The left side of the Charge is home to the microUSB port and volume buttons, which are adorned with a small chrome ridge. The volume buttons on the Charge are precise and clicky, no complaints there. Having the USB port located here remains something of a point of contention for many people, though I’m starting to warm up to it. 

The right side packs the Charge’s HDMI port which is underneath an attached plastic cover. Get a thumb inside there and the cover pries off and swivels around exposing the HDMI type-D port. Just north of that is the power button, which like the volume buttons is the right balance between clicky and resistive enough to not lend itself to errant presses, and is easily locatable thanks to its raised shape. I’m impressed with all the buttons on the Charge - a small thing that definitely makes a difference for actual in-hand impressions in the long run. 

Up at the very top of the Charge is an offset headphone jack, microphone for noise cancellation in calls, and a "Digital by Qualcomm" sticker. As we'll discuss later however, there's no Qualcomm parts inside, but if you license CDMA2000 you still need this sticker on the handset. 

Where the Charge falls apart in the physical department is the back cover. This is something we’ve harped endlessly on about with the Galaxy S series, with the Fascinate, with the Nexus S, and in essentially the entire new Samsung Android lineup other than the Charge, it’s fixed. On the Galaxy S 2, the back is now textured instead of one featureless slick plastic face like it is with the original Galaxy S and now the Charge. 

As a result, the Charge picks up scratches on the back disappointingly quickly, just like its predecessors. The plastic that Samsung used for this generation seems especially prone to picking up what are called “sleeks” - fine scratches that are only visible from light incident at an angle.

It’s just frustrating because otherwise the Charge has an excellently balanced in-hand feel thanks to its ergonomic lip on the back, and overall impressive build construction. Though the entire exterior of the Charge is plastic, the internal frame is metal, and that rigidity certainly shows through. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 HTC Thunderbolt LG Revolution Samsung Droid Charge
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 122 mm (4.8") 129.8 mm (5.11") 129.9 mm (5.11")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 67 mm (2.63") 66.9 mm (2.63") 67.5 mm (2.65")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 13.2 mm (0.52") 13.6 mm (0.54") 11.90-14.96 mm (0.47"-0.59")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 183.3 g (6.46 oz) 172 g (6.08 oz) 143 g (5.04 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz Hummingbird S5PC110
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 Adreno 205 Adreno 205 PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 768 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 4 GB NAND with 32 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 4GB NAND with 16 GB microSD preinstalled 2 GB NAND + 32 GB microSD preinstalled
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP with autofocus and dual LED flash, 720p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with AF and LED flash, 720P video capture, 1.3 MP front facing 8 MP with AF and LED flash, 720p30 video capture, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 SAMOLED+
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Removable 5.18 Whr Removable 5.6 Whr Removable 5.92 Whr

Probably the most poignant comparison for the Charge however isn’t Galaxy S, it’s the HTC Thunderbolt and LG Revolution. Compared to the Thunderbolt, the Charge is a fair amount taller - nearly 8 mm in fact. However, the Charge is 1.3mm thinner and around 30 grams lighter. The LG Revolution has roughly the same outline as the Charge and is 0.4 mm thicker than the Thunderbolt. Thickness and overall mass are prime considerations for smartphone shoppers, and I think in this category the Charge’s thinner overall profile makes it more attractive than the other phones purely from a physical perspective. 

Update: My thickness numbers in the table for the Charge were previously incorrect, and have been corrected now. Thanks everyone.

Introduction and Physical Impressions Software: Android 2.2.1 and TouchWiz
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  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Howdy!

    I could use some wisdom from the thoughtful nerds at Anandtech here. I'm a Verizon subscriber (who won't be switching networks, on account of the fact that I like getting reception), and I've been holding onto my Blackberry Pearl for last three odd years.

    Seriously. Don't laugh. The reason being that I haven't been so impressed with any Android phone that has come out in recent memory. I really like having a hardware keyboard, and I've found that for the stuff I need to do most - messaging, calling, mapping - the Pearl was as good as the first and second generation Android phones, except not fat.

    Now, it's come time for me to move on. To what? The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole. And I would really prefer to get something with an LTE radio. So I'm left with the prospect of the Thunderbolt, which sucks juice like a fat baby, or the Droid Charge, which is just straight up ugly. And, in my experience, has a maddening color cast to the screen.

    In my mind, it's worth it to wait a few more months, after years of avoiding upgrades, for the Droid 3, Bionic, GS2, etc. Any thoughts on the following?

    I like the look of the Droid 3, and my hunch is that battery life would be at least reasonable without an LTE radio on-board. But would I miss that connectivity? Overall, I prefer faster connectivity to a dual core proc. The hardware keyboard on the Droid 3 would seem to be a big draw, but the keyboard on the Droid 2 is so awful that I feel like I'm taking crazy pills every time people rave about it.

    The Droid Bionic sounds like an awesome beast - and like something that could also replace my kindle, my ipod and my netbook to a limited degree - but I have an ugly hunch it's months and months away. And that when it does arrive, it's gonna be gigantic and require a portable nuclear reactor to run for more than a few hours.

    I hear that the Samsung GS2 is coming to Verizon, but is that likely to happen in my natural lifetime? And if it does, what are the odds that it also has an LTE radio without the accompanying diabetic-5-year-old appetite?

    Alright, this has degenerated into a semi-rant, but thoughts from others in the same situation are appreciated! Thanks!
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You're right that the QWERTY market for Android is sadly lacking. Motorola seems to be the only vendor even taking a decent crack at it. Downside is they refuse to open their handsets to the community (bootloader/system is locked down and encrypted up the wazoo) and they have already orphaned many of their earlier, otherwise capable droid phones on obsolete releases. Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, the locked bootloader thing also bugs me. It really wouldn't if handsets shipped with stock Android, and some measure of confidence that the OS would be updated in a timely fashion. But given that handsets ship with absurd bloatware and crappy UI overlays - I guess that's what we need these dual core procs for, to get all that crap working? - and heinously slow update cycles, I want control of my own ROM.

    Sigh. I gotta say, this is all really frustrating. Relative to the choices I had back when RIM was king, the smartphone market seems to have gotten crappier. Reviewers get very excited about big screens and kickstands and video streaming (I mean, jebus, who gives a crap about video streaming? I need to live, people), without noticing that phones have gotten obese and slow and half-assed.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole."

    C'mon dude, don't be that guy. Just say you don't want an iPhone.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, you're right. Maybe I am an asshole.

    I thought long and hard about the iphone. Unlike other Apple products which fall mind-blowingly short of the hype - I'm looking at you, OS X, you fat, slow, stupid bastard - It's clearly the best hardware package out there as far as size/performance/battery life, and iOS has definite advantages over Android (although neither is a clear winner in my mind, given the applications I have for a smartphone).

    But, I mean, man. I just can't do it. I can't be part of the whole Apple "thing" - the implied smugness, ignorance, the submission to an authority that clearly has contempt for me.

    Just can't do it.
    Reply
  • Omid.M - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, seriously! I will admit when a product is well executed. I'm not the " I hate brand X" guy. I like BMW, I like the Hyundai Tiburon V6. The Nissan 370z...etc. If it's well-done, it's well-done.

    Apple makes a great product. It's just a different philosophy in terms of design and UX. They use high quality parts and their testing is good and pretty thorough. If there isn't a good Android phone out by the time there's an iPhone with a 4" screen and LTE on Verizon, I may go with iPhone. But, I do love the kind of apps that are available for Android, in terms of monitoring system resources, etc. Some cool stuff is available that you can't get on iOS unless you jailbreak.
    Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole."

    Actually with that comment, you proved that you in fact are...
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You probably own an iPhone though, right? Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I do, and I like it. But there are things about it I don't like. There are Android handsets that look good. I'm even open to WP7. I use a Mac, but it's a laptop. Say what you want, but Apple makes great notebooks. If I were in the market for a desktop, it would likely be a Windows box.

    I'm an asshole, but not because I own an iPhone. I was an asshole long before I got one. Assholes use all different kinds of technologies, drive different types of cars (not everyone who drives a BMW is a douchebag for example), live in all types of places. Being an asshole and owning an iPhone are mutually exclusive.
    Reply
  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "Being an asshole and owning an iPhone are mutually exclusive."

    You mean they are ORTHOGONAL.
    Reply

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