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. 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.
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 theand . 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.