Samsung Galaxy W I8150 review: S Plus Lite
Google Maps is essential
The Samsung Galaxy W I8150 managed to get a GPS lock in just under a minute without A-GPS. A-GPS can speed up the lock (but it involves data traffic). Cell-ID and Wi-Fi positioning are also available if all you need is a rough location, but they need a data connection too.
Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we’ve covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere. You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View.
The latest version uses vector maps, which are very data efficient and easy to cache. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.
3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.
Android Market has it all
The Samsung Galaxy W has the latest version of the Android Market. Upon launch of the Market app you’re greeted with the tiled interface of the Featured window. A swipe to the right takes you to the Categories view.
Swiping to the left takes you through Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and Trending (the ones with growing popularity). New sections are available such as Staff Picks, Editor’s Choice and more.
Downloads are easy and won't take more than a couple of seconds. Before you agree to download an app, the Market will show you what features the app requires access to (e.g. Internet connectivity, access to the file system, etc.).
Kies Air turns your phone into a web server
The Samsung Galaxy W comes with Kies Air preloaded. The app connects to the local Wi-Fi network (or it can create a Wi-Fi hotspot) and gives you a URL to type into your computer’s web browser.
From there you can manage just about anything on the phone – from contacts, messages (including composing messages), to browsing images, videos and other files straight in your desktop browser. You can grant or reject access to computers and see who’s connected to the phone at any moment.
The cool thing is you can stream music with handy playback controls. It works for videos too.
The Samsung Galaxy W I8150 stops a few paces from the top in Samsung's Android lineup, but you can tell that the R&D for the top dogs has trickled down the ranks.
TouchWiz 4.0 is one of the most flexible Android modifications and the standard set of apps is quite complete - from the SNS-enabled phonebook, through the excellent video player and smooth 720p Flash video support to third party goodies like the very capable Polaris Office.
It’s the hardware that takes some criticism. The display has good viewing angles but poor contrast. We would’ve liked the 8GB built-in memory of the Galaxy S and S Plus. Still, the chipset did very well in both CPU and GPU benchmarks, so one of those fancy chipsets with dual-core processors wasn’t badly missed.
The Samsung I9001 Galaxy S Plus costs about the same as the Galaxy W. Along with the same chipset (and the extra storage we mentioned), it gives you a bigger 4.0" SuperAMOLED screen and a slimmer body (9.9mm).
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V offers very similar hardware, but the BRAVIA engine boosts the image quality of the LCD display and you get a microHDMI port to pair with HDTVs.
If size isn't the reason you're interested in the Galaxy W, the HTC Sensation XL offers a slightly faster version of the chipset (except when it comes to graphics), 16GB of storage and more RAM, plus an 8MP camera. But its defining features are the 4.7" screen and the iBeats headset in the box.
Or how about a Windows Phone handset? The Samsung Omnia W I8350 packs a better 3.7" screen than the Galaxy W - a SuperAMOLED - and you get a thinner body with metal on it. The upcoming Nokia Lumia 710 is also worth a look if you're not in a hurry, it's got a ClearBlack display and free voice-guided navigation to get you interested.
From a certain point on though, something a little better costs a lot more. The Samsung Galaxy W is near that threshold but there are phones that get even closer. The Galaxy S Plus is one, being priced only a little higher for a few better specs. If you've considered those options and still want the Galaxy W, it's not a bad choice.