Samsung Captivate Review

AT&T just released their newest Android phone, the Samsung Captivate. This device is undoubtably Big Blue’s biggest and baddest Android phone. The Captivate sports some amazing specs for a phone: 4in Super AMOLED screen, 1Ghz Hummingbird cpu, 512MB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, 720p video recording and 16GB of internal memory. Compared to other newly released phones such as the Droid X and Evo 4G the Captivate is a contender as one of the better phones running Google’s OS.

Coming from the HTC Aria the Captivate is much larger. Its almost impossible to discretely hold the cell phone in your hand or placing it on a table at meeing. It’s a head turner. As big as it is, it’s not uncomfortable to hold. The phone is thin and not too heavy and it fits in pant pockets easily. As for the screen, I think it’s a great size for internet browsing and texting in landscape mode. Small screens such as the HTC Aria makes it difficult to comfortably type unless your in landscape mode. The same goes with other phones such as the iPhone. When I had one I wish it was a tad bit bigger.

The Super AMOLED is amazing. Comparing the Captivate to iPhone 4 at an AT&T store I almost couldn’t tell the difference in quality. But the iPhone does edge the Captivate in overall quality as the iPhone has higher pixel density and the colors are a little more brighter. The Captivate has a slightly bluish tint to it, but it’s hardly noticable. To the average user they will not notice any difference at all, in fact some may say the Super AMOLED looks better than the iPhone since the Captivate contrast ratio is 50,000:1 where as the iPhone 4 is only 800:1 which aids viewablity in outdoor environments.

I was hoping Samsung and AT&T delivered the phone with the latest Android version, Froyo 2.2, but instead it comes with Eclair 2.1. There are rumors about updates being released in August or September, but I’m not holding my breath. Like other manufacturers, Samsung uses their own UI overlay on top of Android’s stock UI. Samsung’s Touchwiz 3.0 is not bad, but it’s not as good as HTC’s Sense UI. It’s too bad Samsung doesn’t allow the user to turn off their overlay and just use Google’s default one, but there is an option. You can always download other UIs from the Android Market. Launchpro is a great one. I’ve been using it and I must say its much better than Samsung’s and HTC’s. It’s currently in beta and the lack of widgets and themes may turn some off to it, but development for it is going strong and a paid version will be released soon if not already. Calls are clear and haven’t lost a call yet even in low reception areas. The speakers are loud, but they’re located on the back of the phone, so if you place the phone on its back it can muffle the audio. But there is one gripe I have with this phone. The backlight of the softkeys located at the bottom turns off within a few seconds. If you’re using the phone in the dark it makes it hard to see where those keys are located.

The overall usability of the phone is great. There are a few things that hold it back from being fantastic. Such as AT&T’s and Samsung’s lockdown on its software defeating the purpose of having an open phone. The lack of a camera flash can also be a deal breaker for some. It’s hard to see why any manufacturer would make a phone without one. But one thing is for sure, the Captivate is the best Android phone for AT&T and if you can overlook some of the minor annoyances it may be the best Android phone on the market.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Fast and smooth UI
Large comfortable AMOLED screen
Record 720p video
Google services integration

No camera flash
Softkey backlight dims too quickly
No sideloading of apps
Samsung Touchwiz needs to be more polished

AT&T’s newest Android phone

This is the Samsung Captivate. Its AT&T’s newest Android phone. Compared to the HTC Aria this phone is enormous. It sports a 4in. AMOLED screen that looks incredible. I guess this is their answer to the Droid X and the Evo.

It just got released today, so head to your local AT&T store to check out the demo.

I’ll post a review in a few days.

HTC Aria Review

I got an HTC Aria earlier this week and have been using it full time ever since. This is my first Android device.  I’ve got to play with other Android devices on Verizon and Sprint, so I was able to compare how it works to the other Android devices on the market.  The HTC Aria is a sleek looking touch device. The device is as thin as an iPhone 3G(s) but shorter and narrower. It feels great in the hand and the heft to it makes it feel very solid, but it’s small size can make it difficult to type and text when in portrait mode. Landscape mode is best for typing on this slim phone. The soft coated paint on the back makes the device feels like it’s already in a case and the best part it doesn’t attract dust and lint. The battery life is decent. I can get a full workday’s use out of it, but don’t expect it to go a full 24 hours without charging.

What surprised me about the phone is the quickness of it. Sliding through the menus and opening apps were quick and responsive. The Aria uses HTC’s Sense UI and it adds a lot of flair to the interface. Those who have used other HTC Android phones will feel right at home with it. As my first Android it took me awhile to get use to all the different menus and the entire interface. Coming from the iPhone and Blackberry this Android device is a breath of fresh air in a market where the dominant OSes are getting stagnant.

With Android all your Google contacts, emails, and calendar are easily synced up leaving one the think why Apple is charging for MobileMe and why RIM doesn’t have anything similar. If you’re a Google Voice user then Andriod is a must-have. It intergrates seamlessly with your phone and there’s no need to fiddle around with an app or use a web browser.  Android allows you to customize what you want to display on your phone and how to display it. The widget feature is what makes it possible.  The Android Market is not as extensive as Apple’s (Who is?) but it still has a boat load of apps. One thing that’s holding the Aria back is AT&T. They’ve locked down the device so apps can only be install by the Android Market. It really defeats the purpose of an open-ended device. But for the most part people won’t be bothered by it, it’s only the power users who want the ability to side-load apps onto their phone.

There are a million comparisons I can make with the iPhone and Blackberry and what I can say is that each of those devices do well in certain categories and poorly on others, and Android is no exception. There are things that Android definitely does better than the iPhone and Blackberry and there are some areas that it needs some more polishing, but the road ahead is very bright. If you’re stuck on AT&T and looking for a non-iPhone touch device the HTC Aria can easily fit the bill. But if you’re not bound to a particular network you have plenty of Android options such as the upcoming Droid 2, Droid X, and Sprint’s EVO.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Google services integration
Snappy performance
Solid fit and finish
Responsive capacitive screen

Can’t side-load apps
Comes with Android 2.1 (Hopefully it gets Froyo 2.2 soon)
Can be too narrow for typing
Optical track pad is useless
No flash for camera

BIS Google Contacts Sync for AT&T

It looks like the BIS Google contact sync is working for AT&T. You can set it up directly on your Blackberry though its email setup.

Here’s an image of what you’ll see if you enable it on the AT&T’s BIS site.