back to article Samsung Galaxy S

The Galaxy S is Samsung's hero handset for 2010 and one the company clearly has high hopes for. It's the closest thing to an iPhone the Korean firm has yet produced, and packs in Android 2.1 OS, multi-touch screen, powerful 1GHz processor, 5Mp camera, GPS, an updated TouchWiz UI, social networking and Samsung's own App store in …

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Silver badge

What I would like to know is...

How does it compare to the HTC Desire, or other Android phones? Maybe a roundup of the leading Android phones would be in order for those of us who aren't willing to drink the Apple Kool-Aid*?

*Disclaimer: If you are a member of the Cult of Jobs and thinking of flaming me for daring to criticise, bear in mind that my wings are like a shield of steel, and also that I really have heard it all before.

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How it compares

Well Sense is nicer and works faster despite Samsungs efforts. Having said that if you flash a nicer ROM onto it this will be faster due to the PowerVR graphics. If you want it plain out of the box get the Desire, if you plan on rooting and using it for the love of vanilla Droidness then the hardware in this is superior.

Hope that helps.

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Sounds like swings and roundabouts

I own a desire and the UI is very nice. It doesn't sound like Samsung have made as much effort. However the media support seems to be a lot stronger - HD recording, divx playback for example. Maybe it's the processor that has more codec support. I expect that you are more likely to get updates and support from HTC than Samsung though neither would be stellar.

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Troll

Unfortunately

Too bad touchwiz is soo damn ugly. At least compared to Sense on Android.

Troll, because.... well, you know.

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meh

The touchwiz dock and app drawer are ugly as hell, but easily replaced with LauncherPro or something similar.

The quick toggle icons they've added in the notification bar pulldown are very nice.

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Switch it off then

Well then switch it off or uninstall it. The hardware on this phone is nicer than any Sense UI phone, and that Super AMOLED screen looks sooo tasty....

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Jobs Horns

Easily fixed

@TomasF

Touch Wiz and Sense are both abominations (the former more so). First thing I did with my SGS was to install Launcher Pro and switch to the vanilla Froyo style. So much cleaner and more sophisticated. Actually works to Androids strengths too, unlike Touch Wiz which works against them.

Touch Wiz confuses the home screens with the more basic app menu on iPOS, so the default homescreen is at the far left. This doesn't suit many of the live wallpapers, and halves the number of homescreens available in one, two or three swipes. It's fine for a grid of app shortcuts, but homepages aren't used that way.

The bundled widgets are worthless so it's easy and painless to fix.

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Happy

Past history

I considered one of these, as it does look nice and the screen is fantastic, but my past history with Samsung really put me off. I was an unfortunate owner of the first i7500 Galaxy phone, and it was terrible. Added to the unhelpfulness of Samsung in terms of support really put me off.

The inconsistencies with this phone bother me too - as noted, why a good camera lens+sensor arrangement, but no flash? Cameras on phones are rarely anything other than ok, but they're handy to have for those occasions where you just need to take a quick snap. Even a poxy LED flash would mean that you could get acceptable pictures in non-optimum lighting conditions. I assume this is why you've not bothered posting any low-light shots from this thing?

As mentioned, for a premium 'Hero'-class device, the build quailty feels a touch lacking. I played with one in a Vodaphone shop, and it does feel like they could have tried a bit harder with some materials and what-have-you. Compare it to a HTC Desire and it does feel a bit shoddy.

Still, as with anything, all you can do is have a fiddle with one and see if it suits you. If one works for you, congratulations, you've got a nice shiny bit of tech!

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Past history

I had a Galaxy i5700/Spica/Portal and the support from Samsung was shocking, I swore I'd never get another of their phones but then the opportunity arose to upgrade to a Galaxy S on the cheap and I took it.

I am worried Samsung are going to shaft me in terms of updates and that the 2.2 might not materialise (at least not on T-Mobile UK) but we will see. Hopefully they'll at least fix the GPS firmware issues soon.

Build quality is a bit poor compared to the Desire but I think the screen makes it worth it.

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WTF?

Samsung; never again

I agree with the post above. I also went for the Samsung Galaxy, which was a huge mistake. It was by far the worst phone I had ever used, buggy, and Samsung's defiant stance on support bugged the hell out of me. Fortunately, I used the Sale of Goods Act 1977(?), to force O2 to cancel my contract with penalty and refund the cost of the handset, 5 months after having it.

All in all, I will never buy Samsung again, and it's quite possible I'd actually become a fanboi before I had to use their devices again.

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Badgers

Build quality

I haven't held a Desire so can't compare to that, but I can say that the SGS feels solidly built to me. Everything is flush and fits tightly together - no movement, rattling, or creaking under tension. There is no light leakage around the screen bezel.

The choice of an all plastic back doesn't scream premium, but I think that's more a design issue than a build quality issue. Personally, I'd prefer a rubberised plastic, but the plastic they've used is high grade, so it's both strong and light.

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2.2 Will Materialise

There was a beta ROM of 2.2 from Samsung "released" in the last day or so, so 2.2 will materialise. At the very least we should see that. And as far as I can tell, there are no T-Mobile customisations on my SGS so I'm not worried.

I too wonder what the point of the daily briefing app being so restricted. If you could cusotmise it a little it would be a very cool and polished app. The widget looks good and the app itself if well made - scrolling options etc. It's a shame it's a so stunted. Same goes for the dual zone clock widget. It looks great but you cannot turn the second zone clock off meanign it's useless waste of screen space for me. I really wonder why Samsung didn't go that extra mile and really finish their widgets off with some serious thought to how they would be used and not just how they look in the showroom.

Nothing wrong with build quality (something I was worried about to start with). It's solid as a rock - just plastic that's all. And the music player is amazing. This beats my iPod Touch hands down and I never in a million years thought it could do that. topped off with at least 8GB on board, that's why this is better than the Desire (and also why you shouldn't mess with Touch Wiz if you are serious about mobile music playing.

But I have to say, I love virtually everything about this phone. It's a bloody gem - even the lack of photo flash is not a major issue for me (and I thought it would be) because everything else is so well done. If only Samsung had not dropped the ball with things like this, the SGS would be the Desire AND iPhone killer.

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Dead Vulture

So the Social networking's a bit poo?

"...Details like this matter......elements like this just drag it back a little..."

So a score of 90% plus for those who actually have a life outside of FaceBeTwitSpace would be fair then?

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Badgers

dammit

you had me all the way up to no flash

bah

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Shame about the GPS

A lot of people, including me, are having serious problems with the GPS and until Samsung release an update I wouldn't bother.

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is it just me?

Or do other people have the nascent welder within clamouring to get out and scream "450 quid for a *&%$ing phone!!!!!"?

Not aimed at the this particular phone but at them in general.

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Got mine free

Got my SGS free on a £30 18-month contract. Cannot complain at all.

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Anonymous Coward

updates

I to am an owner of the original Galaxy and after very annoying time dealing with Samsung will say this.

1) kudos to them for finally improving the integration with your PC

2) never ever think they will upgrade the version of android. I would place money on this phone never getting 2.2 and don't think you will be able to install a mod ROM samsung keep certain firmware drivers very close to their chests so no help with upgrades.

I can not strongly enough recommend that you do not buy this phone. Yeah its great now but it will never change.

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ROM goodness

There are already a number of custom ROMs available, all very easy to apply as Samsung haven't locked this handset down as well as some other manufacturers have with their phones. If you just want root access, this is as simple as applying an update.zip file from the recovery screen.

The Galaxy S hardware is mroe than capable of running 2.2 (and beyond) - I expect an official FroYo upgrade within the next 2-3 months...

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Also...

...should have pointed out that Samsung have released at least 8 official firmware upgrades since June - they are obviously hard at work and looking to fully support this flagship handset.

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wrong

No they haven't.

For some reason there's a site called samsung-firmwares that has access to their dev build roms.

It proves they are working on it but there have been no releases. I will be very surprised to see an officially release in the near future.

Flashing these ROMS is (although fairly safe) at your own risk and warranty voiding.

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Not wrong, right!

http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_s_android_22_froyo_update_leaks-news-1842.php

If they are working on it and creating dev ROMs, why will you be surprised when the ROMs go from "dev" to "final" status?

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Gold badge

Too many updates.

What that means is they have poor developers and rubbish QA. They released the product with lots of faults and software bugs. They'll fix as many as they can and then abandon the device when the slightly better newer version comes out a few months later.

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Ha

"They don't release any updates"

"Yes they do, they release plenty of updates"

"Well then they obviously release too many updates."

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slaging off devs and qa

.... gota love that. Obviously never been one yourself. If you had in a corporate environment you would know that its not always up to these people and they may well be saying "its not in condition to release" but the bean counters and PM's may say "Fuck it, release it anyway and we can patch it later"

Ofc, not defo the case here but very possible.

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Great phone

I've had the Galaxy S for just over a week now, upgrading from the HTC Hero. I can honestly say it's by far the best handset I've ever owned.

The screen is this phone's USP and, despite it not quite reaching the same res as the iPhone 4, the actual image quality is much better thanks to the 4" Super AMOLED display. Compare it side by side with an iPhone to see what I mean.

Low light snaps are surprisingly good considering the lack of any sort of flash or photo light, and video recording and playback are superb.

I am a big fan of HTC's Sense UI, so I was a little unsure about switching to TouchWiz. However, I find that Samsung's interface works really well. You obviously don't have the excellent HTC widgets available to you, but there are some very nice ones provided by Samsung with hopefully more to come. Also remember that you have the option of installing a different launcher if you don't like TouchWiz - LauncherPro (available in the Market) is very good.

One thing that never gets mentioned is that Samsung provide the excellent Vlingo speech recognition and reader software free of charge (via their own app store). This is usually $10 in the Android Market. You can send texts and emails, make calls, search the web, find places on a map, etc. all by voice control - and it works surprisingly well. You can also have it read texts and emails to you as they arrive.

Overall, I'd recommend this handset to anyone looking for a new Android phone.

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I'm With Ben

Samsung have dire customer support, and what are the chances they'll simply not update the software? - very high.

Its not worth it, get an HTC :)

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FAIL

HTC for software updates

That's some sort of joke right?

They took about a year to get 2.1 onto the hero.

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FAIL

Actually...

An early 2.2 release was released into the wild for the Galaxy S in the last 24 hours. Thats on top of the other 10 or so software updates that samsung have been working on since the phone was released.

Samsung are developing for this phone like crazy - IT WILL GET 2.2. Don't listen to the haters.

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WTF?

Re: HTC for software updates

A year get 2.1 onto the Hero? Wow, that's a good trick - considering that 2.1 owas only released in January this year.

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FAIL

Samsung support / upgrades

If Samsung's ongoing 'support' for this phone is anything like that for the i7500 Galaxy (one unfortunate gullible owner writing....) then steer well clear of this.

For the i7500 they've not released any major updates or bug fixes, so the phone is stuck with the version of Android (1.5 in the i7500's case) that it shipped with and as a side-effect in most cases the versions of the applications that it came with because Google also don't seem to be doing many bug fixes for software on previous versions of the OS.

A hardware show-stopper for the i7500 is the appalling standy-time, often less than 24 hours! - can the reviewer test what actual standby time you get out of this Galaxy S once it has been hooked up to your google acount and one imap account with the default sync-settings for mail and calendar etc.

Example software issues are numerous - e.g. android issue 1128 "Email app should allow moving messages between folders" has been open for close to 2 years. In conjunction with the delete-mail button being near to the corner of the screen and having no 'confirm/cancel' confirmation - this makes the imap client unusable : once you've accidently deleted an important email with no confirmation or 'undo' you'll never want to even open the application again.

The most bizarre example of their incompentance was shipping the i7500 with a CD in the box containing Samsung's "New PC studio" software that didn't support the phone : At least it sounds like Samsung have done better with this one.

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1978 Bob Seger hit dedicated to Samsung

I bought a Samsung Jet last October and apart from sluggish behaviour and a radio that randomly shuts down it was delivered with a CD that included the lates PC Studio software. And guess what? Software hat doesn't support the phone!

Nine months later: no change.

If things like that tend to irritate you I'd steer clear of Samsung phones. Or at least read the fine print.

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Good phone

I got one of these a few weeks back in lieu of a HTC Desire (which was out of stock at the time) and apart from a few little niggles I love the phone. Having also seen the HTC they are both much of a muchness. If you want the better looking screen for watching tv and such then the Galaxy is the way to go. If you use the camera feature more on your phone then the Desire is probably the one for you purely because it has a flash where the Galaxy does not.

Like I said, there are a few little niggles, such as apps which if you open too many without closing properly (easy to do if you push the home or back button to quickly exit) it does slow things down a lot. The download of a free App killer solves this problem though you do have to kill them off manually. Also, the camera is known to lock on the camera app sometimes. I can sometimes get out of it by opening the camera side menu and then exiting but it doesn't always work and results in you needing to reboot the phone. If you do this then you should be aware that when you boot up the phone it has a media scanner that runs, while this is running you can't use the camera, or gallery. Which is annoying if your trying to get that perfect moment on camera and miss it due to rebooting and then waiting for the media scanner to run.

Oh and before you think it no, you can't use the app killer to kill of the media scanner, or more precisely should I say you can, but then you might as well reboot as it seems to think the media scanner is still needing to run, even though you stopped it from running.

Anyway, I can forgive all those flaws and even the fact there is no flash because it is just a sexy bit of kit and the screen is just so crispy. Oh that and my missus has the HTC so if I ever need flash on a camera I just borrow hers. ;-)

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Meh

Friend has had one of these for over a week and shes still confused as hell by it . Whose clever idea was it to make it automatically delete pictures from mms messages unless you save the entire message . Solved by downloading an app but come on why should you need apps to do basic things the damn phone should do all by itself . Oh and its uberly nice screen is fragile . One drop from about 2ft onto grass and it cracked like an egg . So all in all not overly impressed but hey at least its not an iPhone flaw lol .

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FAIL

GPS Doesn't Work, Battery Life is Trash

The GPS on this set doesn't work. It will take 3-5 minutes to get a 100-meter lock, and if you wait 15 minutes you might get a 10-meter lock but by then your battery will be drained. The standby and talk times are a joke - maximum 3 hours talk and 30 hours standby. There are also problems with the compass being sluggish, and the TouchWIZ UI is quite laggy. There have also been numerous complaint of shoddy quality control - some phones are shipping without the internal antennas connected, some have buttons that won't press, etc.

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Absolute Rubbish

I have one and the GPS locks fine. Admittedly it isn't quite as good as my old G1 but that was rather too good. I get around 2 days out of the battery with fiddling included. I didn't like Touchwiz so installed LauncherPro quite easily.

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Stop

The killer comparison I'd like to see...

And what might make me switch from Apple is how the music players on these phones compare to that of the iPhone - in terms of volume, battery consumption and clarity. I have an iPhone simply because it is the only convergence device that meets all 3 of these criteria in droves - which is not what I have found with others.

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Better than iPod Touch

The music player on the Galaxy S is better than my iPod Touch. So much so that I am selling my iPod Touch. The thing rocks and it actually looks and behaves differently to every other music player I have used before. While the phone copies Apple in some ways (look and OS interface) the music player seems genuinely new to me, and a great thing to play with.

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iPhone for sound quality?

I have owned an iPod classic 80GB and have an iPhone 3G. The sound quality on them both is comarable. And shockingly poor (I moved from a Sony Mini Disc player to the iPod). I went for the classic due to the storage capcity (I could fit all of my music on one device and Watch videos) and the iPhone becuase at the time it did mail, internet, music and phone calls better then the other devices on sale (at least for me).

But sound quality was something that I had to compromise in order to get the capacity for the iPod, and convergence and convinience for the iPhone.

I would excpect most phones with a 3,5mm jack to out perform the iPhone in terms of sound quality... (Usability of the music player I am not sure, I've never used one yet)

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Hmm

I tried one of these a few days ago and while I was very interested from the specs it left me a bit doubtful. It feels outright flimsy and the buttons don't feel as if they could stand some real abuse. The silver bezel is just silver plastic and will be scratched in no time. I don't want to know what happens to it if it falls to the ground even once. Everything on this phone looks and feels thin, cheap and breakable.

Then the thing does not mount via USB on Macs. Known problem, no solution yet. The included syncing app (Kies) runs only on Windows. So the only option on a Mac now is to buy Missing Sync for $40. The Samsung software on the Galaxy is not a shining example of stability and reliability either.

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Mac/USB

Actually, you can link with the mac, but it is rather fiddly. Here's how:

- In Settings -> About Phone -> USB Settings, choose 'Mass storage', or 'ask on connection' (and choose mass storage when asked.

- In Applications -> Development, tick USB debugging (this is required to allow the mac to access the filesystem when connected)

- Now connect to the mac. But there's one last step:

- You need to mount it from the dropdown. Bring down the dropdown, select 'USB Connected', then click on 'Mount'.

It should now show up in Finder on your mac.

It's a PITA, but you can automate the last step by downloading 'Auto Mount' which does what it says.

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@Efros:

"Or do other people have the nascent welder within clamouring to get out and scream "450 quid for a *&%$ing phone!!!!!"?"

If it were just a phone you'd be right. Face it, for many people these things are becoming the new Personal Computers, with "real" computers rapidly becoming just office machinery nobody wants to use anymore (except in the office).

Both the iPhone and Android smartphones aren't phones, they're mini tablet computers with a preinstalled phone app.

Still, I would expect something that holds together for a few years with daily usage when I spend such amounts of money on it and this Samsung seems to have certain shortcomings here.

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I got the missus one of these and she seems to like

But I will say it feels less robust than my HTC Hero.

The screen is excellent and it does seem to fit all the needs of her indoors.

Sound and call quality good and the death grip has no discernable effect except to bring on early onset RSI.

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Sounded promising for a mo...

...but (for those of us who care, since it's not in the review) the screen is apparently another PenTile arrangement device, like the Wave, Nexus One and Desire. That makes it a no-no for me - I'm not taking a backwards resolution step even to switch away from Windows Mobile.

Hopefully the AMOLED shortages might lead to a more Android handsets with un-mangled screens. Failing that, roll on Gingerbread (and if Google are banning skinned GUIs as rumoured, they might avoid some of the roll-out delays while the manufacturers have to port their skins) and a Retina Display-buster.

What happened to the Beam? Samsung seem to get every device out of the door except the one that's actually interesting.

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rSAP?

Ah, but no-one seems to have mentioned the killer feature for some - rSAP support (or rumours thereof, anyway). At last, an Android handset that pairs properly with most decent built-in car kits. Apparently.

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I like action shot mode of camera

got galaxy s for 1 month and love it apart of gps speed and accuracy but thats might get fixed with next firmware....

camera in night mode doesnt need flash if subject is not moving... and also i like mode action shot which does this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fl-r/4761206186/

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