Samsung Galaxy S – Phone of the Future or Flash in the Pan?

Ok so I finally sucumbed to getting a new phone plan and a new phone after my very reliable HTC Kjam finally died after nearly 5 years.

I would have liked to have been able to wait until Windows Phone 7 phones became available later this year to give them due consideration but as with all new pieces of technology in this space it is sometimes good to wait until a few reviews have been done to see how good they really are and plus I suspect that the first Windows Phone 7 phones will only be available through Telstra (and it will take some convincing to make me use Telstra again) so I suspect that I’m looking at 8 to 12 months before we have a good picture of how WP7 will progress.

So the choices of phones for me came down to iPhone4, Android in the form of HTC Desire or Samsung Galaxy S or a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone such as the HTC Touch HD.

In the end the decision was not so much one on technical ability but more on economics, availability and Carrier.  If I wanted a HTC (Desire/Android or Touch/WM6) on a plan I pretty much had to go with Telstra … ok so cross them out.

iPhone4’s are in short supply and there is all the concerns about the antenna issue but the shortage of supply was what really ruled them out for me.  I needed one within days not months.

I could buy a HTC phone myself from MobiCity for around $700 and put it on a BYO plan but that not always the most cost effective approach.  You are better off going on a plan where you basically get a subsidised handset.

The Samsung Galaxy S was getting some great reviews as an "iPhone killer" and it did seem well featured but as I am now finding out, it has a long way to go before it de-thrones the iphone for ease of use.

In terms of Carriers, Optus or Virgin to me are the best of a bad bunch (and Optus owns Virgin anyway).  No too keen on Vodafone, 3 and definately not Telstra.

So it came down to an Optus or Virgin plan.  Both offered the Samsung Galaxy S on reasonable plans, $39 per month for Virgin and $49 per month for Optus.  Virgin’s plan only had 300MB of data per month which I felt would be borderline for me, Optus’s plan offered 1GB per month which really should be too much.  In the end, I was already on an Optus month to month plan so changing plans with Optus was a 30min exercise and switching to Virgin (even though they are owned by Optus) was suggested to be a 3 to 6 or even longer transfer period so I went with Optus.

I did the deal thru Allphones rather than a Carrier franchised shop basically because their staff seem more eager to help you.  They can give you a good objective assesment of what all the carriers offer and help you make the right decision.  Basically I suspect that their remuneration is heavily weighted towards commission and they are simply more keen to help.

So now I’m a Galaxy S owner.  What do I think?  

First impression was "Samsung make great hardware".  The interface was a learning experience for me but I guess you need to accept that when moving from a 5 year old device.

The biggest dissapointment came when I tried to sync the phone with my laptop running Outlook to get my Contacts onto the Galaxy S.  NO CAN DO!   Bugger!   Every other phone (WM, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, HTC) has been able to do this for near on 10 years.  Obviously Android is still a new baby.

The PC Connection software that comes with the Galaxy is call KIES, and it should have been called SHIT.  It’s unreliable and far from intuitive.  After much mucking around and retrying I managed to "extract" my contacts out of Outlook and "transfer" them to the Galaxy but that’s not quite "sync’ing".  I’m not sure what’s going to happen when I have to update a contact.  I guess I’m going to have to do the whole transfer thing again.

Android phones being Google promoted appliances in theory work with Google services so its should be possible to sync your Outlook contacts with your Gmail Contacts and then sync the Galaxy with your Gmail account.  Just haven’t managed to find out how to do that yet.  There seems to be advice around to tell you how to "transfer" your contacts from Outlook to Gmail but that’s not "sync’ing"

I did manage to get my work calendar sync’d with Gmail calendar and that now sync’d with my Galaxy so that’s a plus.

In the main, "Samsung make great hardware" but "Samsung and Android have a long way to go in the software side".

The Galaxy has some really cool functionality in particular the fact that it will function as a Wireless Acces point for up to 3 devices is really cool when you travel.

I did a trip to Sydney last weekend and had visions of using the GPS on the drive … FAIL!  The GPS on the Galaxy doesn’t work.  It won’t lock onto the satelites.  Lots of people having the same problem and it appears it is only a Software issue with the Out of the Box software.  People have had success with 3rd party software and there are comments around that an Android 2.2 (Froyo) update will improve the GPS behaviour also so I’ll wait and see.

More playing to be done but already I can see plenty of room for improvement, but it does make phone calls.

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