Samsung Galaxy S A Brilliant Android Smartphone

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Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Icon launched last year, the Galaxy S now has a customised version of Android that makes it a joy to use. Sure, the handset may look and feel like an Apple iPhone because of its physical specifications and interface, but the company has been able to add a couple of features that make it one of the best Android phones in the market.

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The Galaxy S is mostly made out of plastic, which may disappoint some considering Samsung considers it as its flagship smartphone. However, its slim profile (9.9mm), light weight (124g), and large 4-inch AMOLED screen definitely makes up for what it lacks in build.

The power button and volume rocker are located along the sides of the handset, while the USB port (for charging and synchronising data files) and 3.5mm jack are located on top of the unit. Besides the screen, users can find a VGA camera for video calling, two touch keys (Back and Context Menu), and a Home button up front. A 5-megapixel camera that can take HD videos (720p at 30fps) is located at the back of the unit, although we were surprised to find that there is no flash onboard.

In terms of hardware, the Galaxy S has a 1Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. A microSD slot is available, allowing users to expand the memory up to 48GB (using a 32GB card). In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy S offers Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Allshare via DLNA, and HSDPA/HSUPA.

The 4-inch AMOLED display is bright, crisp, and responsive. This made it easy for us to scroll between the home screens (up to seven), view the installed applications, and perform multi-touch functions.

 
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It runs on Android 2.1 (which can be upgraded to 2.2 according to Samsung) but comes with a customised user interface called TouchWiz (3.0). The interface looks very similar to an Apple iPhone, but like any other Android phone, users can personalise the phone using widgets. Some Samsung programs we found interesting were: Social Hub (integrates contact information and activities from various social networking sites), ThinkFree Office (view and edit MS Office documents), and Daily Briefing (instant access to weather, world news, stocks, and calendar schedule). The wireless tethering function (called Mobile AP) is also a great function that can help you stay connected.

Typing on a virtual QWERTY keyboard can be tough especially if you are not used to it. Fortunately, Samsung has included a feature called ‘Swype’ that allows a user to swipe their finger from letter to letter instead of typing it individually. We found it weird at first, with us pressing the space key after a swiped word. It did get easier after a couple of hours, and we are happy to say that it makes texting easier and quicker. If that is not one’s cup of tea, then he/she can still type letters individually.

The Galaxy S can play 3gp (mp4), WMV (asf), AVI (divx), MKV, and FLV video files and audio files saved in MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, OGG, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, MID, AC3, IMY, FLAC, and XMF. The wide range of compatible files allows it to be used as a portable audio/video player.

 
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The Galaxy S lasted for a day and a half in our test, with us checking and responding to e-mails, listening to a couple of music files, calling a couple of contacts, playing a couple of pre-installed games, and fiddling around with the settings throughout the testing period. Do take note that we did not turn the Wi-Fi on, watch videos, or adjust the brightness settings in any way (set to automatic adjust).

Overall, the Galaxy S is one of the best phones Samsung has created. In fact, it can even be considered as one of the best Android phones in the market this year. Samsung certainly did its best to make this handset as appealing to a lot of people as possible, and it may just work to their advantage.

The Samsung Galaxy S will be available for $0 upfront on the Optus’ $59 ‘yes’ Social plan from July 1. It will also be available for $0 upfront for Optus Small Medium Business (SMB) customers on the $59 ‘Business Complete’ plan on a 24 month contract (min total cost $1416) which includes unlimited voicemail and SMS for SMB customers.

Other major phone carriers will begin to stock this handset from August. 

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