It took them long enough, but it seems as though Samsung finally did it. The Koreans have created a phone that can stand toe to toe with the iPhone 4. As is the tradition every year, the benchmark of every touch-screen smartphone nowadays is the latest version of the iPhone. And let’s not kid ourselves; otherwise, there probably wouldn’t be a Galaxy S i9000 if not for Apple driving the market to innovate and catch up.
But this isn’t a comparo, despite comparisons being inevitable. Let’s focus on the Galaxy S. First impressions are very good. It’s hard to create a striking design for smartphones because their layout is so minimalist. Yet Samsung has succeeded in making the Galaxy S look understated and stylish at the same time.
This smart Samsung only has 4 physical buttons: a Home button at the bottom, a volume up/down button on the left side, and a power button on the right side. There are 2 additional buttons on either side of the Home button, but these are touch-sensitive buttons that are hidden, and they only appear if your finger glides over them. It’s a very classy touch. The design seems to have continued the evolution started by Samsung’s older Omnia smartphones, and now the Galaxy S is the best-looking one to come from Korea.
The case may be made of plastic, but the phone feels solid and smooth to the touch. In other words, it doesn’t feel any less premium than its competitors. The back curves a bit at the bottom, letting the handset rest easily on your fingers with added stability. True enough, this phone never slipped from our fingers during the testing period despite its slippery surfaces. At the back is the Samsung logo, the 5-megapixel camera, and the Google logo.
Yes, this phone is an Android, version 2.1 to be exact, one of the latest versions of Google’s smartphone software. For those who are familiar with the iPhone and iPod touch software, using Android is a breeze because of their similarity.
Handsets with upgradeable software like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android depend not just on top-spec'd hardware; their software also plays a big role. This is proven by the technically impressive phones HTC has released that bomb because they’re burdened by the slow and clumsy Windows Mobile software.
While the Android Market doesn’t have as many apps as the App Store, all the basics are in the former: YouTube, Facebook (don’t leave home without it), Google Maps, a mail program, a dedicated Gmail app, and many more on the growing Android app market. There’s even a cool program called Google Goggles; it takes a picture of an object and tries to use the captured image search for the item on Google. It doesn’t work all the time, but the program is supposed to learn each time someone uses it. Then it becomes self-aware and takes over the Internet, hacking into the US Army mainframes to get the nuclear missile launch codes. The Android software will be used to power powerful robots used to hunt and exterminate humans, only this time they won’t be called androids but terminators…
Yeah, Terminator Salvation was on cable over the weekend.
When browsing mail or looking at websites, the Galaxy S’ oh-so-bright 4-inch Super AMOLED display will make the experience the most convenient exercise a smartphone can provide. If the screen size and resolution doesn’t cut it for you, you’re better off with a laptop or an iPad.
Speaking of resolution, the AMOLED display on the Galaxy S is so stunning that it deserves its own paragraph. Its 480 x 800 pixels can’t match the iPhone 4’s buggy 640 x 960-pixel Retina Display, but if you didn’t know that fact, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking they’re the same. The Galaxy S screen is bright, detailed, and the surface is easy to clean in one swipe. With such a good screen, it’s a pity the 5-megapixel camera doesn’t have a flash to fill in the shadows.
One can keep taking photo and videos until the 16GB internal memory is full. If the internal memory is not enough, a microSD card can be also be used for memory expansion. You will be encouraged to fill the Samsung Galaxy S’ memory banks with multimedia content, because its 1GHz processor can render video formats like DivX with relative ease.
The Galaxy S’ fast chip also makes using the phone’s software very quick and easy to use, an ideal marriage between Samsung hardware and Android software. It will be hard to top this phone, but you can bet Samsung will try and outdo itself when its next generation of smartphones is announced. Or until the iPhone 5 comes out.
Click here to see the Samsung Galaxy S i9000 in the Buyer's Guide.