Photo: Steve Kovach, The Business Insider
Another day, another 4G Android phone.I’ve had Samsung’s Galaxy S for over a week now, and aside from the fact that it can run on T-Mobile’s 4G network, it is almost exactly like every other phone in Samsung’s Galaxy line.
The Galaxy S also runs an outdated version of Android, 2.2 Froyo, which is inexcusable at this point since Gingerbread has been available for almost three months now.
I’m not saying the Galaxy S is a dud. It’s not. Samsung has been cranking out excellent Android phones with gorgeous four-inch displays and speedy processors for about a year now. And this one is no exception.
The price is right too. Like most high-end Android phones, you can get the Galaxy S for $200 with a two-year contract.
Here’s what I thought.
Like all the Galaxy Phones from Samsung, the Galaxy S has a bright four-inch super AMOLED screen that looks gorgeous when playing video or viewing web pages. In fact, you can test that out right away since the phone comes with a full-length digital copy of Inception.
The rear camera takes decent photos and HD video, and the front-facing camera is suitable for video chatting if you can find the right app in the Android Market.
If you’re connected to wifi, T-Mobile lets you make calls over the internet on the Galaxy S. It’s a nice feature if you make a lot of calls from home, and the sound quality is indistinguishable from calls over the cell network.
The phone is incredibly light and just a hair thicker than the iPhone 4. The back looks deceptively metallic at first glance, but it’s actually plastic. I would have preferred metal or glass, but the phone still feels solid in my grip.
But the biggest selling point for the Galaxy S is 4G. I used the SpeedTest app to test download speeds at various locations around New York City. Downloads hovered around 3 or 4 Mbps, which is much faster than what you’d typically experience with a 3G connection. But unless you plan on doing a lot of video streaming over the network, you won’t notice a huge benefit over a 3G phone.
OS And Apps
Again, it’s very disappointing that the Galaxy S ships with Android 2.2 Froyo instead of Gingerbread. Hopefully Samsung is working on an update, but it has been notoriously slow in doing so with its other phones.
The Galaxy S comes loaded with several apps from Samsung and T-Mobile right out of the box, including the free copy of Inception. You also have access to Samsung’s Media Hub, which is the only decent service on Android for downloading music and movies. Too bad it only works on Samsung phones.
Most of the other apps that come with the Galaxy S such as Slacker Radio and Amazon Kindle aren’t anything special. You can download those on any Android phone. Qik did make an app specifically for T-Mobile phones, but it’ll only work with phones on the same network.
This was also my first time using Samsungs Swype typing technology. It works by sliding your fingers over the letters you want to type and automatically predicts the word you want. I was sceptical at first, but it actually worked really well once you get used to using it. Still, it’s a bit gimmicky, and I’m not sure it actually helped me type faster as it claims to do.
Should You Buy It?
If you’re looking for a solid Android phone with 4G speeds, you can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S.
But if 4G doesn’t entice you and you’re already a T-Mobile customer, you’re better off getting a Nexus S. It’s almost identical to the Galaxy S and runs the latest version of Android. Plus it isn’t bogged down with crapware from Samsung or T-Mobile.
And don’t forget, the Samsung Galaxy S II will be out later this spring. And that thing looks pretty impressive. Hold out if you can.