Last night, Samsung officially announced their Galaxy S smartphone family at a swank New York City party after several weeks of blurrycam shots, spec sheets and rumors. Spanning all four major US carriers - Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile - the Galaxy S flavors stand to be a surging juggernaut in the HTC dominated Android world.
Incidentally, I was at the event and had the pleasure of doing a live blogging session, followed by some hands-on time with all the phones.
Galaxy S Line
The Galaxy S line in the US consists of the following devices:
All four phones run Samsung’s skinned Android 2.1 OS variant (TouchWiz) and feature Samsung’s new Super AMOLED multi-touch screens. In addition, the Sprint Epic 4G features a slide-out keyboard to appease the hardware keyboard addicts in the crowd.
Inside all four Galaxy S phones is the 1Ghz Samsung Hummingbird Processor which according to Samsung, produces amazing 3-D graphics, faster upload and downloads, HD-like video playback and quick application launches.
Super AMOLED Display
Samsung’s new 4” Super AMOLED screen is designed to be brighter, clearer and sharper than its previous AMOLED screens. Omar Khan, Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung Mobile, is ready to put it up against any smartphone screen on the market, including Apple’s Retina Display. Featuring a 50,000-to-1 contrast ratio, the Super AMOLED promises the blackest blacks and the whitest whites even in bright sunlight. On the roof of the party, Samsung setup tables for experiencing the Super AMOLED screen which performed nicely in the indirect, setting sunlight.
“We believe the smartphone race can be won with a great screen, fast processor and top notch content”, said Khan. “While the others are just starting the race, we’re already at the finish line.”
In our hands-on testing at the launch event, the pre-production models performed quickly and without the lag or jittering experienced on some other Android devices.
Even with the custom Social Hub widgets which constantly update your favorite people’s SMS, email, and social network updates, the home screen scrolling felt fluid and smooth.
In addition, on screen typing, both via the stock on-screen keyboard and the bundled Swype application seemed responsive and comfortable to use.
Sprint’s Epic 4G is the only device to include a slide-out hardware keyboard. Hands-on testing revealed a comfortable typing experience with nicely spaced keys that easily bested the Motorola Droid’s slide-out keyboard.
Samsung's Upcoming TV and Movie Store
Samsung also briefly touched on a new TV and Movie store they plan to launch later this year that will sell TV episode and movies specially optimized for the Galaxy S smartphones, an interesting play in a crowded entertainment store scene.
T-Mobile’s Vibrant will be available July 21st with the other carriers promising their versions “in the coming months”. None of the carriers have announced pricing or unsubsidized options. While that may be a letdown to those hoping to get their hands on one of these new Android beasts, the good news in it all is Samsung and all four carriers have committed to providing a timely 2.2 Froyo update for all Galaxy S versions in the “near future”.
Samsung has been pretty tight-lipped when asked about anything not already announced, and this strategy didn't change at the event, whether because it was their stance or the reps really didn't know.
Here are the answers to some of the questions asked in our yesterday's live coverage.
Q: [Logan] Could you find out if the Epic 4g will have a sim card for worldwide usage? Thanks.
A: No word on international support.
Q: [Nick] I wonder if Samsung plans to offer un-subsidized models for sale.
A: No word on that. Deferred to the carriers that wouldn't comment.
Q: [James] Did they mention a timeframe for the Galaxy S phones being upgraded to 2.2 Froyo?
A: By end of year
Q: [station] Ask them why T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon don't have front facing cameras!
A: Sprint is really pushing the front facing camera for video chat. Their 4G network makes this easier to implement and it's something the other carriers are watching, but not ready to jump into just yet.
Q: [Guest] Will all 4 carriers launch the phone on the same day?
A: T-Mobile is the only one with a launch date, so we don't know for sure but chances are they will not.
Q: Release date for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint?
A: None given - the only one we know of is T-Mobile on July 21st.
Q: [PacoBell] I just want to know for sure if the Captivate lacks the front-facing cam and LED flash.
A: Yes, it lacks both.
Q: Which phones have the LED flash and which don't?
A: The Epic 4G and Fascinate have them, Captivate and Vibrant do not.
Q: What kind of cameras do these phones have?
A: All devices come with a 5MP camera.