The Samsung Galaxy S 4G picks up where the Vibrant left off, adding 4G HSPA+ speeds of up to 21Mbps, a front-facing VGA camera, enhanced battery life, and Android 2.2 with Flash 10.1 support. The rest of the phone is strikingly similar to its 3G predecessor, even down to the disappointing lack of a camera flash. T-Mobile also dangles the carrot in front of its customers by preloading the movie Inception onto the phone in order to show off the Galaxy S 4G’s Super AMOLED screen. This is a classic T-Mobile incentive, and one that should make Christopher Nolan happy. James Cameron got his jollies with Avatar preloaded on the Vibrant. According to numbers, the Samsung Galaxy S 4G is T-Mobile’s fastest phone to date when it comes to network speeds, as long as you live within range of the company’s advanced towers. It’s also a good match if you want to get one of T-Mobile cell phones prepaid and avoid the contract. For the rest, the Samsung Galaxy S 4G is just another Galaxy S phone . Let’s take an in-depth look at the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.

Pros

  • Thin and light
  • Excellent screen
  • Highly responsive
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Slippery to hold
  • Disappointing voice quality

BUILD & DESIGN

This phone is extremely thin and light. It measures 4.8-inches long, 2.5-inches wide, and 0.4-inches thick, and weighs just over four ounces. Unlike some modern smartphones that will hardly fit in your largest pocket, the Galaxy S 4G won’t add any bulk to your mobile lifestyle.

The sides of the phone are shiny silver, and the back cover is a platinum gray color with a cool color shifting effect. There’s nothing flashy or garish about this phone, but it does stand out from the pack in a good way.

The Galaxy S 4G can be somewhat “slippery” and difficult to hold on to because it’s so smooth. It doesn’t have any prominent ridges, and is rather curved at the sides. The only slight bump is at the bottom edge on the back, but that may not be enough to help you figure out which end is which when you dig it out of your pocket or bag.

Since the power and volume buttons are almost flush mounted, they don’t stick out enough to give you much of a clue about which way you’re holding the phone — you’ll have to look.

Aside from my slight frustration with the slipperiness of the phone, I found the Galaxy S 4G to be of excellent build quality. The phone feels solid in the hand and is well made. You won’t find any bending, creaking, or flimsy parts here.

Display16588
The 4-inch Super AMOLED display is simply gorgeous. While I might not often want to watch full length movies on the small screen, the clarity and detail are just outstanding. Colors are rich and sharp, and I can see everything clearly, be it text on a web page, photos, videos, or games. Even when I look very closely, I can see little to no evidence of jagginess or pixelization on the 800 x 480 pixel display.

I also found the screen to be entirely readable outside in direct sunlight, though of course the colors did wash out a bit. The screen can be a bit too bright indoors, at least for my taste. I found myself turning off the automatic brightness control in the settings area so that I could dial it down just a bit.

Keyboard
You’ll be relying on the on-screen virtual keyboard here, since the Galaxy S 4G doesn’t have a physical QWERTY keyboard. Thankfully the Swype technology is included, so you should be typing quickly and accurately with a minimum of practice. That’s especially important since this phone is relatively narrow in portrait mode, so the keyboard keys are rather long and narrow too.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Swype is a text entry method in which you slide you finger from letter to letter, rather than pecking at each one. It’s become quite popular in the last year or so, and Samsung put it on virtually all its phones.

Swype is smart enough that it does a very good job of reading your mind. If it ever isn’t sure about a particular word choice, a handy menu pops up with several likely choices, and a single tap is all that is needed to pick the right word and move on.

Call Quality/Battery Life
Like the Samsung Vibrant, we had nothing to complain about with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G when it came to call quality. Despite the hubbub of traffic and town noises, we were able to have unmolested calls, thanks to the phone’s polished microphone system. Although Samsung upgraded the Galaxy S 4G’s battery to a 1650 mAh pack, we only discovered a minute boost in phone stamina. Naturally, we tested games, took pictures and video, browsed the Internet, and made calls, but by the end of the day, the phone was hurting for some electrical juice. Our advice is to keep an eye on the phone’s Program Monitor and make sure the brightness of the phone is not set to maximum.
Camera
We actually had a better experience with the 5-megapixel camera on the Samsung Galaxy S 4G than we did with the Samsung Vibrant. We’re not sure if Samsung changed the glass or tweaked the sensor a bit but all of our bright light testing ranked among the better phones we’ve seen in this class. At times, the phone had a tendency to oversharpen, but for the most part, colors were natural and detail was uninhibited.
Unfortunately, Samsung chose to omit a flash for the second time on the Galaxy S 4G, so we had to shoot in Night mode any time the lighting was not favorable. Night mode worked surprisingly well, however, but we found that it was difficult to capture blur-free images because of the shutter speed sacrifice. The bottom line is that the Samsung Galaxy S 4G needed a flash, and it didn’t get one.
The same applied to video mode. 720p bright light performance was good, although it didn’t live up to the same standard as the phone’s still image quality, thanks to its unpredictable frame rates and occasional lack of detail. Still, we were able to attain some decent footage up until the lights dimmed. Without a Night mode or Flash to shoot with, video mode at night was essentially useless.
On the plus side, the Galaxy S 4G has a stellar camera interface, just like the Samsung Vibrant. We have numerous Scene modes, Shot Modes, manual controls, and a new Default Destination option, which lets us choose where we wanted the images to ultimately end up. The Front Facing Camera also came in handy for self-portraits, and for most users, the camera will be fine in bright light. But we’re still bitter about that lack of flash!

Wrap-Up

While this phone is set to be dwarfed in one feature or another by phones coming out in the months ahead, I’ll tell you this: here is a solid Android phone we know to be capable of doing anything an average user might want it to do, and it’s inexpensive, and it’s extremely light. The Samsung Galaxy S 4G comes from the most successful line of Android phones in the history of Android, so you should have no worries on whether or not it’ll be worth your time – it will be!

What you’ve got to decide now, if you’re considering purchasing an Android phone, is if you’re going to want to stick to a lineage of proven phones such as this one, or if you’re going to toss your cash in a barrel marked “oddity.” There’s a whole slew of Android phones coming out sooner than later that offer up more than just a dedicated Android experience. But is “more” better? And how well do you like T-Mobile? Know these things before you step in the store, and ye shall know the truth.

CONCLUSION

The
Samsung Galaxy S 4G is an entertainment powerhouse. If you’re looking for a phone that can offer excellent photo and video quality, with excellent choices for live and on-demand TV, this is the phone for you. The screen is gorgeous, the battery life is impressive, the camera/camcorder capture everyday memories with excellent quality, and the gaming experience is fun.

Though there were some issues with voice quality and a few minor frustrations relating to the lock screen and access to the camera settings, the Galaxy S 4G is a solid device with some impressive features.

If you’re more interested in Facebook, gaming, video, and email than you are in gabbing on the phone, this is the device for you. Voice quality isn’t horrible by any means, or even particularly bad, but it is the weakest point for what is, in all other respects, a powerful and fun device.

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