Hands-On With The Samsung Galaxy S Family

If our Android Cup is anything to go by, Samsung hasn’t yet released any Android phones worthy of note. But that changed in a big way with the announcement of the Galaxy S family of phones, now hitting U.S. shores. We got a chance to spend a bit of time with the devices at Samsung’s launch event tonight and compared them to a few other recently released super phones.

Our video hands-on and comparison will be up soon, but in the meantime here are our first impressions:

The Display: Samsung is not playing around with these Super AMOLED displays. They are bright and vibrant, and we really dig the color depth. The icons and background really pop on the home screens and both video and still images look amazing. The image below doesn’t do it justice, but does show the difference in quality between the HTC Evo 4G (on the left) and the iPhone 4 (on the right).

The UI: All of the Galaxy family phones will ship with Android 2.1 and will get upgrades to 2.2. Samsung did a bit of tweaking to the user interface to give it more of an iPhone-esque feel. The icons are all square, and instead of scrolling up and down when looking at the list of all applications, you have to swipe right and left. The overall effect is nice, though veteran Android users might feel a little disoriented at first.

The Performance: We’ll obviously go deeper into this when we do our reviews of the phones, but in our short time using them we experienced snappy performance and fast response to taps. HD video not only looks amazing on the device, it also plays without a hint of hitching or distortion. We fired up the 720p trailer for Avatar on YouTube and played it back in high quality — really gorgeous.

The Design: Though they all come from the same “family”, each phone has design differences. The most drastic is the Epic 4G for Sprint which comes with a slide out keyboard. The raised keys provided decent tactile feedback and were comfortable to press even with fingernails. The Epic 4G and the Fascinate (for Verizon Wireless) both have front-facing cameras for face-to-face video chats. The T-Mobile Vibrant’s rounded corners and chrome accents around the edges reminds us of the iPhone 3GS — not a bad comparison. The AT&T Captivate didn’t appeal to us as much in this department.

The Multi-Carrier Attack: We’re impressed that Samsung was able to launch a phone with each of the major carriers as it gives consumers the opportunity to snag one without having to switch. Though it will be interesting to see which phone/carrier combination will offer the best features and experience.

Check back for a video of these phones in action.

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