Snappy performance and good graphics; Long battery life; Fast 4G downloads; Good audio
Display not the sharpest; Heavy on T-Mobile apps and widgets; Lacks HDMI output
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G offers strong performance and long battery life in a more compact design than the Galaxy S II.
Not everyone is looking for a big-screen phone like the Samsung Galaxy S II. The Galaxy S Blaze 4G for T-Mobile has a smaller display (3.9 inches versus 4.5 inches) and smaller price ($149 versus $229) than its big brother. But can Samsung shrink the dimensions of its flagship phone without sacrificing the power and performance consumers have come to expect?
Samsung Galaxy S II. The Blaze is also more compact and lighter than the HTC Sensation 4G (5 x 2.6 x 0.4 inches, 5 ounces). The smaller footprint makes this handset easier to operate with one hand.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G draws somewhat from the Samsung Galaxy S II's design. The front is black with dark chrome accents surrounding a glossy 3.9-inch display. It's the handset's rear rubber panel that helps it stand out. While there's no lip like the Galaxy S II, it feels very comfortable to hold. The grippy material is emblazoned with a white Galaxy S insignia. The 5-megapixel camera, LED flash and twin speakers sit along the top in a dark gray brushed metal strip.
Note that the Blaze 4G doesn't include an HDMI port, not does it support a USB adapter for connecting the phone to your TV. You'll have to go the wireless route.
DisplayHTC Sensation 4G has a sharper resolution of 960 x 540 pixels, although its viewing angles aren't as wide as the Blaze 4G.
In terms of brightness, the 231 lux display fell short of the 297 Android smartphone category average, as well as the Galaxy S II's 249 lux display.
Watching the HD YouTube trailer for "Mirror Mirror," we were delighted by Snow White's ebony hair, ruby red lips and royal blue dress with accompanying marigold sash. However, the trailer appeared somewhat dark, and the same graininess we encountered with websites was also present here.
The twin rear speakers on the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G have a lot of kick, and easily filled a small room. The overarching disdain in Julia Roberts' voice came through loud and clear in that trailer. When we played Andre 3000's rendition of "My Favorite Things," the piano trilled brightly while the horns blared during the spastic delivery.
Both keyboards employ pleasant haptic feedback for a more tactile typing experience.
Software and Interface
Swiping down on the display reveals the Notifications shade for quick access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS settings.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G comes with a bevy of entertainment apps that provide access to a robust offering of free and paid content. Samsung Media Hub allowed us to rent the latest movies and TV shows for $3.99 and $1.99, respectively. We liked the OnDemand and LiveTV options offered on T-MobileTV that allowed us to watch up-to-the-minute news from Fox News and the Associated Press, but the $12.99 monthly fee is too steep. Netflix rounds out the premium video lineup.
Other T-Mobile-branded apps include T-Mobile Mall, the Cozi-powered MobileLife Organizer, T-Mobile Name ID, 411 & More (which offers directory assistance and horoscopes) and More for Me, a location-based deals finder.
Third-party apps include Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, Qik and Google Tags, which organizes all your scanned Tags for easy sharing.
Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Blaze 4G is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 CPU with 1GB of RAM. We were able to play a few rounds of "Collaspe!" while streaming music from Slacker without any hiccups.
On the CPU portion of the Benchmark app, the Blaze 4G scored 2,576. That's 813 points above the 1,763 Android smartphone average, but well below the Galaxy S II (3,365). The HTC Sensation 4G and the T-Mobile myTouch Slide 4G, which both have 1.2GHz Qualcomm processors, scored 1,716 and 2,255 respectively.
On An3DBench, which measures graphics, the Blaze 4G scored 7,017, well above the 5,933 category average. However, the Sensation 4G and the myTouch Slide 4G performed slightly better with 7,072 and 7,098. The Galaxy S II continued to dominate, notching 7,394.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G comes with a 4GB microSD card that can be expanded to 32GB via the microSD slot, conveniently located on the right side of the phone.
Web Browsing and 4G
The mobile versions of NYTimes.com, ESPN.com and CNN.com loaded in an average of 5.2, 6.2 and 8.6 seconds respectively. The desktop version of Laptopmag.com loaded in 11.2 seconds. By comparison, the Galaxy S II loaded took an average of 6 seconds to load mobile sites and 11.6 seconds to load Laptopmag.com. The myTouch 4G Slide loaded NYTimes.com, ESPN.com and Laptop in 4.7, 7.5 and 12 seconds.
On Speedtest.net, the Blaze 4G delivered average download speeds of 11.4 Mbps and 1.5 Mbps uploads. That was more than enough to beat the Sensation 4G and the myTouch 4G Slide, which averaged 4.3/1.8 Mbps and 2.7/1.2 Mbps, respectively. However, the Galaxy S II was even better, notching speeds of 16.2 Mbps down and 1.7 Mbps up.
Camera and Camcorder
Our test video of New York City traffic yielded similar results. While we saw brilliant yellow cabs zoom past sleek black Crown Victorias, there was a noticeable amount noise that made reading text on signs somewhat difficult. The camera took about a second to readjust after we panned up to the sky and back down to street level.
The 1.3-megapixel front camera captures images in 720p. While our electric blue shirt appeared quite vivid, we also noticed a constant color fluctuation. Our Skype caller reported a fairly clear image with some motion blur, but told us the audio was clear.
We made some test calls to landlines and cellphones in New York and New Jersey. Calls to landlines delivered loud, clear audio. However, we did hear some echoes on speakerphone calls. Cell phone conversations were loud and clear in Manhattan, but experienced a few dropped calls in the Bronx.
The $149 Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is a mid-range Android phone that delivers strong performance, long battery life and fast 4G speeds. Some may find the avalanche of T-Mobile branded apps annoying, however. The identically priced HTC Sensation 4G has a sharper qHD display and higher-resolution 8-MP camera, but we suspect that many would rather carry the smaller and lighter Blaze 4G. Overall, the Blaze 4G is a very good choice for shoppers looking for a pocket-friendly Android phone with fast speeds and long endurance.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 2.3.6|
|CPU||1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||3.97 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||7 hours/9.5 days|
|Size||4.79 x 2.48 x 0.44 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|