While the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate wages a potentially fruitless war versus the iPhone 4 over at AT&T, in many ways, its sibling, the Galaxy S Vibrant, faces a more crowded Android field at T-Mobile. But in a feature-by-feature comparison, the Vibrant prevails with little problem. Its only real competition, feature-wise, is the otherwise inferior Windows-based HTC HD2, and the Android Motorola Cliq XT. Almost by default, the Vibrant becomes T-Mobile’s most impressive Android phone, albeit with some quirks and omissions that leave room for improvement, and some hard dollars-to-features choices for T-Mobile Android customers.
Like its Galaxy S siblings, Vibrant offers nearly all the modern cell Android 2.1 amenities – 7.2 Mbps 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi, a speedy 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 5-megapixel camera and HD (720p resolution, 30 frames per second) video recorder, Bluetooth 3.0, six-axis sensor for enhanced gaming, 16GB internal memory, and SWYPE text input, as well as Samsung’s “Social Hub,” which aggregate updates from your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace accounts.
With its front silver frame, the smooth, rounded Vibrant bears a resemblance to the first iPhone, and its predictable lines make it much more elegant than the angular Captivate. The Vibrant’s only physical anomaly is a hump at the bottom rear, presumably for the antenna array. While surprisingly light, the Vibrant doesn’t feel cheap or fragile. In fact, it’s essentially the same weight (4.2 oz.) as the smaller Motorola Cliq XT.
Like all the Galaxy S phones, the Vibrant’s calling card is its 4-inch super AMOLED screen, which is brighter and displays more accurate colors than any other T-Mobile Android phone. Oddly, the Vibrant’s display also presents truer colors than the Galaxy S Captivate. This difference is especially notable on Web pages with a white background, which tend toward the blue on Captivate.
Layout and Interface
On the left is a smooth volume toggle with no separation, and no raised dots or dashes to distinguish between up and down. On the right is the power button, which doubles as a lock key in certain apps. This power button is located closer to the center of the right spine than on the Captivate, and can easily be confused as the camera shutter release, which it is decidedly not.
Like the Captivate, the microbus jack is at the top next to the headphone jack, which makes it less awkward to use the phone when it’s plugged into a PC for charging and syncing.
T-Mobile doesn’t have its own video store, so included viewing options are limited to YouTube and the subscription-based MobiTV. As with the Captivate, the low-res offerings from these services don’t exactly challenge the super AMOLED screen.
You’ll want to use earphones to listen to your videos. The Vibrant’s only speaker is the earpiece, which produces only tinny sound, and barely enough volume for private listening in a quiet room.
The Vibrant includes Samsung’s AllShare app, which lets you play a file from your phone on another media player, play a file from a server on the phone, or play a file from a server onto another player, using the phone as a remote – all requiring Wi-Fi and DLNA.
You’ll get plenty of volume for conversation, but the earpiece sounds just as tinny with voices as it does for music, even if words are easily distinguishable.