Samsung Infuse 4G for AT&T Review

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Last year the Samsung Galaxy S devices were a pretty big deal. These phones all had great Super AMOLED screens that outshined pretty much everything else in terms of contrast and power consumption. While the Samsung Infuse 4G doesn’t include Samsung’s “Galaxy S” branding anywhere, it certainly feels like part of that family. The Infuse 4G is AT&T’s latest and greatest Android smartphone, and the big deal about this one is its huge 4.5″ screen. This is the largest Super AMOLED screen we’ve ever seen, and it looks pretty good. Is this extra large device worth buying pants with really large pockets? Read on for our full review of the AT&T Samsung Infuse 4G!

BOX CONTENTS



Here’s the unboxing for the Samsung Infuse 4G. The device includes the normal AC adapter, USB cable, and headphones, but it also includes a 2GB microSD card pre-installed as well as an HDMI microUSB adapter so that you can plug the device into an HDTV.

HARDWARE





The Samsung Infuse 4G is running on a Samsung Hummingbird CPU running at 1.2GHz (see more on the Hummingbird) and skinned with TouchWiz over Android 2.2 Froyo. The capacitive display uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology and is a very large 4.5 inches with the usual WVGA resolution (that’s 800 x 480). In terms of wireless radios, the Infuse 4G includes: WiFi (with N), UMTS with HSPA+ (Category 14) on AT&T’s network, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS (assisted). For imaging, the rear camera (with flash) takes stills at 8 megapixels and video at 720p HD. For audio out, there is a 3.5mm jack, and for syncing and charging, we have microUSB. An included HDMI adapter goes into the microUSB port for video output to an HDTV. The battery is 1750mAh. The device is a nice and thin 8.9mm in thickness, with a weight of only 130g. The full dimensions are 5.2″ x 2.8″ x .35″. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

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On the left side of the device we have the volume rocker.

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On the right side of the handset we have the power/standby button. If you’re coming from the iPhone or an HTC device, this side placement will take some getting used to. If you’re coming from another Samsung Galaxy S type phone, you’ll feel right at home with this placement. Most other smartphones have the power/standby button on the top, but the side location is much nicer since it’s very easy to reach with your index finger while holding the phone with your left hand.

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On the top we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise cancellation microphone hole.

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On the bottom is the microphone hole along with the microUSB port which can also be used for video out with the included adapter.

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On the back you see the Samsung logo on an interestingly-textured back battery cover. The speaker vent is on the lower part which is a little thicker than the rest of the device, while the 8 megapixel camera lens and LED flash is towards the top of the device. The back’s design very closely resembles the Samsung Galaxy S II.

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Underneath the battery cover is the 1750mAh battery, a removable 2GB microSD card, and the SIM card slot. The microSD card slot is kind of hard to find. It’s actually underneath the SIM card slot and the SD card is inserted upside down so that it’s extremely difficult to replace with just your fingers.

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Here you see a size comparison between the HTC HD 7 on top, the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, and the Infuse 4G on the bottom.

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Again, here’s a size comparison between the Samsung Infuse 4G on the left, then the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and the HTC HD7 on the right. You can also see how outdoor screen readability compares here between the Super AMOLED Plus screen, the Super AMOLED, and the LCD of the HD7.

SOFTWARE







This video goes over some of the interesting added customizations and software bundles that we’ll find in the Infuse 4G. There are some additions and changes to Samsung’s TouchWiz interface from the very recent Samsung Galaxy S 4G. The “Slide to Unlock” text that used to be on the lock screen (in order to indicate to the user what he/she should do) is gone. The sliding motion is not as restrictive as the Samsung Galaxy 4G, but more restrictive against accidental unlocks than the Samsung Vibrant.

There have been other subtle design differences to Samsung’s UI including the loss of the rounded big blue gradient tabs in most applications. The tabs are more square and less obtrusively designed. You’ll notice much less chrome and graphics effects in the contact listing as well, and the email program nicely replaces the funny looking folder tabs for an easier menu button. You get another button with quick access to other email accounts. Thankfully, I haven’t seen any “Force Close” crashes of the built-in Samsung TouchWiz apps with this version whereas the older versions tended to be a bit unstable.

In terms of bundled applications, you’ve got most of the usual AT&T apps like AT&T Navigator, Code scanner, AT&T Family Map, MyAT&T, and AT&T’s U-verse Live TV. That last one is very similar to T-Mobile’s Live TV app since they’re both basically a rebranded MobiTV app. One odd omission was the lack of any two way video chat application. The device does include a front facing camera, but no way to use it for communications out of the box. You’ll have to download your own app and get it working yourself.

Like most Galaxy S devices, the Infuse 4G includes a very extensive task management program. You can see all active applications in a list and end them individually or all at once. It also shows you how much RAM and CPU usage each app is using and you can easily uninstall apps from there, clear out the RAM, and monitor storage use.

CAMERA

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The Infuse 4G can take photos at 8MP and includes a decent LED flash. The 8 megapixel photos generally turn out very nice. I was quite impressed with the camera on the Infuse 4G. It’s not quite Nokia quality, but it’s definitely above average. I noticed a little extra sharpening, but colors are quite accurate outdoors and there’s barely any noise. In low light situations, the camera still does pretty well. Noise is minimal and photos are sharp due to the flash coming on in order to illuminate the subject every time you tap the screen to set a focus area. People may mistake that for you actually taking a picture, so be careful. In the pork butts grill photo below you can see how the camera handles high-contrast areas; the highlights get blown out in the bright areas, but the exposure still looks good for the majority of the photo. The camera software on the other hand can be a little difficult. By default there is no review mode after taking a picture. You can change this in the settings if you dig for the option, but new users might be confused when pressing the shutter button does not show the picture you just took. Also, there’s no digital zoom option, so you’ll have to move the camera in order to get the composition you want (or crop it in the computer afterwards.)

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The Infuse 4G tops out at 720p HD in terms of video recording capabilities, but the colors are great as is the frame rate. Focus and exposure changes happen quickly and accurately, though it certainly doesn’t switch to macro focus mode while filming.

PERFORMANCE

Samsung’s Touch Wiz implementation on the Infuse 4G seems to be their best attempt yet at Android 2.2 customizations. (The Galaxy S 2 brings some new customizations to Android 2.3) It’s been fast and stable, though you’ll see our benchmark results below are nothing to write home about. Interestingly, despite the lower end benchmark results, the Infuse 4G seemed to have much less lag problems than the LG Optimus 2X dual core Tegra 2 device we tested earlier.

Quadrant: 1109

Smartbench 2011: Productivity 1019, 2529 Games

LinPack: 15.315 MFLOP, 5.47 Seconds

CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED



One of the big deals about the Infuse 4G is that it is AT&T’s first phone to support Category 14 HSPA+. That means it’s theoretically capable of the faster 21 Mbps download speeds. Unfortunately, from what we’ve seen AT&T’s network isn’t really capable of great HSPA+ speeds. We’ve only been able to see up to 6Mbps download speeds with the Infuse 4G, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S 4G with its Category 14 HSPA+ support on T-Mobile’s network can sometimes get around 9 Mbps. Call quality was quite clear and the speakerphone was plenty loud.

BATTERY LIFE

The Infuse 4G’s battery life seems a bit better than usual thanks to the slightly larger 1750mAh battery. Doing some significant video recording or playback will probably kill the battery after a half day, but with light use, push Exchange, Gmail, and IMAP email checking every 1 hour, the battery should last a day and a half or so. Under a heavy use case scenario, you’ll be able to get through a full day. However, you should be sure to use the task manager to end your background tasks since those tend to kill your battery a lot faster if left running.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

You can buy the Samsung Infuse 4G from AT&T for $199 with a two year contract.

PROS

+ Humungous 4.5″ Super AMOLED Plus display is gorgeous and is visible outdoors

+ Thin and light

+ Includes $25 Samsung Media Hub credit

+ HSPA+ Cat 14 AT&T 4G broadband support

+ Task manager makes it easy to close programs

+ Very nice 8 megapixel camera with flash

+ Larger battery than many other similar smartphones

+ Includes HDMI adapter

CONS

– 4.5″ screen is difficult to use one-handed

– No included software for things like 2 way video calling, eBooks, or music purchasing

– AT&T’s HSPA+ network isn’t as fast as T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network

– It’s big!

CONCLUSION

Overall, we were very impressed with the Infuse 4G, thanks to a great balance of good battery life, snappy performance, a great screen, and solid imaging. The huge screen is great for watching videos, recording videos, taking and looking at pictures, and of course playing games. Other applications and interface elements feel a little too large, but then again that could be just because we’re used to screens that aren’t quite as big. The extra large screen also makes one-handed usability a bit of a chore. You have to scoot the device up or down in order to be able to reach either the notifications tray or the lower hardware buttons. If you’re more of the two-handed user, then that’s less of an issue. There are a lot of people looking for large screened smartphones these days though, so if you’re one of them, the Samsung Infuse 4G is probably what you’re looking for.

I give the Samsung Infuse 4G a 4/5.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!