on the list for the 4G IPhone. I also realized I have all these IPhone accessories that I would have to rebuy for the Captivate. It's like having a house full of Chevy parts and I bought a Ford. I did appreciate the opportunity to try it.
50. TlKraus1965 (unregistered)
Two of my friends have the Iphone4.. very nice phone, better camera.. I have had the Captivate for about a month now and love it. I rooted it and can now download apps from outside of the android market. The phone is great, the camera works well, the video recorder is impressive and I like the feel of being able to customize my phone so I can do the same stuff that Verizon and Sprint users can do. I don't have a problem with the charger cable coming loose, I can use my phone while charging.. it depends on the charger you are using, some aftermarket chargers do cause an issue. I get several hours of battery use with the correct applications to manage battery life. You can change typos, just have to touch the spot where your mistake is. Given a fair chance, I think anyone would like the Captivate just fine. The GPS is hit and miss sometimes, I've had it lock in as little as 18 seconds or as long as 3 minutes. The more you use GPS , the better it is at finding you.** Just found the unlock code even after the latest update***
45. Raven716 (unregistered)
What about the horrible gps on the Captivate? I've had the captivate for about 2 weeks now and the gps won't lock for me anywhere. Which makes navigation and any other location based application useless. I know its supposed to be fixed with the new update but when is that coming? I only have 2 weeks left that I can return this phone.
46. STUART (unregistered)
I have an LG Arena, which I can't stand. Apparently there were a lot of people that felt the same way becasue AT&T has dropped it from their lineup just six months after its release. Sooo...I was in the market for another smart phone. I have resisted all things Apple for many years and don't like being tied to Itunes interface, so I looked at Android based phones and naturally the Captivate. I was pretty excited about what I read and all the performance specifications, but knew from my Arena experience (purchased online with wirefly) that spending some time with the phone in your hand and texting and browsing (which I do a lot of) was absolutely critical to the decision process. Off to the AT&T store I went and I gave myself several hours of play time. I was very surprised by what the in your hands experience told me. The Captivate felt and looked cheap in comparison to the Iphone 4...and not by a little. In my opinion the difference was huge. I wasn't even impressed with the Captivate's larger screen. The Iphone's screen was so much higher resolution and truer color that it made the viewing experience much more pleasurable despite the smaller size. I also was a little dissapointed with the Captivates keyboard. The keys actually semed smaller and they just lit when touched instead of showing the keys symbol above your finger where you could confirm a proper keystroke. Also, with the click feedback turned on in landscape mode, I found the Captivate's key response to be quite slow. The Iphone's interface just seems to work better in every way for me and its predictive text feature worked better than any others I have tried. Ok....I used to liken Apple to the Temple of Doom, but I have to give them credit where credit is due. The iphone 4 just does it for me and the Captivate just doesn't.
47. Stuart (unregistered)
Well, this is very interesting. Other video reviews of the Captivate show a little different keyboard with the symbols popping up above the keys. I'm wondering what the heck they did to the one in the store. I am going to have to go back now and figure this out because the keyboard was the big drawback on the Captivate.
51. TlKraus1965 (unregistered)
Captivate has 3 different keyboards to choose from, my wife and I actually use the Android one the most with voice to text recognition.. if you talk proper and kind of robotic, it's pretty accurate. Great while driving.
52. Joecee (unregistered)
captivate has the ability to tether..att doesnt have the software just a point i wanted to throw out there just incase the small group of people that do tether dont go buy this phone counting on it to tether.
3rd party options might be available
53. Britcooper (unregistered)
Nice review, but for me it misses some key points. I have had an iphone 3 for a long time, combination of its wifi broke and battery issues meant I wanted to get a new phone. I was looking to get off Apple, and the Samsung Captivate seemed to fit the bill. After a week of trying, I am about to switch back to iphone4. The main gripes about the Samsung:
- cannot access corporate wifi, since it can't do DHCP. What a big flaw! Supposedly fixed in Froyo, but no-one knows when or if that will ever come out.
- lots of problems trying to get it to synch with music on my Windows PC. Suffice to say, I am a techie, I setup MediaMonkey, but still cannot find the right combination of ways to connect phone to music. And of course I lose my Apple restricted music unless I rip it first (yes, that is an Apple problem, not a Samsung issue).
- very hard to put in the small USB cable to the phone, and to keep it in without knocking it out.
I really wanted the Samsung to work for me, but it just does not, and I am planning on going back to Apple just so I can use something without having to think about it too much.