on October 26, 2010
I would love this phone if not for the following. I got this phone a week after it was released. The first issue I had was that the phone would not pull an updated from the AT&T Server. I would hit update phone and would get the error message "Unable to connect to the AT&T Server", I would then try again and would get the message please try again in 24hrs!!!!!! (this is forced by AT&T, you only get one shot per 24 hour period to update your phone!) Anyway I took the phone back to the AT&T store and was told that the reason I was getting that error was because there are not updates at this time. I said ok sounds reasonable. However a day or two later my buddy at work got the same phone, and when he tried to perform an update he would get the message "no updates available at this time"! So that is really when my nightmare started. I have been on multiple phone calls with AT&T and Samsung to try and fix this one issue none of which has resulted in anything other than frustration. Finally I got AT&T to send me a warranty phone (refurbished I might add!!!!) and pulled it out of the box put my sim in and turned it on, tried to perform the update and....... You got it same problem!!!
The next issue is that the phones GPS doesn't work, I won't go into this as this is well documented on here.
Another issue is that the phone will shut itself off randomly. It can be anything from 10 mins to 3 -4 days. This sucks as I use the phone as an alarm clock for work, also my 10 year old daughter has type one diabetes and needs to contact me at times regarding carb ratios, low blood sugar, and insulin shots, it is critical that I have a phone that works! How can I trust a phone that shuts itself off whenever it feels like it? I called AT&T warranty on this issue as well, you won't believe what the rep told me..... Well it's a phone sir if you want an alarm clock go and buy one!!!!!!! I was a little upset by that comment.
Pretty much all of my issues have occurred after the 30 day return period. I have researched all of these issues online and have found that they are all common to this phone. Samsung and AT&T are ignoring all of these issues and seem to be turning their backs on their customers. I know that I am just one person and others love the phone, however I would suggest researching the following on google before you purchase, if you feel comfortable after you research then have a nut:
Samsung Captivate Random Shutdown
Samsung Captivate GPS Issue
Samsung captivate unable to connect to at&t server
I so wanted to love this phone and honestly if it were not for the above issues it would be a wonderful phone. I walk away from this purchase feeling cheated, ignored and ready to leave AT&T as soon as my contract ends. Bottom line, BUYER BEWARE!
on September 14, 2010
I am a gadget geek and a huge Apple fan. Despite this I have resisted buying an iPhone or any other smart phone for that matter. I was working overseas and my initial plan was to buy an iPhone upon my return to the US. However it was because of my trip that I decided against the iPhone. Android was my next choice and of all the Android phones I looked at, the Galaxy S (aka Captivate) was clearly the best.
I am not an iPhone hater, but I am going to compare and contrast this phone to the iPhone because I believe many who consider this phone also consider the iPhone and I want to share why I think this phone is the smarter choice.
I don't have a clear answer as to who calls the shots, but neither AT&T nor Apple will unlock an iPhone allowing it to be used on another network. This might make sense if the phone stays in a single country. However when traveling I need the ability to swap out the SIM card so I can have a number local to the country I am in. I met a lot of expats where I was working and none of them owned an iPhone for this very reason. It didn't matter if they were from the US, UK, or Germany, they didn't want a phone locked to a single carrier back home.
My second issue with the iPhone is I can't easily use my Google Voice number with it. I can with my Samsung. It's really nice having a US number I can use anywhere in the world there's wifi or 3G and not having to pay hefty international roaming charges.
Even if you don't plan to leave the country there are plenty of reasons to buy this phone and not an iPhone.
1. It integrates very well with your Google account. I instantly had my contacts, calendar, and email available to me.
2. The audio quality is very good. Others cannot believe I'm on a cell phone and I can hear them crystal clear.
3. While hardly a home stereo system, the built-in speakers are quite good.
4. You can use the phone like a flash drive and store any file anywhere you want. There's no clumsy iTunes interface that restricts what you can store on your own phone.
5. It plays every non-protected media format I throw at it.
6. At first I thought the voice recognition was just a "gee whiz" feature, but it's very handy when in the car to be able to speak a destination or business and have it find it. This feature works internationally.
7. I own an iPod Touch and so far every app I have on that I have found for Android.
On the downside.
I'm not 100% happy with the battery life. It's not any worse than an iPhone and I have adjusted my settings to squeeze more life out of each charge. I just wish it lasted longer.
The GPS is flakey. It drops the satellite too often and takes too long to find them. I'm told Samsung is aware of the problem and is working it.
UPDATE!! I had been able to use Google Voice from outside the United States. This is no longer the case. This isn't a fault of the phone, I can't dial out on my laptop either unless I am VPNed into the US. However it does make the Android platform that much less desirable. Other VOIP services are available, but none work as well as Google Voice.
FURTHER UPDATE!! After owning this phone for a month I've downgraded my rating to three stars. I love the Android operating system. It blows away iOS. But I have too many hardware issues with the phone. The battery life is absolutely pathetic. A few hours and it's dead. I have a battery saving app and keep wifi, Bluetooth, and GPS off unless I need them. I updated the phone which was supposed to fix the GPS issue. Now it doesn't lock on at all. If I weren't traveling so much I'd be tempted to return the phone, or at least demand a replacement battery. And lastly, I can't always answer the phone. I swipe to answer and it instead drops the call or just keeps ringing. I'll keep swiping and swiping until it finally goes to voice mail.
on February 16, 2011
This phone is very attractive in all ways, but one.
After a three week device honeymoon I'm filing for divorce.
The reason I'm giving is that its GPS is dangerous to use for any serious activity such as driving.
Even next to the divider on 8-lane highways, the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate will suddenly place you on nearby local roads. In New York City, you'll hear unremitting barges of "turn left", "turn right", "make U-turn", as the device's idea of its place on the map skids around in the pattern of a native cockroach. This does not make for a companion that you'd live with if you need GPS. Otherwise, the phone is excellent.
My references for this petition are a Nexus One Android phone and various other GPS devices. Moreover, it is well-known by now that there is no solution to this problem, at least none has been offered. I did my half-day long due diligence on geek forums too late. Just Google "galaxy S gps" or read the Wikipedia entry and you'll understand my grounds. The various fixes don't seem to fix anything.
I bought this phone 37 days ago, one week beyond the 30 exchange period. Now, it wasn't easy, I talked to several people at AT&T and amazonwireless.com, but in the end a supervisor at amazonwireless.com was gracious enough to grant me divorce: I'll replace the Samsung Galaxy S with an HTC Inspire. I'll pay about the same as I'd paid for the Samsung Galaxy S (south of a hundred dollars). So I'm not joining the hordes of irate users, but I'd be wary of Samsung phone love. I'm relieved that amazonwireless.com was willing to help me.
The following announcement that's floating around the internet might be useful to buyers of Samsung mobile phone technology:
SEOUL, Korea - December 28, 2010 - Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., a leading provider of advanced mobile technology, announced today that it believes that global positioning satellites providing signals to its Galaxy S devices are defective. "After months of testing and re-testing our hardware and firmware, we have concluded that there is no need for what has been referred to as a "GPS fix," as it is not our technology that is deficient," said Won Hung Lo, chief mobile device architect.
on November 18, 2010
I have recently moved to a Samsung Captivate from an Apple iPhone 3G. I won't go into all the frustrations I had with the iPhone 3G that made me decide to ditch it. I will say that I was not going to gamble on the iPhone 4G after seeing the antennae issues it had/has and how Apple operates by releasing new devices and slowly choking out the old devices with so called Operating System "updates". Each Operating System update I moved to on the iPhone 3G slowly killed it. And once you move forward on updating it you cannot move backwards unless you hack the device. I have a feeling this is by design to get people to move to the latest Apple device.
I did some heavy research to find that Android is a very capable operating system that allows much more customization compared to what I had. Over the past year I am glad to see some Smartphone challengers to iPhone. I really wanted to give an Android phone a try for a change especially since it came with a 30 day return period.
I have had my Captivate for 1 week now and I know for sure that I am NOT returning it within the 30 days. I like this phone a lot. I am keeping it.
Things I like on the Captivate:
- Absolutely no dropped calls. Phone quality was very good.
- Thin and light with a nice size 4" screen.
- The AMOLED touchscreen is amazing.
- I can turn WiFi and/or Bluetooth on/off with one swipe and button push! Love It, so fast and easy!
- Fast processing, very responsive due to that 1 GHz Hummingbird processor.
- The music player is incredible. The overall graphics and the 5.1 surround setting - brilliant.
- Widgets! You can manage power and settings by adding widgets to your home screens - awesome.
- More Widgets! Your social networking, weather and news on your home screen updating when you want.
- 16 GB onboard memory for storing stuff.
- Expandable up to 16 GB memory on microSD card.
- Impressed with the camera even though there is not LED flash with it the pix are really sharp and clear.
- Can load your own Ringtones, Alarm Tones, and Notification Tones - awesome.
- Ringer and tones come across loudly if you need it compared to other phones I have had.
- Ability to manage certain settings and services in order to extend your battery life between charges.
- Able to sync the bluetooth with my Ford Sync radio in the car so I can be hands free through the car radio.
Some challenges with this phone:
- No LED flash for the camera, but the camera quality is amazing anyway.
- No front facing camera, but is there really much of that going on now anyway (bandwidth issues / adoption).
- You will need some moderate literacy with technology see my tips below on those topics.
- Can't delete some of the bloatware applications, but they are hidden down in the application pages.
- Single Phone speaker is located in the back of the phone (would rather have 2 of them at the bottom edge).
- Phone speaker is a little weak. Makes playing music without headphones not worth it.
- Conference calling with the speaker could be challenging if you are in a loud room.
- Can't really manage my Yahoo mail account from the messaging app - like move messages to folders and such.
- Really need to manage your settings to make the most of battery usage, but there are tools available to help.
Tech Tips for some of the features (do Google searches or YouTube searches on these for more info):
When connecting your phone to your computer via USB a little icon will show at the top left corner, touch it and swipe down. You will see the storage area listed, tap it and then click "Mount". Now your computer will see your phone storage. It took me a while to figure that one out. Once mounted you can even use Windows Media Player to sync and manage your music or any other 3rd party application out there like Doubletwist.
You can make short clips of MP3 music from your libraries using iTunes by setting start and end times for the riffs or part of the song you want to capture for a ringtone, alert tone, or notification tone. Do that, then copy the bits of music to the appropriate media folder on your phone and you will now have sweet Ringtones, Alert Notifications, and Alarms... Search for how to make MP3 ringtones using iTunes. It is easy. Search on where to store them on an Android device and it will tell you the folder structure. There is also an Android marketplace application for this as well.
Manage your battery. Go to Settings, Applications, Running Services on your phone to turn off stuff that is running and eating up your battery. The services wont start up again until you launch the needed application. Then remember to go in and turn the service off. Or get an application in the app store to help with this.
Bottom Line for me is this phone is great. If you can get over some of the minor technology hurdles (there are not many) this is an amazing phone that looks and performs great, handles phone calls, takes great pictures, has a killer music player, has tons of storage space, and can be customized to your liking. I think the minor technology hurdles for some of the functionality are well worth the price for having the versatility of this phone. I was growing tired of the Apple operating system on their iPhone and the way things are so structured. Everyone's iPhone is the same, whereas with an Android phone you can customize what you want on your Home screens.
Note: I have gotten over the inability to manage my Yahoo e-mail folders on the Captivate (maybe there is an Android marketplace app for this), I can't do this functionality with my work Blackberry and Corporate Lotus Notes either so just a minor annoyance I can live with.
Note: The next Android Operating System update v2.2 called Froyo as of now is not yet released for Captivate, but once it is released it will make the Captivate even better.
on February 19, 2011
Bought this for my wife last May. We've finally given up and are paying to do an early upgrade to something different. (Small price to pay -- otherwise she's going to break it in half and stab me in the head with it.)
I'd read great reviews of the phone. The specs look great, but we found it buggy, unreliable and often non-functional. Even after doing extensive troubleshooting, trying hard resets, etc., it has problems maintaining a wifi connection, often refuses to retrieve e-mail (even from Gmail), and frequently shuts itself down inexplicably. Google Voice, which is supposed to be a baked-in feature, doesn't work that well. And the notification system doesn't do a very good job of actually notifying you that something needs your attention.
Even at maximum volume, the ringer is difficult to hear. The function/navigation buttons at the bottom are sluggish to non-responsive. The screen responsiveness is lacking. And Samsung/AT&T don't seem to care about pushing out software updates or upgrades. We've been waiting for months for Froyo hoping it would solve some of the problems, but we're unwilling to wait any longer.
On the plus side, since it's unable to check e-mail and such as that, the battery life is much better than on my iPhone.
Maybe our kids will be able to use it to watch movies in the car or something.
ADDED JUNE 22, 2011 --
While my wife was using the Captivate, she consistently bumped up against her data cap on our AT&T plan, and sometimes went over. She's now using her iPhone 3GS FAR more than she EVER used the Captivate (web, Facebook, etc. -- she's on it all the freakin' time now) but we have yet to get an e-mail that she's nearing her data cap.
In part this is because the Captivate's wifi didn't work well at all, so all her usage defaulted to the cell network rather than our wifi, but she didn't use it that much because the Captivate was so buggy and unreliable. So there must have been something else at work with the Captivate that was eating up data.
I don't suppose it's possible to give the Captivate negative stars, is it?
on October 19, 2010
The bad GPS is a "known issue" with numerous news articles and blogs all over the techie side of the internet. There are several supposed fixes out there. Apparently they worked for some users, but not me, and not many, many other users if the comments are to be believed. However, ATT/Samsung released an operating system update on September 22 that has now disabled access to the GPS settings, so you can no longer even try the "fixes" that were floating around.
Samsung released the Captivate in the EU months before the US, and knew about the GPS problems then. They've known in the US for a while now too. I think they've known since something like May or June 2010 based on the stuff I see on the internet. Still no fix and now it's October 2010.
Why GPS? Well many of the coolest apps use the gps. Google Maps, Google SkyMaps, Google Earth, Yellow Pages, UrbanSpoon, Weather apps, etc. GPS is now integral to the smartphone experience, and everyone else's GPS works.
So to me, the major finding about the Captivate that prospective buyers should know is that many (if not most, hard to tell) users report worthless GPS. To contrast, with my wife's BB Torch, both on ATT (not that that should matter), standing side by side under clear sky, she gets a location in about 3-4 seconds. I never do no matter how long I wait.
It's real shame because this phone is so strong in so many other ways. The great screen, snappy performance, clean flexible OS, great sound quality, etc are all for naught.
A few other niggles that might be important to some users (Yes, you can "root", "jailbreak" or otherwise get around some of these, but I am referring to the phone as shipped and intended for use, for the average consumer):
Limited to Google Android App Store, and you must create a gmail acct to access that.
Can not remove bloatware, some reports that it is running in the background using up battery life and slowing machine. Can be fixed with an app.
Voice dialing limited to Gmail address book, doesn't work on phone's native address book. Limited voice dialing with bluetooth, although Froyo (Android 2.2 OS update) which is supposedly coming some time or another is supposed to fix that.
Hard to hold phone and use camera. Hard to keep fingers out of image. Camera non-intuitive. Ships with image stabilization off. Turn it on asap.
Overall design is just a little too slick and slippery. Hard to hold.
On the plus side: Sound quality is great, push email is great, screen is great, snappy performance, many fantastic free apps. It would really be great if the GPS worked.
on March 29, 2011
Samsung copped out on repair of 4 month old phone. Claimed "corrosion voided warranty." Phone spent 2 months in high humidity of Key West, FL.
Phone went to "Green Screen of Death" during upgrade to Android 2.2 one month after return from Florida.
Does the FTC need to force Samsung to disclose this design weakness? Will discontinue touting this phone to friends. Would have been a great phone if it were built properly.
To remain on ATT I will need to spend more $ on an HTC Inspre. Really dissapointed in Samsung's rigid and unrealistic customer "service", (Sic.)
I would strongly discourage anyone buying this phone for use in any but the driest climates, (e.g. desert.)
on November 5, 2010
I love the look and feel of this phone; great screen, nice still camera, video camera, android alternative to iPhone, etc. I've had it for about 4 months.
There's basically one reason I gave this only 3 stars at this point. I travel a lot and need a GPS device. The GPS system on this phone is laughably inaccurate; it has difficulty fixing a proper location and as a result it is constantly rerouting you as you head toward your destination. Virtually impossible to use in an unfamiliar city location - hmmmm, isn't that precisely where you need to use your GPS? I'm hopeful that Samsung will develop a fix for this. Otherwise, this alone will be enough for me to get rid of the phone after my contract expires. In the meantime I'll go back to carrying a separate GPS device.
11/28/2010 update - A firmware update was released that's supposed to fix the GPS issue. I installed the update - it doesn't. Still pretty much worthless as a navigation aid. One other thing I should have mentioned in my initial review: with its large, beautiful screen, this phone uses a lot of energy. Most days, where I go to the office and am not using frequently during the day, I usually just get to the end of the day and the battery is depleted. On days with heavier use, such as when I'm traveling, I need to re-charge during the day. A car charger accessory is essential.
on August 9, 2011
I thought for sure this was going to be a good phone, but after having it for a year I'd have to say this has been the only phone I've ever purchased that I couldn't wait the full two years to get another one.
First the pros:
1. Vibrant LCD that you can see easily in the daylight
2. Camera takes OK pictures
3. Phone is thin
Now the cons:
1. Battery life SUCKS. Even with nothing running it has to be charged every night.
2. The phone loves to crash. I've gotten two replacements for this phone and all of them freeze up unexpectedly every couple days
3. The phone responsiveness is SLOW. When the phone doesn't freeze entirely, it always ends up pausing on you while you're trying to do something. This apparently stems from the fact that Samsung uses their own proprietary RFS file system to store things on the internal memory. Do a search for "lag fix" and you'll find a ton of people who have wrote custom firmware hacks to change the internal filesystem to EXT4. Doing that fixes the lag and makes the phone usable.
4. No flash for camera
5. The video sucks. Taking HD video results in skips and pauses and jerky video.
6. Poor support by Samsung. It took over a year and a half after Froyo was released for Samsung to release it to this phone. Not Gingerbread has been out for ages and the only people offering it is homebrew developers that write custom firmwares which void your warranty. SUPPORT YOUR PRODUCT SAMSUNG!
I will not be buying a Samsung again.
I should note that I'm an computer programmer and Android developer. I know there are obvious things like killing off background apps that improve battery life and performance.
I had high hopes for the Captivate. I had to upgrade from my Motorola Backflip which if you think the Captivate is memory bound just look at the Backflip. Having seen a Captivate from a person in the seat next to me on the airplane I knew it was the phone I wanted to move to.
It wasn't until I got the phone that the one feature I depend on as a road warrior, GPS, doesn't work well on the Captivate. Getting a GPS lock takes time. Tracking while moving in a vehicle and it can't keep up. I tried all the "settings" people posted which basically only helped the initial lock time from minutes to less than a minute. Tracking is useless. Since I truly love the other features of the phone I sprung for a GPS dongle which hopefully will resolve my GPS issue. But a phone as expensive as the Captivate it should have GPS working out of the box. Even the Motorola Backflip GPS works better than the Captivate which is sad. On the Captivate I tried Google Maps Navigation, Waze and CoPilot Live which all worked just fine on the Backflip on the same streets I've tried the Captivate out on.
Otherwise all the great things people have posted about the screen are true. Memory wise it is way better than the Backflip and the processor is loads faster. Photos are amazing even without a flash. Haven't done a video yet.
But I can't recommend this phone due to the poor quality GPS. Even rooting and installing Android v2.2 (Cognition ROM v2.3b8) made no difference to navigation. The lock is slightly faster but it just does not keep up on the road. You need a GPS dongle (see below) to get navigation to work. I used the Google Navigator application but Waze and CoPilot Live both exhibit the same behavior with the built in GPS.
[Update: Jan 7, 2011] Received the GlobalSat BT-395 from Amazon and it works with the Captivate! Download the free "Bluetooth GPS" application from Android market and use that to connect to the 395. This has made the Captivate function as a navigation device... finally. Though I do have the downside of having to carry yet another device in my jacket pocket and remember to charge it up every so often.
I also happened across an issue of Consumer Reports yesterday that ranked the Captivate right behind the iPhone 4. This is another reason I've stopped relying on Consumer Reports. They rated the navigation on the Captivate as "Very good" when it is not.
[Update Jan 19, 2011] Knocked it down to one star because GPS does not work for navigation on Android v2.2 using the Cognition ROM. I do not recommend people go down this path unless they are highly technically skilled. But it doesn't fix anything. The lock time is faster than stock but navigation is still too far behind to be of any use. This looks like a hardware problem. Avoid this phone if you need to use GPS for navigation (unless you invest in a dongle like I did).