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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  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "Now, it's come time for me to move on. To what? The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole."

    Absolutely. This line totally proves it.
    Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Friday, June 24, 2011 - link

    I don't think I've ever read such a pessimistic comment! I'm puzzled since you sound like an enthusiast, but I think I know where the problem lies.

    My wife loves going shopping but hates shopping. She likes new things and enjoys the excitement that comes from knowing that you're going to go get it. But she hates that you have to distill from the myriad of options the one item that will make her happiest. The end result is that she inevitably buys several options and then returns them after closer inspection.

    You shouldn't sound pessimistic you should be thrilled. When you invested in your Pearl the number of smartphone models per carrier numbered in the single digits. Now you have some 30 or so devices to choose from and 5 platforms, and all on one carrier (VZW)! So here's my advice to you. Go buy one. Is it going to be the right one? I don't know. But if you feel like the options are going to be better in a few months then wait. And then buy one.
    Say you get the GS2 variant. And it sucks. Carriers want you to be happy and not leave. So with their 30 day guarantee in mind they will likely let you trade for a different phone so long as you didn't break the first one. Try, rinse, repeat.

    I'm not saying this to be discouraging. I love that you're so passionate about this that you can end up having a rant about it. But trust me, this is an awesome and enviable position to be in. You ahve ltos of options. And lots of them are great options. Can you go wrong? Yep. But don't let your preconceptions about the users of a particular platform (::ahem:: iOS) cloud your choice. And don't let FUD rule your choice either, Brian's graphs clearly show that on LTE and WiFi the Thunderbolt and Charge have comparable battery life and that the Thunderbolt trumps the Charge by some margin in talk time.

    Lastly, if the Pearl was great for you for three years, why are you going to upgrade? I'm serious. What is the missing feature that you think you need this phone to fill? Seriously, write it down, and don't make it too generic. Is it video? Flash? A particular type of app (career or hobby related)? Music? Better browsing experience? Write that feature down and then look at your choices with that in mind. It could turn out that a suitable phone is already in the bargain bin.

    Either way, enjoy the hunt and let us know what you turn up.

    Jason
    Reply
  • gungan310 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Its actually 12 mm thick, and so just about 1 mm thinner than the thunderbolt and revolution, not 6mm as you've stated. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Should be fixed now, thanks!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • FATCamaro - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    So ridiculous. Should be an iphone5 killer tho right. LULZ! Reply
  • gshayban - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Can't really dock the phone for not having SVDO.
    LTE gives you simultaneous data and a phone call.
    Reply
  • scook9 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Except that there is 3G in a lot more places then there is 4g right now making that a gimmick at best

    That is one of the key reasons I got a ThunderBolt and not the other 2
    Reply
  • vision33r - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    All GSM devices on Tmobile/AT&T gives you data/voice at the same time. It's only stupid CDMA devices that can't support it. Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Stupid CDMA devices that, depending on where you live, will actually let you make phone calls. AT&T has a fast network - when you can get it. For those of us who live in areas with poor AT&T and TMo reception, there aren't any other options at the moment. Reply
  • Omega215D - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    CDMA is still inherently better than GSM as it depends on code division rather than time division of GSM. This means more streams per spectrum which means less towers need to be built as each tower can accommodate more users. This is why 450MHz CDMA is popular in small less developed countries.

    GSM is just Europe having its way as many asian countries have embraced CDMA for the longest.

    Stop being an asshole and do some research instead of following the shitfaced sheep. You wanna troll go troll somewhere else fag. I saw your previous comment about people who use android flip phones every 6 months.
    Reply

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