I’ve been using an iPhone for quite some time now and really like it. However it’s not without its shortcomings – the battery being the most obvious culprit.
With that in mind I was interested in testing the Samsung Galaxy S (android) phone when we got our hands on one last week.
The Samsung Galaxy uses Android as its OS, so instead of using iTunes to access apps you use the Android Store, which is linked to your Google account.
The version of Android that shipped with the phone was one version behind. Unfortunately the only way to upgrade is via a Windows only desktop application. I was unable to get this to work on either Parallels or on a Windows 7 machine. It did, however, work fine with my mother’s Windows XP machine.
I am quite a heavy data user, as I use my phone for email, twitter, facebook and other things when I’m not at a desk.
So how does the Samsung Galaxy compare with the iPhone.
For web browsing there’s no real difference, though Safari’s multiple windows (pages) interface is very handy and I miss it. The Galaxy can open multiple windows, but unlike Safari on the iPhone, it loses the windows when you switch between apps.
Email, however, is a key function for me.
Setting up an Exchange account on the Galaxy is pretty easy – almost as easy as on the iPhone. Unfortunately, however, the iPhone’s interface beats the Galaxy’s handsdown. The Galaxy will display my various folders, but rearranges them according to its own internal logic. This means that the folders I access most frequently on my desktop (or my iPhone) aren’t the ones near the top. It also throws really unhelpful connection errors from time to time, which are quite hard to diagnose.
Installing other applications on the phone can be done either via the Android marketplace or using the Samsung application installer. There are a very wide variety of apps available and most of them have similar functionality to their iPhone equivalents. While in iPhone world I had to pay for a usable SSH client I was able to find a very nice SSH client for the Galaxy for free, which was nice.
Battery life on the Galaxy is probably marginally better than the iPhone, so that’s a plus in its favour.
The application manager is handy for seeing what resources each application is using and allows you to kill off ones that you don’t need.
There are also a few other features that are pretty handy or slick.
You can, for example, turn your Galaxy into a wireless access point very easily. So you can easily share your 3G connection with your laptop or iPad. You can also use it for “tethering”, which is fairly standard on most smartphones.
The “notifications” section at the top of the device’s screen is pretty handy. You can instantly see how many new emails you have, messages and various other updates from the accounts you have configured on the phone.
However there are quite a few “features” of the phone / OS that are incredibly annoying.
A lot of the time the phone goes to a completely black screen while an app is opening or doing something. During these “blackouts” the device is completely unresponsive.
So would I swap my iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy?
Realistically – no. It’s a nice enough device, but the email client alone is enough to put me off making a permanent switch.