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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  • MJinZ - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    It's an interesting review since it starts out with some good words and ends with, what my impression is - well it's a POS.

    And I'm sorry Samsung, but a phone needs to last more than 5 minutes and a GPS needs to work. We really could not care about it looking like a damn iPhone. Hell, people buy iPhones for that.

    Try harder Sammy.
    Reply
  • zizagoo - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    There seems to be an agreement amongst high-end Android users that battery life is terrible within the first two weeks, but then significantly improves after the battery has been conditioned. It's possible that due to the short review period, this never get's a chance to happen, causing an under report of the battery life.

    It would be fascinating if you did a follow up later on to determine if this is true.
    Reply
  • StealthX32 - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    The functional battery life is pretty long. I can pull 1.5-2 days if my use is limited (maybe 20 minutes of calling, 20 or so text messages, little to no browsing). The Hummingbird really does sip power when it's idle.

    If you're hammering away at it for 4 straight hours, then the battery life is pretty poor.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - link

    But other than emergency situations, are you really going to have a phone like this and only use it that little? I've mentioned before, I wish they could come up with some type of "real-life" battery test that would include a certain amount of talk, text, web, video, etc. per hour. For example, I would be surprised if the battery in my HTC Diamond lasts much more than 2 hrs in 3G browsing, but in my usual day (5-10 min talk, 80-100 text, few MMS, 10-15 min web, many times turned on to check the time) it generally has 20-30% still showing when I put it back on the charger after 15-16 hrs. Reply
  • Dane74 - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    On battery break in: with Lithium based batteries, break in is negligible. The observed better second week battery life comes from playing with less features.
    I expected better battery life than my spouse's Evo, due to more efficient power usage of the Epic's processor as well as its screen. We found the battery life to be equal, my impression from behavior of both in weak signal areas is that Epic's voice, 3g and its 4G reception is slightly worse than Evo which will cause some additional drain on power.
    Reply
  • gvaley - Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - link

    My personal experience (6+ device batteries so far, including phones, cameras) shows a 1,8-2x battery life improvement after 3-4 charge-discharge cycles. And it's definitely not due to unbalanced usage. The same holds true for both Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Polymer batteries, although the more I think about it, the more I convince myself that Lithium-Polymer are more susceptible to break in. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - link

    I've got an original Droid now running Android 2.2. A while back I picked up a couple of spare batteries cheap online. These are identical to the one that came in the phone. When I swapped in one of the new batteries it was showing up as fully charged already. I started rotating the three batteries every Friday to keep approximately equal usage on each one.

    I never really noticed any difference. Then again I wasn't specifically looking for that and did not do any kind of test.
    Reply
  • AdamPflug - Monday, September 06, 2010 - link

    I have the Samsung Captivate (not the Epic 4G), but it's still in the galaxy S line. I noticed that I needed at least 3 complete charge/discharge cycles before I got reasonable battery life out of the phone. It wasn't a decrease in usage either, I made sure I kept my usage patterns consistent.

    My experience with the Captivate now is that I can listen to podcasts all day, read all my work email, do some web browsing, and still have around 60% battery left at 10pm. If they could just fix the GPS issues with a software patch (they say they're going to sometime in September, along with an upgrade to 2.2) the I'll be extremely happy.

    Also, I've been pretty happy with the brightness of my Captivate, I wonder if the review took into account the separate brightness settings for the browser app?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - link

    These results were all recorded after discharging the phone more than 3 times (each test was run multiple times). Note that 4 hours of continuous usage can often times yield a pretty long real world battery life depending on your usage pattern. That being said, a phone that gets 8 hours in our tests will obviously last longer with the same usage pattern. While the Epic 4G's battery life may be sufficient, it's lower than we'd like to see for a modern smartphone.

    And thank you for the correction on the browser brightness setting, that's why the screen looked dimmer at full brightness by comparison. In that shot the Epic 4G's screen was set to approximately 20% brightness. I've made the appropriate correction in the review and credited you with the heads up :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • gvaley - Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - link

    Anand, the poor battery life is probably due to Sprint. Other reviews (of the European 3G galaxy S) show maybe the best battery life among Androids. Check this test from a very reputable site: http://blog.gsmarena.com/samsung-i9000-galaxy-s-fu... Reply

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