Phone Review » Samsung Galaxy S 4G » Progress & Problems

The new Samsung Galaxy S 4G T-Mobile phone is ready. This page has my personal notes from my first use of the phone.

My conclusions so far:

Samsung makes good progress in the right direction by adding 4G HPSA+ and the front facing camera for videoconferencing, but undermines the progess with problems ranging across the hardware and software.

T-Mobile provides a good network, responsive customer service, and excellent support.

If you're looking for comprehensive reviews and photos, see mobileburn, iFixit.

Where's the RAM?

The Galaxy S 4G reports that it has 133m RAM available. This seems shockingly low for a new high end phone.

What's Hot

This Galaxy S 4G gets very hot when charging.

The heat seems to be in the upper half of the phone, hottest on the front on the T-Mobile logo, and hottest on the back betwen the camera and the speaker. The battery still feels cool. This is the only phone I've ever had that has this kind of heat problem.

Qik Video Conferencing

Is Qik supposed to work on this phone?

One of the main selling points of the Galaxy S 4G is the front-facing camera with Qik, so I would have expected this to be thoroughly tested.

When I launch Qik, it says it needs to update itself, and loads a page in the Android market. The page seems to be for the wrong version of Qik because the page says "This version of Qik is exclusively for" then has a list of phones none of which are the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.

After Qik updates, says "Error: Unable to connect to server." This is in an area with 4G network coverage, decent speed web downloads, and a working app market.

Speaker Quality

The ear speaker and speakerphone both suffer from poor quality, noticibly worse than the Motorola Defy I've been using lately and the Google G2. The speaker sounds to me like it's muddied and distorted, somewhat like a combination of static, a blown speaker cone, and being underwater.

Normally I would think this could be an intermittent network problem, but T-Mobile reps diagnosed it as a probable hardware problem and are doing a free exchange, same day.

4G Speeds

This Galaxy S 4G reports speeds between 1.1 mbs and 1.5 mbps download, 0.8 to 1.2 mbps upload using

This is on T-Mobile's 4G-speed network in San Francisco in my home area and is plenty fast for my normal use. T-Mobile customer service says speeds will improve as 4G rolls out and new features of HPSA+ become available.


"That many dreams within dreams is too unstable!" - From the Inception movie

Trying to play the Inception movie on this phone is like being inside the Inception movie: layers upon layers of an app, sign up, new account, registration, ads, and interfaces that appear to be clickable but don't do anything.

I gave up trying to play it. Comparison: the Avatar movie on the Samsung Galaxy 3G worked perfectly and played easily.

Choppy Scrolling

The user interface suffers from choppy scrolling, just like the Samsung Google Nexus S phone. The chop is most noticible to me on web pages and the Home screen.

Developers tell me this is because Android shows user interface elements by using software and the phone's main chip, rather than a dedicated hardware chip for graphics processing.

Android Froyo, not Gingerbread

The Galaxy S 4G is stuck on the Android operating system, known as Froyo. Samsung has not announced any plans to upgrade the Galaxy S 4G to current Android operating system, known as Gingerbread.

Flash in the Browser

The built-in browser seems to render Flash with glitches. For example when I pinch-zoom on a Flash app, the browser loses the ability to do side-to-side scrolling.

Kindle App Has Invalid Books

The preinstalled Kindle app shows all my books but when I click on a book, the app says "Invalid book. The book could not be opened. Please remove the book from your device and then download it again."

When I try to remove the book, it doesn't remove-- it only gets archived.

Minor usability glitches

The preinstalled music player has a right side scroll bar that reads "A*EF*K..." because there's not enough space for the letters, but scrolling on it really does skip the music list from A to E, totally omitting B, C, D.

What's Next?

blog comments powered by Disqus