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



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



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



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



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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