In many ways it resembles the smartphone universe, where the options of shapes, sizes and functionality are close to infinite. Yet somehow, in the ever expanding smartphone galaxies, there is one that shines brighter than the rest: The Samsung Galaxy i9000 S.
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The Galaxy, at the time of its release, was the flagship Android in Samsung’s range. This fact was made blatantly apparent by its intense advertising presence.
The phone arrives at a critical juncture where competitors are staking claims on the top spot for the smartphone market. Samsung’s pride in the Galaxy is a clear indication of its intentions to vie for this top honour and perhaps the “apple” schnapps may need to be corked.
The phone boasts an extensive array of features and functions. Beginning with the most impressive, the 4″ 16M-color Super AMOLED touchscreen (480 x 800 pixel resolution). The picture quality is phenomenal, with vivid colours and displaying a true black (as opposed to a very dark grey ). My personal experience of watching full-length AVI/DivX movies was immersive to the extent that I lost the realization of the medium. In other words the picture is so clear and substantial in size that you forget you are watching a movie on a phone. It’s a master class that demolishes any other smartphone.
The screen’s touch sensitivity and responsiveness is flawless, with Samsung’s very own TouchWiz user interface (UI) coupled with the Android operating system (OS) making navigation seamless. The technology also allows for some nifty dual functionality such as a proximity sensor that realises when the device is held to your face, preventing any unwanted hang-ups.
The Galaxy comes installed with Android v2.1 (Éclair). The cross platform reach of the Android OS allows for effortless understanding of the phones functionality. Along with countless apps downloadable and ready to use, your arsenal of high quality apps can amass at quite a pace. The Galaxy then transforms itself into a novelty device, showing off apps like Google Goggles/Voice/Translate/SkyMap/Aldiko eBook/Barcode scanner/ Layer and so much more.
The standard pre-installed applications never cease to impress either. The well thought-out phonebook system with its alphabetised index sidebar displaying SIM, phone and email contacts allows for great cross account integration.
The calendar, weather and alarm clock, although innocuous enough, still deserve credit for being simple, to the point, and packed with all the necessary functionality. The obvious attention to detail is evident, even with such basic apps and it illustrates the professional attitude Samsung had in producing the phone.
And of course, Samsung’s very own Swype predictive text technology thrown in to sweeten the deal is impressive to say the least.
(At the time of writing the article, the Froyo or Android 2.2 OS update was still to be released and may remedy certain bugs and random crashes and is said to give a two to five times speed boost.)
The Physical Matter
The appearance of the phone is unfortunately one area where I cannot sing the praise of the Galaxy. The design is almost a complete knock off of the iPhone 3 barring a few touchups. I’m not saying it’s ugly, but the design is already out of date before you take it out of the box. It is also necessary to mention that the 122.4 x 64.2mm body is too large for my liking. Not uncomfortable in the pocket as it’s 9.9mm thickness makes this manageable, but rather it has a gawky feel in your palm.
However external aesthetics don’t seem to be the focus, as evidenced by the plastic feel of the back panel, front panel, side… well, ok, all of it. The phone lacks that quality component feel and is slightly underweight, a paradox I can’t quite put my finger on.
There is also the tendency for the screen to become greasy after use, and fingerprints show up constantly.
The 5 mega-pixel onboard camera is very impressive with a sister camera located on the front of the phone for video calls. Unfortunately, you are going to have to do without a shutter key, which can become a nuisance in trying to press the button on screen. The other drawback is the lack of flash, which hinders your night time shots. But disregarding these drawbacks, the HD Video capturing with responsive auto-focus can produce excellent quality video clips.
The Galaxy has a poor battery life, lasting two days at the most. If you want to use the full potential of the phone and run your IM apps in the background, then the uptime of the phone will be reduced considerably. If you are brave enough and dare play games as well, you will be needing to recharge before the end of the day. Quite a drawback, but unavoidable it seems in the present smartphone climate.
The Big Bang
My overall experience with the phone has been one of sheer amazement. It is an intimidating piece of machinery that deserves its time in the sun.
As far as the fate of the universe goes, I would bet that Android is poised to become the dominant OS in the coming years, with this Galaxy at the centre of it all.