My Vibrant review (coming from VZW Droid Incredible)..
- Screen in daylight, dark, and in-between is the best I've seen overall including my wife's iPhone4.
- Graphics performance is really fantastic and notably faster than the Droidinc.
- Great size and weight in my meaty paws and in my wife's smaller hands.
- A bit too much junkware that can't be removed w/o root.
- Strange episodes of menu and program lag are quite frequent with few identifiable patterns for reporting upstream.
- Basically no accessories at launch.
- TouchWiz is not as nice as Sense and while I welcome the less invasive presence what is there is BUGGY AS HELL. (The biggest problem being the Mail client, more on that below.)
Let me get the ugly out of the way. The TouchWiz mail client is at best annoying and useless and at worst dangerous to your email. I've tried it with POP and IMAP with and without SSL/TLS and it just doesn't work well. Even deleting email is inconsistent at best. Not nearly as intuitive as any other email client I've used. And seems to stop working for no reason requiring you setup your account again to resume use. Under IMAP it has wiped multiple folders for no apparent reason and Force Closes consistently when handling double-digits worth of email at once (even trying to delete from Trash).
With that said.. the rest of TouchWiz has bugs but they are all workable. For example, if you remove home screens in a way it doesn't like it may decide not to let you move the remaining ones into an order you prefer. It's temperamental and a few tries eventually decides to work. Another minor big is the alarm... if you set it then delete the alarm before disabling it then it will still decide it needs to go off. Going into manage apps, show all, and deleting application data for it does the trick but seriously?
But let me tell you... the screen is a HUGE win here. It has made reading emails and ebooks incredibly easy on the eyes. The Droidinc had a great screen but it still wore on my eyes after a bit. In the first few Vibrant nights I logged at least three times as many eye-hours with little to no discomfort.
Battery life for me has been better than I expected and better than the Droidinc mAh for mAh. For the first time in my phone ownership life I finally saw the 'works better after the first few charge cycles'... it was like night and day from full charge one to full charge four.
While my area has MUCH better Verizon coverage it is pretty clear where I do get proper Tmo coverage the phone has better call quality, speakerphone quality, and data performance AND stability than the Droidinc. That last bit is important... the three Droidinc owners I knew, myself included, has consistent large file and streaming data problems on the Droidinc. While the Flash lite on the Samsung doesn't work in as many places it seems to work better on the Tmo network with streaming data than the Droidinc. Similarly when downloading large files from the web browser it's more stable and consistently fast in comparison. This was something with the Droidinc I experienced consistently that I did not with other Vzw phones. For some reason it just didn't like larger downloads of longer streams.
In addition while TouchWiz is, I repeat, BUGGY AS HELL.. with the exception of the mail client it appears to not effect stability as much as Sense on the Droidinc. When the TouchWiz lags it comes back fairly quickly. When the Sense decided it did not like an application or usage pattern it frequently did not come back for a minute or more. And sometimes not at all. And with my 'test' suite of sixty four apps it's very VERY clear that overall the Vibrant is more stable than the Droidinc. So the version of the OS plus this TouchWiz did at least that quite right.
Input-wise I'm a little unimpressed with Swype. I used ShapeWriter on the Droidinc and it was much better to me. Simple things like two spaces inserting a period and a readily editable user dictionary. The fact I have to remember the words, typos, etc. that were added to the Swype dictionary just to get them to pop up to remove them... ?!? Seriously? Just give me a separate list I can remove and manage the user dictionary. Also ShapeWriter did much better at choosing the right words and seems to have had a much bigger dictionary. Ultimately I enjoy Swype and will continue to use it but I will miss ShapeWriter. I should say that Samsung and Swype are usable in every application I tried. Swype beta on the Droidinc and ShapeWriter on the Droidinc had problems in some terminal emulation and SSH apps. Honestly is Swype would get the two-spaces for a period and the user dictionary editor resolved it would be just fine.
The TouchWiz and Tmo notification bar are a welcome improvement over the Droidinc. First of all notifications of some apps works better and more consistently. Secondly having access to certain power on/off bits (e.g. WiFi and GPS) saves home screen space for me.
I am not having quite the number of problems with the GPS accuracy other people have reported and posted fixes for. It was been pretty reliable for me which I can't quite explain because there should be no reason it behaves for me and not others.
While most of this sounds negative I must say that regardless of problems, and with the exception of email, I'm enjoying the regular use and customizations of the Vibrant much more than the Incredible.
So.. in closing. Buy the Vibrant. Find a new email client. Live happily enough ever after. Cheers, -Pk
- 07-30-2010, 01:10 AM #2
Thanks for the great review. I am also having the same issues you are having as well. The stock samsung email client was really unreliable and didn't get push notifications. I've been using the gmail app and everything is pushed. The alarm is buggy as well and a previous alarm i have set has been going off i previously set but deleted. How did you end up disabling it?
The Vibrant has been amazing tho and Android is amazing and can only get better. Coming from a blackberry the android OS is light years ahead of RIM. Loving my new phone.
- 07-30-2010, 03:08 AM #3
Re: My Vibrant review (coming from VZW Droid Incredible)..
I currently have the AT&T version called the Captivate. I had a BB Bold long ago on AT&T, dumped it for the VZW WinMo Touch Pro 2, then the TMO HTC HD2 with WinMo 6.5 on it, and now back to AT&T with the Captivate. I did try the Vibrant first, as I was already a TMO customer. But their signal here is horrible, just as it was with my HD2 so returned it.
I loved the Sense UI on my HD2! I miss the arrows keys on the Sense keyboard!!!!! Wish someone would port it over to our Galaxy phones.
The clock/weather has been taken care of with Beautiful Widgets, though it still has bugs in it yet.
I 10000000% AGREE with you that the stock email program is horrible. It is tremendously slow and full of lag. I also notice that it freezes my phone every time it checks for my pop3 email accounts (AT&T U-Verse and an old Earthlink account I keep just in case)!!!!!! Not to mention that even though both my TMO HD2 and the AT&T Captivate are both set to get mail at 15 minute intervals, and the HD2 has only 2bars of EDGE and the Captivate has 3-4 bars of 3G, yet the HD2 will nab all my emails just about a good 30 minutes before the Captivate will - and even though it IS theoretically on the same network as my pop3 account!! Not ro mention as well, that when I open my mail on the HD2, it is right there instantly. But the Droid mail programs only seems to get just the headers, and once again I have to wait near half a minute more ro view them. Total frustration, argh!!!!
So as for email, it is either the Sense UI, or the WinMo email client that is the best hands down! Also, my HD2 never freezes when checking mail like this Galaxy phone does: (
It makes me wish that somehow I could combine the best of both phones and dump the bad parts: (
- 07-30-2010, 03:17 AM #4
Re: My Vibrant review (coming from VZW Droid Incredible)..
Oh, forgot to mention, I have tried both K-9 as well as Droidmail, and they ALL act the same. Lag, lag, and more lag as well as freezing the phone, and only storing the headers and not the full messages. Actually, K-9 appears to be almost a duplicate of the stock email program, and Droidmail seems a bit worse as it does not appear to even store the headers, as it reloads the inbox everytime I start it.
1) Recreate the same alarm, turn it off, then delete it. If you recreate and delete before turning it off it does the same thing again but it appears only for one cycle instead of daily.
2) A few pillows and a lot of bodyweight until it stops.
A few new Samsung mail clients bugs I've discovered since I first wrote:
- It will silently fail on getting email AND silently fail on the creation/recreation/testing of an account's Incoming settings. I control the server side and see it fail and the client just sits fat and happy. In my experience with POP it eventually works on one of the polling intervals. With IMAP it never appears to work again until to explicitly go in and remove and re-add the account.
- There is SERIOUS problems for each additional IMAP folder it opens. At about four IMAP folders under the same account it's almost barely tolerable in the sense that dealing with your Ex-wife might be fun. Each folder you add makes ~everything~ slower. Some seriously messed up logic in the code. For example, deleting all from Trash is fairly quick if there are three or four IMAP folders. Make that six and deleting all of the same number of emails at least doubles in time required. Make it seven folders and you start hitting FCs.
- It closes IMAP folders prematurely as seen on the server side. So a delete isn't really a delete sometimes. And it may not get all the mail at once even if it's sitting there waiting.
Samsung... seriously.... you're releasing a Qwerty BB-like version of this device w/ TouchWiz, right? Don't. You're humiliate yourself until you hammer some of this out. -Pk
- 07-30-2010, 08:40 AM #6
Interesting read. I use gmail exclusively so I can't say much about the mail client. My biggest complaint is tmobile 3g coverage. I have 3g almost everywhere except my office. I only see edge at work. I have had issues with data not working when the phone is showing 3g as well. I'll get a network error then retry and it will work.
However, I'm seeing this with a Nexus One too so it's not a Vibrant issue. And it also seems fairly recent, as in the past three weeks, that this has occurred more. The best explanation I got was my areas recently went through HSPA+ network upgrades and there are some stability issues being worked out. -Pk
EDIT: This isn't just a signal strength issue, the same thing happens when using a quality repeater and full bars and great data speeds. Just *poof* it stops for a moment requiring retry.
- 07-31-2010, 10:52 AM #8
- 07-31-2010, 07:56 PM #9
Re: My Vibrant review (coming from VZW Droid Incredible)..
Well, got my e-mail and keyboard (arrow keys) problems solved. I just had the wrong phone! I returned my Captivate and bought the EVO 4G.
Don't get me wrong, those Samsung Galaxy S phones are sweet. But after using the HTC Sense UI for some time now, if I still want the HTC style e-mail (even has the widget to show pages like the WinMo HD2), as well as the full keyboard with arrow keys, but stay with the more progressive Android OS, the only alternative to my HD2 is the EVO. But still this was a great review, and a big help to me. Thanks!
TouchWiz needs SERIOUS work though or I'll jump to the first similarly sized device on my new non-VZW options (story in another thread).
Good on you and good luck! -Pk
- 07-31-2010, 09:27 PM #11
- 07-31-2010, 09:43 PM #12
Some minor and experience updates:
- Sound quality of the earpiece is excellent and had good volume range. However, the speakerphone quality, while being quite good, has very limited volume range in comparison to most other phones I've used.
- HTC Sense interface components crashed and restarted a lot more than TouchWiz due to widgets or wallpaper changes. Or notification bar changes. TouchWiz, while buggy in places noted, seems much more resilient. I have yet to lose my home settings or be stuck in an ackward pseudo-reboot cycle like while Sense reset itself.
- Dynamic content widgets work MUCH better in TouchWiz which is odd considering all of HTC's other widget innovations. For example the FeedR, MLB, and Gallery widgets from the Market never updated consistently at the time intervals configured when using a Sense device. Sometimes the different was just seconds but other times it was hours and complete stoppage/removal/reapply. Under TouchWiz these have behaved as desired.
- The 5MP camera without flash is not quite as nice on paper as the 8MP w/ LED flash as the Droidinc BUT that night mode really does work. And the "anti-shake" setting really does work as well as the various macro mode settings. They're not as intuitive in some cases as the Droidinc but within minutes I was taking better pictures of my 2.5yo daughter and her ping-pong on feet natures w/ the Vibrant. Which actually gave me more time in PicSay and Vignette to do something fun with them.
- 08-05-2010, 09:54 PM #14
- 127 Posts
In a completely dark room, the Vibrant takes better photos than a phone with a flash built in. The flash only has a certain effective range, but once pass that its useless. Besides, who really wants a spotlight image when the ENTIRE image can be lit evenly and more naturally with the "night mode" feature. Its one of the, if not THE best, low light camera phones I've used.
- 08-12-2010, 10:28 PM #15
Some more updates as more time goes by:
- The lack of configurable calendar notifications is really starting to get to me. That feature is available in Sense and *Blur.. how Samsung overlooked this is beyond me.
- I finally gave up on the stock mail client. I'm using Maildroid at this point.
- Samsung email support is useless. I wrote in, got a message to call instead. Called, was treated to a script of delete email account, reset device, etc. all useless and irrelevant to what I was trying to report (bugs). When I wrote back saying the call was useless I got THE SAME STOCK RESPONSE to call. Again.
Now.. the good and better over time:
- I've been carrying an iPhone4 too and even with the difference in resolution the Vibrant's screen is so much nicer to me. Using Maildroid and the dark theme I can read pages and pages of email without flinching.
- Mediascanner was kicking the sh*t out of the phone and the Gallery app was never working right. Dropping galleries, sometimes showing none at all. I have over 12k images on the phone so it's critical this worked for me. Turns out Mediascanner is smart enough to realize something is wrong and on boot it took a solid hour to redo everything and since then it's been perfect. Even after further boots it zipped through and a-OK. So now that Mediascanner fixed itself I have to say this feature is a HUGE win for people with lots of media files. MUCH faster to thumb, send, etc. than the HTC equivalents.
- Bluetooth is a winner here. FINALLY I have a device where Bluetooth doesn't just kill the battery. I had to setup profiles to turn off Bluetooth on the Droidinc and on my various BBs (until the Storm 2).
I'm overall still very happy with this phone. I hope Samsung support improves, Froyo comes, and Touchwiz bugs get addressed. But the monster of hardware and screen is just way too good a device to keep down. -Pk