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July 21, 2010

Samsung Galaxy S i9000 Review

The Samsung Galaxy S is among the most anticipated Android phones to date. So after using the handset for over a week, I’m handing down my verdict. Check out the full review of the Samsung Galaxy S GT-i9000 after the jump.

At first sight, the Samsung Galaxy S would not really catch a lot of attention except for that large 4-inch display. The dark, glossy body makes it look plain and simple.

The handset actually reminds me of the iPod Touch due to those curved edges and the silver lining on the front panel. However, the back side offers a little more design touches with a polished honeycomb print on a flat surface with a bit of stubby bottom end. That little protrusion allows for better grip especially that the handset is very slim.

Aside from the Samsung logo, the back cover has a large “with Google” print. The 5-megapixel camera is situated on the top end with the speakers beside it.

The power button is on the upper right side, the volume rocker is on the left side while the 3.5mm audio jack is found on top along with the micro-USB port hidden by a sliding cover.

The large 4-inch screen looks great with that Super AMOLED display — it’s bright, crisp and offers better image clarity compared to other displays I’ve tried and used in the past (I did a quick comparison between Retina Display, AMOLED and Super AMOLED here).

At full brightness, the difference is huge compared to regular LED displays. Couple that with a smooth multi-touch feature and tasks like internet browsing, navigating in Google maps as well as viewing photos are all a nice experience.

The navigation controls are few and simple which are found at the bottom end of the front panel — a curved, rectangular Home button at the center and 2 touch panels on each side for Back and Menu (similar to the XPeria X10 in orientation only without the physical buttons ). The touch panels are very close to the edge of the handset so it tends to be accidentally activated once in a while.

The Samsung Galaxy S provides a different and customized TouchWiz 3.0 UI that’s layered on top of the Android 2.1 OS. Some of the more noticeable UI implementations include:

  • A total of 7 Home screen panels (5 from Android 2.1 + 2 more from TouchWiz UI).
  • The Home screen scrolls from the 1st panel to the 7th starting at the far left to right, unlike the default ‘centered’ position in other UIs.
  • There’s no sliding window for the app launcher. Instead, there’s a fixed/dedicated icon (represented by 4 concentric smaller squares) on the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • While most other app launcher scrolls from top to bottom, it’s left to right in the TouchWiz 3.0 UI.

Of course, you also get that obligatory Live Wallpaper for some added eyecandy. See the short video below showing how the TouchWiz 3.0 UI works.

The handset is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 1.0GHz processor and as such, the unit performs really well. Applications are very snappy and there are no significant lags or wait time even when running multiple functions or apps. I’ll be doing a separate post to compare benchmarks between this system and the SnapDragon of Qualcomm in other smartphones.

The one other feature that I think the Galaxy S excelled very well is in the camera feature. It’s only rated 5MP but capture quality is very impressive. The lens does auto-focus on its own but you can also manually focus it by touching the subject in the view screen.

Captured images are sharp, clean and well saturated. It can do ISO 50 and reach a shutter speed of up to 1/383 secs based on sample shots I took. Even night shots and in low-light environments, the photo quality is still very good. It’s also great that the minimum focusing distance is just 3 or 4 inches away so you can do macro shots. See more of my sample shots in the gallery here.

Likewise, the camera can take hi-def videos up to 720p at 30 frames per second and actively re-focuses as objects move along the view. See sample footages below and watch them in full screen to appreciate the HD quality.

Images and videos default in the 4:3 aspect ratio but you can switch to the wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio in the settings (so some of the photos here were cropped).

The solitary audio speakers are the back might seem small but it does a pretty good job with good volume range and decent mix of treble and bass. As expected, the sound is reduced by around 50% when you put it down in a flat surface on its back while playing music or video.

The review unit I used also has a 16GB internal storage so I didn’t need an extra microSD card to save all the photos and videos (you can bump the storage to 48GB if you add an external 32GB microSD though).

As an added bonus, Samsung included their own App Store on top of the Android Market. While there are very few apps in there, it’s nice to know we can expect Samsung handset-specific apps in the future (for example, the Road SMS app was a huge hit that it got hundreds of links from big sites including The Daily Wh.at and Engadget).

Battery life varies and really depends on usage patterns. It’s able to last more than a day (or closer to 2 days) on a full single charge but easily drains when you use 3G/WiFi and the camera a lot. It’s not an uncommon battery performance among Android smartphones these days.

It’s pretty hard to ignore all the features the Samsung Galaxy S and not admit that it will undoubtedly be a huge favorite among Android fans. It may lack the necessary eye-candy in the design department with a plain and simple built but what it lacks in form, it makes it up in function.

The large Super AMOLED display, the lean and mean form factor, the raw processing power and superb camera are top of mind when considering this unit. And with a price point that rivals all other Android smartphones in its category, the Samsung Galaxy S i9000 hits that nice sweet spot. It certainly is the among the Android phones to beat this year.

Disclosure: The Samsung Galaxy S was provided to me for free by Globe Telecom. They are also a year-long sponsor of our YugaTech Giveaways so allow me to plug them a little bit — you can get the Samsung Galaxy S with Globe for free under Plan 2499 until July 31. After that, it’s free on Plan 3799.

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182 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy S i9000 Review”

  1. geekdope says:

    @abeolandres nice review! I always enjoy reading your blog. :)

  2. simplynice93
    Twitter: simplynice93
    says:

    …drools…drools….

  3. Pipo
    Twitter: pipodelrosario
    says:

    Veru nice! I’d get one…next year. Lol. I can only buy phones that are at least one year old in the market kasi mas mura na sila. Sa ngayon, di ko pa afford ‘to. Haha.

  4. caloy
    Twitter: iamspikee
    says:

    is it an iphone killer?

  5. skagen says:

    nice phone! i want!

  6. chl says:

    I think Samsung proved with this one that you can more than match Iphone at a lower price using Android platform

  7. Fleeb says:

    Nice.

  8. Adz says:

    Galaxy is amazing,, but if you are budget conscious you can try Samsung Wave – almost like Galaxy.. the only differences is the size of the phone and screen. I already have one and i really enjoying with it..

  9. Dennis A.
    Twitter: dennis818
    says:

    Nice review. Was wondering if Android phones sync with Mac OS. Have been using a Windows mobile phone with limited sync capabilities to the Mac and thinking of upgrading my phone. Or should I just wait for the iPhone 4?

  10. John_P says:

    @ADZ, on top of the one you mentioned, Galaxy S has a video accelerator which the Wave does not have. That is one of the main differences between the two models

  11. Paul says:

    They don’t seem to be that much of a big deal, but Samsung makes great hardware. In fact they’re the suppliers for a lot of parts Apple uses.

    For example, the 1.0ghz ARM processor they use in the Galaxy S isn’t just any ordinary CPU, it’s the Hummingbird. This is the non-Apple-branded version of the A4 chip used in the iPad and iPhone 4.

    So yes… while it doesn’t really’kill’ the iPhone, you can however think of it as an oversized iPhone on Android. Let’s reserve the killing part for when this starts shipping with Froyo :)

  12. Arvee
    Twitter: hahaharvee
    says:

    Yes, Samsung is Apple’s supplier of audio processors kaya sa audio quality tests ng mobile review sites, almost same results nakukuha ng Samsung and Apple phones.

    Anyway, di naman sa gustong-gusto ko talaga yung Galaxy S. But, Xperia really looked like garbage when it was placed beside the Galaxy S. This is one heck of a phone! Ingat lang sa mga holdaper.

  13. MobilePinas
    Twitter: mobilepinas
    says:

    Nice phone, I even tried it in Globe Greenbelt.

  14. Paul says:

    Ito nga pala nakakatuwa, galing dun sa manual ng Galaxy S -

    http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/8810/i9000howtogrip.jpg

  15. CarloBlogg Online 3.0
    Twitter: carloblogg
    says:

    the picture quality of this model’s camera is impressive, and the video is quite good too. Parang kulang na lang ay flash to make this a complete phone/full-blown camera in one. :)Definitely a keeper. :)

  16. carlo says:

    I found the review to be a bit lacking, first the lack of a flash for the camera was not mentioned, and secondly, despite the samsung hummingbird procie at the core, there is noticable lag

    -Sent via YugaTech Mobile App

  17. carlo says:

    ….when switching between homescrens especially when using live wallpapers, plus touchwiz is just plain boring, a launcher from the marketplace is a must

    -Sent via YugaTech Mobile App

  18. wildecox says:

    Thanks Yuga!

    Though we could read reviews from other tech sites way earlier than this, I still read your reviews because somehow, you have that edge of reviewing these gadgets based on a “pinoy’s perspective”.

    Btw, how much would that Samsung Galaxy S cost on prepaid basis, below 30K maybe?

  19. Tiger
    Twitter: h16888
    says:

    Great Review! I really like it. Just wanted to ask, if the 7 home screens are filled up already, what happens? Will the phone still accept applications or it will automatically produce/add another home screen? Or does the phone only limits apps to a maximum of only 7 home screens. Thanks!

  20. Jerome says:

    Here in SG, it’s priced at sgd148 on a 56/month plan. I got one and I could say that it’s excellent in its own right. It has lags here and there but still bearable, maybe until it is rooted. =)

  21. jhoravi says:

    How much is this baby?

  22. Junalquis says:

    ahh if only it has flash in the camera it would be a very nice phone.. but nooo samsung just like screwing things. I’ll go for the samsung wave. Thanks for the review btw

  23. JKisaragi says:

    @Junalquis

    You’d be amazed if you tried this phone out. Even without the built-in flash, pictures still turn out great. I have not yet tried taking pictures at night though. XD

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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