Samsung Galaxy S Review

Nearly a year ago now I made the move from iPhone to Android. The first device I had was a HTC Hero running Android 1.5. A year really is a long time in Android and 2.2 is now available and we have been through 1.6 and 2.1 on the way! I have also been through a fair through Android devices, HTC Legend, Dell Streak and even a Sony Ericsson X10 Mini (must write a review of that one!). One of the benefits of Android is the choice of hardware. Apple on the other hand have't yet managed even a White version of the iPhone 4!
My latest handset the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S doesn't (yet) run 2.2 although it is on the way. The big feature of the Galaxy S is the screen. Firstly it is big at 4" but the really impressive thing is the Super OLED technology which gives even better, brigher images than the OLED screens we saw on the Legend and Desire but with good outdoor visibility and a thinner form factor. This means the handset is really thin.

Now the HTC Desire and HTC Legend both have great screens but this really bright summer has shown the weakness of OLED. You can hardly see the screen at all outside. The Super OLED screen of the Galaxy S looks great both indoors and outside.

 User Interface

 Having got used to HTC Sense the combination of Android 2.1 skinned with Touch Wiz doesn't initially seems as good.

What you have are basically two interfaces. The standard Home Screens you can fill with widgets and shortcuts and then the bottom bar of 4 icons launching into 4 rows of 4 applications shortcuts (erm Apple sound familiar...).

Having spent a bit of time sorting my homescreens with Beautiful Widgets, Pure Calendar and the live wallpaper from beautiful widgets (which shows a moving animation of the weather in the background) I realised that actually this is the best of both worlds...the flexible widgets of Android and the more straightforward iPhone like application launcher.

That said it all takes a bit more effort than the HTC and the Samsung widgets aren't as good as HTC Sense but the overall effect is probably a tie in fairness.

What is better though is the Swype keyboard. I have used this before as a beta version on the Dell Streak and loved it and it is built right into the Galaxy S and works brilliantly in both portrait and landscape. Swype is hard to explain but easy to use - you just drag your finger across the letters that make the word up without lifting it off the screen.

Building the usual wifi, bluetooth and silent mode shortcuts into the notification bar is an excellent idea and easier than having them as a widgit.

Messaging and Calendar

In addition to the usual Google Mail there is a threaded SMS application which works well and an email client supporting Exchange as well as POP/IMAP. This works well and the Calendar app is particularly nice and easy to navigate.


The Galaxy S works well as a phone with a nice clear dialer and easy to use contacts. Reception and call quality are both good and the handset is comfortable to use not least because it is so light.


Android's webkit browser works really well and with a 4 inch screen browsing is a pleasant experience on the Galaxy S. The only major thing missing is Flash support and this is coming in 2.2 Froyo. Multitouch is all present and correct here

Audio and Video

The Galaxy S is great for music and produces excellent sound through the standard headphone socket. What's more the supplied headphones are actually pretty good. The onboard 8Gb or 16Gb memory can be supplemented with a MicroSD card so there is plenty of space for everything. I use Sporify for music but the built in music player looks good if you want to play MP3s

 The four inch screen is great for video. Not quite as nice in size as the Streak but the Super OLED screen is so much brighter and better quality. There is also a decent range of format and codec support built in. Using My Player I found I could playback downloaded video from iPlayer perfectly whilst the Streak needed Rocket Player.

Camera and camcorder

Sadly there isn't a dedicated camera button which is a shame as the camera is pretty decent and has a lot of built in controls. There's no flash either so no chance of photos if it is a bit dark.

There is however HD Video on the built in camcorder which is a nice touch and worked well.


Samsung do a decent job of including a good range of built in apps including ThinkFree office which is a pretty nice mobile office app that allows editing as well as viewing, There is a nice file manager (My Files) and Google Maps comes with its built in navigation functionality.


The Galaxy S is in my view the best Smartphone currently on the market. Whilst the build quality is not as high as the iPhone 4 the screen is in my view better, the much vaunted "retina display" is really just a very high resolution. The Galaxy S is brighter and more vibrant. It is also larger and this really makes the difference. Android now offers a decent set of apps without the "control" of Apple and has real multitasking. In fact I think iOS is now looking dated when you compare Android running Live Backgrounds with its flexible home screens rather than the one size fits all UI of the iPhone
The Galaxy S also comes with more apps than the iPhone including the ability to edit office docs. It's close though and the iPhone 4 is still a really a good phone. But add in cost and the Galaxy S really wins - and that's before Froyo 2.2 has even arrived!

Amongst Android devices the Sony Ericsson X10 has the same size screen but isn't as clear and is slower and still running 1.6. The HTC Desire is the best of the competition and is still a great phone with better build quality than the Galaxy S. In the end the screen of the Galaxy trumps it even though 2.2 is now available for the Desire!
  • Great large and vibrant screen
  • Thin and light case
  • Screen works in direct sunlight
  • Video playback great and supports lots of formats
  • Great quality audio, even supplied headphones are good
  • Fast processor and generally snappy to use
  • Swype keyboard built in
  • Good range of built in apps
  • Standard Micro USB for charging and PC connectivity
  • No dedicated camera button
  • No camera flash
  • Slightly plastic feel to case
  • Occasional laggy response and slow app load time (bet this will be solved in 2.2 Froyo)
  • No Flash in browser (until 2.2)
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