Well, I just ditched my Blackberry Storm for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S, which is of course an Android phone. I have to say that I didn’t really get the whole Android/iPhone/apps hype before, but now that I have one I can see why they’re so popular.
Things I love about it:
- Fast. Very fast.
The Galaxy S phone are some of the fastest Android phones you can buy, and it shows. Everything on the phone is very fast – browsing, email, photos, whatever.
- Full internet
I liked the Storm, but there’s no question Blackberry 5 is years behind Android when it comes to browsing. Full desktop pages render quickly and with amazing accuracy, right down to ajaxy type stuff. And mobile optimized sites are quicker than ever.
Partly because the Blackberry app store was so pathetic, and partly because I though anything could really be done through the browser, I didn’t see much point for “apps”. But there tons of genuinely useful tools out there that make accessing / updating information so much easier.
I hear a lot of complaints about Android being kind of fragmented / incomplete in parts of the OS. Coming from a Blackberry where all of the “core” stuff is pretty solid, I was most worried about this. Turns out there really wasn’t any need to be. The phone settings are comprehensive and I find they do exactly what I need them to. And the core apps that I care about seem to work perfectly. Like the alarm clock for example. Seems simple, but if you looked at old Windows Mobile (6.5) it was a disaster. You needed a 3rd party app or 2 to just get woken up in the morning. The Android one though is perfect – just the right features and usability.
- Google Services
A while ago I switched my hosted Exchange for Google Apps Premier. As expected, the email sync is pretty awesome. Everything just works. But it goes beyond that. Contacts, Picasa, Google Checkout in the Marketplace. It’s all there, it’s all automatic, and it all works. Really cool stuff.
So, that’s a lot of positives, but there are a couple negatives I found – some missing OS features, and some problems that I think are due to Samsung’s somewhat questionable quality control.
Let me say firstly that I’ve tried HTC Sense, and I happen to like the TouchWiz v3 that comes on the Galaxy S better. I know a lot of people who don’t feel that way, but for me it just works better. So here are some fixes, tips, tricks and apps that make the Galaxy S even better:
- 3rd Pary Launchers
One of the best ways you can improve your phone is switch to a custom home screen launcher. My favorite (because it’s the fastest) is LauncherPro.
- Battery life
There are a lot of guides to getting battery life out there. Ultimately you have to use the settings that work best for you. Here are some suggestions:
- Disable audible and haptic feedback. Having the phone play a sound or vibrate every time you touch the screen is going to sip a little more battery juice.
- Use minimum screen brightness. The Super AMOLED display beautiful, no doubt, but it really eats battery life. Try turning down the brightness to the lowest level you find acceptable.
- Disable HSPA. This is questionable in terms of how much battery it actually saves – but if you’re willing to tolerate slightly reduced data speeds (and based on my testing on the Bell network, they’re not that much slower) you can disable HSPA and use only the slower “3G” speeds. From the phone dialer, enter the code *#301279#
- Fix the GPS
There is a lot of debate as to what exactly is broken with the GPS on the Galaxy S. Generally it works, but often takes a long time to get a satellite fix and/or has trouble accurately tracking your location. Although there is no “sure fire” fix, this patched configuration file is the best solution I’ve found. It really does seem to help.
- Custom ROM
If you’re technically inclined, check of the XDA Developers forum. If you’re tired of waiting for Samsung to release a Gingerbread ROM for the Galaxy S, you can find the latest leaked or custom Gingerbread ROM for your device there. My current favorite is stock deodexed JVH (2.3.3) and this overscroll glow + CRT off animation mod.