(Head Honcho)
07/15/10 03:22 PM
First look and video review: Samsung Captivate on AT&T

Yesterday we took a look at the Vibrant, T-Mobile's version of the Samsung Galaxy S, and today we look at ATT's, which is called the Samsung Captivate. We don't have a release date yet, but like the T-Mo version, it should sell for 199 bucks with contract. The Captivate is the carrier's first high end Android smartphone and the specs place it in the superphone category. Like the Vibrant and overseas Galaxy S, it runs Android 2.1 with Samsung customizations.

The Captivate has a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor with a PowerVR graphics processor (similar to the iPhone 4's brains). It has 16 gigs of internal storage and a microSD card slot under the back door. We're impressed with the 5 megapixel autofocus camera but do wish it had a flash. Other goodies include the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS that works with both Google Maps, AT&T Navigator and AT&T Maps. Oh, and it has an 800 x 480 pixel Super AMOLED display with multi-touch. Sweet.

Above: the Samsung Captivate, the Samsung Vibrant and the iPhone 4.

AT&T's junk is here along with the good stuff. Things we classify as good include: Mobile Video, AT&T Navigator and AT&T Hotspots. Iffy to unwanted items include Mobile Banking, Where, Yellow Pages Mobile, AT&T Radio (why pay for streaming Internet radio when there's plenty of free stuff out there?) and AT&T Music.

Samsung and AT&T went with a different look from the Galaxy S and Vibrant. The Captivate has a metal back that you remove in a different way (watch our video). We like the metal back-- it looks and feels better than the plastic fingerprint magnet on the other versions. The top and bottom lines have been stylized the the bevel toward the back, a la iPhone 3GS is gone. That makes the phone look thicker (it's not) and it makes it a lot easier to hold securely. We actually like the Capacitive's restyling, though it's not as sleek and reminds us a bit of the HTC Pure's design.

The Super AMOLED display is definitely super. Man colors do pop and movie watching is a treat. It's sharper than the old AMOLED technology and it's viewable outdoors. This display uses less power than traditional LCDs, and so far we're pleased with the Captivate's battery life.

Reception is a little wonky on our unit. The bars jump quite a lot, as does the db rating in the phone status section of settings. This is a pre-release phone and we wouldn't be surprised if the radio got a firmware tweak before it hits the shelves. Clearly reception is better than it states because we've made calls when it says it has 0 db of signal.

As with the Vibrant, the excellent web browser defaults to mobile mode, so you get the mobile versions of the New York Times. Again like the Vibrant, we enabled advanced settings and tried desktop mode and iPhone mode, both of which crashes the browser such that it couldn't be launched again until we did a hard reset. Beware accessing advanced settings using about:debug in the URL bar!

Here's our video review of the Captivate where we demo the UI, speed, and apps like Mobile Video, YouTube playback, Google Maps and more. We also compare it with the HTC EVO 4G, Droid X, iPhone 4 and Vibrant.

Our full review will follow in the coming days.


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