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Design is all well and good, but what really sets this phone apart is its screen. However, it's not all good.
The Super AMOLED technology certainly makes for a very bright and vivid display with great contrast where black looks truly black and whites are brilliant. However, our perennial complaint with AMOLED displays of them having overly vivid colours is present on this display, though this is something we appreciate some people don't find problematic.
The same argument could possibly apply to our other problem with this screen, but we still think it's worth mentioning. Despite having an impressive resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, the size of this phone's display means it has quite a low pixel-pitch (the distance between each pixel). The result is a display that, particularly when showing a white background, looks slightly mottled. Also, and this is more of a problem with the web browser, it seems to struggle reproducing text at varying sizes, resulting in varied-width lines and rough edges. The overall result is a device that makes you feel a bit crossed-eyed when trying to browse the web.
To a greater or lesser extent all displays suffer from this problem whereby you can see the individual pixels and certainly Apple's range of iPhone's was lagging far behind the competition in this regard until the iPhone 4 came out. However, there's just something about this particular display that has made it really catch our eyes. All told, if you think you'll be using your phone a lot for browsing the web then we'd recommend you steer clear of the Galaxy S, for most other tasks it holds up fine though.
Looking in more depth at the software side of things, the Galaxy S runs the 2.1 (éclair) version of Android so includes support for HTML5 in the web browser, a digital zoom and flash on the camera, and Microsoft Exchange, amongst other things. It's not quite the most up to date version, which is 2.2, but it has most of the key features required at the moment.
As a means to differentiate itself Samsung has chosen to tweak the look and feel of the interface, tying it in with the rest of its handsets. The main results are that four icons for Phone, Contacts, Messaging, and Applications are anchored to the bottom of the screen across all the desktops, the menus have had a facelift, and (in the menus) the icons each have an extra background.
All told, we're not overly keen on these changes as the tweaks to the icons within the menus makes them very difficult to distinguish from one another. Having to use the applications shortcut to open the main menu, rather than a physical button, also feels a bit odd. It's all stuff you'd get used to, but it also feels like change for change's sake, which we're never a fan of.
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