We’ll just get straight to the point, the Samsung Galaxy S is the best Android-powered smartphone we’ve ever come across…as of yet. Not only does it give the iPhone 4 a run for its money, but the build quality is outstanding. Continue reading for our full review. Click here to view our hands-on gallery.

Introduction

The ultraslim Samsung Galaxy S (9.9mm thin) may not be the company’s first foray into Android phones, however, it’s definitely no slouch. Featuring a stunning 4-inch Super AMOLED display (480 x 800 resolution), 5.0MP camera with autofocus + smile / blink detection, secondary camera for video calls, a Cortex A8 Hummingbird 1.0-GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, A-GPS connectivity, accelerometer w/proximity sensor, microSD card slot, and Android 2.1 with added TouchWiz 3.0 UI customization. In a nutshell, this handset is loaded with features.

Overview

Aside from the highly customized Google Android 2.1 OS, the Galaxy S’s capacitive touchscreen is as responsive as they get. Just quick swipes allow you to switch panes and without any input lag, thanks to its 1.0-GHz processor. The TouchWave 3.0 skin was first found on the Samsung Wave, but this version allows you to have 7 different screens, each with icons, widgets, shortcuts, folders, wallpaper, etc. Samsung also created 8 of their own custom widgets for your use: “Days”, “Dual Clock”, “Y! Finance Clock”, “Buddies Now”, “Daily Briefing”, “Feeds & Update”, and “Accuweather Clock”.

Similar to iOS, the Android 2.1 menu interface is side-scrollable and allows you to delete applications by simple tapping them, once in edit mode. The notification bar up top can be tapped and then dragged downwards into a full screen mode. All the applications work incredibly smooth, and did not crash at all during our testing. Overall, the TouchWiz 3.0 UI makes the Samsung Galaxy S much easier to use when compared to others, like the Motorola DROID X and even Google’s Nexus One.

If you’re wondering just how good the phone’s web browser is, it successfully rendered just about every website our reviewers visited, without broken CSS, etc. Navigation was lightning fast and very simple — you’ll only find + / – zoom buttons and the URL address bar, which auto-hides when browsing. That’s not all, you can also use the pinch-to-zoom method for getting a closer look at pages. Pressing the menu button while in the web browser shows numerous options, such as opening new tabs, switching tabs, and opening bookmarks.

Sure, Flash may not yet be officially supported, but the YouTube application takes care of that. This program is essentially a mobile version of the video sharing site, with a customized video player and search options. From our test, the player seemed to offer the videos in the highest quality available, or at least over WiFi.

The “Contacts” screen is split into 4 main parts: standard contacts, groups, history, and activities. Contacts is just what you’d expect, names sorted alphabetically into an easy-to-read list. While groups lets you sort those contacts into friends, business associates, etc. Plus, you can also synchornize your Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft Exchange, and Google contacts. Unfortunately, users are only able to sync five accounts simultaneously.

Call quality was superb, as voices were heard loud and clear, without needing to maximize the volume slider. Though there’s no dual microphone for noise cancellation, we did not notice any drop in quality when calls were placed in a car or outside on a busy street.

Camera Samples (Raw Files)

In addition to the main 5.0-megpixels camera, the phone also allows you to record in 1280 x 720p HD, which matches the DROID X and iPhone 4. As you can tell, the image quality is superb, in part to the plethora of options at your disposal (white balance, ISO, effects, metering, and anti-shake.

Video Sample

Super AMOLED Display

It’s sheer eye candy. Those are the only words we have to describe its Super AMOLED display, as colors, icons, and videos have colors that seemingly burst off the screen. Despite being just a 4-inch display, text on web pages was very easy to read, even without zooming in. Is it better than the iPhone 4’s Retina Display? We’d say they’re on par with each other. Most users will not notice much of a difference, if any at all, when those two phones are placed side-by-side.

Bottom Line

Benchmarks show that the Samsung Galaxy S is top of its class, with processing power beating rivals Sony XPERIA X10 and the HTC Desire. Whether it be the camera, applications, user interface, or display, the Galaxy S shines in every category and is a welcome addition to the ever-growing lineup of Android phones. Not to mention the beautiful touches Samsung’s custom TouchWiz 3.0 skin adds to Google’s OS. For an Android-powered phone that will not disappoint, the Samsung Galaxy S is your one and only answer.