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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. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    I seconded @jonnel13 plus the S.Amoled screen

  2. Cliff Rosario
    Twitter: connect2cliff
    says:

    @Jeboy

    In that sense I agree with you too.. I didn’t mean to be “mean” hehe.. anyways.. About the iPhone not supporting Flash.. There is this app which was released in the US “SKYFIRE” which provides flash support.. well in a sense.. It converts Flash to HTML5 in their servers before it beams it to your iPhone. It immediately got “sold out” or rather their servers can’t handle the gazillion demand. I’m following their twitter account to see when It’ll be released here in the local iTunes store.

    About SGS’ built yeah.. too plasticky.. doesn’t have the premium built feel which it then compensates with the serious engine power under the hood and also S Amoled Display .. which I may say kick ass..

    I’ve also read about the Samsung and Google’s Nexus S.. just released information over at Engadget.com and I must say it’s a SGS with a Google Brand. same plasticky built but same Hardware Powerhouse.. not sure though if It’ll use Snapdragon or ARM Cortex. (Link: http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/11/this-is-the-nexus-s/ )

    And also this news about Samsung’s Flagship phone up for unveiling next year at the MWC. It’s 4.5 sAmoled2, Gingerbread, a monster 1.2 Ghz processor and 14.4 HSDPA etc.. (read : drool)
    (Link: http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/11/exclusive-samsung-flagship-phone-with-gingerbread-and-huge-di/ )

    I will probably save up for that phone if it’ll hit the Philippine shores next year..

  3. reena says:

    hi how about the phone’s contact memory? samsung known to have low memory for contacts.

  4. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    If I can describe iP4 in one sentence, it would be, “Simple and Elegant but not Practical” :D mainly because of the price is too expensive without important features/aspects like extended memory via SDs, native flash support, developer friendly, etc. But I really like the first two (simple and elegant “design and built”) badly :( and did I say seamless and well optimized? If iP4 or future version could have SD and native flash support, S.Amoled or any equivalent display quality, developer friendly (free/freedom), lots of free decent apps, and others, I don’t mind jumping to Apple and start developing in Objective C.

  5. Caloy says:

    Great phone! Thoroughly enjoying it!

  6. Caloy says:

    Who has been able to update his Galaxy S to Froyo using the Kies software?

  7. jquint says:

    Can anyone comment on the GPS? I’d grab it now but the GPS problems have not been reported to be definitively fixed anywhere.

  8. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @jquint GPS is working perfectly for me thru Layar

  9. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Caloy much better if you wait for official release from Samsung, there are reports that registry hack to make froyo available in kies has compatibility problems and Samsung already fixed that workaround.

  10. jquint says:

    @Jeboy: I know that some units work right, with tweaking some will improve, but what do you think are my chances of it working out of the box. Or chances of it never working right?

  11. Caloy says:

    @Jeboy thanks for the tip! Still enjoying the phone anyway. I hope the official version comes out soon!

  12. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @jquint I didn’t tweak anything in my SGS and GPS, WiFi, etc. are working fine even before I applied the lag fix. I would suggest that you bring back the unit to the store and ask for support (I assume it’s still under warranty).

  13. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @Caloy if your concern about upgrading to 2.2 is the lag issue, you can use the lag fix http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=784691 it’s also available in the Android Market, just search One Click Lag Fix or OCLF. Latest version is OCLF 2.2+

    Samsung support said they’re expecting the Froyo to be released anytime soon.

  14. Moja says:

    Hi to All,

    Froyo update for Galaxy S is now available in the Philippines. Already updated my phone last night
    So far no problem =)

  15. TwIsTeD_Rubz says:

    Same here! upgraded to Froyo just a while ago. No problems! Saya!

  16. dino says:

    where did you upgrade it to froyo? samsung at moa said it’s not yet available. and how much does it cost?

  17. Jeboy
    Twitter: jeboy
    says:

    @dino thru Samsung Kies

  18. Christian says:

    may problem pa ba sa froyo ?

  19. Ricky says:

    The Galaxy S i9000.

    The “S” stands for “Sucks”.

    The “Smartphone” appears to be promising but unfortunately the newly updated version of its interface software, the “KIES”, is unreliable while the recently update phone’s Firmware version 2.2 makes the unit hang on you more often now.

    Added to this problem is that Samsung’s local Customer Service”s Technical Support is still clueless in solving these problems.

    Good thing I still use my old but reliable iPhone 3GS. Interfacing and synchronizing with my Outlook’s Calender and Contacts are not a problem.

    I think Samsung should upgrade and update the skills of their software developers.

  20. Docgvg says:

    I just downloaded froyo for my galaxy s… Version jp4 in kies… Faster, new interface, flash, gps fix great

  21. John
    Twitter: John
    says:

    @Ricky, ohhhhh reallly…..hehehehe

  22. light says:

    It’s now available from samsung stores (not just globe). I saw one earlier at SM Megamall, 32.5k i think.

  23. ettenoj says:

    sana meron 8gb lang. hindi kasi ako nagsesave sa internal memory. more on sa memory card

  24. Sam
    Twitter: perfectweiss
    says:

    @light,
    yes it’s around 32.5k in SM Megamall (Samsung Mobile in Cyberzone area). It’s already 16gb, plus they are also selling microSD (note that Galaxy S supports micro SD HC)and also Galaxy S accessories. So it becomes a one-stop shop if you’re going to buy one. Another cool accessory for the Galaxy S (and other gadgets) is the Invisible Shield which is also located in the Cyberzone area of SM Megamall.

    @ettenoj,
    mine is just 8gb carrier-free. I bought it in Singapore, though. I’m not sure if 8gb is available here, because all shops (SM Megamall and SM North Edsa) that I have inquired has 16gb only.

  25. ettenoj says:

    @sam oo nga eh. pero nakahanap na ako sa net ng 8gb lang with free 16gb sd card. for 28k siya. yun nga lang store warranty lang. but im hoping na makahanap ng may 1 yr samsung warranty na 8gb version. sayang lang naman kasi hindi rin naman ako magsesave sa internal memory kasi bumabagal yung phone kapag ganun.

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