Samsung is taking the world by storm with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S.  Every network in every country is grasping to get a version of this device released and it’s obvious why.

The Samsung Vibrant may have been reviewed before by other sites but when I received this unit, I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing the Samsung Galaxy S (or T-Mobile Vibrant) really is.  You read reviews and browsed lots of photos, but until you actually get your hands on the device itself, you don’t realize just how nice it is.

Before I start the review, we’d like to thank WireFly for providing the unit for review.  If you’d like to get your hands on one of these awesome phones,  you can head over to the AndroidSPIN/WireFly partner site and get yourself a rip roaring deal.

Samsung has done an amazing job creating what is almost the perfect device.  There are a few glitches that I’ll get to in the review, but it’s an amazing leap forward from other Samsung devices I’ve tried before.

The box itself was very nicely designed compared to usual T-Mobile packaging.  Opening the outer shipping box revealed a very nicely designed Samsung Vibrant box, although I was expecting it to be bigger… LOL.

Inside the box you’ll find the phone, an extra back for the phone with a different colored pattern, a USB cable and USB ported power adapter, headset with spare ear gel caps, a Samsung MicroSD adapter and the usual guides and warranty statements.  There is a flyer showing accessories for the phone, one of them is a multimedia dock!  Does this mean it will have better connectivity for your HD TV?  Time will tell.  I searched the Samsung Mobile site and all I could find was a desktop charger that looks exactly the same as the multimedia dock shown on the flyer, just shot from a different angle.

Now you know the physical aspects of the device and what comes in the box, you may want to know what’s inside the device itself:

  • 4 inch Super AMOLED touchscreen
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • 16GB Built-in Memory
  • 1GHz Hummingbird processor
  • Dimensions 4.8 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches
  • 3.5mm Audio/Video Jack
  • 2GB MicroSD Card
  • Android 2.1 with Touchwiz Interface

The first question I had was “How big is the device?” The specifications state the phone being 4.8 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches and weighing in at 117g. The photo below shows how big the device looks in my hand; it feels big, but no bigger than the Nexus One. One thing I immediately thought was how thin and light the device feels.  Thin and light may be good for some people, but I still like the more solid, hefty feel of my Nexus One in my hands.

Here are a few photos of the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant alongside a Google Nexus One. As you can see, it’s only slightly bigger compared to the Google Nexus One. They really are so close in size, it’s hard to actually tell in your hands.

On the top of the device you’ll find a 3.5mm headset/video connector and MicroUSB connector. The MicroUSB connector has a sliding cover to keep your port protected and clean while you’re not using it. Manufacturers seem to vary a lot as far as covers are concerned.  It’s nice to have a cover, and the slot cover design on the Vibrant is very nice, allowing you to simply slide it to one side.  Some devices use rubber covers attached to the device by a rubber connector cord and you end up with a rubber cover dangling from your phone.  It’s also nice in that it gives you the choice to leave it open all the time if you wish and have no loose parts to deal with.  Samsung scores points for this.

On the left side of the device you’ll find a volume up and down rocker similar to almost every other device available today.

Samsung decided to place the power button on the right side of the phone which has already caused some issues for me.  The issues are partly that I’m so used to the power button being on the top bezel so I’m constantly reaching to the top to put the device to sleep or wake it up.  The other issue I’ve found is that every time I go to press the power button, I apply pressure on the opposite side too, which is where the volume rocker is located. Not really an issue, but not a good location either.

The bottom edge of the Vibrant has the microphone hole and small slit to allow removal of the rear cover.  Nothing too exciting here.

The bottom of the front face houses the usual array of touch sensitive buttons (menu, home, back, and search) for quick navigation.  Apart from these buttons, the front has nothing else except the screen itself.  No trackball or optical trackpad, which is not something I’m used to.  The layout of the touch sensitive buttons is different from other Android devices and I’m constantly pressing the wrong one.  It would be great to have the button layout standard across all Android devices but everyone has their own idea of how they should be laid out.

The lack of a trackball or trackpad may be an issue for some people.  It’s most noticeable when your trying to edit text and you have to touch precisely with your finger to get the cursor in the right location. I prefer being able to correct my location with some form of trackball.

What you don’t see on the front of the device is the biggest mistake from Samsung as far as I’m concerned.  For some strange reason, they neglected to add a notification LED in any form on the front of the device.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mobile phone without any form of notification somewhere on the device.  This really is a huge mistake as there is no way to see if you have any messages, missed phone calls, emails or anything else for that matter without turning the device on.  I’m shocked and this small mishap has taken what could have been one top notch all time seller for T-Mobile and dropped it down a few pegs.  I just don’t get it.

There are developers working on possible solutions or workarounds and some of the ideas could work quiet well.  Maybe Samsung will take note of what the community does to resolve this issues and implement something similar in a future update.  There are 2 solutions I’ve read about; one uses the AMOLED screen to display a small Red dot in the upper left corner of the display and actually works pretty well.  The second option I read about was to use the backlit touch sensitive buttons on the bottom of the screen and make one of them flash every so often.  Let’s see which one works out best.

Here’s what the touch sensitive buttons look like on the bottom of the device in their off and on states.

Turned Off:

Turned On:

Different colored back covers are supplied with the phone, which is a nice touch.  You can easily swap the back covers between a Blue and Purple effect to suit your own personal taste.  The back cover is one of the first issues I found while setting up the Vibrant.  It’s incredibly flimsy and feels like it’s going to break when you’re trying to remove and attach it. It fits nicely in place but it almost feels like you’re going to break off the small tabs that hold it on to the back of the Vibrant. Not a great design, but hopefully you’re not going to be removing it too often.

Here’s where Samsung loses points. You’ll notice the camera is on the back of the device. What you’ll also notice is the lack of an LED flash to go with the camera. Does Samsung have some sort of hatred for LEDs on this phone?  First they fail to put a notification LED on the front of the device and then no LED flash for the camera.

 

In Conclusion: The T-Mobile Vibrant is very capable phone and the performance was excellent for the operating system itself and the quality of the calls was crystal clear on the phone and to the people your talking to.  Unfortunately there are few small issues that prevent this phone being a market leader.  No notification LED on the front of the device, No flash with the camera and the cheap plastic feel of the phone itself.  Also disappointing was the provided 2GB MicroSD card.  For the multimedia power house this phone is, a larger MicroSD card should have been provided.  The phone itself has 16GB of internal memory, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal, it just seems weird to provide a 2GB card given whats available today.  I would still recommend this device to any T-Mobile fan but Samsung and T-Mobile could have made some small tweaks and made this device a category winner.  The screen is the best quality I’ve seen to date and make the whole experience very impressive.

There is also a reported issue with the GPS in the device taking too long to lock onto a signal and then reporting the wrong location, but this should be fixed by the next update from Samsung.  For now there is a community work around to get you going.

Don’t forget to view the rest of our articles about the Samsung Galaxy S on AndroidSPIN.  There’s a few good article covering the first 24 hours of use from Stormy and lots of sample photograph features tried and tested.

30 Responses

  1. franky1029

    The 2gb card shouldn’t be an issue, considering these two things: theres 16 gigs already on the device itself. Secondly, SD cards are cheap. Currently, you can have 32 gigs at your disposal for an extra $40. Not bad at all.

    Reply
  2. franky1029

    The 2gb card shouldn’t be an issue, considering these two things: theres 16 gigs already on the device itself. Secondly, SD cards are cheap. Currently, you can have 32 gigs at your disposal for an extra $40. Not bad at all.

    Reply
  3. Gizmolala

    The 2gb card shouldn’t be an issue at all. Seems you are used to freebies.lol. microSD cards are cheap.

    I use Samsung galaxy S (UK) and d fone’s performance is really outta dis world. Display wise, its awesome.

    Reply
  4. Gizmolala

    The 2gb card shouldn’t be an issue at all. Seems you are used to freebies.lol. microSD cards are cheap.

    I use Samsung galaxy S (UK) and d fone’s performance is really outta dis world. Display wise, its awesome.

    Reply
  5. David

    Check out night mode in the settings menu it takes better pictures then all my phones that had led flashes. Also both the samsung built in keyboard and swype keyboard have a built in d-pad to make up for lack of trackball.

    Reply
  6. David

    Check out night mode in the settings menu it takes better pictures then all my phones that had led flashes. Also both the samsung built in keyboard and swype keyboard have a built in d-pad to make up for lack of trackball.

    Reply
  7. s15274n

    You should have pointed out that you can get a directional pad using swype (no need for a trackball). You didn’t really hit on much other than things you didn’t like, and some of those things really aren’t issues (agree with pp, you didn’t even mention the internal memory, OR 2 gigs for your apps, which is HUGE). I EXPECTED more from this article.

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      Thanks for the feedback. Maybe I should have gone into this more. Instead I linked to the specifications page so you get all the spec on the phone you want instead of re-hashing them in the review.
      We all know its a great phone, and I do state this in the post, but I really wanted to highlight the issues that exist and the things that most people find important like the Screen quality and Device size.

      Reply
  8. s15274n

    You should have pointed out that you can get a directional pad using swype (no need for a trackball). You didn’t really hit on much other than things you didn’t like, and some of those things really aren’t issues (agree with pp, you didn’t even mention the internal memory, OR 2 gigs for your apps, which is HUGE). I EXPECTED more from this article.

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      Thanks for the feedback. Maybe I should have gone into this more. Instead I linked to the specifications page so you get all the spec on the phone you want instead of re-hashing them in the review.
      We all know its a great phone, and I do state this in the post, but I really wanted to highlight the issues that exist and the things that most people find important like the Screen quality and Device size.

      Reply
  9. Robert

    Forget the nicely designed box. Did you try the compass or the GPS? Enough fluff, it’s time to report that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes.

    Reply
  10. Robert

    Forget the nicely designed box. Did you try the compass or the GPS? Enough fluff, it’s time to report that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes.

    Reply
  11. eye9

    Agreed with David.. flash isn’t even necessary, the camera is simply amazing. AndroidSPIN’s writer, Stormy Beach recently published a post regarding the Vibrant camera and says that he should have sample pictures of night mode. I have tried the night mode and I can simply say that flash on the camera isn’t even necessary. Here is an example of Vibrant’s night mode vs. Flash Camera — http://www.tmonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Vibrants-Camera2.jpg.jpg — I can confirm that this TOTALLY works since I have tried it myself.

    As far as the notification LED, there is a hack for it located on XDA and published on AndroidSPIN located here: http://androidspin.com/2010/07/23/is-no-led-on-the-galaxy-s-keeping-you-from-buying-one-there-is-a-fix-for-that/ of course it’s not fully functional yet and there are bugs around it but give it some time and it’ll come to life 😉

    Reply
  12. eye9

    Agreed with David.. flash isn’t even necessary, the camera is simply amazing. AndroidSPIN’s writer, Stormy Beach recently published a post regarding the Vibrant camera and says that he should have sample pictures of night mode. I have tried the night mode and I can simply say that flash on the camera isn’t even necessary. Here is an example of Vibrant’s night mode vs. Flash Camera — http://www.tmonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Vibrants-Camera2.jpg.jpg — I can confirm that this TOTALLY works since I have tried it myself.

    As far as the notification LED, there is a hack for it located on XDA and published on AndroidSPIN located here: http://androidspin.com/2010/07/23/is-no-led-on-the-galaxy-s-keeping-you-from-buying-one-there-is-a-fix-for-that/ of course it’s not fully functional yet and there are bugs around it but give it some time and it’ll come to life 😉

    Reply
  13. Jason Bowdach

    The GPS issue will be fixed by Samsung via an official patch, but for now, the fix on XDA does a great job of improving GPS performance until we can get that official patch. I am also hoping Samsung can fix the “Galaxy S” lag issue a bit. Other than that, Great phone…..Loving it!

    Reply
  14. Chris

    I have this phone for a week now.It is the most gorgeous handset ever made.I don’t get when people say it feels cheap cause it’s light.I don’t want a phone that as heavy as a tank.

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      Everyone has their own preferences and some people like a very light phone so it’s easy to carry, some people like the substantial feel of a metal body. It’s all down to personal choice.
      I agree that the phone is awesome. I have experienced a couple of camera lock ups but I’m sure that will be fixed and may not be common. Every phone has some initial problems.

      Reply
  15. Chris

    I have this phone for a week now.It is the most gorgeous handset ever made.I don’t get when people say it feels cheap cause it’s light.I don’t want a phone that as heavy as a tank.

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      Everyone has their own preferences and some people like a very light phone so it’s easy to carry, some people like the substantial feel of a metal body. It’s all down to personal choice.
      I agree that the phone is awesome. I have experienced a couple of camera lock ups but I’m sure that will be fixed and may not be common. Every phone has some initial problems.

      Reply
  16. ludachez

    If you are coming from a G1 and upgrade to the vibrant all of the issues will seem so insignificant. i loved my g1 immensely, but the feel and all of the vibrant is amazing. i like that it is very light and thin, the g1 was bulky. the phone is incredibly easy to root, get a recovery on, and you can download ADW launcher from the market. i did all that and the phone runs incredible and i havent seen ANY lag or issues. GPS working fine for me… my only issue was the LED notification….but it seems XDA is on it so i have faith in a week it will be solved.

    Reply
  17. ludachez

    If you are coming from a G1 and upgrade to the vibrant all of the issues will seem so insignificant. i loved my g1 immensely, but the feel and all of the vibrant is amazing. i like that it is very light and thin, the g1 was bulky. the phone is incredibly easy to root, get a recovery on, and you can download ADW launcher from the market. i did all that and the phone runs incredible and i havent seen ANY lag or issues. GPS working fine for me… my only issue was the LED notification….but it seems XDA is on it so i have faith in a week it will be solved.

    Reply
  18. gotti

    Im with chris I love the feel of the phone, it doesn’t feel cheap to me……

    Reply
  19. gotti

    Im with chris I love the feel of the phone, it doesn’t feel cheap to me……

    Reply
  20. kellyberger

    There is no such thing as the “perfect” device, but i can tell you the Samsung Vibrant is the closest i have ever got! Of course it has a couple issues just like every other phone out there has, you cant please everybody. “This is where Samsung looses some points”?….How can you loose points when you just released a phone that puts most phones out there now to shame? Including the Nexus and Iphone as far as i’m concerned. Just my opinion 🙂

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      I agree that this phone is the closest I’ve had to the ultimate Android phone, I’ve just never seen a phone without any form of notification light on the front, back or anywhere. Seems a weird thing to do if this was a cost cutting exercise.
      XDA will come up with a good solution, I’m sure.
      I did try the No LED application but noticed a quick drop in my battery life, but didn’t really play enough to validate this. I hadn’t even done a full battery cycles yet.
      We’ll keep you updated on this one!

      Reply
  21. kellyberger

    There is no such thing as the “perfect” device, but i can tell you the Samsung Vibrant is the closest i have ever got! Of course it has a couple issues just like every other phone out there has, you cant please everybody. “This is where Samsung looses some points”?….How can you loose points when you just released a phone that puts most phones out there now to shame? Including the Nexus and Iphone as far as i’m concerned. Just my opinion 🙂

    Reply
    • Simon Walker

      I agree that this phone is the closest I’ve had to the ultimate Android phone, I’ve just never seen a phone without any form of notification light on the front, back or anywhere. Seems a weird thing to do if this was a cost cutting exercise.
      XDA will come up with a good solution, I’m sure.
      I did try the No LED application but noticed a quick drop in my battery life, but didn’t really play enough to validate this. I hadn’t even done a full battery cycles yet.
      We’ll keep you updated on this one!

      Reply
  22. jxk

    Yeah this seems more like a complaint list than a real review. I don’t disagree with issues like the lack of an LED notifications and a trackpad, but these aren’t anywhere near deal-breakers. I think as you use the device more (if you intend to) you’ll find plenty of small, innovative tweaks that more than balance out its deficiencies.

    I completely expected Samsung to fail after the mess that was the Behold 2 but damn the Galaxy S series is a beast of a phone.

    Reply
  23. jxk

    Yeah this seems more like a complaint list than a real review. I don’t disagree with issues like the lack of an LED notifications and a trackpad, but these aren’t anywhere near deal-breakers. I think as you use the device more (if you intend to) you’ll find plenty of small, innovative tweaks that more than balance out its deficiencies.

    I completely expected Samsung to fail after the mess that was the Behold 2 but damn the Galaxy S series is a beast of a phone.

    Reply

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