Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE Review: Speed at a Price
What's 4G LTE really worth? Carriers are spending cash to upgrade their networks, and the switch to 4G is a massive leap forward when you access apps, browse the Web and check e-mail -- pretty much everything a smartphone does. Of course, the functions remain the same, but the ease of use improves greatly.
But would you rather buy a cheap 3G phone with a solid screen and robust multimedia or a mediocre-but-affordable 4G phone that lacks key features? If you really value 4G, Samsung's Victory is the budget phone for you. As one of Sprint's least victorious devices, it's good for one two things -- Android and LTE.
Samsung's devices are often plagued by an overly "plastic" look, but the Victory is especially cheap-looking, covered in glossy and disconcertingly flimsy plastic. One the plus side, it's pretty light, but it's rather chunky compared to its slimmer Galaxy brethren. In short: it looks a bit like a Galaxy, but dipped in bargain-bin juice and left out to dry in a clearance bin.
Where art thou, AMOLED? Considering the mediocre design, I'm surprised Samsung deviated from its high-end display, instead using an LCD-stinker. The 4-inch screen is underwhelming, to say the least, so adjust your expectations -- the 800-by-480 resolution has a rather annoying pixilation quality, which you can blame on the measly 233-ppi pixel density. It does have a good handle on brightness, though, and its 447-lux rating is on par with the Galaxy Nexus, so it's vibrant. But don't be fooled, you'll hate watching videos on the grainy and blurry display. If you love Netflix, you'll need to shell out for a nicer device with a better screen -- other phones at this price, like the LG Viper, have similarly subpar displays.
The capacitive keys, meanwhile, look a lot like hardware buttons. But I was frustrated with the virtual keyboard -- it's poorly designed with a crowded buttons, yet too much empty space. It's kind of a paradox. The wasted real estate means you'll easily press the wrong key due to the cramped remaining layout. If you need any accuracy, you'll have to fashion a makeshift stylus.
The 5-megapixel camera is decent but not spectacular -- colors are a bit dull, even after you adjust them. I noticed a slight shutter delay too -- about a second of lag between presses before the photo is actually taken. That's a big problem if you want to take spontaneous shots. By the time you press the button, it's probably gone. To compensate, though, you'll get an impressive array of settings, such as smile mode, where the shutter snaps when it sees teeth. The only problem: that a shutter lag again. By the time the photo actually takes, those smiles have turned upside down. The front-facing 1.3-megapixel lens is fine for video chat, but predictably grainy and blurry.
As far as software goes, the Victory runs on ICS. Samsung made some alterations to it, but they're fairly small. Its TouchWiz skin has some tweaks, like a different lock screen, and you can mix up the look of the software if you use Sprint's ID app, which lets you download personalized themes. The Victory also comes with apps found on the higher-end Galaxy S3, like S-Voice, a less impressive and less accurate Siri-esque voice feature. More up my alley: S Beam lets you transfer multimedia with others who have it -- so, basically, your friends with the S3. You'll also get NFC and Google Wallet for mobile payments, if you can find somewhere that takes it. It's a nice perk, but the technology isn't widespread yet. Bloatware is mercifully kept to a minimum.
A 1.2-gigahertz chip isn't quite powerful enough to keep it running smoothly, and I experienced a bit of lag when using the capacitive buttons. Apps also took longer to load than on other devices. It runs as fast as the older Galaxy S2, which is fine, but if you're expecting the S3, you'll have to pay S3 prices for a better phone. On the bright side, the 2,100 mAh battery is impressive and keeps going for almost eight hours. You can extend it by disabling LTE, which saps the power in a few hours. It comes with a paltry 4-gigabytes of storage, but you can boost it to 32-gigabytes with a microSD card. If you plan to listen to music or save movies, pick up a card. It's just too bad the display isn't worth watching on.
Overall, the Victory wins points for 4G LTE and, of course, the low price. But actually, it's not that fast or cheap. Sprint's 4G, only available in certain markets, is a bit patchy. So if you live in an area with sparse coverage, pass on the phone. If you're in a metropolitan area and 4G is strong, take a look. You won't hate it, but you won't love it -- the tricky keys are irritating.
If you can pay a little more, do it and buy a better phone, like its higher-end Galaxy S3 or HTC's Evo 4G LTE. In my opinion, both are worth paying more for. The difference in the screen and camera is very noticeable and make a big jump in overall enjoyment. Still, even if you don't have the budget, consider the LG Viper -- it costs the same, but it has a better camera, but no 4G. ♦
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TFT (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
October 20, 2012
Not Bad at All...
In a market full of giant-sized phones, this one is a reasonable size. The 4-inch display looks great, and the Victory feels great. It's the best size, in my opinion. Too bad the screen is LCD, rather than the more vibrant AMOLED, but if you're just browsing the Web and checking e-mail, you won't be disappointed.
The power is plenty. I play a lot of games and it runs smoothly without any hiccups or stalling. Don't let the mid-range price fool you; the speed is on par with the One X.
The Victory gets great battery life -- I can last through a workday without any problems. The camera is mediocre -- not the best but not the worst either. It's serviceable. I can't really say there's anything glaringly bad about the phone. If you're on Sprint and you don't want a giant smartphone, give the Victory a look. It has all the bells and whistles -- like LTE -- and runs smooth as butter.
Normally I hate the customizations manufacturers add to their phones, but Samsung actually added some useful features. The app launcher has some shortcuts that make things more convenient.
One annoying issue is with the folders, which add an extra step. S Voice is also pretty much useless.Was this review helpful to you?
40 out of 44 people found this review helpful.
December 01, 2012
Overly-Sensitive Touch Screen
This phone is just the right size for me. I had problems with the gigantic phones, and the tinny ones were a pain to browse the Web on. The Victory has everything I need, at just the right size.
The 4-gigabyte memory was a little small for me, but nothing a 32-gigabyte card couldn't solve.
I have an issue with the overly-sensitive touch screen. Basically, whenever I hold the phone up to my face to talk, my cheek will touch the display and I'll lose the call. Maybe I have fat cheeks, I don't know, but it's annoying. I often accidentally hit parts of the screen and things turn off.
The display is just unreliable -- I'll make typos when I text. Another issue I have is with errors. I'm not sure if it's a glitch, but I've received "97" and "34" errors. I called Sprint to try to figure it out, but my phone disconnects before I can get it figured out. I had to drive to a local store; in the end they just replaced it.Was this review helpful to you?
27 out of 33 people found this review helpful.
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