Wednesday April 17th 2024

Samsung Galaxy S Smartphone

This review is of the Samsung Galaxy S, which goes by the name Vibrant on T-Mobile, Captivate on AT&T, Epic on Sprint and Fascinate on Verizon. I personally have the T-Mobile Vibrant version and am conducting this review on that phone. There is also a Galaxy S Tablet by the same name.

I have had the T-Mobile Vibrant for five months and use it every day.

Look and Feel

The phone looks like an iPhone from the outside. I’ve had many people mistake it for an iPhone at a glance. The phone is 4.82” x 2.53” and .39” thick. The LED screen utilizes the majority of the face (4 inches). There is only a small bar along the bottom with four touch screen navigation buttons and a small space on the top of the phones face that are not used. There is one button on the right hand side to turn the screen on and off and a volume button on the left of the phone. Those are the only two actual buttons on the phone, everything else is touch screen.

The Vibrant version of the Galaxy S has no external keyboard and is all one piece. The Epic on Sprint does have a slide out keyboard. The phone feels sturdy in my hand and without a keyboard there are no parts that could break off. It fits comfortably in my hand but without a case or skin I find it to be a little slippery. I purchased a skin to go over my phone which makes it much easier to hold. Before the skin arrived it slipped out of my hand a couple of times. It is a bit large to put in your pocket comfortably, but I appreciate the larger screen the size affords, I guess you can’t have everything.

Screen and Touchscreen Features

When I first brought the phone home I was blown away by the image quality. T-Mobile ships the Vibrant with a copy of the movie Avatar to showcase the imagery and it is great. I immediately bought the T-Mobile branded screen protector for my phone and it does dull the quality of the screen some. But it has also saved me from any scratches during five months of use and tossing it around in my bag.

I am not crazy about the touchscreen. Prior to this phone I had a blackberry and still use a blackberry for business. I was hesitant to move to a phone that did not have a keyboard with real buttons and now that I have been using the touchscreen keyboard for five months I really miss the blackberry keypad. The touchscreen is fine for navigating the menus but I find it frustrating to type on. I have small fingers and I often hit the wrong letters on the screen or miss a letter.

The phone has “Swype” technology to help with typing on a touch screen which I can not stand. To use Swype you leave your finger on the touchscreen the whole time and swipe your finger across the keyboard to all the letters in your word. Sometimes it works and other times I end up sending my friends non-sensical and comical messages. For example the other day I asked my wife, “what kind of pasta seduce we should make for dinner.” I tried to type “sauce.”

Call Quality and Bluetooth

I have no complaints about the call quality on this phone. It is almost 2011 and I don’t think there would be any excuse for a poor call experience on a mobile phone. This phone works and I can have regular conversations on it no matter where I am, as it should be.

The bluetooth on this phone also works as it should. I hooked my phone up to the integrated bluetooth in my 2011 BMW 328i with no problems. After the initial set up, which took less than 5 minutes, I haven’t had to do anything else to make this work. When I get in the car the phone and car automatically sync. If I receive a call while I am driving it just rings in the car, the phone number or contact’s name pop up on the car display and I can press the answer button if I wish. It is truley seamless.

My wife also uses a Blueant car speakerphone with her Galaxy S and has had no issues.

Android, Menus and Navigation

The Galaxy S is an Android based phone. The initial phones shipped with Android 2.1 and received an over the air (OTA) upgrade to 2.2 when it became available. Android is obviously a huge topic that could have a review of its own but I will just speak to how it relates to this phone. I find navigating the phone very easy and logical. It is easy to make shortcuts to your favorite apps on one of the seven home screens. It also easy to view the apps alphabetically in the app list. If that fails you can simply search for the app in the global search.

Since Android is a Google product it comes with no surprise that the Google apps all run seamlessly on the phone, including Gmail, Gchat and Google Maps (although more on the GPS issues later). Google search is also integrated into the main screen so you do not even have to launch a browser to start your web searches.

There are a ton of apps available for Android that run fine on this phone. Many are free and many can be bought for just a few dollars.

I do find the phone and Android can be a little quirky at times. Two of my favorite apps are Runkeeper and Pandora. Both can crash sometimes or run very laggy. I am not sure if it is the app or the phone. Other people run these apps on other Android phones and report great success. I guess, like all modern computers, some crashing and bugs can be expected.

Battery life

Battery life is a very subjective topic depending on how you use your phone. Overall I think the battery life is good on this phone. Personally I use the phone to surf the web on and off throughout the day and stream music over Pandora frequently. As a result I get less than 24 hours on the phone. For comparison my wife only uses the phone for calls and occasional messaging gets two days from a charge.

If you’re going to be playing frequent games, streaming music, running the GPS or other intensive things you just need to plug in. I think this should be expected of all current smart phones.


The Galaxy S comes equipped with a GPS. As I have written about in a previous post the Samsung Galaxy S GPS sucks. I won’t fully go into it here but in short it takes forever to find a GPS satellite, if it ever does find one. Sometimes I have been outside for half an hour and I give up waiting. Fortunately, it can give fairly good map routing based just on the cell signal, but it is obviously not as good as a GPS.

Camera / Video Camera

The Galaxy S has a 5 megapixel camera, which is on the higher end for cellphone cameras. This is about the quality of regular digital cameras five years ago. It is comparable to the other smartphone cameras on the market and I would not buy anything less.

The phone also provides an HD video camera. This is of similar quality to the HD Flip cams currently on the market. I have made a few videos for Youtube and find the quality better than most web videos. It’s obviously not professional video equipment but I think it is very good for a cell phone. I have no need to buy anything else for capturing personal video.

You can upload your pictures and videos directly to Facebook, Youtube or any of the other popular social networking sites. You can also send them via email and the photos via txt. No need to plug the phone into your computer to upload they can go directly over the air (videos will require a wireless internet connection because of their large file size to upload.)


The Galaxy S can also function as a Media player much in the same way an iPhone does. My personal preference is streaming music over Pandora. I was shocked at how good the quality was for streaming music over just a cell signal. I can play it for hours without interruptions or blips in the service. The quality is as good as an mp3.

The phone also has plenty of storage for mp3s. My T-Mobile version came with 16 gigs, while some others have 8 gigs. The phone also supports up to a 32 gig micro SD memory card. Plenty of room for music and a couple of TV shows.

There is a standard headphone jack on the top of the phone. The first time I used it I had to use quite a bit of force to get my headphones to plug in. I’ve read other users on the web say they also had problems plugging in the first time. After a few uses this is no longer a problem.


Overall I am happy with this phone and think it is one of the better smartphones on the market. Some things do annoy me like the onscreen keyboard and swype technology or the useless GPS. But other features are really superior such as the screen quality, the plethora of available apps, the call quality and bluetooth support. Compared to the other similarly priced phones on the market I think the Galaxy stands out as a leader and is a direct competitor for the much loved iPhone.

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