If you liked the original Samsung Galaxy S but want 4G, this is the phone for you.
One of the flagships for T-Mobile's aggressive push into 4G, the Galaxy has solid features and fast network speeds, but it lacks the cutting-edge qualities needed to truly set it apart. Besides its silver battery cover, the Galaxy 4G looks an awful lot like the original Galaxy and Vibrant, with a plastic body and the basic menu, home, back and search touch keys at the bottom of the front. The plastic makes the phone feel cheaper than it should, but you can forgive the slightly flimsy design if you're focused on the 4G capabilities.
The 4-inch Super AMOLED screen is beautiful, with a 480-by-800 pixel resolution producing vibrant colors, and the Gorilla Glass coating adds authority to the design. Occasionally, the pentile display can leave very detailed images looking a little fuzzy, though, so it gets knocked a few points for some blurring.
The 5-megapixel camera is your standard 5-megapixel camera, taking pretty clean, sharp shots -- except it doesn't have a flash, so if you want to use it at night you'll be sorely disappointed. Why they forgot a flash but included Inception is a bit of a mystery. There's also a front-facing lens, so you can Skype or video chat, but the image quality isn't great. The 720p video recorder is better, with clear audio.
The Galaxy runs on Froyo, and while it would have been nice to see it shipped with Gingerbread, the bigger problem is Samsung's TouchWiz interface. It's not terrible, there are a few redeeming qualities -- Google Maps is great, and TouchWiz's grid layout makes it easier to find apps than on vanilla Android. If you frequently update and check multiple social networks, Social Hub is decent, but the rest of the skin a downgrade from vanilla Froyo.
The Swype-enabled keypad is up to snuff though, since it's easy to type on, so you'll be able to send accurate messages to friends in no time, but if you have big hands the letters are a little too closely-spaced. You can always download a different keypad from Android market if it becomes an issue.
Samsung preloaded the Galaxy with some bloatware, but nothing major, and oddly enough it included the full-length movie "Inception." No complaints there -- it's a good flick -- but this phone is not as mind-blowing as the visuals and complex storytelling, so it actually serves to underscore how underwhelming it can be. For example, try as they might, Samsung's Media Hub pales in comparison to iTunes.
Inside the phone, a 1-gigahertz Cortex A8 Hummingbird chip powers the device, on par with other Galaxy phones, but a little disappointing considering the slew of dual-core processors at CES 2011. For storage, you get 1-gigabytes of ROM and 512-megabytes of RAM, and there's a preloaded 16-gigabyte microSD card -- although some of the space is taken up by Inception.
Overall, the Galaxy 4G is a high-quality phone, but there are a bunch of upcoming Samsung phones, like the Galaxy S2, that will blow it out of the water. Save your money at wait for the real deal. ♦
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