Samsung Galaxy S

Sure it looks like an iPhone, but on the inside the Galaxy S is a web-browsing, media-playing beast of a smartphone, and one of the best Android phones in Australia today.


9.0
CNET Rating
7.4
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Click here for our review of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

As a platform-agnostic manufacturer, Samsung's most recent smartphone efforts have been a mixed bag. Last year's Icon range featured a Windows Mobile phone and a Symbian phone alongside the Korean company's first Android, the Galaxy Icon. This approach achieved mixed results, but in 2010 Samsung is not pulling any punches. The Galaxy S is brimming with features within its hardware that is as slick to use as it is familiar.

Design

For the last three years tech critics have accused all the major manufacturers of appropriating Apple's iPhone design, but none has deserved the criticism as much as Samsung does with this latest release. The front of the Galaxy S is a spitting image of the uber-popular handheld; it has similarly rounded corners, a stainless steel trim and a central "home key" below the touchscreen. The back of the phone is more like Samsung's handsets of the recent past, with a large square camera lens in the top-left corner, and a flat back that differs from the iPhone's curved posterior.

The Galaxy S is also bigger, sporting a 4-inch capacitive touchscreen display and makes use of Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology. This is the next evolutionary step in the AMOLED screen tech we've seen previously on the HD Icon and Omnia Icon, and also on the HTC Desire and Google Nexus One. Next to a regular AMOLED screen, the Super AMOLED glimmers with deeper colour and contrast, giving the on-screen image a richer and sharper appearance, not to mention the dramatic improvement in the viewing angle. The capacitive touchscreen is also very usable, with all finger gestures responding well with the phone's software.

When Samsung released the original Galaxy it did so without any customisation to the Android platform. For the Galaxy S, Samsung has skinned almost every screen of the system, applying a new home screen, a sideways-scrolling applications menu and unique apps for common tasks like messaging and the calendar, as well as a suite of widgets to play with. These modifications give Samsung's Android a fun, cartoony feel, but rob the phone of the sophistication we see from HTC's latest Androids running the Sense UI. Samsung's widgets are also ugly and often useless, but as is the beauty with all Android phones, you can simply remove any widget you don't like having displayed.

The phone itself feels cheaply made compared with top-tier handsets from Apple, Nokia, HTC and Sony Ericsson, especially at first glance. The glossy plastic body lacks the premium feel of other phones, and the 119-gram weight and 9.9mm depth of the Galaxy S helps make it feel less substantial than you might expect from a phone of this calibre. All we can say is that looks can be deceiving — after using the phone for the period of this review we have never suspected it was any less sturdy than most phones we see, and the lighter weight is a bonus when holding it to web browse for long periods of time.

Features, and more features

Like the original Samsung Omnia, the spec sheet for the Galaxy S need only stipulate that the kitchen sink is not included — it has just about everything else you could imagine in a phone. It checks all the major communications and connectivity boxes, with HSPA (7.2Mbps downlink, 5.76Mbps uplink), Wi-Fi including the 802.11n protocol, and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP stereo streaming profile.

The advanced Wi-Fi network chip will come in handy for those who plan to use the Galaxy S as a media streamer. Packed with DLNA streaming, the Galaxy S is capable of connecting to a compatible device, like a PS3, PC or flat panel TV, and can stream media stored on the internal memory or microSD card. It can also stream media directly to the phone, or detect media on a PC or server and stream it to a TV, like a multimedia go-between.

Web-tasm

If there's one thing the Galaxy S does very well it's browse the web. The stock browser on this phone does a fantastic job of bringing the full web to the small screen, with options to optimise the browser view for mobile devices and the option to set the browser to display in landscape mode only for a wider page view. Importantly, the browser loads the page's structure and text before images so you can start browsing the content while the images load in the background.

Like all Android phones, the Galaxy S comes with a suite of Google apps pre-installed, including Google Maps, Google Talk, Gmail and Google Buzz. You can also connect to an MS Exchange mail account and sync contacts with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and view updates using a Samsung-designed home screen widget.

Media-centric

As mentioned above, the Galaxy S makes an excellent middle man between media you have on a PC and the flat-panel screen you'd prefer to watch it on, but it also does a decent job of making the media and displaying it on its excellent screen as well. For Movie buffs, the Galaxy S supports DivX and XviD video formats, alongside the standard MP4 and H.264 files we see on all Android phones. It also plays a bunch of audio file formats including MP3, AAC, WMA and FLAC (that's right audiophiles, FLAC).

On the back of the phone you'll find a 5-megapixel camera lens, but no flash strangely enough — the iPhone comparisons continue. The camera software is good, with options to set scene and focus modes. There is also touchscreen focus settings, which lets the user define the focus point in a shot by touching their subject in the viewfinder. The resulting photos are better than average camera phone pics when taken under optimal lighting, but still show plenty of digital aberrations if you bother to scrutinise the images on your PC.

Performance

For the most part the Galaxy S is a speed demon — swiping between menu screens is like pushing pancakes over slightly melted butter, and the web browser is as fast as any we've used. We have experienced some moments of significant lag, and sometimes in relation to common tasks. Errant apps running background tasks tend to be the culprit here, so be prepared to be vigilant of memory usage if you start to experience any slow down.

The earpiece speaker of the Galaxy S is loud and clear, though we've found audio during calls to be a little distorted. SMS messaging is enhanced tenfold by Samsung's decision to include a Swype touchscreen keyboard which, along with the phone's haptic feedback, goes a long way to making the use of an on-screen keyboard feel a whole lot more natural. Battery life will obviously differ from user to user, but in our experience the Galaxy S comfortably made it through each working day but needed charging overnight. That said, our colleagues at CNET UK criticised the Galaxy's poor battery life, so it will all depend on how you use it.

Overall

The Galaxy S could definitely do with a sprinkling of individuality, especially for customers looking for a viable iPhone alternative, not an iPhone look-alike. But its flaws are mostly skin deep, and once you immerse yourself in the class-leading 4-inch display you're bound to forget any misgivings you had when you first pawed the stiff, plastic chassis. The Android system will appeal most to tech-savvy punters, who will likely appreciate the attention Samsung has given to this phone's multimedia capabilities.



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jaccardi77
7
Rating
 

"was good back in 2010 but as a spare phone now it seems small and very slow"

jaccardi77 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Did everything I needed

The Bad:was lagging even when new

Good back in 2010 but as a spare phone now it seems small and very slow
the 3 year old touch screen has lost its responsiveness and needs to be pressed very hard.

TimF1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Avoid like the plague"

TimF1 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Best screen quality at time of launch

The Bad:Almost unusable due to poor firmware even with the latest updates. Non stop lag. Cheap construction. Useless camera due to lack of flash.

Worst phone I have ever used. Unstable firmware full of bugs which never get completely fixed by Samsung. Phone slows down over time. Cheap finger print attracting build quality with rattling loose buttons after one year of use. Frequently lags, screen locks up and force closes. Be prepared to pull the battery for a hard reset on a weekly basis. Phone must be reset every two days to be marginally useable. NEVER AGAIN Samsung!

 

DavidN5 posted a reply   

Luckily there are quite a lot of support on the phone at the XDA forums to flash custom firmwares, mods etc. I still have this phone and with different types of custom ROMs being installed, it is A LOT more usable and faster. Even runs on Jellybean :D

NicholasT1 Facebook
5
Rating
 

"Ptuey..."

NicholasT1 posted a review   

The Good:Operating system

The Bad:poor speed, battery and slow touch screen

Who paid you to say this?

Crikey, I¨ve never had a phone that I felt like throwing on the floor and stomping on!!

Slooooooooooooooooowwwww to boot, be prepared to wait up to 5 mins to even use the damn thing.

Battery life - forget it, do yourself a favour and get a $8.00 battery kit from DinoDirect for a battery that is 3x the capacity and lasts for more than a day.

If this is how well Samsung make their phones I am not buying the next model.

I´ve still got an old palm treo 650 that is way less frustrating than this is to use.

bestowtj
7
Rating
 

"good phone but many things to improve."

bestowtj posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Solid design, good display.

The Bad:Slow, Video playback not so smooth.

I used this phone for 1 year. Good things are, customisable and lots of features like inbuilt wifi modem, complete navigation software, more google features than iphone. Example you can save downloded google maps and download youtube video in desired quality. Iphone provides only basic google experience. Moreover you can sell it for a good price after 2 years of use. Bad things are, it eventually gets slow unless you keep clearing the application cache. Speakerphone is not loud enough when ringing. Video plyback is good, but not really smooth.

 

ManuelR posted a comment   

Oh! Don't be silly everyone!

1. Battery problems? Doesnt last long? Upgrade to Gingerbread it will Fix
2. Volume low on earphones? Headphone have to be Samsung or they crackle
? Download Voodoo Control on the Market and get the highest volume it can get.
3. Freezes! Closed app? upgrade to Gingerbread! use Kies to update
4. Anything else. just update to Gingerbread!

bearncub
2
Rating
 

"Will not buy another"

bearncub posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Good apps

The Bad:Where do I start......see review

*Very slow memory
*weird smell on battery
*screen shuts off but leave the bottom lights on for hours
*Battery power either last 4 hours to 2 days
*Delays button pressing, need alot of patience to make a call
*Headphone have to be Samsung or they crackle
*Not good volume power on headphones
*Give me the iphone anyday

NatalieH2 Facebook
3
Rating
 

"poo"

NatalieH2 posted a review   

The Good:Takes good photos...in the day time

The Bad:I swear at it more than anything. It freezes all the time. Turns the screen on and off when it wants too. Will just turn off and not on for no good reason. Battery lifes crap. Doesn't respond, does what it wants really. It seems to get confused very easily. Alot of useless apps come with it.

I swear at it more than anything. It freezes all the time. Turns the screen on and off when it wants too. Will just turn off and not on for no good reason. Battery lifes crap. Doesn't respond, does what it wants really. It seems to get confused very easily. Alot of useless apps come with it.

Ashhbear
1
Rating
 

"Terrible Phone"

Ashhbear posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Screen size

The Bad:VERY laggy, apps crash to home screen, battery life

This is the worst phone I've ever used.
It gets so laggy that it's impossible to use! I got a lag fix on it, but it didn't make it much better.
Almost all the apps I've used crash to the home screen with this phone.
I can have the phone fully charged at the start of the day. And it will go flat within 5 hours, when not in use! It's even worse if i use it.

I've used other Samsung phones in the past, and a lot of them weren't very good either. So after this, I'm never buying a Samsung again.

 

EmmanuelR posted a reply   

upgrade it to gingerbread and it will fix it! its not the phone its the android os cause there is still bugs on 2.1 froyo :))

 

mdroc1 posted a comment   
Australia

I'd say it is your PC....

Why should Telstra and Samsung pay staff to try and get everyone's computer working?

Why should any phone company cancel your contract because it works on everyone else's computer except yours?

Why should you downgrade your review of this phone to "1" because of something like a faulty USB port on your computer or a virus?

 

JoelM1 posted a comment   

For Cheap android-tablets go here http://techworld-today.com/2011/09/cheap-android-tablets-arnova-coming/


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung Galaxy S

  • jaccardi77

    jaccardi77

    Rating7

    "Good back in 2010 but as a spare phone now it seems small and very slow
    the 3 year old touch screen has lost its responsiveness and needs to be pressed very hard."

  • TimF1

    TimF1

    Rating1

    "Worst phone I have ever used. Unstable firmware full of bugs which never get completely fixed by Samsung. Phone slows down over time. Cheap finger print attracting build quality with rattling loose..."

  • NicholasT1

    NicholasT1

    Rating5

    "Who paid you to say this?

    Crikey, I¨ve never had a phone that I felt like throwing on the floor and stomping on!!

    Slooooooooooooooooowwwww to boot, be prepared to wait up ..."

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