Samsung Continuum Review - First Look at the Dual Screen Samsung Galaxy S Phone from Verizon
Samsung Continuum Review
The Samsung Galaxy S has taken quite a foothold in the U.S. market. Not too long after the release of the Verizon variant, the Samsung Fascinate, Samsung and Verizon have partnered up to create one more Samsung Galaxy S phone, exclusive to Verizon, the Samsung Continuum. The Samsung Continuum, released on November 18th, is quite a unique phone. The Continuum is the first smartphone to feature 2 Super AMOLED screens, one being the main screen and the other being a small ticker. The Samsung Continuum has been priced at $199.99 with a 2 year contract and after a $100 mail in rebate. The timing for the Samsung Continuum is right in time for the holidays, however, with the Samsung Fascinate being released not too much earlier, sales for either phone may cannibalize the other.
Samsung Continuum Specifications:
- Dimensions: 4.94 x 2.28 x 0.48 inches (125 x 58 x 12.2 mm)
- Weight: 4.25 oz (120 g)
- Display: 3.4 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels, 1.8 inch Super AMOLED ticker
- Memory: 2 GB + 8 GB MicroSD (included), expandable up to 32 GB
- OS: Android OS 2.1
- Processor: 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird Cortex A8
- Camera: 5 MP camera with LED flash, 720p HD video recording
- Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (850/1900 Mhz)
- Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0
- GPS: GPS with A-GPS
- Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Design and Display (5 out of 5)
The Samsung Continuum measures in at a smaller size than the rest of the Samsung Galaxy S family. The rounded edges also give the smartphone a smaller feel and look. The Continuum has the familiar design with the front being largely the display along with a black, sleek finish around the sites. The big item that separates the Samsung Continuum from other smartphones is its second 1.8 inch ticker display that resides beneath the main 3.4 inch display. Both the displays are Super AMOLED screens, just like the other Samsung Galaxy S phones, allowing the Continnum to have some extreme viewing angles and allowing it to be a bit easier to use in direct sunlight. Between the two displays are the familiar touch sensitive Android shortcuts, menu, home, back and search.
To the left resides the volume rocker and the microUSB for charging and hooking up to computers. On the right side is a slot for the external microSD card, which comes in handy, and dedicated camera button. Up top is the 3.5 mm headphone jack along with the power button. On each side you’ll also notice two sensors, grip sensors, that cause the ticker display to light up. Rounding out the back is the 5 megapixel camera along with an LED flash. Overall a familiar design but Samsung has, yet again, hit it out of the park. They made the Samsung Continuum look sleek, curved and small.
Hardware and Software (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Continnum packs a 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird Cortex A8 processor, much like the other Samsung Galaxy S phones. The processor is definitely more than enough to handle not only the display and functionality on the 3.4 inch screen but on the 1.8 inch ticker screen as well. Very little lag was seen with the Samsung Continuum even when running fairly resource intensive applications.
Software wise, the Samsung Continuum comes loaded with Android 2.1 along with their proprietary overlay, TouchWiz UI 3.0. It’s a bit disappointing that the Samsung Continuum comes loaded with Android 2.1 rather than Android 2.2. There seems to already be delays with updating the Fascinate and Epic 4G to Android 2.2, and one has to wonder if the Samsung Continuum will suffer the same fate. For a smartphone coming out in mid-to-late November, the Continuum should have come loaded with Android 2.2.
Also, the Android OS is slightly modified in that Google is no longer the default. Verizon signed a 5 year deal with Microsoft to make Bing the preferred application to use. If you’ve been using other Android smartphones and you decide to switch to the Samsung Continuum, the search bar is actually for Bing and the maps application is actually the Microsoft version, in addition to VZW Navigator.
User Interface (5 out of 5)
The Samsung Continuum’s user interface is definitely familiar to Android users. For new users, it’s extremely easy to pick up and very user friendly. TouchWiz UI 3.0 also adds to the easy to user interface and, like the other Samsung Galaxy S phones, has an application screen very much akin to the iOS screen on the Apple iPhone. The Samsung Continuum, in addition to the virtual keyboard comes loaded with Swype. For users unfamiliar with Swype, it is a keyboard application that allows you to type by swiping from letter to letter. It’s extremely handy and fairly accurate when it comes to selecting the word you want to type.
The unique feature to the Samsung Continuum is the 1.8 inch Super AMOLED ticker screen.
Wrap your hand around the phone and give it a slight squeeze and the ticker will turn on. Once the ticker turns on, you can swipe left and right to view the various ticker updates that appear. Some items you can view from the ticker are Twitter updates, RSS feeds, missed calls, time and weather. In addition, while you’re using the phone, the ticker stays lit, allowing you to view the time, weather and any text messages or call messages that occur while you’re busy using the phone. The ticker is also touch sensitive, meaning you can interact with the ticker screen. Simply click on the update and your main display will switch to the application.
Overall the Samsung Continuum has got an excellent user interface and the unique ticker is a great addition to an already great Android user interface. One thing to note is that the ticker currently does not work with other third party applications.
Features (3 out of 5)
The Samsung Continuum comes with a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash. Verizon made a great choice keeping flash on their Samsung Galaxy phones. It may seem like a small feature but the GSM counterparts, the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant and the AT&T Samsung Captivate both lack in the LED flash department. The camera overall functions well and the pictures come out clean and crisp, it can actually replace a point and shoot camera. The inclusion of the camera button is also a welcome addition, as the Vibrant doesn’t have one and it’s actually quite annoying having to touch the screen when trying to take pictures.
The main feature is, of course, the ticker screen. The 1.8 inch Super AMOLED ticker is a very interesting and useful feature for the Samsung Continuum. It’s easy to use, and not very intrusive. However, for some folks, the ticker may not be that great of a feature. Some people may feel like they’re overloaded with information on the ticker and may not like the updates that stream on the small screen, information overload, so to speak. There is some amount of customization that’s needed to ensure that you get the information you want without being boggled by the information you don’t need.
The Samsung Continuum has the Android Market, meaning you can download applications that you think you might need. The phone itself comes with the standard Verizon bundle, and it’s defaulted to Bing. I’ve expressed this in other reviews, but the defaulting of Bing and making it extremely complicated to get Google as the default is very frustrating. This is an Google Android platform, and Verizon tampering with it to force Bing upon users seems like a very bad business decision being forced upon their customers.
The Final Verdict (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Continuum ranks at a solid ‘Good’ rating. The timing of the Continuum is odd, considering the Samsung Fascinate just recently came out on Verizon. There are some disappointing aspects of the Continuum, such as the fact that it isn’t Android 2.2, just like the previously released Samsung Fascinate, and that Bing has been forced as the default rather than Google. Just some small hiccups to a very innovative smartphone.
The Samsung Continuum’s ticker is a great feature, and it’s surprising that something similar hasn’t been released before. When playing games or browsing the web, just take a glance at the ticker and you know what time it is without having to exit. While watching a video, if you get a call from a number you don’t know, you can just ignore it right on the ticker. It’s these small features that make the Samsung Continuum’s ticker a very innovative and helpful addition to an already beautiful phone.