Samsung Galaxy S review

Samsung's Galaxy S boasts a gorgeous Super AMOLED display and a bevvy of multimedia features, but its TouchWiz interface isn't for everybody, and the phone proved a bit sluggish at times.

NameSmartphone: Samsung Galaxy S
At a glance:4-inch (800 x 400) AMOLED display,1GHz processor,Android 2.1 OS,8GB memory plus microSD expansion,5-megapixel camera
Summary:Gorgeous screen and some great apps and features but sluggish interface and call quality lacking.

Samsung’s Galaxy S boasts a gorgeous Super AMOLED display and a bevvy of multimedia features, but its TouchWiz interface isn’t for everybody, and in my tests the phone was a bit sluggish at times.

In appearance the Galaxy S closely resembles an iPhone 3GS with its soft, round corners. The backing is smooth plastic, with an attractive (and very Samsung-esque) design. The phone feels durable and solid in the hand.

Measuring just 9.9mm thick, it’s thinner than just about any phone out there and it weighs just 119 grams.

The featherlight weight is due in part to the Galaxy’s Super AMOLED technology, which puts touch sensors on the display itself, as opposed to creating a separate layer (which Samsung’s old AMOLED displays had), making it the thinnest display technology on the market. Super AMOLED is fantastic – you really have to see it for yourself. Colours burst out of the display, and animations appear lively and smooth.

The 4-inch display is larger than that of the iPhone 4 (which is 3.5 inches), and in my casual side-by-side comparison it was a close call between screen quality. The iPhone 4’s display appeared slightly sharper, but I thought the Galaxy’s colours looked more natural. It’s really hard to declare a winner in this matchup – both displays are stunning.

Outdoors, the Galaxy’s screen was quite reflective and could make reading and viewing photos more difficult depending on the angle. Colours looked bright, however, and text was sharp.

Sluggish TouchWiz 3.0 interface

The Galaxy S runs Android 2.1 (Eclair) with Samsung’s own TouchWiz 3.0 user interface. Overall, this version of TouchWiz is a lot better than older versions, which were slow and difficult to navigate.

Though this version is an improvement, I encountered some familiar issues with TouchWiz 3.0. Despite the 1GHz Hummingbird processor, the phone lagged slightly when I flipped through menus and scrolled down contact lists or web pages. Here’s hoping the Galaxy will get a speed boost when it receives the upgrade to Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Samsung has built its own social media aggregator. Social Hub combines streams from your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter accounts into a single view.

Other notable Samsung additions are the Write and Go interface and Swype text input. With Swype you just run your finger around the keyboard without lifting it off to form words. A blue line tracks your movement. If the app thinks more than one word is possible for your input it offers a list to choose from. Write and Go essentially lets you input text in one place and then decide what to do with it, SMS, email, upload to Facebook etc – no hopping in and out of multiple apps required.


The TouchWiz music player is touch-friendly and easy to navigate. It showcases album art nicely, too, with an iTunes Cover Flow-style user interface. Sound was clean over my own earbuds, and decent via the external speakers.

Another interesting multimedia app is the preloaded augmented-reality browser, which is designed to show you interesting features of your environment as you walk down the street. Not, however, New Zealand streets. You’ll have to go to Sydney to see it in action.

You can also share media files between your phone and your TV using AllShare, a DLNA-connected app.

5-megapixel camera

The Galaxy’s camera is nothing special for photos unfortunately, with poor colour accuracy, sharpness and too much distortion. It also has no flash so photos taken indoors or in dimly lit environments don’t come out very well.

On the other hand, recorded video quality is good but performance is skewed heavily toward good performance in bright light.

There is also a front-facing camera for video chat and the like.


The Galaxy S fell down somewhat with call quality. Voices were flat and distorted and volume was lacking.

Web surfing was reasonably snappy with the onboard browser and you can also use the Galaxy for wireless tethering to up to three devices at once.

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Tags smartphonegalaxysamsungandroid 2.1galaxy sAndroid

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Ginny Mies

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