MetroPCS has made its signature contributions as well, in the form of its own app store, social networking and IM bundle, backup app, and music service. Samsung's AllShare service lets you wirelessly share stored media (that includes pictures, HD video, and more) to other DLNA-certified home electronics. You'll also find Nuance voice commands, the ThinkFree Office and Write & Go productivity apps, and MySpace, to name a few.
The physical keyboard and good-size screen make the Indulge ideal for texting, multimedia messaging, and composing e-mails. In addition to the standard Android Gmail app is another mail application you can program to your POP, IMAP, and Exchange accounts, either separately or in a combined inbox we frankly find overwhelming.
MetroPCS has given the Indulge yet another option in its MetroMail e-mail app. Though it isn't a bad app, MetroMail seems extraneous; Google does more than a fine job handling e-mail, and MetroMail is less savvy at managing the inbox since it buries some of the e-mail management tools. It also pulls notifications rather than Android's method of receiving alerts pushed down from the server in real time.
As it goes with Android, you can sync your calendars and merge contacts from your various e-mail and social network accounts into your phone book. The phone is often smart enough to link the contacts for you, but we found we had to do some manual linking for a few of our contacts. On Android phones, the address book size is limited only by your phone's memory.
MetroWeb is the carrier-branded experience that tops the default Android browser. The address bar and bookmarks are clearly labeled, and pressing the Menu button still invokes menu options to controls browser windows, page search, settings, and so on. Among the number of things you can do in settings is change your default home page from MetroPCS' self-titled pick. Alternative browsers and myriad other apps are available for free download or for purchase from the Android Market app.
The onboard music player is a cut above the standard Android fare, thanks to the TouchWiz skin that spruces up the look of controls. Features-wise, the player remains the same, with options to pause, skip, shuffle, repeat, add to an on-the-fly playlist, and play via Bluetooth. As with all Android phones, you can purchase and download songs from the Amazon MP3 store, though we had to download the store ourselves from the Android Market. Of course, you can also load your own music via USB or microSD. The Indulge has 2MB internal memory and can take up to 32GB of external storage.
We've seen brighter, clearer, truer photos than on the Indulge's 3.2-megapixel shooter. They're sharp enough to work with, but duller than in real life. The camera includes autofocus, but no flash, and the thumbnail link to the photo gallery is absent from the capture mode. The Indulge still has its complement of six shooting modes, 15 screen modes, an exposure slider, and additional settings for aspects like the timer and shutter sound.
We got a chance to test out the Indulge's media prowess with the Indulge's preloaded "Iron Man 2" movie. Although the Indulge doesn't have the formidable screen size and ultrahigh resolution of some of the other Galaxy S phones, the media playback was satisfying when we tested it on the train, at the gym, and in the home. It also lacks the Media Hub of most other Galaxy S phones.
We tested the Samsung Galaxy Indulge (CDMA 850/1900; 1X EV-DO Rev O; LTE) in San Francisco using MetroPCS' network. Volume was a tad low on the Indulge, but just about right once we raised it all the way. The clarity and voice quality themselves were both very good overall, although interrupted at times by a bit of distortion and buzz. On their end, callers heard no distortion, and voices sounded clear and loud. The voice quality, however, sounded a little off to their ears, though our friends had a hard time describing exactly why.
"Crystal clear" was one caller's description of speakerphone. Callers agreed they heard a comfortably loud volume and no background noise. The forecast wasn't quite as sunny on our end. The volume was almost overly loud and very tinny, although we agree it was clear.
Samsung Galaxy Indulge call quality sample
Performance felt fast on the 4G-ready Indulge. Android 2.2 and the 1GHz processor kept things zippy, plus 4G fared well on MetroPCS' LTE spectrum. For browsing, we were able to load both CNET's and the New York Times' mobile-optimized sites in 5 seconds. Full versions of both sites took longer: closer to 15 seconds to render the graphics-heavy home pages.
Although we'll have more in-depth tests later from our labs, we did want to quickly see how well the Indulge's 4G speeds on MetroPCS fared using a standard diagnostic test on the SpeedTest.Net app for Android--especially when compared with another 4G-capable Samsung Galaxy phone, the Epic 4G. Of course, diagnostics don't always translate to real life, coverage and network strength differ greatly by area, and this quickie test isn't conclusive by any means. Also, the Epic 4G for Sprint runs on a 4G WiMAX network. Still, we were curious.
We ran two tests on two different days at different times of day. SpeedTest.Net on both phones routed to the same Phoenix server and we sat the phones side by side and started tests at the same time. In both tests, the Indulge had slower LTE download speeds, but slightly faster upload speeds.
|Test number||Device||Download speed||Upload speed|
On the power end, battery life was sorely lacking. One full charge rarely lasted throughout the day, even when we restricted our calling and data usage. At one time in our testing period, we had to charge the phone twice in one day.
The Indulge has a lithium Ion 1,500mAh battery with a rated battery life of 3 hours talk time and 12.5 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 3 hours and 26 minutes. FCC tests measured the Indulge's digital SAR at 0.64 watt per kilogram.