It has been a month since I bought my Samsung Galaxy S Android phone, and I thought I’d share some real world experiences with you.
Those of you looking to buy this phone may be wondering how the phone works in real life. What is the truth behind all the marketing?
First of all, I’m going to talk about speed and performance. I have not been disappointed so far.
It really runs any app I can throw at it smoothly and seamlessly.
The browser is slow. I don’t think this problem happens to just the Samsung Galaxy S. I think this is a common problem for all Webkit phone browsers. You click on the link and have to wait a few seconds for the page to load. Even on Wifi.
If you are used to browsing the web on computers, then you will find the wait a little frustrating. I tried using the Opera Mini Browser and it does help a bit, but still not up to computers speed.
The phone does not hang, but some of the applications I installed have memory leaks. Memory leaks happen when an application does not release memory that it does not use any more. So after a while, the available memory drops and you have to reboot your phone.
Update: I rooted my phone and installed a lag fix using RyanZA 1-Click Lag Fix app (you can get it from the Market) and now it’s blazing fast!
Although the camera is 5MP, I still find that there is a difference between the phone 5MP and my Nikon 5MP.
I read somewhere before that mega pixels alone do not determine the quality of the image. It also depends on the sensor size and the lens.
So when it comes to taking casual photos, the phone is fine. But for other photos I prefer to stick with a DSLR.
Videos have turned out fine though. The speaker is really sensitive, so the audio captured is really clear and loud.
Somehow I get the feeling that the camera is optimized for video rather than still photos. You can see a sample of food photos taken indoors.
GPS and Gyroscope
This is the first time I had a GPS on my phone, so I didn’t know what to expect.
As with other GPS, you need to be outdoors (or at least see the sky) before it can work. I really don’t know how to evaluate if the GPS is good or bad, but it does a good job tracking your exact location.
The best thing are the apps that use GPS.
First of all, I use Foursquare to check in to the different places I go to.
Then there are map software like Google Maps, MapDroyd and a nice one called Waze. Waze is like a live traffic report. You see the map and can inform other drivers when there’s a traffic jam.
I usually scan this app before I go home, to see which roads have traffic jam. You can even chat with other drivers that are nearby.
There are also many cool AR (augmented reality) applications like Layar, which allows you to scan your camera around you to see any nearby places of interest. You can choose restaurants, ATMs, petrol stations or even houses for sale.
Then there is Google Sky. You can point your phone at the sky and it shows you the exact position of constellations.
And I also tried Celeste (Lite), which tells you the position of the sun, moon, and planets with their orbit path!
I mentioned in my first review that you can’t buy apps from the Android Market at this moment. Google Checkout is not available to Malaysians yet, so we only have access to free apps.
Many nice (free) applications are also unavailable to us Malaysians.
Some of these are:
- Google Voice (allows you to make free calls)
- Amazon Kindle
I am seriously thinking about rooting my phone so I can install an app (Market Enabler) that spoofs your location so you can have full access to the market.
How are the free applications then?
You can find a lot of good ones in the Android Market, but you need time to browse. You can get the standard ones like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, EverNote and WordPress.
But when you can’t buy apps, you are restricted to trial or lite versions of applications. One warning though, a lot of ‘naughty’ apps are in the Android Market too.
You can find Android versions (or imitations) of most popular iPhone apps.
Android phones are really integrated with Google applications, so it’s great if you are a GMail, Picasa, and Google Tasks/Calendar user.
I can even search Google using my voice (but it doesn’t understand Malaysian accent so I have to speak. proper. English).
One final thing to mention about apps: you are not restricted to a single channel to install applications (like iTunes). You can install any app as long as you can find the proper installation file. This gives you the freedom of buying applications from third party websites or even download pirated applications if you choose.
Phone and Messaging
I almost forget that my Samsung Galaxy S is a phone. Honestly I don’t make or get many phone calls, so I hardly use the phone and messaging functions.
But so far, I don’t have any problems with call reception or call quality.
Even though the Samsung Galaxy S has signal attenuation when you apply the ‘death grip’ on it, it doesn’t drop the call. The reception drops two bars when you hold the bottom part of the phone.
Things I Enjoy Doing
I really like how the phone allows me to do the things I used to do with my Dell PDA, and much much more. I primarily use my Samsung Galaxy S to:
- Tweet and Facebook while stuck in traffic jams
- Take photos and videos of my kids and post online immediately
- Navigate my way home and avoid traffic jams (using Waze)
- Read e-books
- Play games (right now playing Galaxia. Army code 559ED. Add me)
- Have instant access to the Internet
Things I Can’t Do
Some of the things that I can’t do are:
- Check my email. Reading a few emails is fine, but the screen is too small to scan through lots of email quickly.
- Blog. The WordPress app is fine for approving comments and creating drafts, but somehow I can’t get images to appear in posts. Plus, it’s too tiring trying to type a thousand word post (even using the amazing Swype input method) using just my fingers. I still need to use a keyboard because I’m frequently selecting text, cutting and pasting.
- Get paid applications. I’d really like to get the Kindle app because I love reading and want to stop buying physical books. Please do something quickly Amazon!
In summary, I still have no regrets. Its okay that most people don’t have a clue about Android phones or what they are capable of.
I’m looking forward to the Froyo update for my phone, especially with the speed improvements and tighter integration with desktop Chrome.
I *heart* my Samsung Galaxy S.
Samsung is also coming out with a Samsung Galaxy tablet soon, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it compares with the iPad.