Over the past few weeks, I’m hearing frequent grumblings from people not being able to get their hands on the iPhone 4. Apple fans, please don’t cringe when I say this…but there are some fantastic alternatives on the market now that people may want to consider. The Samsung Galaxy S, for example, has stolen my heart :)
I recently had the opportunity to take Samsung’s Galaxy S phone for a test drive and was blown away with the phone’s capabilities, ease of use, and the user interface experience. The Galaxy S will be carried by the 3 major Canadian networks – Telus, Rogers, and Bell. Bell’s version was the first to be released in August, Roger’s version is coming Sept/Oct, and Telus will be soon to follow in Oct/Nov.
The phone runs off the Google Android platform. What does this mean to the average user? Well the Android (which I’m sure you’ve already heard about) is the operating system which runs on the mobile phone. One of the big differences between this one and apples OS is that it can run on several different types of phones (ie: Samsung, LG, motorola).
DESKTOP EXPERIENCE & WIDGETS
One of the things I love about the Android experience is the layout of the apps and integration of widgets. Think about your smart phone like your desktop computer. You have some programs and shortcuts sitting on your desktop, but most of the programs are sitting in a folder that you access from the start menu. Similar to this, Android’s home screen contains short cuts to commonly used apps (you choose which ones you want on the home screen), plus it gives you the option to place widgets the home screen pages. For example: The social hub widget allows you to see the feed all of your social sites updates at once. Or there is a weather widget that gives you access to today’s forecast and weather details. You simply flick your finger between screens to scroll between widgets and the home screen apps.
Then there is another layer located by pressing the Apps Button, which shows you the list of all the phones applications. This section looks almost identical to the iPhone’s home screen.
The most common similarity with the iPhone is that the platform is open for third party application development or in other words, the phone will offer TONS of apps to enhance your smart phone experience. In fact, many of the apps available for the iPhone are now available for the Android platform. For example, when I did my one week trial with the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant (this is the version available on Bell’s network), there were very few apps that I’m been using religiously on my iPhone that I couldn’t get through Android. They weren’t always made by the same development company, but for the most part it was easy to find a comparable app.
The Android Marketplace now offers about 100,000 apps over 50% of them are free. iPhone App Store has over 250,000 but only about 25% of them are free. Samsung offers an additional Samsung app store, but I found the apps to be below par with what we’ve come to expect from Android and the Apple App Store.
TOUCH TYPE EXPERIENCE
The Samsung Galaxy S vibrates slightly when you are typing on the touch screen which is a feature that I’m always a fan of since it improves my typing speed. (This is not available on the iPhone). The phone also something called “Swype” technology which is a new way to type without having to lift your figures off the keyboard for each new letter. I didn’t get the chance to try this out extensively, but it’s supposed to significantly improve your typing time.
Being that the platform was made by google, you can imagine how easy it was to sync gmail, google calendar, contacts, and more. I absolutely fell in love with this.
CAMERA & VIDEO RECORDING
Just like with the iPhone, The Galaxy S does HD recording and features an additional camera lense on the front for self-portraits and video. It has a 5.0MP camera (same as the iphone). Although, I find the Samsung’s camera interface a bit more user friendly.
There’s more, more more. I could go on for days writing about all of the features of the phone, but alas our attention spans just aren’t what they used to be ;) So I’ll leave off by saying that if you want to know more about the Galaxy S, here are some key features to check out: Swype Technology, Six-Axis Sensor, Social Hub, Super AMOLED screen (which they are touting as the world’s best screen), All Share & DNLA.