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Samsung Galaxy S i9000 - Take Me To Your Leader
By Luke Tan - 7 Jun 2010
Launch SRP: S$1098


Hub, Not Hubris

Android is probably familiar ground to most of our readers, and its usability is generally beyond question. However, manufacturers need to differentiate from each other, and the one key enhancement that today's smartphones must have is an app or widget that makes it easy to control all your social media services. HTC has FriendStream on their Sense UI, Sony Ericsson has their social-centered Timescape widget, and Motorola the MOTOBLUR widget. In Samsung's case, we had high hopes for the Social Hub app, Feeds and Updates widget in its efforts to add some "social currency", so to speak, to the Galaxy S i9000.

The problem is that we found the Social Hub concept to be too basic to anyone who's even moderately involved with their online social network. If you read on, you'll see why...

The Social Hub app does not let you do anything other than, it seems, visit the Facebook and Twitter mobile sites and compose messages.

Clicking on either of the social services here only loads the mobile versions of the Facebook and Twitter websites.

In addition, the Social Hub message composer only works with SMS and MMS messages. To post something on Facebook or Twitter, you have to use the confusingly-named and designed Write and Go app, which looks more like a notepad.

Similarly, the Feeds and Updates widget only allows you to update your statuses, reply to posts and comment on them. No viewing of images, no "Like"-ing of posts, no Direct Messages on Twitter - nothing else. According to Samsung, Social Hub is still in development to fully integrate with your device's contacts and calendar. As such, what you'll get now is a basic version, which should see an upgrade as the months go by.

The Feeds and Updates widget only possesses the most basic functionality. We think Samsung could have done much better.

The Galaxy S i9000, like many other Android phones, does integrate Facebook updates and image browsing with each contact of yours that's on Facebook, once you've signed in to the service. But this is a staple component of Android anyway, and when all things are considered, Samsung's social networking solution on the Galaxy S i9000 looks less like a "Social Hub" to us than a mishmash of apps which could have been much more focused in their execution: one single app, one place to view your social feeds and to update your status on all services.

In the same vein, we also didn't like the various UI enhancements that Samsung added to the Galaxy S i9000. These would not be a problem in themselves, except that there is no way to disable them...

Unlike the default Android home screens, the Samsung home screens always start from the leftmost side (like an iPhone), making you swipe through 6 screens just to get to an app or widget on the 7th page.

The Samsung unlock screen is in our opinion more confusing than the default Android 2.1 unlock screen, though you can slide a piece of a jigsaw puzzle into a slot to immediately access unread messages.

Samsung also replaced the default Android application menu with an iPhone-style one. Some will love this and some will dislike their Android phone looking almost exactly like an iPhone - we did!

Some of Samsung's efforts have paid off in the form of several nice touches, though. Check these out:

The Mini Diary app lets you attach pictures and text to make a page of memories for a date of your choice.

At last, another Android smartphone with an FM radio! Samsung built RDS and 6 station presets into the one on the Galaxy S i9000.

The Samsung-skinned messaging app looks nicer than the default Android one and allows you to quickly select recently used recipients.

  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 7.5
  • Performance 9.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Slim and tasteful (if plasticky) design
Beautiful, large 4-inch Super AMOLED display
1GHz Hummingbird processor has power to spare
Extremely responsive UI and great battery life
The Bad
Built-in social networking support is too basic
Samsung UI features that cannot be disabled mar the Android experience
Lack of physical search button
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