The Samsung Galaxy S is one of the best smart phones from 2010 and possibly my next purchase. Here is the case for and against the Galaxy S, particularly for Australians.
The whole point of buying a new smartphone is to get Android instead of being locked into a crippled version of Windows or Unix. The crippled version of Windows is quickly dying out. A crippled version of Unix lives on in the iPhone and the iPad.
Android 2.2 is the current version and the oldest version worth using. Everything before that should be replaced. The Galaxy S still arrives with Android 2.1. Samsung does not provide an upgrade. you have to wait for your telephone company to supply an update and telephone companies are consistently pathetic in this area. they like supplying the oldest possible everything and the least customer service. Google should provide a way to bypass the stupid stubborn telephone companies. Make sure your phone has Android 2.2 or an upgrade to 2.2.
Neither Telstra nor Optus tell you anything online about the Android on their versions of the Galaxy S. Most of the funny importers say nothing or mention 2.1.
The cheap trash telephones use LCD screens because LCD is cheap and OLED is slightly dearer until screen manufacturers finish building several new factories. LCD works in cold countries where you never sit outdoors using your telephone or netbook or anything else while wearing polarised sunglasses. OLED solves the LCD problem for everywhere else.
Samsung is the most successful OLED manufacturer with their AMOLED version of OLED. If you want to see the difference OLED makes, take LCD and OLED devices out into the sun, put on your polarised sunglasses then look at the screens. The LCD screen is black because it polarises light as part of the LCD processing. OLED does nothing to the light and works with your sunglasses.
OLED needs electricity to produce light but nothing to produce black. LCD uses as much electricity to produce black as it uses to produce white. LCD screens have a layer that is full on burning electricity to produce white light then the LCD blocks some of the light to produce colours and black. OLED produces exactly what you see and nothing more. OLD will use only 60% of the electricity required by LCD screens to produce black text on a white page and only 30% to produce the average range of things you view on a screen.
850 or 900 MegaHertz
There are two telephone networks in Australia, Telstra and Optus. Everyone other brand uses either Telstra or Optus or a mixture. Optus is for city folk drinking latte in a CBD cafe. Telstra covers the interesting parts of Australia, or at least the car park at the edge of the national park where you begin and end your walk. You want the Telstra Next G network for country use and Next G uses 850 MHz. The Optus 3G network uses 900 MHz.
There is no technical reason where a mobile telephone is restricted to only 850 or only 900 MHz. The reason is greed. The people selling the devices want to restrict you to their network so they can rip you off when you buy phone time or a contract. Samsung and most other telephone brands go along with the plan to artificially restrict service to raise prices. Telstra can pretend their Galaxy S 8 GB model is worth AU$940, instead of the realistic $755 quoted by Exeltek, because it is set to 850 MHz.
The online stores importing from places unknown sometimes bring in devices produced for Canada and other countries where 850 MHz is used. Some of them sell 16 GB Galaxy S devices for 850 MHz for less than $650 delivered. There can be significant differences in the way the phones are configured in the factory. I read an advert for one that works on 850 MHz for 2G but not for 3G, giving you pathetically slow data downloads.
8 or 16 GigaByte
The Galaxy S is available with 8 GB or 16 GB of internal memory. 8 GB is enough to store my photographs from a holiday but not the video. My music collection is larger than 8 GB. 8 GB is obsolete. When I trudged around the shops in Sydney looking for the Galaxy S, all the shops had the 8 GB version. All the online importers have the 16 GB version.
The online shops list the recommended retail price of the 16 GB model as as $899 and the cheaper smaller 8 GB model as $799. Telstra sell the cheaper smaller 8 GB Galaxy S online for AU$960, ripping you off by at least $161. Telstra complete the online disaster by refusing to let you buy the phone. You can only buy a phone as part of an expensive package. Optus and Crazy John, the biggest competitors to Telstra, do not offer the phone by itself but they do offer the phone within an affordable plan. Crazy John actually has the full size 16 GB model not the cheap 8 GB ripoff.
Mobileciti have the 16 GB model but only the Optus 3G version, not the next G version limiting the use in the country. Mobileciti list the retail price as $738 and their price is $718. That Telstra price is looking like a con dreamed up by a used car sales person.
Exeltek sell the 8 GB Telstra Next G compatible model (retail price $799) for $755 and list the retail price as the astronomical Telstra $960 plus they screw up by having it on back order. It appears everything related to Telstra is on back order.
If Samsung actually wanted to sell the Galaxy S in Australia and similar countries, Samsung would simply make the phone work on both the 850 and 900 MHz bands so one purchase would cover all networks in Australia, plus they would throw out the obsolete 8 GB model and ship everything as 16 GB.
Australia retail shops complain year after year that sales are down. Those same shops refuse to stock what shoppers want to buy.
Front facing camera
A front facing camera is used for video calls. Some Samsung Galaxy S phones are built without a front facing camera. Check before you buy, especially when buying from eBay and other unknown online shops where the seller buys whatever is the cheapest device sold in Hong Kong then sells it to you without personally checking all the details (or even knowing what to look for).
Many of the online shops are selling a variation of the Galaxy S named the Vibrant. The vibrant is a cheaper model produced for the USA. People testing the Vibrant in the USA had real problems with the GPS accuracy. There are also other models produced for the USA named Epic and some other names. The way they make them cheaper is to leave something out or to use cheaper components or both.
None of the current smartphones has an SD card clot. Instead the telephone companies decided, as a group monopoly, they would use the micro Sd format.
Some models have a flash for the camera and some do not. Ask before you buy in a shop or online.
Expect a full day use with full use of many services and up to three days with a few services switched off. Google Maps uses a stack of battery power transferring a massive amount of data. All screens use a lot of power, with the Galaxy S AMOLED using less than LCD, and you can turn down the brightness to save power when you do not need the brightness. Turn off Wifi and Bluetooth when not in use because they burn power driving separate transmitters.
You need spare batteries when you walk in the country for a few days. The Samsung battery is $40. Alternative brands can cost as little as $10. The Samsung is listed as 1500 mAH and lasting 1 to 3 days. The alternatives are listed as 1200 mAH up to 1850 mAH. Tests by consumers show that one 1200 mAH battery lasts a few minutes longer than the Samsung 1500 mAH battery, some 1850 mAH batteries do not last longer than the Samsung 1500 mAH battery, and some batteries from eBay, right across the range, last as little as half the time the Samsung batteries last. Buy your alternative batteries from a reputable supplier.
Based on a lot of testing across mobile phones, cameras and many other devices, good quality reliable alternative brand batteries are about half the price of the original brand for popular products. Many reputable suppliers supply reliable alternatives. Delivery costs eat into any money you save purchasing spare batteries online. If you will need spare batteries, buy a couple when you buy the phone. The whole set should be delivered for the same price.
Using a mobile telephone on the desktop can be a real pain. The Samsung Galaxy S has a simple answer, too simple. Their Desktop Charger. You can use the phone hands free and charge a spare battery. Unfortunately it does not include charging the phone, the USB connection for the phone, or, in some cases such as the Exceltek, the power adaptor.
Layar Reality Browser
Ok, you get the Layar Reality Browser everywhere because it is paid for through advertising. You point your camera at something, the LRB takes a GPS reading and the picture then guesses where you are then overlays some information about possible points of interest plus advertising. The advertising can be restaurants, real estate, anything where they can sell products, tickets, and services. The Samsung Galaxy S has the LRB because it has a camera and GPS. The GPS may be inaccurate with Android 2.1 and better with 2.2. you might want to turn off this and other services because of the intense data downloads it produces.
Google Nexus One
The Google Nexus One is a smartphone you would buy if the Galaxy S was not available. The HTC Desire is a Nexus One without the noise cancelling microphone. Both the Desire and Nexus One lack 802.11 n and FM. The noise cancelling microphone is the one special feature. If you are stuck with an iPhone 4 and want to upgrade to full Internet access but want a built in noise cancelling microphone, the Nexus One is the best choice.
There are too many variations of the Galaxy S to make shopping safe. Samsung made the Galaxy S a dangerous choice by giving into the greed of the pirates running telephone companies. If you can get a Galaxy S with all the features and do not have to subject yourself to the thievery of companies like Telstra, the Galaxy S 16 GB is the pick of the 2010 crop.