It?s big, it?s bold, it?s thin, it?s fast and has one hell of a camera - and it?s caught in the middle of ?s ?4G? propaganda
Infuse 4G hands-on
From the outset, the Samsung on just sounded too big. Ridiculously big. Some 4.5 inches big. If you don?t count the Dell Streak as a smartphone (and we don?t, really), it?s the biggest damn Android device that?s intended to be occasionally used upside your head to make phone calls.
But we?ll clue you in on a little secret: It?s not too big. No, really. We?ve spent the last week or so with the Infuse and have found ourselves thoroughly surprised by just how usable a 4-and-a-half-inch phone can be.
That?s not to say the Infuse is without its quirks. But we put it through its paces the best way we know how - in the field, on the road, and in our hands at the Google IO developer conference.
There?s no denying it, the Infuse 4G is big. But it?s also thin. And that makes all the difference here. Put it next to, say, the 4.3-inch HTC ThunderBolt, and the differences are pretty apparent. The Infuse is a tall 5.2 inches, and it?s wide at 2.8 inches, but it?s a mere 0.35 inches thick. And that?s the ball game, folks. That and it weighs 4.9 ounces. It?s tall, but it?s thin and light. It?s wiry.
The front of the phone is dominated by the display, of course. It?s at the usual 480x800 resolution. But before you spec nerds go crying for a qHD screen, remember that this is Super AMOLED Plus, and that means 12 subpixels for every one pixel, instead of the standard eight subpixels. In layman?s terms, it?s big, it?s bright, and it?s colorful. (The banding you see in the pictures above and below is the result of the still camera, not the screen.) Above the display is the 1.3MP front-facing camera. One thing you won?t find up here is a notification light, and that?s just criminal.
Below the screen you have capacitive buttons in the menu-home-back-search configuration. They?re stenciled onto the phone, so they don?t disappear completely when the screen is dark.
On top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-canceling microphone. On the bottom is the microUSB port that doubles as a high-definition video output.
The textured plastic battery cover pries off from the top. It?s about the flimsiest battery cover we?ve seen. That doesn?t really mean anything, as it fits to the phone just fine - it?s just a bit of a shock on what is on all accounts a solid and sturdy phone. But if this bothers you, we suggest taking a deep breath or maybe try walking around the block. It?s just a battery cover.
Hold the phone, folks. We weren?t really expecting great results from the Infuse 4G when it comes to battery life. First there?s the massive screen - and we don?t care what kind of newfangled battery-saving technology it uses, 4.5-inches is a lot of real estate to light up. And then there?s the fact that a ?4G? phone usually suckage when it comes to battery life. But seeing as how ?s ?4G? is vastly different (hint: slower/faux/whatever) than LTE, we?re seeing a vastly different experience.
Put it this way: We crank through e-mail like nobody?s business during a
show - and especially during Google IO. And on top of that, we were taking
pictures left and right with the Infuse?s camera (again, more on that sweet
piece of sweetness in a minute), and shooting video, too. So when we hit 4 p.m.
and still have 55 percent left? It?s a Christmas miracle, folks.
S faux-gee 4G
It?s not too often we have to break out a section on data in a review. But with naming the phone the Infuse 4G, a few things need to be cleared up. There?s 4G, and then there?s 4G. With Verizon, 4G is done with a technology called LTE. Sprint uses Wimax. And both of them are fast. Very fast. T-Mobile?s got a zippy HSPA+ network, too.
The Infuse 4G ships with Android 2.2.1 Froyo. That?s not the latest version of Android (not even the most recent version of Froyo). The good news is that we fully expect the Infuse to be upgraded to Gingerbread, and possibly even the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich sometime next year.
Oh, happy day. With the Infuse 4G,has ended its ridiculous practice of locking down its phones so that they can only install apps from the Android Market.That?s been a headache for more than a year now, but didn?t seem to care until the Appstore took off and its phones were all left behind.
Let us just say this about that: We?re madly in love with the Infuse 4G camera. Samsung?s software is decent enough, and you?ve got a number of effects you can apply when shooting, and easy one-touch access to the video camera. But it?s the business end that has us over the moon.
- Images below open in full resolution in a new window.
- Video, by default, shoots at 720x480 (seen below), but you can crank it up to 1280x720 in the settings.
- Youtube link for mobile viewing
Other odds and ends
- Fun fact: The Infuse is so big and vibrates so hard, it registers as a small earthquake. OK, not really, but it?s really annoying that there?s no way to completely silence the phone using the volume rocker.
- GPS worked just fine for us in the three cities in which we tested.
- Hackability: Super One Click roots the Infuse with ease. Huzzah. Can?t wait to see some custom ROMs on this thing.
- The rear speaker is surprisingly loud.
- There?s no HDMI port on the Infuse. Instead, there?s an ?MHL adapter? that plugs into the microUSB port. Seems simple enough, but it also requires you to plug a microUSB charger into the adapter in order for the whole thing to work. That?s a pretty big fail. But if you never use HDMI out, no biggie.
- As a phone, the Infuse works just fine. No issues with call quality in our testing.