Leaping into the Present with the Samsung Galaxy S

Those who know me personally have come to expect a certain amount of frustration when trying to contact me on my phone, which until recently was a Motorola W755 clamshell phone which frequently lost connections, often failed to ring on incoming calls, and had a broken USB connector requiring me to remove the battery and place it in my previous Motorola phone whenever I needed a charge!

Enter the Samsung Galaxy S (“Fascinate” in Verizon's lineup). Yes, I'm aware that the S2 should be arriving in the USA in the third quarter of this year, but it will probably be priced around $300. The original S already has all the features I'm interested in, such as 6-axis inertial sensing and the OLED screen; 4G is less valuable than one might think given a lifestyle that affords constant wi-fi coverage as mine does; finally, at this late date, any smartphone at all is such an enormous discontinuous jump into the present that I can't really lose with any choice at all in this market!

My favorite features so far are the "desktop widgets" of the Android platform: the Astrid to-do list and the Google calendar app are displaying mysterious power to increase my productivity and ensure that I remember important plans. Also, having a somewhat decent camera with me at all times is something close to revolutionary.

Acquiring a smartphone benefits this blog as well. I'd tested it on mobile devices in the past, and it worked reasonably well, especially after my recent redesign which makes heavy use of progressive enhancement techniques, in particular css media queries. However, it wasn't perfect, mostly because I hadn't set this:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width initial-scale=1" />

Without it, the mobile browsers (both Android's and Mobile Safari) apply some scaling to the site initially, delivering a zoomed-out version of a medium-sized desktop experience and ignoring all the careful layout I constructed for really small widths. Applying the viewport meta tag did away with that, delivering what is, in my opinion, a much better default experience.

It's not been all roses, though. I do have some open problems with this phone:

  • I have three times gotten the phone into an unresponsive state requiring me to pull out and re-insert the battery! Holding down the power button was not enough to reboot the phone in any of these cases; apparently this button is not monitored by a hardware timer as I would expect. This state of affairs is made worse by having to prise open my cheap plastic case, which is unlikely to survive too many cycles of this tricky operation.
  • I am unable to receive photos over MMS. This seems to be a common problem with Android phones over the range of carriers with a variety of causes and solutions.

I'll update when I find some way of fixing either problem in my situation.

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