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Mini Review: Samsung Galaxy S (Android 2.1) v. Nokia E63

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amoled, android, android 2.1, bluetooth, e63, gprs, gps, holux, nokia, samsung galaxy s, ssh, swype, wifi

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Old Unix and Linux 09-21-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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Mini Review: Samsung Galaxy S (Android 2.1) v. Nokia E63

Well, I've had my new Galaxy S around one day now and I must say, I am not sure if I regret buying it or not. Before buying it, I read a lot of reviews about the Galaxy S (e.g. Samsung I9000 Galaxy S review: From outer space), including reviews of problems with the GPS and some intermittent WiFi issues. Well, surprise, surprise, I have the exact same issues. The GPS on the Galaxy S is really bad compared to my Nokia E63 with an offboard Holux GPS Bluetooth device. Also, WiFi is really unreliable compared with my E63 (using the same SIM card and GPRS provider).

On the other hand, the 4" Super AMOLED display is amazing and the Swype keyboard input is both fast and fun, when you get used to it. There are enough apps available; however, I found the ConnectBot SSH client on the Galaxy S very poor compared to the amazing version of PuTTY that runs on my E63. All of this experience motivated me to put together this comparative table. which is by no means meant to be a complete review. It is just my initial perspective on the connectivity and apps I care about the most.

ItemImportance Samsung Galaxy S Nokia E63 Remarks
GPRS ConnectivityVery Important UnreliableRock Solid Samsung Galaxy S Heartbreaker!
WiFiVery Important UnreliableRock Solid Another Samsung Samsung Galaxy S Heartbreaker!
DisplayImportant Amazing AMOLEDJust OK Samsung Wow!
GPSVery Important Very UnreliableSolid with Holex (External) Bluetooth GPS Another Samsung Samsung Galaxy S Heartbreaker!
AppsImportantEnoughNot so many Some Android apps are very cool!
SSH ClientVery Important TerribleGreat PuTTY client PuTTY on the E63 blows away ConnectBot on the Galaxy S
EmailVery Important Great Gmail IntegrationJust OK Nokia email Nokia not impressive here
Text InputVery ImportantSwype Virtual Keyboard is Cool!!Nokia Keyboard is Great Nokia E63 is easier with one hand

Today I took a friend of mine to the airport. Guess which phone I used on the busy highway? The Galaxy S GPS was useless. The Nokia E63 with an offboard Holux GPS tracker was solid, as usual. I guess I could try the Holux tracker on the Galaxy S, but that defeats the purpose of an on-board GPS.

Also, if I had to login to a remote linux server and do some system admin, which phone would I use? The Nokia E63 PuTTY app, of course. It much better than any SSH client that I have found for Galaxy/Android. Sigh.

I hope the Android 2.2 update fixes these major Samsung Galaxy S issues!

Giving that I paid around $740 USD for the Samsung Galaxy S and a brand new Nokia E63 is now selling for around $210 USD, I feel a bit bad that I put down so much cash for a buggy, unreliable new Android phone. Rumor has it that the Android 2.2 update will be available from the local Samsung service center soon, but I'm not convinced that a firmware upgrade will solve the GPS, GPRS and WiFi problems I've experienced.

No problem about the poor Android SSH client. I am sure a better one is either out there (and I have not found it yet), or will be coming soon enough. The "useless in the car" GPS is really disappointing, however; and the buggy WiFi and unreliable GPRS Internet connectivity is sad, very sad.

Last edited by Neo; 09-21-2010 at 07:47 AM.. Reason: Typo E61 --> E63
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Old Unix and Linux 09-22-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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Based on more testing, I have updated the table:


ItemImportance Samsung Galaxy S Nokia E63 Remarks
GPRS ConnectivityVery Important Works GoodRock Solid Seems OK on Galaxy S now
WiFiVery Important Works GoodRock Solid Seems OK on Galaxy S now
DisplayImportant Amazing AMOLEDJust OK Samsung Wow!
GPSVery Important TerribleSolid with Holex (External) Bluetooth GPS A Samsung Samsung Galaxy S Heartbreaker!
AppsImportantEnoughNot so many Some Android apps are very cool!
SSH ClientVery Important Needs ImprovementGreat PuTTY client PuTTY on E63 much better than ConnectBot
EmailVery Important Great Gmail IntegrationJust OK Nokia email Nokia not impressive here
Text InputVery ImportantSwype Virtual Keyboard is Cool!!Nokia Keyboard is Great Nokia E63 is easier with one hand

There are some very good things about the Galaxy S Android phone, and so I will discuss them later in another table. I definitely like this phone, even with the major GPS problem. Yes, the GPS is almost useless, but there are plenty of good things about this phone that blows away the Nokia E63.

Switching between WiFi to GPRS (or GPRS to WiFi) often causes an Internet connection lockup on the Galaxy S and requires a reboot... I hope that is fixed in Android 2.2...


More on that soon....
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Old Unix and Linux 09-22-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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Hi.

I know nothing about Android, and have no real interest in it (as I voted in a poll elsewhere), but I did have a Samsung Omnia a couple years back and the GPS (and GSM, etc.) on that too was completely hopeless. My office is right next to Swisscom, which has a ruddy great mast on its roof, and still I got only one bar!

Perhaps it's just a Samsung-ism?

Forget all this fangled stuff. Bring back the Siemans C35. The best phone I ever had. It had WAP and everything (is that still going?)
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Old Unix and Linux 09-22-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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I've been using a Holux M-241 for the past few years with my E63 and it works great (Bluetooth).

Oddly, I read somewhere that this Samsung phone does not support off-platform GPS via Bluetooth .... !!! If it did, I would try using the Holux with the phone like I do on the E61.
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Old Unix and Linux 09-22-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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Very useful post, since we are about to upgrade to a newer generation of smartphones in the company. We have been very happy with Samsung overall.
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Old Unix and Linux 09-23-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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I think I have wifi and gprs working ok now, after I installed a wifi switching app.

---------- Post updated 2010-09-23 at 01:44 ---------- Previous update was 2010-09-22 at 20:50 ----------

Update: Good news and bad news for GPS on the Galaxy S!

I found an app in the Android Market called Bluetooth GPS that works with the Samsung Galaxy S phone and my Holux M-241 works great, much more accurate (cannot compare) than the built-in Samsung GPS. There is a Google Map-type application in this app, but standard features like Directions and Layers are missing.

Unfortunately, the version of Google Maps that is installed on the Samsung Galaxy S phone does not have a configuration option to use an off-phone GPS device, so I still don't have navigation capabilities yet.

I'll search for another app or see if it is possible to install a different version of Google Maps for Android that is not crippled like the one that comes with the phone.

More to come ....

---------- Post updated at 02:30 ---------- Previous update was at 01:44 ----------

Found another app called Bluetooth GPS Mouse. With this program, Google Maps works very well. However, other GPS programs don't seem to work very well with this app. I sent an email off to their tech support to find out why.

---------- Post updated at 14:35 ---------- Previous update was at 02:30 ----------

Mini Review Update:

With the exception of the on-board GPS fiasco, the Samsung Galaxy S is a very fine phone. This is my first "iPhone-style" smart phone and I realize that I have much more in my hand than a phone. Basically, I'm walking around with a small Linux computer with an OS called Android that has an amazing UI enhanced by a Super AMOLED display.

With 10s of thousands of Android apps, this device is really more of a PDA or small tablet computer than a "smart phone" but I guess the term "PDA" is out of vogue and a 4" display cannot be called a "tablet".

I really like this phone. I really like Android. This is a revolution in personal computing that is just beginning. Never mind the on-board GPS is not very good. Never mind the SSH app is not yet great. This is only the beginning of a very exciting future in mobile computing!

Thanks for reading!
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Old Unix and Linux 10-03-2010   -   Original Discussion by Neo
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Blog post follow-up, here:

The Slow Death of Symbian OS?
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