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Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 - Screen, Software, Apps and Games

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Screen

The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 has - as its title suggests - a 4.2in screen. A good compromise between size and ultimate portability, it makes the iPod touch feel dinky and yet still fits comfortably into pockets. It can be argued that a media-centric device like this needs as big a screen as possible, but we'd feel happier carrying this around every day than its 5in brother.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 5

Screen quality is middling by top-end smartphone standards. The Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 uses an IPS TFT screen with 480 x 800 pixel resolution, where phones this size now sport up to 720 x 1280 pixels. However, text is not noticeably blocky unless you look close - where the pixel structure is pretty obvious with the naked eye.

Colour reproduction isn't hugely impressive, looking a little lifeless next to more expensive devices, but isn't too much worse than the iPod touch, itself not a patch on the iPhone 4S. Viewing angles are much improved over the previous model, letting people crowd around the screen to watch a movie. Would you want to though? Probably not.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 7

Workman-like rather than wonderful - it's not bad but this is no "Retina Display"

The device's problem is that some phones available for less - such as the Orange Monte Carlo - offer similar image quality or less money. Along with the ability to phone people, of course.

Software

At present, the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. This is not the latest version of Google's OS - version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is out on the town right now - and although Samsung promises an update, it's disappointing to see it left out.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 4

However, Android 2.3 is still a good fit for this kind of device. Just like an Android smartphone, you're given a brace of home screens you can litter with widgets - seven as standard - and access to more apps than you could ever hope to use.

Unlike some non-phone Android devices, the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 has full access to the Google Play app store and must-have Google apps like Mail, Maps and Navigation. Using it feels just like a phone - it even indexes your contacts in standard phone-like manner, although tap on a phone number and the WiFi 4.2 does… precisely nothing.

It's not entirely without calling abilities, though. There's a microphone built-in and a user-facing camera, letting you chat over Wi-Fi using VoIP apps.

TouchWiz

Like virtually all Samsung Android phones, the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 uses the TouchWiz interface. This offers a few extra widgets, with which you can customise your home screens, an icon dock at the bottom of these screens and a tweaked apps menu. You can view your installed apps as either a standard four icon-wide grid or a long list.

Samsung apps

The player is also graced with an array of Samsung-made apps. They are - take a deep breath - Smart View, AllShare, Kies Air, Social Hub, Samsung Apps and ChatON.

The only one we're not too keen on is Samsung Apps. This is Samsung's own app store, which is a bit redundant when you have Google Play to play with.

Smart View is a DLNA-based app that lets you pipe over what's on your phone screen to a compatible Samsung TV. The AllShare app is similar, but a bit more involved. Plenty of connected Samsung devices support AllShare, and the app lets you stream videos, photos or music over to them using Wi-Fi. Again, it's all performed using the DLNA standard. DLNA is notoriously tricky to set up correctly, and these apps make the procedure that bit easier. They are also important because there's no dedicated physical video output.

AllShare

Samsung AllShare

Social Hub is probably the most-used of the Samsung apps. This lets you login to social networks Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, and acts as a - you guessed it - hub for all your social networking updates. However, it's pretty basic and with no social widget available, you're generally better off with a third-party (or an official) app.

Kies Air is wireless sync device that lets you copy files over from your computer over Wi-Fi and ChatON is a chat interface. You need a phone to register for it over SMS - a bit of a blunder in a non-phone - but it's inoffensive stuff.

Gaming

Samsung also pre-installs eleven games, including favourites like Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies. All apart from Rovio's casual smash are trials, though, little more than a taster of what's out there. With a single-core 1GHz processor, there is some lag in more intense 3D games, and some are not supported by the device. There's no Galaxy on Fire 2 at present, for example. Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 8

If your main concern is gaming, you're much better of with an iPod touch. It costs roughly the same amount, and while the extra 0.7in of screen comes in handy here, it's outweighed by the superior game selection of iOS.

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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