Samsung Captivate SGH-I897 - 16GB - Black (AT&T) Smartphone Reviews
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Samsung Captivate SGH-I897 - 16GB - Black (AT&T) Smartphone

486 ratings (14 Epinions reviews)
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Samsung Captivate - Both Captivating and Captive

Mar 9, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Durability:
  • Clarity:
  • Portability:
  • Battery Life:

Pros:Android OS, Market & Applications, Screen, Size, Swype, Video, Solid Phone, More Freedom than Apple

Cons:GPS, Battery Life, AT&T Preloaded Apps, No Android OS Upgrade

The Bottom Line:

I recommend the Captivate to anyone who needs a solid smartphone with a great screen, but does not need to rely on the GPS feature.

History & What Influenced my Decision to Buy the Captivate
Prior to buying the Captivate, I owned a BlackBerry Curve smart-phone and before that I owned a Dell PDA and a Palm Pilot. My BlackBerry Curve had awesome battery life, but I got frustrated with a sticking trackball and reading on a small screen. I was interested in the Apple iPhone4 and had intentions to replace my BlackBerry with the iPhone. Then the iPhone4 antenna problems became big news and Apple's immediate response was to deny the problem. I did not like the way Apple handled the problem, so I looked for alternatives.

The Samsung Galaxy S was released right around the time I was looking for a new phone. I went into T-Mobile to look at the Samsung Vibrant and really liked the image on the screen, but I didn't like the plastic feel of the phone. Then I went into AT&T and looked at the Captivate. Everything was basically the same, except I liked the feel of the Captivate better than the Vibrant. The phone felt more solid and durable. I compared the Captivate to the iPhone 4 and both were similar in size. The images on the screens looked amazing on both phones. The Captivate had a rebate that put it $50 cheaper than the iPhone 4 and I couldn't see much difference in the phones, so with the Antenna problems looming over the iPhone 4 and cheaper price of the Captivate I chose the Captivate.

What I Like about the Captivate
  I really like the Android OS and the Android Market. I have downloaded over 50 applications for FREE and customized my phone to what I want it to be. Yes, the Apple Market for the iPhone is similar, but I have many friends with iPhones that pay for applications that I get for free on Android. I can choose to have live wallpapers as my background, or my own pictures in several configurations. I have more control over the settings on my phone and how it operates than non-Android phones.
   The colors and image quality on the Samsung Captivate is stunning. It is far better than my past PDA screens and BlackBerry screens. Photos and videos are vivid, which makes it a great handheld photo album to show off pictures. The camera takes pretty good pictures for a phone and even better pictures if you take the time to choose the right scene setting (instead of using auto). Personally, I think the video camera is one of the best features and it appears to do a better job of capturing video than the camera. It's not a camcorder, but the video quality is superior to what I've seen in other smartphones. 
   Another feature that I like on my Captivate is the Swype keyboard entry method. I had become very fast typing with my thumbs on the BlackBerry Curve and when I first tried typing with my thumbs on the Captivate I was disappointed. I found it was easier to turn the Captivate sideways, so I had a longer keyboard...but that made if awkward to use my thumbs. Eventually, I found and turned on the Swype feature. Soon, I was typing (Swyping) faster on my Captivate that I could ever type on my BlackBerry. It took a few days to adjust and learn some of the shortcuts, but gliding your finger over the keyboard without tapping anything is very fast. Instead of using two hands, I now use one finger. I especially like that I don't even have to spell the word correctly, because if I get close it provides a list of words for me to choose from.
   I really like the speed of the processor on the Captivate, especially compared to past PDA and smartphones. Most of the time, the phone is keeping up with me and not slowing me down. The AT&T network is usually the bottleneck for slowness based on my experiences. When I'm using the Wifi with a good signal the phone is really fast. Even games with fast and detailed graphics play very smooth without jitters and noticeable delays. Angry birds plays great, as well as games that use the tilt sensors.

What I Dislike about the Captivate
The GPS on my BlackBerry worked great, even inside some buildings. I used my GPS all the time and was looking forward to having a wider and bigger screen on my Captivate for GPS navigation. Then I tried to use the GPS on the Captivate and found that it had all kinds of problems. First, it won't work unless it has a clear view of the sky. Second, it takes forever to determine your location and often times it is off by at least 25-50 feet. Samsung eventually issued a "fix" for the problem, which certainly helps...but the GPS is barely usable even with the fix. The GPS is a big disappointment and it does not appear that Samsung is going to be able to produce a real fix for the problem. 
   I've also been disappointed with the battery life of the Captivate. With light to moderate usage I can make it through the day, but with heavy usage the battery is gone after about 7-8 hours. I've turned the screen brightness as low as it will go, the GPS radio turned off since it is useless, and I've even tried apps to help monitor/save battery life. I don't think the battery life is bad, considering the speed and image quality...but it limits how much you can use the phone during the day. 
  While many Android phone users have been able to upgrade to Froyo, Samsung Captivate owners are told to wait another 2-4 weeks. Considering how many Galaxy S phones Samsung has sold, it is very disappointing that we are one of the last to get Froyo. So while the Android OS is a strength of the phone, the inability for AT&T and Samsung to upgrade the phone's OS is a major concern.

My Conclusion & Recommendation
I really like my Samsung Captivate, but there are some major faults that need to be considered before you purchase one. First, if you rely on a GPS inside your phone, then the Captivate is NOT the phone for you. Second, if you plan to stream music on your phone, surf the web occasionally, text and talk on your phone consistently throughout the day then you will likely need to keep a charging cable nearby or consider a different phone. If you don't fall into one of the two categories I mentioned above, then the Captivate is a great phone that will probably make you very happy. The screen, image quality and speed of the phone are truly captivating, but I feel like I'm being held a captive with a GPS that is not usable and no Android OS upgrades.

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 150
Recommended for: Professionals On-the-Go - Internet and Email is a Must!

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