Sunday, December 25, 2011

Samsung Captivate Glide

Full keyboard fans unite! This is the phone for you! It's been a long time coming, but AT&T has released a side-sliding keyboard phone with respectable specs that can, in theory, keep up with the best of them. It's leading off with a full QWERTY keyboard, and keeping it spicy with a great Samsung camera and a 1 GHz dual-core processor that is nothing to shake a stick at. As we have come to know, however, specs can sometimes be deceiving. Does the phone perform as well as the components included in it would suggest or is it a souped up failure waiting to float into your pocket? Find out in my full review below.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system
- 8 MP camera with LED flash and 720p video recording, 1.3 MP front-facing camera
- 1 GHz dual-core processor
- 4" Super AMOLED display
- Up to 8 hours of talk time
- 8 GB internal memory (with expandable Micro-SD card slot for up to 32 GB more)
- 4G HSPA+ enabled
- Samsung earbuds with built-in microphone in the box
- Optional SWYPE keyboard

A close-up of the keyboard showing the buttons a little bit better.
Notice the four Android hard keys (two on each side).
This keyboard adorning phone is not so different than all the other Samsung smartphones released lately. The setup of the buttons, camera, battery cover and headphone jack is very similar. It's fatter, of course, because of the inclusion of the real-button QWERY keyboard, but the materials are the same as well as the texturized battery cover. The things that are different about it are the smaller screen size (only 4" compared to the normal 4.3" or 4.5" displays seen recently), the full keyboard, and the covered Micro-USB charging port on the TOP of the phone rather than the bottom, reminiscent of the original bearer of the Captivate name, the original Samsung Galaxy S, and the original Samsung Focus. The inclusion of that is a blast from the past, but the specs are, understandably, more modern. Spending more time on the look of this phone would be like digging up a dead horse corpse and kicking it repeatedly, as the look of the phone is so close to the previously released Samsung Infuse 4G, the Samsung Galaxys S II and S II Skyrocket, and the Samsung Focus S.

The top of the phone showing the headphone jack and the Micro-
USB port with the sliding cover open.
The performance of the phone comes next then, and I would proudly like to report that the processor is more than sufficient to run all the apps and games that were loaded onto it. It's on par with other phones that have similar or even slightly better processors like the Motorola Atrix 2, the Samsung Galaxy S II, and the LG Thrill 4G. Internet pages loaded just as quickly as other 4G HSPA+ phones and speed tests yielded very similar results, but were slower than the new LTE phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, the LG Nitro HD, and the HTC Vivid.

The volume rocker is located on the top left and the full top
profile reveals it's much like every other Samsung smartphone
currently available
These speeds are perfect because, chances are, if you're excited about this phone it isn't because of the speeds or the processor... it's because of that beautiful, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, isn't it? "Hm? What's that? You want to hear how that works? Why certainly!" The keyboard is easy to open with one hand and once it's fully open it locks, ever-so-slightly, into place to prevent it from trying to close while you're typing. The keys are easy to press but not too easy as this would make for some fun typos that would eventually end up on websites that feature such screw-ups. It took me some getting used to because I'm a big fan of touch-screen keyboards, especially SWYPE, and switching to a keyboard where I have to apply physical pressure was difficult. Once I got a hang of it, I was almost able to type as fast as I can on a normal android touch-screen keyboard. I say this because I can easily type faster on a SWYPE keyboard or a touch-screen Windows Phone keyboard because the extra time it takes to apply enough pressure to the key to get it to register on the screen is time that I normally use to move onto the next character. I actually had to purposefully remind myself to use the physical keyboard instead of the on-screen one because it's much quicker to just skip sliding it out and much faster in general.

The phone still has the four android soft keys on the bottom of
the front of the phone
Don't let this impede you though! You are the type that wants that physical keyboard and if you're sitting on the fence about whether to take the easy, safe route and get the physical keyboard or to just get used to the on-screen keyboard... worry no more! Unlike phones with physical keyboards of the past (the LG Quantum, for example) you have the option to easily stow-away that physical keyboard and switch to the larger, sideways touch-screen keyboard or the smaller upright version by simply sliding the physical keyboard into place. It's a good way to get used to the virtual keyboard because the physical keyboard becomes more like training wheels on a bike than a crutch you can't rid yourself of. Plus, who says you NEED to get used to the on-screen keyboard anyway? You're happy using that physical keyboard and you don't care who knows it!!!

Full profile pic of the back
To keep the cost down on this non-flagship smartphone there had to be a few sacrifices. One of those is on the display quality, though not much is missing. Instead of being the newest Super AMOLED Plus screen it is only Super AMOLED. The Super AMOLED (without the plus) display is still featured on newer smartphones like the Galaxy Nexus but, unlike the Nexus with it's 4.65" display, the Captivate Glide has a smaller 4.0" display so because the display is more condensed the missing "Plus" is more easily forgiven. Because of this, pictures and videos looked clear and vivid and it was extremely hard to tell the difference between the Super AMOLED Plus display on my Samsung Focus S and the Super AMOLED display on the Captivate Glide, even when held right next to each other and playing the same video.

Battery life on the Glide was very similar to the other Samsung smartphones I've been reviewing lately - very good - and because of the slightly smaller processor and smaller display it actually lasted a bit longer than the others. It's around the same as the Motorola Atrix 2 with battery life.

The camera housing showing the speaker for music and talking
on speakerphone as well as the 8 MP camera and LED flash.
The camera has the exact same quality as the Samsung Focus S and it wouldn't surprise me if they included the same unit in both phones just to make things easy. Videos and pictures were beautiful and clear. Even though it only shoots in 720p, instead of 1080 like more advanced cameras, the average consumer looking for a physical QWERTY keyboard on a smartphone is not going to notice the missing 360p's. Front-facing cameras on smartphones are never anything to write home to Mom about, but Skyping it to her would be easy from it and with a 1.3 MP camera it's slightly (if only a bit) better than VGA.

The battery cover, battery, and phone with the cover off (in case
you couldn't tell)
When it comes down to it, there are a few cut corners but these were only meant to keep the cost down a bit for people looking for a powerful smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard. The 4" display, 1.3 MP camera (instead of a full 2 MP), 720p video (instead of 1080p), and the 1 GHz processor (instead of 1.2 or 1.5 GHz), keeps the phone at a reasonable price ($150 instead of $200 or $250) so it's more accessible without sacrificing too much. It's a great phone for people who want that physical QWERTY keyboard and don't want to give up other specs to do it. If you are NOT a fan of the physical buttons this phone adorns and you love Android's operating system then definitely either pony-up the extra $50-$100 for the extra boost in specs with the HTC Vivid or the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket or spend $50 less to keep similar specs but lose the full QWERTY with the Motorola Atrix 2.

The lock/power button on the top right side of the phone

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