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Review: Samsung’s Infuse 4G on AT&T

The Samsung Infuse 4G is due to be released on May 15, with a $199 price.  Shipping with a beautiful 4.5″ SuperAMOLED+ touch screen (Gorilla Glass), 1.2 GHz CPU (single core), HDSPA Category 14 (Downloads theoretically top out at 21 Mbps), HUSPA Category 6 (Uploads top out at 5.76 Mbps).  It comes with 16 GB internal storage (via an internal microSD card), 802.11 b/g/n Wifi, Bluetooth 3.0.

Despite its rather large screen this phone weighs in at a mere 4.9 oz (139 grams) and at its thinnest spot it is only 8.9 mm thick while being a mere 9.24 mm at the thickest section.  One side effect of such slim dimensions is a constant fear of having forgotten to grab the device.  The phone is so light that it really is nearly impossible to account for in a big pocket.

More after the break

DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION – Following their known recipe of lightweight materials (read: until this point – shiny, slippery, black plastic) there should be no question who manufactured this device.  Despite the obvious lack of mass, it feels almost a little more upscale than the Fascinate or Captivate.  Samsung managed to keep the outer edges of the Infuse 4G free from too many buttons or distractions.  On the top   The back battery cover has some texture to it; a welcome change from prior designs.  Instead of feeling that the phone might fly across the room unintentionally there is an impression of security in this design.  Unfortunately as soon as you are forced to pull the battery any sense of comfort will disappear.

I think the Infuse 4G feels like a high-mid range device.  While plastics are extensively used in the construction Samsung has added nice touches to the Infuse – The textured battery door, the faux metal finish, and incredible tactile feedback when using the hardware buttons.  The distance that the buttons travel is just about perfect as is the resistance at the when you have fully depressed the power or volume.

Battery Cover feels very flimsy

Top: A single 3.5 mm jack

Bottom: MicroUSB with MHL Port (Mobile High-Definition Link)

Left: Volume Rockers

Right: Power button

Battery cover removed to show SIM card slot, battery, battery door

SOFTWARE: Samsung released the Infuse with Android 2.2.1 (Froyo) and TouchWiz 3.0, their custom UI.  I am not a fan of custom UIs.  There is one feature that I really do like in TouchWiz 3.0, the ability to swipe to call someone when in the contacts application.  That may be the only feature that I appreciate.  There are a few Samsung widgets available – Buddies Now, Days, Double Clock, Social Update.  Sadly the color palate chosen by Samsung creates this terrible clash of bright and unattractive colors.

The only feature I really like in TouchWiz

Big, Ugly, Pointless widgets

Generally when a carrier or a manufacturer installs additional “Added Value” apps, I cringe.  Usually these are applications that are bundled out of the love of a large payment (Best Buy or Bing Search for example).  There are a few additional applications such as AllShare and MediaHub that add genuine value.  Historically AllShare has been the easiest and most reliable implementation of DLNA service on the Android platform. (This is my experience).  It works, and works very well.  MediaHub is a one stop shop for the latest movies and TV shows, formatted to work correctly on your specific device.  Unfortunately, I was incredibly let down after I purchased the Season finale of Fringe, to watch on my HDTV once I got home.

CALL QUALITY/DATA CONNECTION – I have never had a telephone that has been so clear.  I could easily hear the person on the other end of the phone regardless of the circumstances we were in.  I try to test in the harshest environments I can find.  For instance I was talking to one of my best friends while walking in the ocean.  I asked him if he could hear the waves crashing, he could not.  The sound quality never dropped, but I did suffer from a handful of dropped calls last week.

Data Connectivity – AT&T proudly mentioned that this is the first true “4G” device available on their network. With HSDPA Cat 14 offering theoretical top speeds of 21 Mbps down and HSUPA Cat 6 offering a theoretical max of 5.76 Mbps up – unlike the Motorola Atrix 4G the Infuse 4G will have those radios enabled at launch.

While we were still sitting at the launch event Chad and I immediately began comparing the speeds of Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon’s “4G” networks.  AT&T had a pathetic showing in the city.  I have been fortunate enough to travel from New York to Philadelphia (and the suburbs) and Washington DC as well.  I have been able to see as high as 7.89 Mbps down and occasionally as high as 1.72 on the uplink.

CAMERA(s) – The Infuse 4G comes with an 8MP main camera on the back, with a flash with a single LED flash. It is able to take 640×480 through 3264×2448 resolution photos.  It can also shoot 1280×720 HD video at 30 fps.  It is also equipped with a 1.3MP front-facing cam for video chat and impromptu self portraits.  The quality and clarity of the photos taken with the front facing camera quite honestly blew me away.  Samsung devices have usually shipped with some of the better sensors and software implementation for their cameras.  Some of the options offered via the camera app: Blink detection, Anti-shake, auto contrast, scene modes, face detection, and a lot more.

BATTERY – Samsung has long touted the possible battery savings that can be associated with the use of Super AMOLED screens.  While this might be technically true when the screen is populated with a lot of black due to the OLEDs not drawing current to create a shade of color; I have found that it is in fact the best screen technology to use if you spend any significant time outdoors.  With the Super AMOLED Plus screen I have been able to keep the screen brightness down at the lowest level possible.  Due to the advancements offered with Super AMOLED Plus it is now possible to never have to crank the brightness up just to use the device.

I am known to be a bit excessive when it comes to batteries.  There are times when I have found a way to drain my 3,500 mAh battery on my Evo 4G in less than 5 hours from a full charge. I have been averaging nearly 15 hours of battery life with the Infuse 4G.  I have never been so pleased with the battery life of a stock battery before.  I can safely suggest that MOST users could easily spend an entire day without worrying about bringing the plug or searching for an outlet.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It has been a long time since I felt either Samsung or AT&T really had any products I would actually purchase.  I would seriously consider buying this phone for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, the screen, it’s massive, beautiful, and I will be devastated when I have to return it.  I keep picking it up and thinking that a 4.5″ screen should make the phone too large to fit in a pocket or my hand comfortably.  I am impressed every time I look at the dimensions of the phone.  The few issues that I have experienced with the Infuse are clearly isolated incidents.  Text does not resize when I double tap the screen , the browser occasionally hangs on me, forcing me to do a battery pull.

Aside from literally just the browser problems,  I have been very impressed with the Infuse.  While it is not a dual core powered beast of a phone, it handled every task that I threw at it, with nary a slow down.  If you have a need for a device that is light weight, fast, runs on a fairly solid (read: exception New York City) network and you have $200 burning a hole in your pocket – I would highly recommend this phone.

While I have struggled to recommend Samsung devices after the incredible delays in updating their devices to the newest versions of Android OS in a reasonable amount of time…the recent announcement at IO regarding hardware partners and an agreement to support devices for up to 18 months – including updating to the latest and greatest…gives me some hope.

Highlights: (No Particular Order *NPO)

4.5″ SAMOLED plus display – The evolution of the original SAMOLED display, Samsung has increased the sub-pixels 50% for better contrast.  This is the first screen that I have been able to see in direct sunlight with the brightness turned ALL the way down.  Gorilla Glass is standard

Sideloading of apps: I believe that this is the first AT&T Android device that allows non-market apps to be installed on the device.

HDSPA(+) Cat 14 and HSUPA Cat 6:  With HDSPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) Category 14 the maximum theoretical peak download speeds are 21 Mbps.  HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) Category 6 allows for a maximum upload speed of 5.76 Mbps.

1.2 GHz Application Processor: This is the fastest clock speed we have seen in an Android device, to date.

Disappointments: (*NPO)

Android 2.2 Froyo – with TouchWiz 3.0 – The fact that the (Samsung built) Nexus S shipped on 12/16/10 and the Android 2.3 ASOP code dropped on 12/17/10 there is no excuse for Samsung to have released this device with 2.2 and TouchWiz 3.0.  I personally will hold on to the opinion that the decision to launch without 2.3 and TouchWiz 4.0 is to give their next flagship device some time in the spotlight.

Future updates – This goes hand in hand with the above comments.  We all know the difficulties that Samsung has run into when it comes to updating phones.

Browser –

Resolution/Pixel Density – 4.5″ of beautiful colors and the incredible ability to see everything on the screen in direct sunlight, what more could I ask for?  How about an increase in resolution?  The future is now, qHD should be the standard screen resolution from this point forward.  The iPhone4 has a 3.5″ 960×540 screen (329 ppi), Motorola Atrix 4″ 960×540 (275 ppi), even the 4.3″ Thunderbolt 480×800 (261 ppi) looks more crisp.  In comparison, the Infuse 4G has a pathetic (207 ppi).

2GB microSD – Only a 2GB microSD card (up to 32 GB microSD). Though the Infuse does have 1.55 GB of internal phone storage and a 13 GB internal SD card, I prefer to have a larger capacity from the factory.

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