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.

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.

Samsung Captivate 360 Degrees View:

Apple iPhone 4 360 Degrees View:



1. rtimi26

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 16, 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.

2. rtimi26

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 16, 2009

Great review by the way

3. appleeater

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 16, 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: May 21, 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: 42; Member since: Mar 16, 2009

Actually the captivate does way better than the iphone just check the browser comparison on

9. spoonb1

Posts: 77; Member since: Jan 02, 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: 97; Member since: Nov 01, 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: 32; Member since: Jun 30, 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: Oct 24, 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: 467; Member since: Jun 09, 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: Dec 11, 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: Jan 02, 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...

13. zyoose

Posts: 6; Member since: Dec 11, 2008


10. spiceguy

Posts: 10; Member since: Jul 09, 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: Jul 17, 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: May 21, 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: 1547; Member since: Dec 14, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 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: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 32; Member since: Jun 30, 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: Jul 01, 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: Jul 21, 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.

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