Long battery life; S Beam, S Voice included; Unlimited 4G LTE (where available)
Relatively thick design; Low-resolution display; Slow camera
The Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE offers long battery life and some of the S III's coolest features for half the price, but the bulky design and low-res screen are turnoffs.
LTE? Check. S Voice? Check. NFC? Check. No, we're not talking about the Galaxy S III, but rather the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE, an Android smartphone that has many of the same features as Samsung's flagship device, but costs just $99. There are, however, some trade-offs for the Victory's $100 savings over the S III, including a lower resolution display. So is the Victory a win for bargain hunters?
The rest of the phone features the same gray paint job found on the chin piece. The battery cover gets an ever-so-slight flourish by way of a barely visible thatched pattern. The cover is also coated in a glossy paint that easily picks up fingerprints and makes the Victory feel slippery.
At the top of the battery cover is the Victory's 5-megapixel camera and LED flash, and at the bottom is a large speaker grille. A dedicated camera button sits on the right side, while the left side houses a volume rocker and microSD card slot. The 3.5mm headphone jack and power button are up top and the micro USB port is on the bottom.
Measuring 4.8 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches and weighing 4.9 ounces, the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE is slightly chunky. The LG Viper 4G LTE, which also offers a 4-inch display, is slightly smaller, 4.6 x 0.5 x 0.47 inches, but weighs roughly the same at 5 ounces. The larger Galaxy Nexus (5.3 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches) weighs more at 5.1 ounces, but is significantly slimmer and crams in a bigger 4.7-inch display.
A 1080p trailer for the movie "Looper" showed a fair amount of detail--the wrinkles in Bruce Willis' face, for one--but the frequent lens flare effects around bright light sources appeared grainy. On the plus side, the display's 447 lux rating was well above the 297 category average as well as the Galaxy Nexus (334 lux). Still, the LG Viper 4G LTE's 655 lux rating and iPhone 4S (549 lux) are brighter.
Audio from the Victory's rear speaker was loud enough to fill a small conference room, but at higher volumes, the audio sounded distorted. While listening to The Black Keys' "Howlin' for You," the opening drum sequence had a distinct, unwanted echo. We also had a difficult time distinguishing individual instruments from each other in songs like The Naked and Famous' "Young Blood." Synthesizer and guitar riffs melded together into a mishmash of sound, while the cymbal crashes sounded tinny.
The Galaxy Victory 4G LTE uses Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz interface. You get five home screens, three of which already have content on them, including widgets for Samsung's Media Hub app and AccuWeather.com.
Like the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Victory includes a quick settings bar in the notification shade. From here, you can switch on the phone's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sync and Auto-rotate features, as well as adjust the display brightness or jump directly into the system settings.
If you grow tired of the Victory's standard interface, you can use change things up with the Sprint ID app. From here, users can download different themes, or ID Packs, which change your device's home screen wallpapers and basic apps. The Notre Dame ID Pack, for example, changes the Victory's background to the school's "ND" logo and colors. Apps include shortcuts to the school's mobile website, sports pages and more.
The An3DBench benchmark proved more challenging for this device. The Galaxy Victory managed a score of 7,215, falling short of the LG Viper's 7,421, as well as the Galaxy Nexus (7,688). The Victory did, however, top the smartphone category average of 7,134.
On the Quadrant test, which measures a phone's CPU, I/O and 3D graphics capabilities, the Galaxy Victory registered 4,199, far better than the Android average of 2,743. The LG Viper 4G LTE scored 3,042, and the Nexus returned a much lower 1,861.
In everyday use, the Victory proved responsive, but we found there was as much as a one-second delay from the time we pressed the Home button to when the home screen showed up. However, disabling the home button launch shortcut for S Voice in settings sped things up.
Samsung has also bestowed the Victory with the S III's S Beam feature, which allows users to wirelessly share photos and apps with other S III or Galaxy Victory users. Google Wallet allows you to pay for items at participating stores via the Victory's NFC chip and your linked credit or debit card.
Sprint apps on the Galaxy Victory 4G LTE include Sprint Hotspot and Sprint Zone, which gives you access to all of your important account information as well as the carrier's newsfeed and technical support.
3G, 4G LTE and Web browsing
Web browsing on the Galaxy Victory was expectedly slow. It took an average of 25 seconds to load the full version of NYTimes.com and 8 seconds to load ESPN Mobile. Laptopmag.com took about 40 seconds.
Camera and Camcorder
We did, however, find the camera annoyingly slow when shooting photos. It regularly took as long as 2.5 seconds from the time we pressed the camera button to the time a photo saved.
The Victory's front-facing 1.3-MP camera provided relatively crisp images. Color reproduction was accurate and details were easily visible. Video shot using the front-facing camera was equally impressive.
Data Plans and Value
Sprint is one of the few carriers that still offers an unlimited data option. For $109 per month, you get unlimited talk, text and data. If you don't need unlimited voice, you can buy a 450-minute plan with unlimited text and data for $79.99 per month.
VerdictGalaxy S III. We're also impressed with this smartphone's battery life. However, the low-res screen and thick design scream budget phone. Although it suffers from shorter endurance, the $99 Samsung Galaxy Nexus laps the Victory with its larger and high-res display and newer Jelly Bean software. But if you need a smartphone that can go the distance--without an extended battery--the Victory is worth a look.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||850/900/1800/1900MHz UMTS Dual-band: 1700/2100MHz|
|CPU||1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 Lite processor|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4-inch 800 x 480 WVGA|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||QCP|
|Audio formats supported||OGG|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||M4A|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||MPEG-4|
|Video formats supported||H.264|
|Video formats supported||H.263|
|Video formats supported||Divx|
|Talk / Standby Time||7 hours/ 9 days|
|Size||4.8" x 2.5" x 0.5"|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|