When it comes to the Android revolution, AT&T seems to have been left behind. While the others were picking up superphones like the DROID Incredible, EVO 4G, and DROID X, Android enthusiasts on AT&T were forced to choose between the Motorola Backflip and the HTC Aria. The HTC Aria is an excellent device and fits the bill for many, but it's solidly entrenched in the mid-range market.
Enter the Samsung Captivate, AT&T's first superphone, and the carrier's third Android device. Announced along with the other Galaxy S devices, the Captivate shares similar features as the Vibrant: 1 GHz processor, 4-inch "Super AMOLED" display, 16 GB of internal storage, and a 5.0-megapixel camera. That being said, Samsung did a great job of making each model unique; while the Galaxy S line will eventually grace every US carrier, no device is exactly the same.
My first impressions of the Captivate are very positive. The device is thin and light, like the rest of the Galaxy S series. The overall design of the Captivate deviates pretty significantly from the original Galaxy S line - the device is tapered off at the top and bottom, and the battery door is metal. As I've said before, my initial reaction to the design was somewhat negative, especially after handling metal and glass-encased devices like the Nexus One and iPhone. After a few days of use, however, I was incredibly pleased with the build quality of the Galaxy S series. Yes, they're light and made of plastic (save for the battery door on the Captivate), but when holding the device there's no give or creaking whatsoever. It's solid, but feels great in the pocket.
In typical AT&T fashion, side-loading applications to the device is blocked, so you'll have to resort to the Android Market for your applications. I've never felt the need to side-load applications, and I don't see it as a negative for the average consumer. But for Android enthusiasts, you may be swayed to non-AT&T branded device like the Nexus One. Beyond that, you'll find the typical AT&T software installed: AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Hot Spots, AT&T Maps, AT&T Music, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, Instant Messaging, and YPmobile.
I've spent the last 24 hours testing the device in the Charlotte metro area, and call quality has been strong across the board. Signal strength tends to fluctuate regularly when idle (it's jumping between three and five bars as I type), but call quality has been consistent. The earpiece is as loud as the one on the Vibrant, and the speakerphone works well, with minimal distortion. Data speeds have been mostly pleasant; in the most recent test (using the SpeedTest app), I obtained a download speed of 3,062 kbps and an upload speed of 372 kbps. Sadly, my Captivate is still suffering from the GPS issue that's plaguing select Vibrant and Captivate models. The Vibrant's GPS sprung to life the night before my video review, but I haven't had the same luck with the Captivate.
Out of the four Samsung Galaxy S models, the Captivate is my favorite in the design department. It's fast, offers a beautiful display, and is easy to carry on a day-to-day basis. It strikes a nice balance between the 3.7-inch devices like the DROID Incredible, and the 4.3-inch behemoths like the DROID X. It's available now for $199.99 after mail-in rebate and two-year agreement.
I love finding the minuscule differences between the Galaxy S models, and to that end, here's what I've come across that differs from the Vibrant:
Stay tuned for the full review!