The sheer amount of choice you get in the Android smartphone market is overwhelming. Even if you stick within a single manufacturer like HTC, there are several releases to juggle all of which happen in a very short period of time. Below is a list of just the HTC Android phones that have come out in the past 12 months:

Hero, Click, Bravo, Legend, Incredible, Espresso, Supersonic/EVO 4G, Buzz and Liberty.

And that’s just in the past year! Then we’ve got Android phones from Sony Ericsson, Dell, Motorola and LG. You can’t argue that there is a lack of choice in the Android market, but the vast majority of these phones aren’t perfect. In fact, it feels like every subsequent Android phone we touch comes closer to perfecting one aspect of the platform while leaving another neglected.

The EVO 4G brought us a unique form factor, but poor performance and battery life. Dell gave us our first 5-inch Android tabletphone, but coupled with an ancient version of Android it’s just not prime for its 2010 release. And seemingly all Android phones suffer from varying amounts of stuttering when scrolling around app lists or web pages.

It’s easy for a reviewer to get excited about every new Android release, but it must be hell for someone actually looking to buy one of these things.

The good news is we’re getting closer to the perfect Android smartphone. I don’t believe we’re there yet, but every single manufacturer has contributed something to the platform that someone else will eventually copy and wrap into one device.

The latest in the list of attempts at perfection is Samsung with its Galaxy S. And I must say, Samsung’s take on Android is quite possibly the most unique I’ve seen. Unique compared to other Android vendors that is.

Vectors of Innovation

Samsung innovates along three vectors with the Galaxy S. You get a new screen size (4” vs. 3.5/3.7” or 4.3”). The 4” screen size is a near perfect combination of productivity boosting screen area and portability. You get a new screen type with Samsung’s Super AMOLED that really fixes a lot of issues I had with AMOLED displays in the past. To top it all off, Samsung continues to innovate by equipping the Galaxy S with the fastest GPU in any shipping smartphone: the PowerVR SGX 540.

There are four versions of the Galaxy S, one for each of the major US carriers. There’s the Captivate on AT&T, the Vibrant on T-Mobile, the Epic 4G on Sprint and the forthcoming Fascinate on Verizon.

Easily Influenced
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  • dvinnen - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I bet it has to do with the 4G/WiFi-MAX radio. I have a Vibrant and the battery life is fine
  • Milind - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I think that's possible since my Vibrant gives me about 6-7 hours of battery life with full brightness and the screen consumes about 70-80% of my battery as per the battery usage view. I don't care since I'm typically around a charger so I set it at max brightness. But if I were to lower the brightness, I should easily be able to go for the whole day. Even at 0 brightness, the screen is surprisingly usable.

    I have also noticed that the only thing that drains battery faster than the screen (in my G1 as well), is if it has to hunt for a phone signal. At one time, my G1 was draining battery in about 2-3 hours, which was awful even by the G1's sorry battery life standard. It turned out to be because I was using a SIM card of a provider that had very poor coverage at the location. As soon as I swapped the SIM with another carrier, the battery life went back up. So it's possible that Sprint's causing the phones to go back and forth between 2g, 3G and 4G signals causing the battery to drain faster. It might be worthwhile to go into the Mobile Networks settings and use only 2G network to check the battery drain. Obviously this would just be to test the hypothesis. It would be stupid to buy this phone and use it only in 2G mode.
  • jamawass - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    The GPS on my Pre Plus is perfect.
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Thanks for reviewing the Galaxy S, Anand!

    Probably the most requested review here. I'm actually glad that the battery life turned out to be abysmal - it helped me make up my mind about an otherwise desirable phone.

    Let me explain: My fiancée had two dead Samsung Blackjacks within one warranty period. My Samsung Spinpoint F1 is dying. My mother just junked a dead Samsung TV (5 yrs old). To be perfectly frank, I have ZERO confidence in Samsung products, and the build quality of the Galaxy gives me no reason to revise that opinion.

    Fortunately, the poor battery life gives me a legitimate excuse not to buy this, and I won't feel like I am missing out on anything because of a possibly irrational aversion. Sure, it's nice to have a fast phone, but by the time apps come out that make meaningful use of this, there will be *much* faster phones on the market. Buying for future-proofing is not a smart idea in the smartphone space.
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    PS Still looking for that 'perfect' (Android) smartphone. Evo 4G is too big and power hungry, Droid X plans are too expensive.

    Something like the recently announced Droid Defy might work, if only it didn't have eFuse, Motoblur, and wasn't tied to a sucky carrier.

    I'm perfectly willing to wait 1 year on a post-paid phone plan for a decent phone to come out. Even the Torch would work for me, though probably not for the missus.

    First and foremost for me is that it should be a phone above all things and 'smart' second. If you're going to chew the battery life tweeting and watching youtube on it, then have no juice to call AAA when you break down on the highway, it's useless to me. Integration with social apps is also something of a nightmare for me - there are people I may enjoy hanging out with on social occasions, but that doesn't mean I wish to know what they are eating, thinking, drinking or (bodily function deleted) during office hours. Somebody, please get this. So far, only Blackberry seems to. Fortunately, most other BB users are sober/boring enough that BBM is a good way to communicate for the dour, buttoned-down crowd. :p
  • Mike1111 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I think it's worth mentioning that SuperAMOLED is officially a Samsung smartphone exclusive until 2012 (IMHO mostly because of limited AMOLED manufacturing capacity until the new Samsung OLED fab is up and running in 2012) . So you won't see it anywhere else in the near future. So please people, don't bitch about missing Super AMOLEDs in every smartphone that's coming in the next 18 months...
  • Mike1111 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Anand, your mixing your SGX versions when mentioning the OMAP3630. One time it's SGX535, the next SGX530. I think SGX530 is correct.
  • Milind - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Thankfully Samsung provides a setting to sync these two so both the screen and buttons go blank at the same time, but it’s just not enabled by default.

    I have seen this posted a couple of times, but I can't find any such setting on my Vibrant. Is it on the Epic? Can someone provide a little detail on exactly where this setting is? The timeout for lighting the buttons is just too short and very annoying.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    On the Epic it's here:

    Settings -> Sound & Display -> Keyboard timeout (last option in the list) -> Same as screen timeout

    Take care,
  • Milind - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Thanks Anand. That option is not present on the Vibrant. The last option on the Vibrant for Sound and Display is TV out. Hopefully, it will be part of the Froyo update.

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