Samsung is doing something interesting lately. Instead of outright releasing Galaxy S 2 in the US, each carrier is getting a mid-cycle refresh of the Galaxy S with 4G compatibility and more recently Super AMOLED Plus. T-Mobile was first with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, then came the Droid Charge on Verizon which we’re looking at now, and finally AT&T got the Samsung Infuse 4G. The latter two have Super AMOLED Plus displays and different basebands. Right now we’re looking at Verizon’s second 4G LTE device, and the first to earn the ‘Droid’ level branding - the Samsung Droid Charge. 

The Droid Charge (henceforth just Charge) is an interesting mid-cycle refresh of the Samsung Fascinate (which we reviewed back when it came out), retaining much of the handset’s core features. Notably, both run Android 2.2 and are based around a 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird SoC with SGX 540 graphics. Where the two differ is the inclusion of 512 MB of LPDDR2, a 4G LTE baseband, front facing 1.3 MP camera, and 4.3” WVGA Super AMOLED display. There are other differences such as more storage both internal and external, but the primary difference is inclusion of 4G LTE and that huge display. 

The Charge’s industrial design is a bit unique, resembling something of a cross between the iconic B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and a Nexus S. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of yet another design that clearly is inspired by radar-deflecting angles and the homogenous grey color of iron-ball paint radar-absorptive material. It’s just a totally tired design direction. The device is ringed with chrome (a common Galaxy S motif) and is slightly angled up in the front.

There’s an angular point in the front middle where the microphone port is, and below it a small space to shove a thumbnail into and remove the battery cover. 

This angular motif is continued everywhere on the Charge - the earpiece grille up at the top matches it with a similarly shaped triangle, and on the back the chrome ringing the camera and flash also has an angled style. It all kind of comes off in a way that makes the Charge feel masculine, but at the same time carries a bit of prepubescent opulence. 

The Charge reminds me a lot of the Nexus S because of its bulge on the bottom. The phone doesn’t lay completely flat, instead it rests on three points formed by the upper back and the center of the backside bulge. The speaker slot is located on the side of the bulge and as a result isn’t muffled when the phone is placed face up on a table for speakerphone or conference calls. 

One of the things I haven’t seen for a while (outside of the Droid X and X2) are physical android buttons. The Charge’s four buttons are both adequately clicky and backlit evenly. The four buttons are actually two groups of two, with with the leftmost two and rightmost two buttons each being discrete buttons. You can sort of tell that they’re the same piece, because clicking one moves the other button, but so far I haven’t experienced any errant clicks.

It’s a bit weird using something with physical buttons after months using phones with capacitive – more than once I found myself lightly pressing on the region and then waiting, puzzled why nothing happened. In addition, pressing any of the four Android buttons while the device is off does not turn the handset on, so you can put your fears that hardware buttons will lead to errant in-pocket power-ons to bed. Only the power button does that duty.

 

Physical Impressions and Comparison Table
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  • tdenton1138 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Edit:

    strike: both phone for people

    insert: both phones from people
    Reply
  • NAblue - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    i don't like hard keys anymore Reply
  • worldbfree4me - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    I'm happy to see that the NEXUS line particularly the NEXUS S can hang with the latest and greatest, while running a non-skinned OS and a single core chip. That formula seems to be the winner IMO. I only wish that future phones from any manufacturer would began life like the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, no skin from the factory, but add-on skins available via the market or the individual manufactures web store. This would enable Goog to keep the latest OS on more handsets from beginning and give end users even more options without having to root or hack the phone risking BSOD or worse voiding the factory warranty. Having said that, NEXUS 3G will certainly be a beast if NEXUS S is the ground floor! Thanks for another superb analysis ANANDTECH!!

    Nexus S 4G stock
    Reply
  • jamdev12 - Friday, June 24, 2011 - link

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks again for the great article. I've had an OG Droid since it came out November 2009 and lately, I've been looking for a phone to go to. I want to get into the unlimited plan which I've had since I bought that device and don't want to loose the privilege, even though I don't use 3G that often. I was seriously thinking of getting the Charge because of some of the reviews I had read on other sites, but was eagerly waiting on your recommendation. I now come to the conclusion that buying this phone is not in my best interest. I would love some 4G love, but the fact that battery life is outrageously in comparison to the LG and HTC LTE phones, I will have to see what the Bionic will bring. Like you stated in the previous article about the LG, battery life will likely not increased until the LTE radio is embedded in the phone CPU, which Qualcomm is working on right now. I guess I will try to grandfather my plan and see if Verizon will let me replace my phone when the Galaxy II S comes to the states.

    Thanks again for the great article. I love Anantech for the indepth coverage you guys provide to all products. Informed consumers is what we need.

    Jamdev12
    Reply
  • 360fish - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link

    all existing unlimited data plan customers are grandfathered in until ... further notice. I have this info from a leaked verizon document but ... sorry too lazy to find link right now. July 7 is the deadline to get grandfathered in, as I recall. Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link

    Overall, the new data plans are a rip-off and hurt the abilities of these new phones.

    $25 for 10GB a month should be the min. One one company will drop to 2G when you hit the limit (rather than send you a $2000~4000 bill).

    But when the caps are so low at 2~5GB, whats the point of having a 4G high performance internet phone when you can make out your data plan in 1-3 weeks?

    They are promoting video and music downloads, streaming - that'll kill you. And google maps / GPS... that'll eat data as well.
    Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link

    It really shouldn't be this hard.

    - Thin doesn't always mean better. Strike a balance.
    - Light-weight, if its feather-weight or poorly made, it may break easily.
    - SIZE, sure its nice that phones come in various sizes... but as they get bigger, they become harder to get out of our POCKETS.

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S Captivate (at&t)... the screen is great, the metal back looks nice.

    But its design is flawed like all Galaxy S phones.

    A) - Power button on the side, hard to feel (only on Captive)
    B) - speaker on back = BAD BAD, I prop my phone a bit to hear the weak alarm.
    C) - TOP and BOTTOM look exactly the same... HELLO? The Charge is better because YOU know instantly which side is up.
    D) - my previous SONY phone, which I used for 2+ years still looks as new as my Captive (6 months old)... the whole bottom isn't flat and is not cheap plastic.
    E) - REAL BUTTONS!! I like the charge already. Having a REAL HOME button is nice. Its location is STUPID as its the most use button on the phone but its NOT on the edge, nope... its in the middle? Should be: HOME / BACK / Menu / Search (Search can go away thou)
    F - if using physical buttons, make the search a SHUTTER button when phone is in camera mode.

    The Android interface FROYO fixed most of the GPS issues, but is somewhat DUMBER than 2.1.
    - They removed NON-REPEAT function from the Alarm? STUPID!
    - The Alarm profiles move around!! WTF?!
    Heres a REALLY STUPID ONE...

    The PHONE LOGS are defaulted to ALL, including MESSAGING?! The 2.1 had ALL or Phone Only... in 2.2 Froyo, they added some more, but TOOK OFF PHONE ONLY?! What idiot did this? Who the hell wants to SEE their TEXTING LOGS with their PHONE LOGS?! So I have to use SHOW only MISSED or SHOW ONLY incoming, etc... not just ALL phones. Again, STUPID.

    Home button issues... Using an Ipad has shown how a HOME button is supposed to work. With my Android phone with its hard to find power button, I'm constantly turning the phone ON again, even in a phone call so I can see the screen. A Physical home button should always bring back the screen (if blank) rather than the power button. I hate getting a TEXT notification, and I could be in the middle of a swipe to unlock the phone to go to the text, and the PHONE shuts off.... gotta press the power, do the swipe all over again.

    I like the flexibility I get from Android - but the User Experience is still crap . Having a WindowsPhone7 style launcher makes the phone much more usable.
    Reply
  • woyoulaile - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

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    I tide fashion Good-looking, not expensive Free transport

    Fashion Female show sexy,

    personality Men’s clothing + Shoes,

    Low-cost wholesale shine cool sunglasses

    Travel bagthat grabs an eye coat + Chao packet Free transport
    Reply
  • prakashpk - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - link

    The article says that the phone has 512 MB RAM and 2 GB internal storage. However, my phone's task manger displays only 328 MB RAM and about 1.17 GB internal storage. Are there different versions of the phone? Reply
  • nitink - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    this phone have a great potential unleach its power get full hd games with sd card data..at:
    http://nitin-xyz.blogspot.com/2011/07/free-and-ful...
    Reply

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