Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
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This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T's 1900MHz 3G band, and with T-Mobile USA without 3G.
Variants of the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 have been announced by all four major U.S. carriers and will be released as the Captivate by AT&T, Vibrant by T-Mobile USA, Fascinate by Verizon and Epic 4G by Sprint.
Update: You can now read our Galaxy S II review!
Working in tandem with the newest edition of the TouchWiz UI, these unique features of the Samsung GALAXY S should ring in what the company names Smart Life into your existence – a sophisticated companion from dusk till dawn. Will the phone live up to the hype, or will it be just another victim of stretched marketing imagination? Now the only smart thing left to do on our part, is to review the GALAXY S where the rubber meets the road...
- Samsung GALAXY S handset
- Li-Ion battery 1500mAh
- Headset with microphone
- User manual
- Get to know booklet
- Travel adapter
- microUSB cable
- Screen protector
The Samsung GALAXY S I9000 is a typical rectangular representative of the big touchscreen phone designs these days. The screen is recessed just a tad below the rim of the casing, which protects it from direct contact with hard surfaces when placed face-down. As can be expected from a 4” display, it occupies most of the frontal space, but room is spared above and below it for the earpiece and navigational buttons.
You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
There are three keys right below it – touch home, physical menu and touch back. Long pressing the context menu key fires up the smart search function, so we actually have all four standard Android keys present. The other front elements are above the screen - the earpiece slit, a front facing VGA cam, and the dot sensors for proximity and ambient light. The Samsung branding is visible right above the screen, as well as on the lower section of the battery cover.
The back hosts the 5MP camera lens in the upper left corner, and the speaker grill on the right. Below them is the ubiquitous “with Google” branding, which hints this is a full-featured Android device, with the whole set of Google services preinstalled. The dotted back cover makes one think the phone has measles rather than bring the alleged carbon fiber-esque look, but that's our take.
On the upper left side is the volume rocker, which is a whole piece with a decent travel click, and on the right is the power/lock key. It is welcome that Samsung has provided a physical lock key to the GALAXY S. You can't accidentally dial on a capacitive screen in your pocket, but it's the quick pressing of the lock key before you slip it in, that completely takes the worries out.
Another nice idea from Samsung is the sliding lid over the microUSB port at the top of the Samsung GALAXY S – prevents dirt and lint from clogging the port. The same can be found on the Samsung Wave, and takes another worry out of the equation. The top also houses the 3.5mm audio jack, which can serve as an S-video port for TV-out, if you get the additional cable. It would have been nice to have an HDMI-out port, so sound can travel to your TV as well as picture, but obviously Samsung hasdecided to leave the GALAXY S out of the multimedia battles. The only other element worth noting is the microscopic mic hole at the bottom of the device and that's all there is on the outside. Pretty simple and streamlined exterior..
The handset's design is not amazingly inventive, but rather practical and comfortable for holding thanks to a hump at the very bottom of its back cover. We wouldn't actually consider the device too big since it is also very thin with its 0.39” (9.9mm). This commendable achievement is due to the technology behind the 480x800 pixels WVGA Super AMOLED screen. Samsung has disposed of the air layer between the touch sensitive panel and the display, and has placed the touch sensor directly over it – almost like coating, considering it is 0.000040” (0.001 mm) thick. This surely helped to keep matters nice and svelte in the Samsung GALAXY S I9000, despite its powerhouse status. It also sports true black color, wider viewing angles and is very usable in direct sunlight thanks to the lack of air pocket in the Super AMOLED technology. What we didn't like in this display was how you can easily see almost every single pixel in it. We are not sure if it's the low ppi count or the particular technology involved, but it surely has a negative effect on image clarity and even usability, as it makes small texts pretty hard to read.
The only gripe we have with the design is the plasticky build, unlike the nice aluminum one, found in the Samsung Wave. We would have preferred more upscale materials or accents, but, oh well, as long as the phone is sturdy as it appears, we will sit tight and wait for the Vanity Fair moment to pass.
Moreover, an all-plastic casing around a thin display brings in a welcome reduction in weight. The Samsung GALAXY S I9000 is one of the lightest handsets with a 4” screen money can buy - it weighs what the smaller Wave does with its 4.16 oz (118 g). Compare that to the HTC EVO 4G's 6.00 oz (170 g), or even to the same screen size Xperia X10 at 4.76 oz (135 g), and you will catch our drift. Keep 'em Super AMOLEDs coming, Samsung, humanity will be eternally grateful.