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The phone that’s in a Galaxy of its own

Samsung GT-i9000 Galaxy S

Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t wear the latest fashion, I don’t spend all my time in coffee shops, I don’t feel the need to sit in public spaces with a laptop open blasting out a fruit shaped beam of light like the bat-sign on Gotham’s skyline.

I do however want a smartphone, one that I can use as intended, one that has access to the datastream, one that can tell me how to get to the pub when I’m lost, one that I can use hands free, and one that can make a phone call when I hold it up to my ear. It needs to do more than sit on the table in front of me looking shiny. Enter the Galaxy S.

You can go to a multitude of websites to see the full spec. of this beast, For this review, it doesn’t matter that it has a 1GHz humming bird processor, or an 8Gb internal SD card, this review is about the experience.

The first thing you notice about the Galaxy S is the screen, it’s beautiful, 4″ from corner to corner makes it one of the larger screens available for a mobile device. Here bigger is most definitely better, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to keep scrolling around in order to read websites or documents. The width of the screen means you can easily view a page width at a time, it also means that movies are a reasonable size.

The AMOLED (stands for Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen is vibrant, it doesn’t suffer from the same problems as an LCD, the blacks are black and the colours don’t wash out when it’s bright outside. All of this is protected by a thin sheet of gorilla glass, so you needn’t be fearful of any scratches.

It sounds pretty good too, and you can get a good 15 hours+ of audio playback through headphones, easily enough for a long haul flight. With an external SD port, you can add a load of memory to house your entire music collection.

Internet browsing, is extremely fast, both through wifi or a 3g connection. The phone doesn’t suffer from the processing/rendering slowdown seen on other phones. The phone comes with a youtube application installed as standard, and with adobe mobile flash player, you’ll never be short of catchup tv on the bus to work.

There is however an issue in that the stock browser automatically redirects you to the mobile version of websites, sometimes these versions don’t give access to the full site content, which the phone could easily handle. However there is nothing to stop you installing an alternative browser and turning the redirect off.

You can’t review a phone without mentioning the phone functions, making a call is as easy as you’d expect, select a contact and hit the dial button. There are options to make a second call, put the caller on hold or redirect to voicemail. Text messaging is a breeze thanks to the innovative swype text input method for plain English, however Ull prolly nt B NterestD it f u 1ly txt spk.

Since the Android operating system is supplied by google, you can expect integration of all of google’s most popular products: Maps, Calendar, Gmail etc. This also means that synchronising all your personal organisation data is simple, in fact it happens without you noticing.

The problem with such connectivity is that the phone will pull in all your google contacts which essentially everyone you’ve ever known, or your friends have ever known and their dogs. Generally this information can be filtered, but annoyingly not when adding an SMS contact.

Other features include bluetooth connectivity (If you own a recent samsung telly you can use it as a remote!) GPS, a 5MPixel camera with a host of fun settings (No flash, although LED flashes are somewhat ineffectual anyway) and access to a whole host of applications.

A word should be mentioned about these applications…

Google has done a fantastic job with the operating system, and created a great environment for open source development, this means that anyone who is reasonably proficient in programming can develop their ideas. But it doesn’t end there, Google (with the help of MIT) have developed a flowchart based development language, Google App Inventor, the idea is that anyone can now develop applications without any specific programming knowledge, this could be a game changer!

However with the multitude of applications from any source available, occasionally you do find one that has been badly written which can have a tendency to lock up the phone. In general the OS takes care of this and shuts down the application, but it can be frustrating.

With regards to my phone I use to find out when the bus is due in the morning, keep track of my workouts, set up my sky box, monitor my heart rate, as well to let the wife know if I’m running late, or to call my mum. There’s Skype for cheap international calling when in a wifi zone, navigation aids and much more. Whatever you want to do there’s most likely an application for it, if not, why not try and build it yourself, you might even make some money out of the endeavour.

So the phone sounds amazing, there must be something wrong with it, the only real gripe I have is that the battery life can be a bit short. The wonderful screen does drain the reserves, and as soon as you fire up the wifi, the gps, the bluetooth and the 3G you’re looking at 4 hours of usable time. But then, you have to be doing something pretty extraordinary to be using all of that. With my usage I charge the phone every 2-3 days, and for a smart phone it is still pretty good, but as consumers, we always want more, and in the phone market more will most certainly arrive, and soon, but for the next three months at least this has to be one of the best phones out there.

Pros

  • Processing Speed
  • Swype

Cons

  • Battery Life
  • Unresponsive Apps
  • Stock Browser redirects to Mobile Sites

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S is a powerhouse of a phone with an amazing screen, backed by Google’s Android operating system this has to be awarded the crown of best current gen smartphone.


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