Dave Demarest (shivers316 of AndroidForums.com fame), like any hopeful T-Mobile subscriber looking for the best Android phone they have to offer, got hold of the recently released Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant. Acting as a human guinea pig, he dutifully put the handset through the paces. His review of the phone follows. [Be sure to also check out my full review of the international Samsung Galaxy S (the spitting image of this here T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant sans the front-facing camera).]
Here it is, folks! As a follow up to the most amazing unboxing video in Phandroid history, I present you with the shivers316 review of the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant. Now, bear with me a little. I’m going to do my best to give you a fair and detailed review.
Samsung Vibrant Hardware
With a 4” Super AmoLED screen, 5MP camera, 720p video recording, a 1Ghz processor, and 16GB of built in memory, T-Mobile finally has a contender for the big boys in the Android world.
What I noticed right of the bat when I took the Samsung Vibrant out of the box was how light it was. Now, some people have said that it feels cheap, but I don’t feel that to be the case. Also, people have compared its looks to that of the iPhone 3G and 3GS series which, let’s face it, it sort of does.
Holding the Samsung Vibrant in your hand you’ll be looking at a 4” Super AmoLED screen. On the bottom there are four soft keys: Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Around the screen you’ll find a very iPhone-like chrome bezel.
On the left side is a volume rocker. On the right is a power/screen lock/unlock button. Look up top and you’ll find a 3.5mm headset jack and the microUSB port. What I like about the microUSB port, which is a small but appreciated, is that it has a cover that you can open and close when needed.
Turn it over and there’s not too much too see. On the upper left hand corner is the 5MP camera. On the upper right is the speaker. The Samsung Vibrant also comes with two back covers. A greyish, graphite looking one and a purple one.
All in all, I feel that the hardware of the Samsung Vibrant is pretty solid. It is very light, which some people may mistake for cheap. But, to me, it’s a pretty well built phone.
The Samsung Vibrant ships with Android 2.1 and she be upgraded to 2.2 by the end of the summer. It’s running Samsung’s Touchwiz 3.0 on top, which is a drastic improvement from older versions of Touchwiz.
What you’ll notice first about the Touchwiz overlay is the fixed dock bar at the bottom of the homescreen. It provides you with access to the dialer, contacts, messages, and app drawer. You’ll also get 7 homescreens to customize to your liking.
Click on the app drawer icon and you’ll find a very different scene than you’ve seen on stock Android. This is where it gets iPhone-like again. Each icon is encased in a colored square, much like you’ll find on the iPhone. Unlike the stock Android, Touchwiz provides a horizontal slide app drawer as opposed to the normal vertical one.
Samsung has also packed a bunch of their own custom widgets onto this phone. There’s an Accuweather clock that provides you with the current condition and temperature of the cities of your choice. The Buddies Now widget lets you add people to a spinner and keep track of their social website status’. The Calendar clock helps you keep track of the time and any events that you may have coming up. Daily briefing keeps you up to date with weather, finances, and news. Days Widget lets you journal your days with text and photos. Dual clock allows you to keep up with the time in any two parts of the world that you choose. Feeds and updates keeps track of your social websites and allows you to update your status on all of them in one shot. And, last but not least, there’s the Y! Finance clock which provides you with the time and updated staus of your favorite stock.
Samsung has done a great job updating the Touchwiz interface. While it’s not my cup of tea, people should be happen with all the available options and ease of use. It’s definitely user friendly.
Camera and Camcorder
Ok, let me say this right off the bat…Night Mode is not a replacement for a flash. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the 5MP camera with autofocus and 720p video recording.
This phone takes damn fine photos…in the daytime. Crisp, clear, and lots of options. Hit the camera icon and you’re present with a large viewing area, a shutter button and a slide out options panel. Click the option panel and you’re presented with 4 options on the left: Camcorder, Shooting mode, Default Dest., and Exposure. The 2 options on the right are: Settings and Quickview, which brings you to your gallery.
Switch over to Camcorder and you’re presented with its own shutter button and slide out options panel. Click the options panel here and the 4 options on the left are: Camera, Recording mode, Default Dest., and Exposure. It also has settings and Quickview on the right.
The 720p video recording is gorgeous. But, once again, only in the daytime. And there is no night mode for video recording, so there isn’t even that little bit of improvement.
Personally, I like using my cell phone as my primary camera as well, so having a good camera is important to me. Go out for a daytime excursion or some fun at the beach and the camera on this is phenomenal. Want to take a picture of the beautiful girl you met in the dark club and you’re out of luck. It’s a good camera, but a flash would have made it great.
All the other goodies:
I’ve talked about the hardware, the software, and the camera. So, what else does the Samsung Vibrant have that’s cool? Well, a few things actually. Let’s talk about them shall we?
- Avatar: Yep. It comes with Avatar preloaded on the 2GB microSD. Great movie on a great screen. Luckily, you have 16GB of internal memory, because this movie takes up ¾ of the memory card.
- Sims 3: This is a special edition of the Sims 3 game that has been optimized specifically for play on the Samsung Vibrant. Gameplay is actually pretty good.
- mobiTV: Wanna watch your favorite TV shows on your phone? Well here you go. You get a 30 day trial after which your T-Mobile bill will automatically be charged $9.99 a month until you cancel.
- Amazon Kindle: I’ve recently become obsessed with this app. I always swore that reading traditional books was the last piece of the archaic world I was going to hold onto. Well that’s not the case anymore. I love having my books at my fingertips. And, even better, is that it syncs your place with any other device you have the Kindle app installed on such as your PC or an actual Kindle.
- gogo: Like to have inflight internet? Travel a lot? Well gogo provides you with inflight internet on a number of different airlines. First month of unlimited internet use is only $19.99
T-Mobile has finally officially (see Nexus One) released a contender to the Android arena. The 1Ghz processor flies and the screen stays vibrant (see what I did there?) even in the brightest sun. Does this phone beat out the likes of the Droid X or the Nexus One? Well that’s a matter of preference and opinion. Does it’s good traits make up for its faults? Definitely! Am I keeping it? I’m still on the fence. I still have another 10 days to decide, but the Samsung Vibrant has big, Nexus One, shoes to fill in the T-Mobile lineup.
I would definitely recommend this phone to someone looking for a great phone, with good features and a nice interface. The hardcore Android fans will probably still prefer the Nexus One, but the Samsung Vibrant should definitely hold its own pretty well.