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Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

Samsung Galaxy S

Posted: , posted by Daniel P.

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Samsung's TouchWiz overlay of Android 2.1 on the GALAXY S is there mostly for the better. Android's notification bar at the top lets you toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ringer and vibration on/off, and we caught ourselves constantly using it for that, instead of the usual options. The omnipresent dock at the screen bottom is populated with four icons. They are labeled Phone, Contacts, Messaging and Applications, and are docked wherever you navigate in the home or menu screens – done before, but helpful nonetheless. The Applications icon becomes Home when you enter the apps menu, and vice versa – it is the only icon on the dock you can't replace with shortcuts of your choosing in edit mode.

The Samsung GALAXY S I9000 offers up to seven home screens, which can be populated with widgets, launch icons and folders by tap and hold on an empty space. Unfortunately they don't act as a carousel, so you have to swipe six times to get from the first to the last home screen, or use the small dots up the screen for that. If you dive into the menus, or enter an application, and keep hitting the back key, you will be returned to the home screen you were at before entering. Pressing the physical home button, on the other hand, always takes you to the default first homescreen. 

You don't even have to type to perform a search from the home screen - Google Voice Search has come a long way. Just tap the mike icon and thanks to the powerful CPU, we were entering our home page a few seconds after we mumbled “PhoneArena” to the phone. Out of the other Android widgets, we can see some added value in the Power control (lets you switch on/off radios and adjust brightness) and Picture frame (populates home screens with pics of your choosing) widgets.

The selection of widgets that can be added to the home screens is similar to the one in the Samsung Wave. Samsung's widgets are for the most part helpful, though repetitive. The company decided to show us there are many ways to skin a cat - if you want to be always in touch with the weather (AccuWeather clock), the stock market (Y! Finance clock), another timezone (Dual clock), or your busy schedule (the Calendar clock). The more, the merrier, we would say, and leave it at that. 

Those can actually be combined into one widget called the Daily Briefing, which populates the current weather, stock quotes, AP breaking news, and your calendar events, on one home screen. Another fairly useful widget is Feeds and Updates - it satiates your thirst for social interaction on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace right from a home screen. We let the phone take us to the Samsung Apps store to download more widgets, but the choice was appalling for the total of two more. Nevertheless we obtained Robert Parker's wine guide for the sense of superiority it will bring come our usual gourmet dinners in assorted French restaurants.

The Samsung Galaxy S offers up to seven home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The Samsung Galaxy S offers up to seven home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The Samsung Galaxy S offers up to seven home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The Samsung Galaxy S offers up to seven home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The Samsung Galaxy S offers up to seven home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

The selection of widgets can be added to the home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The selection of widgets can be added to the home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The selection of widgets can be added to the home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The selection of widgets can be added to the home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
The selection of widgets can be added to the home screens - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

We mentioned the Applications icon in the dock that turns to Home when in the applications menu panes - it actually brings up the main menu. It is designed again in pages, like the home screens. Someone obviously got the memo that people were bored with the stock infinite grid layout, and decided that swiping from one screen full of icons to another will bring more joy to the Android experience. We are seeing such arrangements more and more, the last time was in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini. 

Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

In edit mode the application shortcuts can be rearranged in the current page, sent to different ones, or to the dock. The actual applications can also be completely disposed of by tapping on the minus sign in the upper right of their icons, instead of uninstalling from settings, neat. All said, navigating TouchWiz 3.0, as we find it in the Samsung GALAXY S I9000, is an incremental improvement over the stock Android experience, tailored well to the huge screen of the device.


Phonebook and Organizer:

Of the other customizations Samsung has made to the default Android interface, the most notable are in the Phonebook and Calendar. Entering the Phone screen defaults to your call log tab. There are also keypad, favorites, and contacts tabs to choose from at the top. Tap Contacts, and you are taken to the respective screen, where history of your communication activities can be accessed with tabs at the top as well - including all calls and messages exchange, as well as social network updates.

The Android 2.1 (Éclair) phonebook groups your phone, SIM and Google contacts in one searchable list. Samsung's own Social Hub idea adds the contacts from your social networks, and the corporate buddies to the mix for one very long phonebook. A variety of contacts' details is visible and editable on the huge screen at once. 

There are more niceties brought by Éclair – for example tapping on a contact's picture (or lack thereof) evokes a small strip called Quick Contacts. Lined on it are all the usual actions done to a contact – call, videocall, text, lookup details, email, even locate on Google Maps, and that works in every screen where contacts are used, as in the email client, for example.

Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

Phonebook - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Phonebook - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Phonebook - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Phonebook - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Phonebook - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Samsung’s touted Social Hub, which basically pulls in all your SNS (Social Network Services), email and IM accounts, so you can create a message and shoot it out with whatever you choose. It is actually much more than that, it spreads throughout the interface. Contacts, for example, also show their Google Talk IM status with a colored dot against their names, similar to the UX user interface of the Sony Ericsson Xperia line. The Activities tab in the contacts screen shows an aggregate view of all your communications history, regardless of the source and means of that communication. These communication stories are visible also in the history tab of each contact, but are restricted to your interactions with this contact only. You can even enter the media tab from a single contact view, and it will show you the latest albums they have uploaded on Facebook, for example. That's how deep the Social Hub goes. There are good videos on Samsung's website explaining what it does in detail, so we won't dwell upon it here, it is Samsung's response to the likes of Timescape and Sense UI.

Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Social Hub - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
  

Social Hub


We did appreciate the simplicity of the Calendar, which is touted by Samsung as “integrated” (what else should a calendar be anyway), since it also aggregates events from your Facebook or corporate Outlook/Exchange schedules. Views are separated by day, week, or month (the default tab), or you can view a list of your recent and future appointments spanning a few of each on one screen. Reminders are set easy, and you can choose if the phone is to mark the event only on the handset, or sync it to the cloud with Google Calendar as well. Pushing events works quick, so adding that party to Google Calendar or Facebook saves it to the phone instantaneously as well.

Calendar - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Calendar - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Calendar - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Calendar - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review

The alarm function can be found under the Clock icon in the apps menu, and also includes World clock, stopwatch and timer for all those hard boiled eggs in the morning. It's neat you can control every aspect of its sounding, and even snooze duration and repetition. One of the phone's accessories is a dock, and it can be used as a regular alarm clock tucked in neatly on your nightstand. There is the so-called Smart Alarm, which rings up with soothing nature sounds before the main one. Night owls like us are certainly appreciative of any options to wake up in a prolonged and gentle manner.

Alarms on the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review
Alarms on the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 - Samsung GALAXY S I9000 Review


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Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy S

OS: Android 2.3.5 2.3 2.2 2.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8.5Excellent
Display4.0 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (233 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
Single core, 1000 MHz
0.5 GB RAM
Size4.82 x 2.53 x 0.39 inches
(122.4 x 64.2 x 9.9 mm)
4.16 oz  (118 g)
Battery1500 mAh, 13.38 hours talk time

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