updated 04:50 pm EDT, Tue March 23, 2010
Device boasts 4" Super AMOLED, 1GHz CPU
Electronista had a chance to take a closer look at Samsung's new Galaxy S smartphone running Android 2.1. Despite the 4-inch touchscreen and relatively wide stance, the device is surprisingly light, at 118 grams, and keeps a thin profile less than 10mm thick.
Samsung claims the Super AMOLED display is 20 percent brighter than other AMOLED screens, although it is difficult to determine how it stands up against other handsets without a side-by-side comparison. The Galaxy S screen, like the Nexus One, still lacks the brightness of many LCDs on other devices such as Motorola's Droid.
Despite the modest improvement to brightness, viewing the Galaxy S screen under bright lights was not impaired by problems with glare. The anti-glare technology could help compensate for the limited brightness of AMOLEDs when used in direct sunlight. The Galaxy S maintains the vibrant colors and improved contrast ratio of other AMOLED devices such as the Nexus One.
Samsung boasts HD video playback on its new handset, however the 800x480 display still lacks the resolution for true HD presentation. Video quality was nonetheless impressive when playing a 720p demo reel. Frame rates appeared to vary during playback, with occasional choppiness that was noticeable but not detrimental to the viewing experience.
While the 5-megapixel camera offers average resolution, the phone allows users to record videos in HD quality. The quality of still images appeared to be decent compared to other smartphones. Samsung also integrates utilities for editing videos directly from the phone interface.
The 1GHz CPU provided enough power to run Android 2.1 without any hesitation when switching between menus. Response was much snappier than v2.0.1 on the Droid, while on-par with the Nexus One. Interestingly enough, a racing game shown during the unveiling was absent on the demo devices. Although Samsung claims the processor is at least three times as fast as any other mobile CPU, it appeared to be close in performance to the 1GHz Snapdragon component in the Nexus One.
Samsung customized the Android 2.1 interface, utilizing a simpler layout and integrating social networking services into a single 'Social Hub' utility. The social networking feature appeared to be easy to use, while potentially reducing the effort and time required to switch between communication methods such as Facebook and SMS.
The Galaxy S appears to integrate a plastic cover over the LCD screen, rather than glass. Although it is difficult to determine long-term quality after fondling a brand-new handset for a few minutes, the plastic panel will probably lead to noticeable abrasions if the device is left unprotected.
Despite the quality concerns surrounding the plastic facade, our initial impressions of the Galaxy S were generally positive. The device shares many features with other high-end smartphones, including an 800x480 display and 1GHz CPU. During our limited use, Samsung's Android customizations appeared to be sensible additions without cluttering the interface or impeding overall usability.
The Galaxy S is expected to be available later this year in the US market, although the company has yet to announce a specific carrier for the GSM device.