Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 review: Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Big bright screen; Looks classy; provides Android features for an affordable price.

The Bad Only powerful enough for the basics; not the latest version of Android.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 is a smart phone without the phone bit. Unable to make calls, this Android-powered gadget is built with apps, music, video and web browsing in mind. It offers a big, bright screen and an attractive design, but it's only powerful enough to cope with more basic apps.

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Android devices generally arrive bragging about their high-powered processors and massive screens, but what if you want a more stripped-down handset? In fact, what if you don't want a smart phone at all but still like to play with all the apps available in the Google Play store?

Enter the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 -- Samsung's updated take on the iPod touch . Aping what the touch does for the iPhone , the S WiFi takes all the features of higher-end Android phones like the Galaxy S2 and rips out the phone part, leaving you with a device aimed squarely at playing apps, checking emails and browsing the web.

It's not for those of you who already own a decent Android phone -- you'll already have all the apps and games you want. It's geared towards those who prefer to carry around a simple phone during the day and then chill with Android features on their WiFi connection at home in the evening.

With a low-powered 1GHz processor beneath a 4.3-inch screen, is it worth the £180 price tag?

Design and build quality

If you didn't already know otherwise, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the S WiFi is another phone in Samsung's ever-increasing line-up of Galaxy blowers. At 124mm long and 66mm wide, it's almost exactly the same size as the Galaxy S2, undercutting it by a mere 0.1mm. You'll have no trouble sliding it into those skinny jeans then.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 side
The dimensions are virtually identical to the Galaxy S2.

The front of the device is dominated by the 4.2-inch screen with the Samsung logo at the top. A physical home button slumbers below. The button is small and sits almost flush with the glass front, although it has a subtle silver edge that makes it stand out enough to be recognised. It's easy to press and doesn't feel weak and flimsy like some home buttons. I have no concerns that it'll give up the ghost after a few hundred presses.

Around the edge is a chrome-effect band that adds an attractive premium feel. If it were entirely white it would almost certainly look very cheap and plasticky so the metal is a welcome addition.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 buttons
A physical home key sits below the screen.

There are two speaker grilles set into the top and bottom. The speakers aren't much to speak of. They're a tad louder than some phones but you'll want to use good headphones if you plan to listen to music and don't want everyone around you wishing you ill-health. If you're just watching a quick YouTube clip in your living room though, they're fine.

The back of the device is an entirely glossy white affair that looks a little plasticky. Like the Galaxy S2, the back case can be removed in order to change the battery. Inside is also where you'll find the microSD card slot, which will come in handy if you want to increase the rather meagre 8GB of built-in storage (a 16GB model is also available). Annoyingly, you have to remove the battery in order to change the card, so don't expect to quickly swap in a fresh card if you've filled one up with photos and videos.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 back
A metal edge around the white plastic saves it from feeling cheap.

The back case might feel a little cheap, but the impression is it's pretty well put together. There's no flex in the chassis when you squeeze it and there are none of the unpleasant gaps in the frame that would hint at a poor construction. In my time with it, I was convinced it could put up with a few knocks -- just don't spill anything on that crisp white jacket.

There's a 480x640-pixel front-facing camera for making video calls, and on the back is a 2-megapixel camera. While that offers more pixels than some very low-end Android devices, it's not going to satisfy the truly dedicated shutterbugs -- especially as there's no LED flash. If you really want to capture the world in all its glory on your 'droid, you should look towards the Galaxy S3, HTC One X or Sony Xperia S -- we've even done a lovely comparison of them for you.

Screen

The screen on the S WiFi measures 4.2 inches on the diagonal, which is a touch smaller than the 4.3 inches of the Galaxy S2. If you're used to the S2, it's unlikely you'd notice such a small difference. But if you tend to have your hand wrapped around goliaths like the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X, you might find it lacking -- although if you owned those, you probably wouldn't need one anyway.

It's a WVGA display, meaning it has a resolution of 800x480 pixels, which is the same as the S2. Given the S WiFi's slightly smaller size, it has a higher pixel density than the S2, but I don't think you'd ever tell the difference, no matter how long you stared at them.

The iPod touch offers a resolution of 960x640 pixels on a smaller 3.5-inch screen. So in terms of sheer clarity, the iPod wins, hands down. Of course, the iPod's screen is smaller and it's more expensive. So if you want more screen space for your apps and a few quid left in your pocket, the Samsung might be your thing.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 screen
It may not be the swankiest screen tech in Samsung's armoury, but I actually the prefer the natural colour balance over the S2's display.

It's a regular TFT display, rather than the Super AMOLED Plus screen found on the S2, so it's not as bright or as vivid. Compared to most screens, it's not bad at all though, and I personally prefer the more natural colour balance over the often over-saturated look of the S2. I found it perfectly pleasant for watching YouTube clips and playing colourful games like Angry Birds, which is, of course, exactly what it's designed for.

Android software

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Where to Buy

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2

Part Number: GALAXYSWIFI4.2
Pricing is currently unavailable.