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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. Juan says:

    @law great!

  2. docgvg says:

    i recommend that you buy this phone…. first, i would like to tell the downside…battery if phone use for one day dries up for 12-14 hours in my experience (not bad considering that phone is always on and in use including wifi, 3g, gps, music player when in the car sometimes even the tethering), full charge in 4 hours but you can buy extra battery at samsung store, boots up in 40secs (due to installed apps), lags here and there (nice to have task killer to speed up sgs and will be solve soon by the froyo build)and difficulty installing kies software (you can email me for details on what i did to make it work)…why i like this phone, typing is a breeze with SWYPE (best invention for mobile phones imo), wifi tethering is always there when you need it, or when your loved ones need to connect to the internet (it helps if you subscribe unli in globe superplans) and in a couple of days the entry of froyo (fb games can now be played anywhere even in the comfort room =) as long as there is 3g signal)…

  3. docgvg says:

    oops…the advantages that i just stated are all in android phones….but what i like about the galaxy s is the storage…..16gb + sd slot for 32gb more…..htc and motorola androids i think dont have it…..if only samsung can fix GPS inaccuracies and its kies software….it will be the best smartphone ever….just waiting for froyo….

  4. John
    Twitter: John
    says:

    ka bibili ko lang maganda keypad nya may swype

  5. John
    Twitter: John
    says:

    mga 30,000 lang

  6. jt says:

    @john…saan mo nabili?

  7. John says:

    @john same here, saan mo nabili? cash ba yung 30k or card? Thanks

  8. Christian says:

    sa greenhills may 28k ata , sa filinvest kaya meron n nito ?

  9. John
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Christian sa CMK 30,990 pag cash pero reliable naman and from Samsung daw ang warranty. ang problem mostly sa sobrang cheap na SGS is store warranty only at hindi genuine samsung yung accessories na kasama. sa malaysia (lowyat mall, parang greenhills satin) may 26,000 don pero pag pumunta ka sa Samsung Mobile mismo sa the same mall it costs 36,000

  10. Saimon Apor
    Twitter: saimon08
    says:

    Saw this unit last week in Greenhills. 16GB cost around 25k… :)

    I saw this a week after it’s release when my bestfriend bought one from Hongkong. And I was totally amazed by its features. HD video and pics are awesome!

  11. John
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Saimon what store in Greenhills you found that 25k?

  12. Christian says:

    @saimon sang store yan at pde kaya kung credit card

  13. Christian says:

    Sana may 27k na nyan sa festi. haha

  14. Saimon Apor
    Twitter: saimon08
    says:

    @Christian and @John: Dun mismo sa taas ng tiyangge. Sa mga stalls ng cellphone dun. I’m not sure if they accept credit cards there, but I doubt.

  15. Rick says:

    I’m planning to sell mine because I am afraid in bringing it on school. It is locked from globe.If ever anyone interested just text me at 09062664974

  16. cdr says:

    Magkano ba pinakamurang Galaxy s?

  17. Chritian says:

    ask ko lang kung pde bang iroot ung Galaxy S?

  18. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Chritian pwede. Also try one click lag fix, magiging super fast ang SGS nyo.

  19. mack says:

    guys,pls help me decide if ill buy an iphone4 or galxy S?ur comments would help me a lot..tnx!

  20. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @mack both device are good and have strengths and weaknesses. iPhone4 has problem with signal especially if you’re right handed. When it comes to screen department, it’s clear that SGS has the advantage because of it’s brilliant screen Super Amoled over Retina Display. iPhone4 is good in battery optimization.

  21. Juan says:

    @law how do you manage to update your SGS to Froyo via Kies? kinda share with us please? thanks

  22. Cliff Rosario
    Twitter: connect2cliff
    says:

    @Jeboy

    Do you own an iPhone 4? because so far my iPhone 4 doesn’t drop any call.. And also gives me excellent 3G coverage..enough to give me 1 mbps of speed when I tether with my laptop.

    So about the signal problem you were stating earlier I hope whoever has the problem, they already got that fixed by either the iOS 4.1 or a replacement from Globe.

    Don’t get me wrong though I find Samsung Galaxy S very charming, especially that S Amoled Display and I had a really hard time choosing between the one made from Cupertino or Seoul..
    But in then end iPhone’s exclusivity, stability and the freakin App store got the best of me..

    What I should look out for would be Samsung’s Windows Phone 7 phones…

  23. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Cliff I respect your opinion, I’m a developer therefore open source is a big thing for me, iOS is proprietary and a developer must pay before he is allowed to deploy his apps which is not appealing to us open source devs., not much of a freedom. As for the iPhone4′s signal problem, our company executives experience that and the only solution apple gave before was only using a bumper or skin but if it has been already fixed that’s good news. Another thing is iPhone has no memory card extension (e.g. SD) and native Flash player support. In fairness what I don’t like to SGS is the build/form factor which is very plasticky and similar to 3G S design, I very much like HTC Desire HD and iPhone4′s build and design. Maybe this review (from IP4 and SGS owner’s personal experience) would help you http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=eGnzUU-2fpg&feature=fvst

  24. allan says:

    w/c one do u guys think is a better business phone, iPhone or the Galaxy S?
    is it true that the iPhone can’t open adobe? i received a lot of mail attachments. if it can’t open adobe, then that would be a problem.
    i need a smartphone so that i don’t have to carry a laptap & check my mails.
    i like blackberry, but u need BIS / data plan to maximize it’s features, right?
    most of the time i’m at a wi-fi hot spot.
    hope u guys can give me more info.
    thanks.

  25. jonnel13 says:

    if u mean pdf files, yes the iphone can open them. what the iphone does not have is flash. you will not go wrong with either phones. they are both very good. but since you mentioned you open mail attachments, then the galaxy s may be better for you because of the bigger screen size.

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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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