T-mobile, the first carrier to even have an android phone (the G1), blew its lead with the OS on a stream of mediocre handsets. While the other carriers got newer and better devices, T-mobile lagged behind, until now. Finally, at long last, a quality handset has arrived: the Vibrant. With its good looks, blazing fast speed, and quality OS, T-mobile customers can finally upgrade to a great phone.
-The first thing you notice about the Vibrant is its big beautiful screen. The 480x800 AMOLED screen is sharp and beautiful, easy to type on, and shows plenty of detail.
-The phone itself is thin and light, with a nice curve near the bottom to hold onto.
-1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor is faster in benchmarks than a 1 GHz Snapdragon and offers enhanced graphics procesing
-The buttons are not buttons but touch sensitive surfaces, like a flat screen TV.
-16gb of onboard storage is awesome. Add a 32gb microsdhc card and you've got 48gb, more than the iPhone.
-3G connection takes advantage of T-mobile's ever expanding 3G network, currently the fastest of any carrier in many cities.
-5 megapixel camera takes decent pictures and records video at 720p.
-The big compromise here is the camera. While the EVO and Incredible have 8MP cameras, the Vibrant has only 5MP. Flash and Front Facing Camera are glaring omissions from this otherwise high end phone.
-The plastic feels a bit cheap, but this is the case with most phones these days.
-Garish T-mobile and Samsung logos detract from the smooth appearance.
-Android 2.1 is stock on the phone with a promised upgrade to 2.2 in the near future. The latest versions of android are fast, more battery efficient, and have fewer "force close" errors. Some highlights include animated wallpapers, 7 home screens, and support for flash in web browsing.
-The interface is fast and smooth.
-Samsung has managed not to screw up the interface to this phone like it did on the Behold 2. The customizations are useful and unobtrusive.
-2 backplates (shiny blue or shiny purple) for customization.
-Nice gelly earphones are higher quality than most phones.
-Charger is a solid usb/wall combo.
-Avatar movie shows off the phone's beautiful screen.
-Free Sims 3 game is a fun way to kill some time.
-2gb MicroSD card is a bit lame compared to the 16gb internal memory, but easily upgradable.
Overall this is a great phone. Some hardware compromises prevent it from being the best Android phone ever, but it is still the best Android phone for T-mobile, and is the phone many customers, including myself, have been waiting for. The phone looks great, is blazingly fast, and has plenty of bells and whistles.
on July 31, 2010
I'll try to keep this as brief and to the point as possible.
The Samsung Vibrant -
The form factor - great as it's not too big, not too small with a 4 inch screen. If you're coming from a nexus one or a droid then you may not like the amount of plastic that's in the phone or the light feel. But even though it's a plastic build, it's a compact solid build. At first glance it will remind you of a Iphone. Again, it may be a turn off depending on your tastes.
Screen - hands down one of the best portable screens you'll ever see. Uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology which they seem to be keeping for their own products these days. Avatar as a pack in for the device is a great move. Seeing the clarity of that film running on a Vibrant is awe - inspiring. The screen is responsive and accurate. I've had no problems with it in that regard. Resolution is 480x800.
Software - the Vibrant is running android 2.1 which is good, but 2.2 on this phone would have been amazing. But to be fair the update is coming in september. It runs with a custom user interface (ui) layer on top of android called touchwiz 3.0. It adds some interesting features to stock android but at the end of the day, I found it to be totally unnecessary. I've found similar and better features in the Android marketplace for the solutions that Samsung has tried to incorporate here. There are some glaring missing features though. The user dictionary that's standard in stock android is missing here. Also the ability to add custom ringtones to your contact list entries is also missing. Both functions can be easily added by downloading User dictionary from the market as well as Ringo Lite. The phone ships with Swype virtual keyboard and its enabled by default. It also ships with Samsung's own keyboard as well as the stock android keyboard. Swype has been my keyboard of choice since it was in beta. it's very intuitive and is a great choice by samsung.
The Vibrant also ships with a version of Rock Player. This is significant. Rock Player allows standard and some not-so-standard video codecs to run natively on Android phones. Xvid, divx, wmv, mov, mpeg 1/2/3, FLV...its serious. Android always had terrible video codec support but now, the days of encoding video are over thanks to Rock Player. The player is also available in the marketplace but doesnt seem to be as polished. The GPS software is glitchy. There's a fix for it that has been discussed on many forums but Samsung is preparing an update for it.
Camera - the good news is the Vibrant takes great photos and videos. Videos can be recorded in "720p" but the phone doesnt have a flash. This was a major concern for me initially until I actually used the camera. In well lit areas, the Vibrant took great images. Night time shots were great too if ample light was available. If not, there's a night mode. It works for the most part but it left a good number of my pics a tad blurry.
Video worked as one would expect. I was happy to see consistent smooth framerate and no pauses or glitches in the videos I took with the device.
Hardware - this is what ultimately sold me on the Vibrant. It has a 1ghz Hummingbird (Cortex A8 core) cpu developed by Intrinsity with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU (graphics processor). What this means is this CPU/GPU combo gives the Vibrant better graphics/games performance than any other smartphone of its class. I didn't quite believe it at first coming from a nexus one with Android 2.2 (which I still own) but after comparing the Vibrant to the Droid, the N1, the Incredible, Iphone 3gs, and the DroidX, I noticed 3D intensive games ran smoother on the Vibrant. Consistently so at 60 frames per second. I did some research and found out why. That material is too much to post here. I'll leave it to you to Google it. But in short, the Vibrant is capable of processing 90 million triangles a second.
The Droid with a TI OMAP3430 CPU and a PowerVR SGX530 - 7 to 14 million triangles a second
Nexus one with a Qualcomm QSD8x50 (snapdragon) and a Adreno 200 - 22 million triangles a second.
Iphone 3gs 600mhz cortex A8 with a Power VR SGX535 - 7 million triangles a second.
Also, the Vibrant ships with 16gbs of internal storage and can use 32gb microsd cards. 1.7 gbs of that storage can be used for apps which is more than enough space and eliminates the need for saving apps to sd card. Avatar is a little less than 2gbs on the sd card that ships with the phone but it can be transferred to internal memory and run from there.
The phone lacks a trackball but there are virtual arrow keys in swype and the Samsung keyboard that help to make up for the loss. The camera is a 5 mega pixel camera without flash as was mentioned. The face buttons are virtual buttons and work most of the time but there were times when the phone didn't seem to recognize my press. I'm not sure if this is from Android or the phone itself, but its worth mentioning.
Phone - I've experienced no problems with phone calls on the device. Calls were clear on my end and the other end of the line. bluetooth worked as it should and pairing a headset was as easy as one would expect. There's no noise cancellation mic but the speaker on the phone is very loud for videos, music and speakerphone.
Battery life - This has been a topic of great debate and for good reason. My Vibrant has lasted an entire day with moderate use on a 1500mah battery. A day and a half with light use. It lasted about 6 to 7 hours with heavy use. That's watching Avatar for a bit, surfing the web, taking calls, downloading from the market, playing games here and there. It lasted my entire shift at work with me constantly configuring it, running it, using it. By comparison, my Nexus one with Android 2.2 cannot last the day with moderate use. I can get 5 hours out of it maybe 6 before I have to recharge. Heavy use with my n1 will net me four hours maybe 5. To be fair there might be a particular app or even Android 2.2 causing the drain because it wasn't that bad when I first bought it, but it is what it is at this point.
Final thoughts, the Samsung Vibrant is one of the best Android phones released thus far but it has some issues that are strange and keeps it from being the best. Missing utilities that are standard in stock Android and have been since Android debuted is very strange. No flash will undoubtedly turn off a few people as well as the lack of Android 2.2 in an environment that calls for it. But what the Vibrant does well, it does extremely well and solves some key issues for some older Android devices. Internal storage that's more than enough to hold any apps you desire as well as gbs worth of content, a screen that's drop dead gorgeous and easier to navigate, fantastic video codec support and a better cpu/gpu combo for superior performance especially with gaming. The Vibrant is the best phone you can buy at Tmobile if you don't need a physical qwerty keyboard. I'm happy with the device and eagerly await Android 2.2 for it.
on July 16, 2010
I was a die-hard pull-out keyboard junky, but using Swype on the Vibrant changed my mind forever. I could type 30+ words per minute on my G1 (my previous phone), and I'm a tad slower on the Vibrant using Swype, but that's just because there's a little bit of a learning curve. I'm convinced that I'll be just as fast on the Vibrant by this time next week.
In all respects, this phone is an incredible leap forward from the G1, and is light, sleek, and fast. The 7 customizable home screens make it easy to categorize my apps and widgets. The camera on this phone, in comparison to the G1's, is extremely usable and the results are comparable to point-and-shoot photos, even without a flash. Who likes "flashy" pictures, anyway? The screen is everything everyone has said. Coupled with the speedy processor, I can flip through photos in my Picasa or Flickr accounts in a flash.
I'm not jealous of my friends' iPhones anymore.
on July 17, 2010
I had been waiting for this phone since it was rumored to be coming to T-mobile, so my expectations were very high after reading so much about it. Amazingly, it has surpassed all of my expectations. The first thing that hit me was how sharp and, well, vibrant its huge screen is. The colors are extremely rich. And once I started playing with it, I was very impressed with its blazing speed. I've installed my favorite podcast app, BeyondPod, and the podcasts download much, much faster than on my G1. Videos look amazing, especially Avatar, which was included on the 2 GB SD card that came with the phone. The phone also has 16 GB of internal memory. With a 32 GB SD card, the phone's memory can be expanded up to 48 GB. I was concerned about not having a physical keyboard, but Swype makes typing with the onscreen keyboard astoundingly efficient. In fact, with Swype both my typing speed and accuracy have gone way up. I'm using it to type out this review. An amazing thing about Swype is not only how fast I can slide my finger across the keyboard to type, but how good Swype is at getting the word right even when I miss a letter or two. Another thing that was a very pleasant surprise was that after I entered my Google account info, not only were my contacts, calendar and email all synchronized automatically, but when I opened the wonderfully done Gallery app, all of my photos from Picasa had also been synchronized. The gallery had a nice thumbnail of each photo, and selecting one of the thumbnails caused the full resolution photo to be downloaded and displayed. The galley app also does a great job showing off the Vibrant's graphic capabilities with a dynamic, 3D display that organizes the photos into piles that can be easily expanded or "restacked". All of this is done by the phone itself. The Vibrant doesn't need any bloated desktop software or paid services to keep it synchronized. Setting up additional email accounts was also a snap. As I type this review, I must comment again how great Swype is. It actually makes typing fun!
Setting up a secured wifi connection was also a snap. The web browser is excellent. Adding system controls such as wifi, Bluetooth, etc. to the pulldown notifications shade is an excellent feature added by Samsung. The stock widgets, such as Daily Briefing, Dual Clock, etc., are very nice, although I miss the calendar app on my G1. I'll get another one from the Market.
Having seven home screens is very nice, I like that I can jump to any one of the home screens by tapping on one of the seven dots that run across the very top of the screen.
I don't have any issues with the phone, but there are some minor nits. For example, my network connection generally seems to be stronger than what the bars indicate. Also, I miss having a trackball, but I'm finding out that with such a large, responsive and accurate touchscreen, a trackball isn't really necessary.
Whatever you want to call it, a smartphone, superphone or a handheld computer, the Vibrant is an outstanding device.
on July 16, 2010
Great Phone. I had all kinds of issues trying to order the Nexus One and finally gave up. I've been waiting for something good to come out on T-Mobile since May.
This phone has a beautiful display and is supper fast. Only issue I've ran into so far is apparently none of the sales staff know to give it an Android Internet plan instead of a smartphone internet plan. Not really sure what the difference is, except one stops working after a few hours, and my brother had the same issue on his Nexus One he ordered online, so it's not even just the sales staff at my local store.
-Swype is super fast for input once you get use to it.
-Camera seems to take decent pictures and video with a decent selection of control over the functions.
-Really bright, huge, and responsive display. Some of the older displays can be a little unresponsive and sluggish like the Nexus One, MyTouch, but this one seems as good or better than my old iPhone3g
-Really light weight, but feels solidly built
-no flash on camera, may affect other people, but I never use those pitiful things so doesn't really matter to me
I look forward to spending some more time with the phone this weekend and figuring it out better, but so far it has been fantastic. If you need a T-mobile phone and want Android you should definitely look at this phone.
on August 20, 2010
- Screen: The 800x480 Super AMOLED screen is huge and beautiful.
- Android 2.1: The best mobile OS out there except for Android 2.2, which is promised to be coming to this phone soon.
- Battery Life: My phone would be unplugged from 7am to 10pm every day, with moderate use throughout the day, and would never drop below 40% by the end of the day (though don't trust their notification bar icon -- its only possible levels are 100%, 70%, and 10%).
- The Form Factor: Surprisingly light and slim for such a powerful phone, especially one with such a large screen and long battery life.
- GPS: Most users (myself included) have noticed a VERY long time to sync to GPS. Samsung has promised a software fix in September, but if you use your phone for navigation frequently, you'll likely be out of luck until then.
- Compass: Any app that needs to know which way you're facing (Google Street Maps, Layar, Google Sky Map, Wikitude, etc.) just plain does not work. The compass is painfully slow to respond and inaccurate when it finally does. As with GPS, Samsung has promised a software fix, but if the problems stem from hardware it may not be much of an improvement. Only time will tell.
- TouchWiz 3.0: This is Samsung's skin on top of Android. They've replaced the home screen and notification bar, and their associated icons, as well as many of the stock Google apps (contacts, calendar, etc). I find everything about TouchWiz uniformly ugly. The icons are garishly colored. The tab layout of their stock apps is ridiculous - they take up an inordinate amount of the screen's height and are an ugly metallic blue color that clashes with just about everything else. The stock apps also leave out several features: for instance, you can't change the alarm noise for calendar alerts.
TouchWiz does has ONE nice feature: they include a power management widget in the notification bar, allowing easy access to changing these frequently tweaked settings from any app, without having to bail to the home screen every time.
Ultimately, if your personal aesthetic sense happens to be less offended by TouchWiz (or if you can find suitable replacement apps (I recommend LauncherPro for the home sreen)), and if you don't care about GPS or Compass, the Vibrant is an outstanding phone.
For me, though, the GPS and Compass were dealbreakers, and I personally don't have an optimistic view on the promised software fix. Maybe I'll try it out again when that's out -- though the G2 may be out by then, and it will have HSPA+.
on July 21, 2010
I actually went to the store and got this the morning it came available. I have been using BlackBerry phones the last few years as well as Archos media players. I also work from home and am a software coding geek. I got the Archos 5 32 GB Internet Tablet with Android, which I highly recommend. (especially if you don't get this phone) What I noticed is that I stopped carrying my BlackBerry around the house all the time and started carrying my Archos. BlackBerry is awesome and the new 9800 slider with OS 6 looks very nice... but I'm over 50 and like a bigger screen. I'm waiting for a good 7 inch tablet with everything. Phone wise switching from a BlackBerry to Android was unnerving. I'm not interested in an iPhone. I like expandable phones and I like T-Mobile as the most cost effective carrier. What follows is why I was comfortable switching.
I had hacked the Android Market onto my Archos and was familiar with lots of apps. I just got the Android Kindle app and Fox News released an app. Hint, they have iPhone and now Android... No BlackBerry. Why do people have BlackBerry phones? Well for one thing a physical keyboard has always been faster than a touch screen, and more accurate. For another thing being able to use your own domain name email easily and pack up to 10 accounts on your phone with push mail is what makes it king.
This is where it gets good. I tried a program called K-9 Mail on Android some time ago and didn't like it. It's an open source email program. Now this phone does easily allow you to have more than just gmail and does a fine job... but K-9 Mail has improved a LOT! It now does push mail from IMAP accounts. Let's face it, if you are using a phone and a PC for the same account it better be able to do IMAP. I tried to get in on the recent Swype beta. I never got my email. There is another very nice keyboard worth trying called Swift Key. Lately though I've been really falling in love with Swype. It seems I can type as fast or faster than with my BlackBerry 9700 but also as it does on the fly correction and learning I type more accurately. I find myself annoyed on my PC that it is so damn dumb now. That's the big two. As for security and stability I can't give the long term, but reading on developing Android I'm convinced it's closer to BlackBerry than iPhone.
Of course the rest of this phone is truly awesome It's blindingly fast and I'm giddy thinking how much faster it will be with Froyo. It's got gobs of memory so I don't find myself worrying about killing programs. I took the screen outside right away to see if I could read it and I could! Unfortunately the one downside to this screen is that you should carry a cleaning cloth because in sunlight you will see smears instantly.
I was using Twidroyd on my Archos and tried the new Twitter client and was unimpressed, but I tried Tweetcaster which was a pig on my Archos and this phone handles it great. If you like to game you will love this. It has 3x the triangle rendering speed of any other phone! Get a Wii remote and the Android software. I even tried an AV cable from the 3.5 mm jack to play video on my TV. For some reason it looked like it wasn't getting sync right because it was all garbage. I don't know if another cable might have fixed it but as I saw some video it seems more software or something, but I read this works on European phones and there was a place to select NTSC. Maybe I needed to set my TV to standard definition? What really impressed me was I have a portable HD recorder and I had made videos in 720p at 30 fps as My Archos can play these files and output them to TV through the dock. To my delight they play flawlessly on this phone. That's no small feat on an 800x480 screen. Everything on this phone is snappy!
My worst moment was answering my first call when I didn't realize you swipe, not click, the green image. I got the second call. I also use the Google Maps Navigation and downloaded the text to voice. Awesome! Unfortunately it took me to a place several blocks from my destination. I read about it online and while an OTA fix is on the way I followed the instructions to change settings and make GPS work right. I got an instant lock from in my house. My best moments were using my phone to record sales in my booth in Portland Saturday Market where several guys were talking and one asked if it was an iPhone and the other said it was better than an iPhone because it was Android. Perception is an interesting thing.
One last note, the battery is supposed to be really good on this, but it's really just okay... if you're not a habitual geek reading Twitter, browsing the web, showing people videos and taking pictures. The remedy is extra batteries. I couldn't find them on Amazon but on ebay I got 2 batteries and a wall charger for $14 with free shipping. I paid more than that for one BlackBerry Battery. Finally for those who say this is small and cheap feeling, it is svelte and sexy. It does lack a flash, but I got the best pictures of my cats without redeye ever. This phone could be more perfect if it came with a supermodel for a personal assistant, but short of that there isn't much to complain about. I love it!
Best phone, best price, best network. T-Mo is running as fast or faster than my Clear connection in Portland!
on July 25, 2010
First things first, this phone is amazing! The screen is crystal clear, and as the name implies; Vibrant.
Pros: Amazing screen, blistering fast processor, Android, lots of storage, perfect fit for my hand, headphone jack, battery life (for a smart phone), and possibly best of all, not trapped to AT&T.
Cons: Signal strength, pre-loaded unremovable bloatware, slippery case, & FINGERPRINTS everywhere.
As for the pros, I can't say enough about the screen, or Android. You just have to experience them for yourself. But for the cons, I have to address each since this phone would be, hands-down, the best on the market today if not for them (hence the 4 star rating). First off, the Signal Strength. My last phone was a G1, and in my neighborhood I had reliable, steady signal (3-4 bars) and full 3g connectivity with it always. The Vibrant occasionally has 4 bars, and usually has 3g, but it jumps between 0 and 4 bars, and 3g and Edge sporadically when in my hand, or just lying on the table. I haven't had any complaints from anyone not being able to reach me, but the signal jumping is still concerning. As is the bloatware. Installed on my (my - as in MINE - as in I own it; not T-Mobile, not Samsung) are a few "Pay as you play" apps (meaning monthly, or per-use charges apply if you are foolish enough to use them, or some child gets their mitts on your phone and accesses them, etc.) that I can not remove from MY device. They are not essential to the operation of this device, nor are they essential to the T-Mobile network, so there is no reason I can see that they need to be unremovable. Thirdly, the case, while some consider it "cheap" feeling, is very smooth and feels very good to hold in the hand, but is slippery and hard to hold on to if you lose your concentration for even a second. The good news, for us G1 upgraders, is that the G1 pouch fits the Vibrant nicely (not perfectly, but good enough). Last is the finger prints. This beautifully smooth case, and gorgeous screen that makes you want to touch them, retain your finger grease like nobodies business! I suggest picking up an invisible shield cover since you'll be polishing it constantly, which will dull the shine on your case eventually (but, again there's silver lining: the Vibrant comes with 2 back shells, although one is purple).
Not deal breakers, but annoying none-the-less.
on September 15, 2010
Truly an iPhone competitor if not better. Having upgraded from an iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4 and finally to the Vibrant, I can confidently say I have found a phone that meets all my expectations. The iPhone 4 is a work of art, no denying it. Its the ultimate hardware device, but the Apple iOS simply doesn't match up to Android - it lacks an important factor, customization and flexibility. Android's open source model has changed the game. Its been 1 month since I made the transition to the Android platform and I do not miss the iPhone 4 or the iOS. The migration was painless; the same apps I have became accustomed to on the iPhone can be found in Google Market App, many of them free. Some of the most helpful apps I use today can only be built on Android given its open source nature and flexibility. And for the tech savvy user, you will appreciate the easy nature of rooting the Android OS which opens the door to even greater customization and flexibility options. There has been much talk of GPS and lag issues with device. This is not hardware related. With the amazingly active Android developer community, free fixes and tips have been released that have effectively corrected the problem. This would never be possible on the closely guarded iOS platform.
The Vibrant as a hardware device is beautifully built, not as sturdy as the iPhone 4, but nonetheless well designed. Its form factor and weight makes it disappear into your pocket and when its in your hands, it feels comfortable and well balanced. The screen is a must see, movies and games look gorgeous. The processor is super fast and multi-tasking between apps is a breeze, after the Samsung Galaxy "lag fix" has been applied. Google term to get more information.
A few other advantages:
- T-mobile plans are cheaper than ATT and Verizon. You maybe able to get additional discounts if you work for a large company that offers corporate discount packages
- Replaceable battery
- With T-mobile's less congested network, download speeds top over 1.5MB or higher in larger metropolitan cities. AT&T doesn't even come close. Call quality is great and I have yet to experience a dropped call.
- The phone uses a standard size SIM card (iPhone uses the new micro SIMs), and can be easily unlocked with a simple (free) app, great for international travelers. Micro SIM are difficult to find in international countries
- Finally as an added bonus, T-mobile is one of the few, if not the only wireless provider, to offer free tethering along with its unlimited data plan. Apps are available to make the configuration process easy, but upcoming Froyo release will have tethering built into the OS.
on July 31, 2010
8/12: Update, using speedtest dot com I got the download score all the way up to 6.23 mbps! Not on the device itself, but using the device as a modem for my laptop. The device is getting 3.5-5.5 mbps here at my office, but using it as a modem my Lenovo gets 4-6 mbps, and my Dell Latitude gets 1-3 mbps. Some day I'll have a computer geek explain why different devices are getting different download speeds from the same modem. All 5 of my computers and the Vibrant (over wifi) get .64 mbps on my $15/m DSL line.
Lots of excellent reviews about the device's hardware, screen and interface; what none of the reviews mention is that you can get download speeds of over 5 mbps thanks to the T-mobile upgrade to 3G Plus (HSPA+). The highest score I've gotten so far is an average speed of 5.6 mbps, but for a moment there that test was showing speeds above the 6 mbps range, it just averaged out to a little under that. Technically the Vibrant is not a true HSPA+ device and cannot do more than 7.2 mbps, but 2-5 mbps is what I'm getting, and that is 6x as fast as the $15/month basic DSL line that I have at home and office. There is an app for tethering with your laptop (or desktop) currently so you really get your money's worth. Sprints 4G on the EVO is not any better than this, they charge you extra for it, and the availability won't be good for another year.
The day I got it I was downloading and installing up to 3 apps at a time and streaming Slacker Radio while checking out all the features and going through all the set-up; there was never a lag, it can do all of these things simultaneously without any problems, it blew me away.
Phone reception is fine in most places, but when the signal is not strong, I do notice that a left-handed "grip of death" caused additional signal problems; depending on how I hold it I can watch the signal drop from 3 bars to 0, I switch grips and watch it go right back up. Sounds weird, but apparently Apple is not the only one with the problem.