T-Mobile claims in its marketing information that the Galaxy S 4G is theoretically capable of reaching the speed of 21Mbps for downloads. This level of throughput does not seem to be available in the real world, even when we tested the device in a location recommended by T-Mobile as having extremely fast 4G service.
While measuring actual download speeds on mobile devices is fairly meaningless since there are so many variables that can affect any user, on any device at any location at any time, there did not seem to be any indication that the speeds suggested by T-Mobile were actually available.
However, the device does have a full set of other features, including T-Mobile’s WiFi calling that allows you to make voice calls using a WiFi hotspot – something can be very useful inside buildings, outside the reach of T-Mobile’s network or in countries outside the U.S. where roaming charges can be significant.
The Galaxy S 4G will also work as a mobile WiFi hotspot supporting up to five devices. Using this hotspot capability provided noticeably better throughput than you’d otherwise find in most public hotspots, provided you’re in an area with good T-Mobile data coverage.
The T-Mobile Galaxy S 4G is smaller and lighter than many similar Android phones. It weighs a little over 4 ounces, and it’s less than a half-inch thick. The Galaxy S 4G comes with a number of bandwidth intensive apps installed as well as a copy of the film “Inception.” T-Mobile provides a high definition television service and you can access other video services as well. The phone was easy to use, as you’d expect from a modern Android device. You can show the full set of applications by swiping your finger sideways.
The only significant shortcoming worth mentioning is the lack of a flash for the rear-facing camera. Other versions of the Galaxy S have a flash, but for some reason T-Mobile chose to leave it off of this device. Other than that, the keyboard was easy to type on, considering it’s an on-screen keyboard. There seemed to be a delay when you rotated the phone from portrait to landscape mode while typing, and in two tries the rotation of the keyboard caused the phone to exit the application. However the data previously typed wasn’t lost when you returned to it.
Besides those relatively minor concerns, there are two other issues that prospective buyers must take into consideration. The first is T-Mobile’s relatively scant coverage in the U.S. It’s easy to find yourself without coverage even in some fairly urban areas. In addition, T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, has agreed to sell T-Mobile USA to AT&T, which could affect the current 4G service as AT&T changes over to LTE from its existing HSPA+ network.
Verizon’s HTC ThunderBolt
The HTC ThunderBolt is the first 4G LTE smartphone from Verizon Wireless. It joins a collection of other 4G devices, including a mobile hotspot and a laptop aircard, which were released several months ago. As long as Verizon’s 4G LTE service was available, this smartphone performed well. However it is noticeably larger and bulkier than the Samsung Galaxy S 4G. Part of the reason is certainly the larger 4.3 inch capacitive touch screen.