US carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S explained

US carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S explained
We have rarely had a single model of a mobile phone manufacturer to appear on all US major carriers at once. Yet, somehow Samsung's Galaxy S was conceived to do just that, not to mention its simultaneous launch in 100+ other countries. Looking from this perspective, it seems like Samsung is placing all its bets on one horse to cross the finish line by the end of this year with а ten percent market share.

The Galaxy S will be available from the four biggest  US mobile carriers plus U.S. Cellular and Cellular South, but in a dizzying array of designs, features and carrier-specific software. That is why we want to cool the excitement a bit, line up all versions, and break down the major specs differences for you.

First off, let's start with the features they all share. The original Samsung Galaxy S is the second phone from the manufacturer with a Super AMOLED screen that brings 4” of the most saturated colors and the best viewing angles of what is currently on the market. High contrast, deep blacks and better visibility in the sun than just AMOLED also characterize this technology, not to mention the decrease in power consumption. It is not by chance that T-Mobile have named their version the Vibrant.

The handsets are powered by the 1GHz Hummingbird processor, which is Samsung's answer to the Snapdragon family, and beats it in synthetic benchmark speed and video processing tests. All of the handsets are running Android 2.1 (which will later be upgraded to Froyo), and have a 5MP camera that also shoots high definition video. The Galaxy S boasts some quick radio chips, too, with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 on its board, plus wireless tethering out of the box.

First in the rumor mill was a Galaxy S on AT&T. It materialized under the name Captivate, and differs from the original Galaxy S in casing (with a carbon fiber pattern on the back), and branding, of course. All US carrier versions are receiving the four Android navigational buttons as touch keys under the screen, as opposed to the three buttons of the original. The Captivate will have 16GB of internal memory and will be available on AT&T “in the coming months”.

Samsung Captivate Specifications | Hands-on

AT&T's Samsung Captivate
AT&T's Samsung Captivate


Afterwards we heard rumors about a Samsung Galaxy S Pro that would bring a physical keyboard to the mix and will be most likely carried by Sprint. This turned out to be the heavyweight champion of all versions. Unveiled as the Samsung Epic 4G, it will be the second handset on Sprint to use its WiMAX network, will be adding an LED flash that the original Galaxy S lacks, and will also sport a 6-axis motion sensor. Samsung highlighted the motion sensor in its Epic 4G press release, but it seems that the Captivate also has it, and maybe the others do too.

Samsung Epic 4G Specifications | Hands-on

Sprint's Samsung Epic 4G
Sprint's Samsung Epic 4G


Then Verizon and T-Mobile also followed suit the other day, announcing the Samsung Fascinate and the Samsung Vibrant, respectively. Both versions are similar to the original touchscreen-only devices, so that leaves solely the Epic 4G having a physical keyboard. The main differences in design here are that Verizon's Fascinate has an LED camera flash similar to Sprint's offering, and a chromed metal band around the handset, also like the Epic 4G. There are a few applications of the VCAST family preinstalled, plus Skype Mobile and a Mobile hotspot app. The phone will have a 16GB microSD card in the box. Interestingly, the search engine of choice on the Fascinate is Bing, with its own widget and voice search icon on the home screen.

Samsung Fascinate Specifications | Hands-on

Verizon's Samsung Fascinate
Verizon's Samsung Fascinate


T-Mobile's Vibrant will be coming with some multimedia bonuses – the movie “Avatar” on a separate 2GB memory card, and The Sims 3 game pre-installed. Carrier-specific software here are MobiTV, Slacker Radio and Instant books which works with Amazon and B&N. There is also Kindle for Android to read the e-books. Design-wise, the Samsung Vibrant for T-Mobile is the closest to the original Galaxy S, and it even has the same dotted pattern on the back. It will be available on July 21st for $199 after rebates on a two-year contract. You were also able to pre-order the Vibrant from Radio Shack's website last time we checked.

Samsung Vibrant Specifications | Hands-on

T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant
T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant


All four US versions are confirmed for upgrade to Android 2.2, which will bring Adobe Flash Player 10.1 compatibility for a true-to-desktop web browsing. Samsung's latest TouchWiz 3.0 remains the interface of choice on all, and doesn't seem to be very customized, apart from a few carrier-specific apps and widgets. The big news here is a mysterious Samsung Media Hub icon. The company promises its own multimedia store in the near future, where you can buy or rent movies, music and TV shows, backed by some of the biggest names in entertainment. It definitely looks like Samsung is focusing on expanding its share of the mobile market, so it will be interesting to watch the developments, given the company's engineering might.

All in all, despite that the Epic 4G and the Fascinate are slightly ahead hardware-wise, it is great news that nobody (even the folks on AT&T) will be left without a high-end Android option. In the meantime, if you are curious exactly how the Samsung Galaxy S feels and behaves, please follow the link below to read our in-depth review of the original version, which won't be far from the truth when the US quartet hits the streets.

Samsung Galaxy S Specifications | Review

What say you, are you getting any of those attention-seekers? And which one tickles your fancy most?

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19 Comments

1. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I might have to pick up and try the epic I miss having a keyboard the evo is great but man I miss a keyboard

10. ace1122

Posts: 237; Member since: Mar 23, 2009

Yeah i can't even imagine not having a keyboard

15. Kiltlifter

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

That's the whole point of options. I personally hate using physical keyboards, but I know there are those that can't do without it. The 4" screen and size of the device will accommodate both soft and hard keyboards very well.

2. snakemann

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 17, 2008

why does the tmo verison lacks a flash for the camera...smdh...i'm still getting the phone but i just wish it had a damn flash...

3. mdw92581

Posts: 131; Member since: Feb 25, 2010

from the Engaget pictures with the phone in Night Mode the pictures are great in low light unlike majority if not all other cellphones.

7. zerglisk

Posts: 544; Member since: Feb 09, 2010

Not just the Tmo version is lacking it. Actually all 3 of them are lacking other than the Sprint 4G version.

9. Univice

Posts: 39; Member since: Jun 15, 2010

No just the at&t Captivate and the TMO Vibrant don't have LED Flash. The Verizon Fascinate has a LED Flash as does Sprint's Epic. It seems there is confusion out on the other specs like front facing camera depending on what web site you look at. Some sites show pictures of the back of the phones and you can clearly see the LED flash on the Fascinate.

11. VZW

Posts: 24; Member since: Nov 02, 2009

Um, no.. the Verizon one has a flash on it, too.

4. mdw92581

Posts: 131; Member since: Feb 25, 2010

Before I laid hands on the EVO and HD2 I could not live without a keyboard. I've lost all desire for a KB since then and I think 4" is right on the money. Also I think the Vibrant and Fascinate are the best looking and the Epic is giving my bad memories of the Instinct s30 8-X Vibrant FTW!

16. DonkeyPunched

Posts: 321; Member since: Jan 10, 2010

Yes, I love the way the Vibrant looks. I really want a keyboard on my phone like the Epic, but it's kinda ugly from the pictures...but then again, I've been mistaken for pictures and seen phones in actual life and they look much better then. Gonna have to compare a bit...

5. dahaka17

Posts: 61; Member since: Jun 08, 2010

phonearea when are u gonna learn that the $10 add on from sprint is NOT for 4g you meatfaces

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

then what is it for? I thought it was for the 4g speeds as well.

8. zerglisk

Posts: 544; Member since: Feb 09, 2010

it was actually for tethering Wi-Fi to other devices, but later when 4G activates (in your area), you later get benefits from 4G.

14. techmommy07

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 03, 2010

the 10 dollars is for 4G speeds... the wi-fi is 29.99 a month

17. paynekiller

Posts: 152; Member since: May 24, 2010

the $10 extra is for 4G and to remove the 3G data cap

12. taaars

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 27, 2010

Acording to samsungs website , they all are the same specs save flash, ffc and internal memory,. phonescoop has also has detail review of all units and stated this.

13. josuearisty

Posts: 148; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

A 5mpx high-end phone with no flash for camera? Those versions suck.

18. baldilocks

Posts: 1428; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

It's a PHONE. If you want a digital camera, buy a digital camera.

19. spoonb1

Posts: 77; Member since: Jan 02, 2010

i agree... just sucks that such a high end phone, that is labeled as a multimedia monster lacks a led or flash of anykind... i guess no multimedia recorded at night/dark.... too bad att is just sitting on the Sony ericsson x10(been approved since March).... same specs save for the screen type and having a much better camera with flash, and will have HD video recording (same as on the Vivaz-with continual autofocus) in sept/oct when the 2.1 update rolls out...

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