Review: Samsung Infuse “4G”

Posted by CR H. on May 30, 2011

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Remember when the first 4.3” phones started to roll out (think EVO and Droid X)? Remember how everyone started saying phones couldn’t get any bigger and still be usable? Well, the Infuse “4G” from Samsung looks to be the first 4.5” Android phone. But is 4.5” usable for a phone? Is the Infuse any better than all the other Android phones out there? Read on to hear what we think!

Hardware / Design

Obviously, the Infuse is a big phone. At 4.5”, it’s a whole 2” larger than the iPhone 4 and .2” bigger than the EVO. But the Infuse doesn’t really come across as a huge phone, and that’s a good thing.

Samsung has managed to make the Infuse an exceptionally thin device – almost as thin as an iPhone 4. Thanks to its all plastic design, someone we’ve become accustomed to with a Samsung device, the Infuse is also fantastically light. So really, you can’t actually tell that you’re holding a 4.5” monster device. The physical phone really gets out of the way design wise and lets you focus on the massive screen.

On the front of the device is the standard front-facing cam and four capacitive Android buttons, which work quite well. Just like the Nexus S, the micro USB port is center on the bottom of the device, which we quite like. The power button sits on the top right of the device which is standard for a Samsung device and we don’t really mind it anymore, and the volume rocker sits opposite of the power button on the left hand side. Up top is the 3.5mm headphone jack, and around back is the 8MP shooter with LED flash.

Popping off the very, very flimsy battery door will lend you a look at the 1750mAh battery and SIM card slot. Tucked under the SIM card sits a 2GB micro SD card. You’ll unfortunately have to remove the battery in order to switch out the micro SD card, but that’s becoming the norm for today’s smartphones.

Overall, we really love the design of the Infuse. Samsung knows how to design a nice phone, especially so when it doesn’t borrow any ques from Apple’s devices. The Infuse is a pleasure to hold and use, which is excellent since the display is amazingly gorgeous and will keep you glued to the phone for quite some time.

Display

The Infuse’s massive display is a brand new Super AMOLED Plus display which does away with the awful pentile pixel arrangement and significantly increases the clarity of text. The display also has an amazing amount of brightness, which makes it possible to use outside in the blazing summer sun. Blacks are pure, whites are brilliant, and colors are amazingly vibrant.

Unfortunately, Samsung chose to stick with the standard 800×480 resolution on the Infuse, which is very disappointing. Even though there’s a massive display, apps and content just look big. This isn’t to say things look bad on the screen, but we can only imagine just how amazingly awesome an SAMOLED+ display with a super high res would be.

Even with its lackluster resolution, the display on the Infuse is hands down our favorite feature of the device, which we suspect is what Samsung was going for while designing the device.

Software

The Infuse ships with a TouchWiz’ed build of 2.2.1 Froyo, which is a little disappointing now that Gingerbread has been out for quite some time. We do fully expect that the Infuse will receive a Gingerbread build at some point, but that could be months away.

Thankfully TouchWiz is a rather nice Android UI, generally adding to the user experience as opposed to taking away from it (we’re looking at you, MotoBlur). We love that you can delete unused homescreens, and we think the pinch gestures to see all of your homescreens or app screens is pretty nifty. We suspect most of you know plenty already about Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, so we won’t go on anymore about it.

Performance is excellent, and much faster and smoother than that of the dual-core packing Droid X2. Scrolling between homescreens, even with a live wallpaper running, was buttery smooth. Apps loaded up and ran smoothly, including Angry Birds which comes preloaded on the Infuse. You can see a shot of the rather low Quadrant score below, but we recommend you don’t put much weight into it. Bottom line, the Infuse is a fast device thanks to having a 1.2GHz CPU, even if it is only single-core.

Battery Life

When we first received the Infuse, we weren’t expecting anything spectacular out of the battery with it powering a highly clocked CPU and huge display. But thankfully we were completely wrong. The Infuse gets fantastic battery life, easily getting through an entire day in an extremely low signal use while receiving push email for numerous accounts and polling Twitter every five minutes for mentions and DMs. We don’t think anyone will have a problem getting through a whole day of moderate usage with the Infuse.

Call quality, reception, HSPA+, etc.

The Infuse is marketed as a “4G” device along with the Motorola Atrix and HTC Inspire on AT&T. As you can see in the shot above, AT&T defines “4G” as “HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul”, which we think is rather disappointing. Thankfully the Infuse is AT&T’s first 21Mb capable HSPA+ phone, which should allow for much higher downlink speeds than those found on the iPhone, Atrix, etc. Unfortunately we didn’t find that to be the case.

On average, the Infuse got around 1Mb down and around 300Kb up, which isn’t anything special compared to our trusty iPhone 4 with its lowly HSPA radio. The Infuse did occasionally surprise is and got above 3Mb down, but that was very rare. We’d say you should expect to see the same old HSPA speeds you’ve been enjoying for years now with the Infuse. As such, we don’t think it’s anything but pure marketing spin to say the Infuse is a “4G” device.

Reception certainly wasn’t fantastic, but it also wasn’t bad. While our iPhone 4 (again) pulled higher dBs almost everywhere we went, the Infuse never dropped to EDGE or completely lost service – which isn’t something that can be said for every AT&T phone we’ve used. Call quality was reasonably good and we don’t have any complaints about it.

Pricing

The Infuse “4G” is available for the standard $199.99 from AT&T on a two-year contract.

Conclusion

The Infuse is a really fantastic device. We were impressed with everything about it, save for the lousy HSPA+ speeds – but we were expecting that. The display is simply awesome, the design is great, TouchWiz is pretty nice as far as Android UIs go, and the battery life is exceptional for an Android device.

We’d actually say that the Infuse is the very best Android device currently available on AT&T. You can install non-Market apps out of the box, you get a real HSPA+ radio, and a very fast phone. If you’re on AT&T and are looking for a new Android device, we’d highly recommend the Infuse “4G”.

CR H. (11 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


CR H. is avid about all things technology, especially in the mobile space. Credit for his love of technology goes to his mom who signed him up for ComputerTots at his daycare. CR is currently a full time student in Baltimore, MD working towards a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. Student by day and IT consultant by night, CR surrounds himself with technology whenever possible. He’s especially fond of mobile phones, generally going through a device per month, but can always be found with at least one iPhone. His email is: CR(at)mobilitysite(dot)com, and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MRCUR

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