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In a world where smartphone manufacturers battle over a few millimeters to earn the title of having the thinnest smartphone, there's just no place for a phone with a physical keyboard. The added bulk isn't as attractive as a phone that's a mere seven or eight millimeters thick. This can be frustrating for those who enjoy having a keyboard with buttons they can actually press. However, there are a few options out there, the Captivate Glide by Samsung being one of them. The Captivate Glide is the rare phone that not only has a physical keyboard but it's also a high-end phone with great hardware and features. With a beautiful Super AMOLED display, a powerful dual-core Tegra 2 processor, HSPA+ capabilities, and that physical keyboard, it almost seems like a no-brainer. So what do the test results show? Is this the phone you should go with if you're a QWERTY aficionado? Keep on reading to find out.

 

Design & Features

So, yes, the keyboard does add some bulk. Coming in at 4.8-inches tall, 2.5-inches wide, and .5-inches thick, you're definitely going to feel the Captivate Glide in your hand, purse, or pocket. Still, the .5-inch profile is thinner than some phones that pack a physical QWERTY so I have to give props to Samsung for making the phone as thin as possible. It weighs 5.2 ounces but, surprisingly, doesn't seem to have a lot of heft to it. Perhaps this is where Samsung's ardent use of plastic materials is a benefit.

The phone's design is rather dull and unoriginal, but it's not ugly. There's no surprising angles or creative design elements. It's pretty much just a box. The back cover has a textured finish which makes it slightly grippier (though not much) and eliminates the problem of fingerprints. The volume rocker button can be found on the left spine, the Power/Screen Lock button is on the right spine, and the microUSB port (featuring the famous sliding cover) and 3.5mm headphone jack are on the top of the phone. The phone at times seemed slow to respond when I pressed the Screen Lock button to wake up the display, but this didn't happen every time and it could be solved by pressing the button for a half-second longer.

Underneath the battery cover is the 1650 mAh battery, the SIM card slot, and the microSD card slot. The phone ships with an 8GB card to supplement its 8GB of internal memory and supports up to 32GB of additional memory. Both the SIM card and microSD card can be accessed without removing the battery.

I'm a sucker for beautiful displays and the Captivate Glide's 4-inch screen does not disappoint. Featuring Super AMOLED technology and a resolution of 480 x 800, giving it a pixel density of 233 ppi, this display is absolutely stunning. It offers rich colors with bright saturation. The 233 pixels per inch are about two-thirds of what you get with the iPhone 4S and HTC Rezound, but nearly the same as what you get with the Motorola DROID RAZR. In short, text and graphics are very clear and crisp. Directly below the display are the four Android buttons for Menu, Home, Back, and Search, in that order.

 

Usability & Performance

Out of the box, you get Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with TouchWiz 4.0. Whereas TouchWiz used to be a colorful and slightly cartoonish UI, the newest versions are much more refined and modern-looking. The latest edition brings the ability to resize the custom widgets that come with the UI, a very useful feature. The interface for customizing your home screen has also received an update. At the bottom of the home screen are four shortcuts for Phone, Messaging, Web, and Applications. These shortcuts, with the exception of the Applications shortcut, can be changed from the app drawer. The UI also adds a new, darker color scheme to the notification panel as well as five toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Flight Mode, and Screen Rotation. I'm especially fond of the customizations made to the Messaging app and Samsung's e-mail app. When viewed in landscape mode, both apps show two panes - one for your inbox, and one that displays the selected message - much like the interface you would see on a tablet.

AT&T and Samsung have included several pre-installed apps such as Asphalt 6, AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Navigator, Live TV, Media Hub, Mini Diary, Qik, Social Hub, YP, and more. Some of these apps are useful, like Media Hub, a Samsung store where you can purchase movies and TV shows, My Files, Qik for video chatting, and Task Manager. However, most of them are duplicates of services that Android offers by default and for free. Regardless, most of these apps can be uninstalled.

As mentioned in the outset, the Captivate Glide packs a dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor and 1GB of RAM. In testing, I've experienced hardly any lag. Despite running multiple apps at once and having a few widgets active in the background, tasks could be completed smoothly. Pinch-to-zoom is smooth and when rotating from portrait to landscape, the switch was made almost instantly. The phone scored a 3,056 on the Quadrant Standard benchmark test, a 2,543 on the SmartBench 2012 Productivity Index, 32.5/56.1 MFLOPS on Linpack Single and Multi-Thread tests, respectively, and a 4,643 on the AnTuTu Benchmark test. As you can gather from the test results, the phone is speedy and gave me very few performance issues.

Now onto the main event, the keyboard. As far as virtual keyboard options go, you have three: the stock Android Gingerbread keyboard, the Samsung keyboard, and Swype. I've typically enjoyed using Samsung's keyboard, but on the Captivate Glide I have better results with the Android keyboard. Regardless, the keyboard you're probably going to be using most of the time is the physical QWERTY. The top panel easily and smoothly slides to the right to reveal the four-row keyboard. It's very large and spacious, each letter owning it's own island button. The keys are rubbery, not plastic, which I'm always a fan of. I wish the keys were raised above the surface more or at least provided more resistance or feedback when pressed. As it is, it's hard to differentiate each key since they're so flat and there's hardly any travel on them so a light press is all it takes. Yes, this makes it easy to press each key, but it's hard to know when you've actually pressed a key, if it registered, or if you pressed the right one. The number row is integrated into the top row of letters which means the Space Bar has its own row. There are primary keys for the period, comma, and question mark, and one for '.com'. Four navigational arrows have been built into the keyboard. The four Android buttons for Menu, Home, Back, and Search have also been copied over and are featured on the left and right sides of the keyboard. Going back to the Space Bar, the contact points are spread out too far, making it difficult to easily and quickly press it. Overall, the keyboard, though nicely laid out, is frustrating to type on due to its flat keys with a lack of travel and overly wide size.

AT&T is building out its LTE network, but the Captivate Glide is relegated to its HSPA+ network, though it's still capable of pulling 21.1 Mbps down. While testing in the Dallas area, speeds were inconsistent. There were times when I would regularly get download speeds of 6-7 Mbps, but then there were times when it would drop down to 1-2 Mbps, and I had more than a few test results of .3-.5 Mbps, all while getting an HSPA+ signal with two bars or more. Upload speeds were equally inconsistent, with speeds ranging from .28 Mbps to 1.09 Mbps.

The phone's rear-facing 8-megapixel camera captures decent photos but I was slightly disappointed by the overall quality. Colors showed up well but there was more noise than what I would expect from a phone of this caliber. Perhaps I've just been spoiled by some of the amazing shooters that can be found on some phones these days, but I felt the quality could have been better. The camera does feature autofocus and an LED flash. Pictures taken in low-light settings using the flash actually turned out well, even from a distance of a few feet. The camera also captures 720p HD video at 30fps. Video quality was great with a crisp picture, but the audio quality was lacking, as it is on a lot of Samsung devices. On the front of the phone is a 1.3-megapixel camera for video chatting. As mentioned previously, the phone comes with Qik software for making video calls.

The Captivate Glide is powered by a 1650 mAh battery. By Samsung's estimates, you should get about eight hours of talk time and 16.7 days of standby time. In my testing, the phone lasted about three days on standby, with background updates turned on for a few apps. With normal use of web browsing, sending and receiving text messages and e-mails, syncing my e-mail and Twitter accounts every 15 minutes, multiple widgets active, and running tests, the battery still lasted a 12-hour day. Keep in mind that battery life may be different based on your usage habits, but in my testing, it has been spectacular.

 

Conclusion

If you love having a physical keyboard, there are few options out there. There are even fewer options if you want a quality, high-end phone. The Captivate Glide is an excellent all-around smartphone, but it fails in perhaps the most important area, the keyboard. The physical QWERTY is simply too wide with keys that are too flat with not enough travel and feedback. Though keyboard opinions will vary from person to person, it's difficult to recommend a phone with a bad QWERTY keyboard when that will be the main reason someone would be interested in it. Perhaps try out the keyboard for yourself to see if it suits you, but for me it was disappointing, making the phone a waste. No matter how well the phone performs, why deal with the extra bulk if it's not useful?

 

Wrap-Up

The Good: Beautiful Super AMOLED display; TouchWiz 4.0 with a newly refined look and feel; HSPA+ device; speedy performance with little to no lag; great battery life.

The Bad: Poorly designed physical keyboard; dull and uninspired hardware design; HSPA+ speeds were disappointing.

The Verdict: Regardless of how well the phone performs in other areas, the main reason you're interested in it is probably the keyboard. The keyboard was poorly designed and difficult to use; therefore, I wouldn't recommend the Captivate Glide.


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Comments & discussions  

63 Reactions to this post

"Do you need a physical QWERTY keyboard?"


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Anonymous For any typing longer than a text, the answer is definitely yes.
Chances N Michael Thompson No also keys tend to mess up depend on how much you text
Jaryd Grabowski Yes i NEED it
Steven Murphine Totally. Writing this on my Captivate Glide as we speak. Nothing better than the feel of actual keys under your fingers.
Daniel Cuadrado Yeah lets also bring back the typewriter. Come on now!
Gabe Moran Samsung cheap and plastic feel like all phones made by then no thanks
Joe Regep It's better without the physical keyboard. Get with the times people.
Mal Smith Yesss!!!
Mark Sanderson Bring back webos with a QWERTY!
Mike Cooper Yes. Apple has pretty much killed what used to be standard on a smartphone. Since the iPhone was/is so successful everyone is trying to copy as many ideas as possible, the worst of which being no physical keyboard....
Dawid Wojciechowski The option should always be there. When i am on the train reading and replying to emails on my phone the qwerty keyboard comes in handy
Dylan Wacker I really wish we'd just skip to mind input already...
Jessie Henefer nope! dont eve know how to use one anymore~
Alexander Schneider-Siemssen Well its a nice Feature for a Lot of people especially the older Generation,but i am afraid physicall keaboards will die out sooner or later.
Fernley Blake I hardly use mine. Evo Shift 4g.
Dave Ogren A thin sturdy 4"+ phone with a five row....would be a dream.
Toad Skyring ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm yuppersssssssssssssssssssssssssss
Chariese Buck im not going to say i need my keyboard but it is a nice alternative if my screen glitches, btw the guy's phone in the article pic is so dead smh
Brett Embury I don't need one but it's always nice to have one.
Steve Coyle I'm still rocking my G2... waiting for the next G phone by HTC with a keyboard.....I hate onscreen keyboard... i can type quicker than most people with onscreen keyboards....
Alex Montes Yes. -written with my QWERTY keyboard on my Samsung Epic.
Jerry Muniz Yes and no.
Marc OKelly droid 3 both on screen and hardware keyboard are amazing
Neil Leisenheimer No, but I would prefer one. Above all, I just need a semi-current Android phone. I'm still using a Samsung Mythic - a resistive screen, java os based pos. It's kind of funny though because I have a 32gb micro sd card in it. x)
Andy McCormick yes. I love my Droid Pro becasue of the keyboard. I tried just touch screen before but hated it. with touchscreen you loose so much screen realeaste becasue of the on screen keyboard.
Arnulfo Barajas ohhh its a "Samsung"...never mind
Orion Pax SwiftKey X is the best keyboard..even better than iphone 4.
Izgil Mardahayev Absolutely not.
Kyle Cordiano no more keyboards.
ShaiVaughn Crawley With the new gingerbread keyboard being out, No.
Aaron Bergman If they made a keyboard with the d4 style and the d1 dpad on the left. I think that'd be perfect. Considering screens thickness is getting smaller and smaller.
Matt Smith No, iPhone4 has the best keyboard no matter on screen or not.
Jarrel Hall I need one. It's the reason why I still use my G2.
Frank Tiberius Marte Jr I'm already used to touch screen. Touching a qwerty keyboard would feel a little odd to me lol
Marvin Oubre My wife needs a keyboard. So I just recently got her the original Samsung Epic 4G.
Zachary Daniel Meyer honestly... i was soooo hooked on a physical keyboard, but now that i tried my galaxy nexus u dont really need one anymore
Jeremy Abad Naw I'm good. What if Google came out with a QWERTY Nexus. That would be nuts.
Nick Chimento I don't need one but its a nice feature if its there. I love my myTouch 4G Slide. Even though my screen is cracked to shit! Ahaha
Walter Nunez Some of them look like little girl phones. Just saying
Jourdan Fletcher naw between google's voice texting and my evo's 4inch screen
Lisa Hoeun YES!!!!!
Francisco Saucedo yeah it feels better then on screen keyboards :)
John Cruz The best is having a touch screen and a physical keyboard
Frank Porter Nope. My screen is plenty large enough on the Galixy Nexus to where physical keyboards are a thing of the past. :)
Joy Norton Feix Yes I do! :)
Tricia DeDalis Yes.I hate touch keyboards!
Rawlston Shamik yes, like nokia and especially blackberry.




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