updated 07:35 pm EST, Mon February 27, 2012
Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 intros at MWC
One of Samsung's lower-key introductions at Mobile World Congress was a new and still rare Android-based MP3 player, the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2. We gave it a spin at the event, both to see how it stood up on its own and to see how it stacked up against the current iPod touch. Impressions are after the break.
The company hasn't been shy in experimenting with screen sizes for the Galaxy S Wi-Fi (known as the Galaxy Player in the US), going from 3.6 inches to as much as a five-inch player. Picking 4.2 inches is odd when it already has a four-inch device, especially given that the 4.2 is a step back in cameras from a 3.2-megapixel autofocusing rear camera to two. We suspect it's Samsung using a new screen size as a way to lower the feature set and the price, although it didn't say what the price would be.
Having said this, the size hits a sweet spot, being just big enough to afford a nice view while still being manageable. Although it's still 480x800, the IPS-based LCD is colorful and fairly bright. One notable cosmetic change is the inclusion of "lips" on the top and bottom. It's the first time we've seen Samsung proactively introduce a design that isn't likely to run into Apple lawsuits in Germany, rather than waiting for a possible ban.
Delving into software shows a familiar pattern. Other than shipping with Android 2.3, which itself is somewhat obsolete, the app loadout is similar to the 3.6, 4.0, and 5.0, with Samsung's TouchWiz 3 layer on top and an emphasis on media in the default home screen over pure data. It's still a solid equation and allows for more flexibility than an iOS user gets, although it's not as easy to use. There's likewise the question of when, or if, the 4.2 gets an Android 4.0 update.
The 1GHz processor is still certainly fast enough for the core tasks the 4.2-inch version is doing; we're just disappointed that Samsung followed Apple's route and kept the processor the same. And while we couldn't keep camera samples, it wasn't hard to tell from on-device looks that the two-megapixel camera just isn't that great quality.
Much of whether or not the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 is a viable challenge to the iPod touch depends both what it's priced at and what your priorities are. If it's significantly below $199, it may at least catch a few of those who want a media player on a budget with more than just the basics. Even if so, it's still not quite the pick for anyone who plays games regularly. The iPod touch still has a deeper game ecosystem and accessories. It's a capable device by most means, but when none of the other sizes made a significant dent in Apple's share, it's hard to see the 4.2 giving Apple reason to panic.