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Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 review

Andrew Williams



Our Score



  • Excellent video codec support
  • Excellent audio codec support
  • Decent internal speakers


  • So-so screen
  • Could do with dual-core CPU
  • Similarly-specced phones at same price

Review Price £179.99

Key Features: 4.2in IPS 480 x 800 pixel screen; 8GB internal memory; Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS; 2MP main camera, user-facing VGA camera; TouchWiz UI; 1GHz OMAP processor

Manufacturer: Samsung

The MP3 player used to be one of the most popular gadgets in town. Brandishing an iPod on the bus was an invitation to a mugging, and phones were rarely used to play much more than a Crazy Frog ringtone. Oh, how times have changed.

Devices like the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 are now a rarity. It's a smartphone without the phone bit, making it a media and music player, with games jammed in for good luck. It's an Android take on the iPod touch, and while it doesn't entirely make sense any more, it's a lot of fun.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 3


This is the second-generation of Samsung's non-smartphone Galaxy S slabs. The first had a 5in screen, but this one drops back closer to the mainstream with a 4.2in display.

It's something of a half-way house between the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the new Galaxy S3. More rectangular than the S3, but with a smaller select button than the S2, you can bet ninety-seven per cent of onlookers will assume you're palming a new Samsung smartphone.

Also consistent with Samsung's smartphone design, there's a whole lot of glossy plastic going on here. Its back is mostly covered by a thin plastic battery cover, and the silver strip that runs around its edges is also plastic. This helps to keep the phone trim, at a light 118g, but doesn't give the device a super high-end feel - although the same is true of the much-more-expensive Samsung Galaxy S3.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 10

There is no such compromise with the screen covering, though. It is glass, where many budget media players use hard plastic, which scratches more easily and doesn't feel quite as nice.

The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 is a mite thicker than the iPod touch, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a device of media and gaming, the extra screen space and having a bit more body to grip onto is a big plus. Held horizontally - a likely scenario when gaming or watching video - it feels great between your fingers, with just enough bezel to let your thumbs rest without obstructing the screen.

Connections and speakers

Just a pair of connections sit on the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2's body. These live down on the bottom edge - a microUSB to charge the device and give access to its internal memory and the obligatory 3.5mm headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2

Remove the thin plastic battery cover and you'll find the microSD memory cad slot. The Galaxy would be sunk without it, because there's only 8GB of internal memory - around half of which is taken up by pre-installed software and the OS. 8GB may be enough for a phone, but for a music and video player, it just doesn't cut it. Cards up to 32GB are compatible, which are available for under £20.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 2

One way the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 trumps most smartphones is its use of stereo speakers. Dinky silver grills at the top and bottom of the player hide a pair of speakers, which give you a genuine stereo image if you hold the device fairly close to your face.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi speaker

Maximum volume is higher than the smarpthone average too, although there is some slight distortion at top volume and - predictably - sound quality is pretty lo-fi and bass non-existent.

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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.


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.


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



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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