Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 - Music, Video and Camera

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Music

As a device that can't lean on its phone skills to justify its existence, the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 needs to have good media skills. On codec support, it succeeds entirely. On top of the basics like MP3, AAC and WMA, 24bit FLAC and OGG files also work perfectly. Only our 192KHz 24-bit FLAC sample refused to play.

There appears to be a tiny amount of noise when the headphone out is outputting sound, but maximum volume is unusually high. The music player app also incorporates an equaliser and a number of effects.

The scope of these audio enhancements is impressive by phone standards. As usual, the presets are largely horrible, but the user modes give you a decent amount of control. There's a 7-band EQ, with /- 10dB per band, and a quartet of effects - 3D, bass, Concert (i.e. reverb) and Clarity, a top-end aural exciter. The last in particular is effective with some headphones.Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 6

Navigation of the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 music app is nothing remarkable, though. It makes decent use of album art, but is otherwise a fairly plain affair.

There is also an FM radio. Like almost all portables, it uses the headphone cable as an aerial.

If music-playing is your top reason for buying this device, the lack of physical playback controls are worth noting. Relying on the touchscreen, in-pocket operation is not easy - although there is a finger-friendly volume rocker on its right edgeSamsung Galaxy S volume.

Video

Impressive file type support continues with video. Almost every common format is supported, including MKV, Xvid and DivX. Again, the video app is nothing special, but it’s the format support that counts.

However, with a single-core 1GHz processor, it can't handle the breadth of files that - we imagine - the quad-core Samsung Galaxy S3 will. It has a go at playing HD vids, but it struggles to play 720p MKVs, dropping frames to an extent that rules-out watching most HD films on the thing. This is the part of the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 that makes us wish it had a dual-core processor, as there's little lag in day-to-day use.

Camera

Although better-specced than the terrible main camera of the iPod touch, the 2-megapixel sensor of this Samsung Galaxy is not good. It has a fixed focus, meaning you have no control over the subject of your photos. Anything too close-up will not be in focus. There's also no flash.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 10

The camera app doesn't offer anything as special as the real-time effects of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, either. You have a few scene modes as your disposal, as well as exposure compensation, a panorama mode and Smile Shot, which takes a photo when it registers a smile. Some smartphones can replace a compact camera, but with no fun effects to play with and pretty ropey image quality, the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 cannot. There's also a basic VGA front camera to enable video chat.

Value

Priced at around £180, the Galaxy WiFi 4.2 is a little more expensive than the 8GB iPod touch. Do the extra screen inches merit this extra? Not really, when the iPod touch features almost double the number of pixels.

However, what's arguably more a rival to the player is a budget Android phone. Stray from the big brands and you can get a lot for your money, with the £129.99 ZTE Skate or the dirty cheap (but admittedly smaller) £69.99 Huawei Blaze. Shop around and you'll even find the Samsung Galaxy Ace at a similar price. These phones will have worse speakers and - generally - slightly slower processors, but offer a pretty similar experience, and often better cameras.

This is why an Android player is a tougher sell than an iPod touch. Where its phone equivalent - an iPhone 4/4S - costs between £429 and £699, Androids start at under fifty pounds. There's a lot of fun to be had with the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2, but we're struggling to see where its audience lies. Fans of mobile gaming and video-watching will likely already have a smartphone and, with a single-core processor, so-so screen and poor camera, it's not really a cheap way to get everything the Samsung Galaxy S3 has for less money.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 9

It does have far better video and audio support than almost every sub-£200 phone, but when these gaps can often be plugged by apps, we'd recommend looking for a phone. Rather than a phone impersonator.

Verdict

There's a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy WiFi 4.2 Android media player. It has better inbuilt speakers than most phones, an attractive design, great audio and video support plus access to plenty of Google goodies. However, these days you can get an Android phone with similar specs for the same money and its video skills are held back a bit by the single-core 1GHz processor.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Usability 8
  • Value 7

Vivere

May 22, 2012, 5:46 pm

Why the attempt to associate this device with the recently launched Galaxy S3? Aside from being manufactured by Samsung and named Galaxy S, there seems to be very little in common. I think your headline "Samsung Galaxy S3 on the cheap?" is misleading.

Sapporodan

May 22, 2012, 6:23 pm

Just got myself the 5" version, got it primary as a MP3 player but turns out that's it's weakest point! Thanks to Winamp, problem solved.
The thing is also great for surfing the web and playing games as the screen is huge!
Have to say I think Samsung got the size right (for the 5"), I always felt a 7" tablet was too big to carry around.

Luan Bach

May 22, 2012, 8:21 pm

@Andrew, Any idea if it will accept a 64GB micro-SD card ? Cheers.

DavidS

May 22, 2012, 9:25 pm

@ Luan: I think it should; people report that the previous iterations of the Galaxy Players will give an error when a 64GB microSDXC card is inserted, but it'll work properly once it is reformatted. I just purchased one yesterday to try in my 4.2. The possibility of getting a 64GB device running Poweramp for $250 was a tempting prospect.

I thought this review was a good summary of the device, but I'll provide one (admittedly niche) scenario where the 4.2 makes more sense than an actual phone.

I've had an HTC Evo 4G for two years now but I find that I rarely use the mobile data; my home, work, and school all have Wi-Fi. Rather than continue to pay Sprint $70-$80 a month I decided to go back to a $50 prepaid dumphone. $100 a year will handle all the calls I make, and the 4.2 allows me to still access all of the apps I use in the Android ecosystem. So far it's lasted me about twice what my Evo did between charges, and my crappy flip phone can go a whole week on a charge with the amount I use it.

I did think about getting an unlocked Galaxy S2, but in the end I decided that it was worth having separate devices for the benefit of longer battery life. If the next Nexus device is appealing enough, I could get one unlocked and still have paid less than a year of a smartphone contract here in the US.

Inspector Gadget

May 23, 2012, 5:10 am

Great review!

And I like how you mentioned that the lack of physical playback controls can be a serious drawback. The crusade against mechanical buttons that is so prevalent these days is something I will never understand.

Anyhow, there's an aspect of your review that I don't really understand. You mentioned how "by phone standards" the audio capabilities of this device are impressive. However when you speak about the value of this device you suggest that getting an entry-level or mid-range android phone may be a more cost-effective option.

Do those phones you mention have similar sound quality and format support as the reviewed device? If not, then this thing does have a definite audience. Those of us who primarily want a good music player, and as a plus, the added flexibility of the android system, touch screen, etc.

Luan Bach

May 23, 2012, 3:04 pm

Thanks.

Michaelr205

January 19, 2013, 5:34 pm

i want a good quality mp3 player which could handle approx 65/70gb and must have bluetooth, at a sensible price. Would be nice. Would one of these fit the bill? At least I can physically see one before buying, unlike the Cowon, which otherwise looks interesting (but they do have a very confusing range)

Danny Jones

March 30, 2013, 1:50 am

This PLAYER has an 8gb internal storage and is expandable up to 32gb. So the maximum storage is 40gb. However, the Ipod Touch 5th Generation is sold in 32gb or 64gb but of course is a lot more expensive.

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