After a couple of months of having the Samsung Galaxy S from my carrier Telcel, I now feel I can write a few lines about it and give you some heads up if you’re in Mexico and planning to get one as well.
First of all I’d like to start saying that it is a great device. Its a very light and slim phone. I used to carry around a Nokia N95, and switching to the Galaxy S is like switching from carrying a brick to a small pebble. I actually had some jeans with the mark of the N95 stretching the denim, now I wont worry about ripping my jeans with my phone. The screen size is great and the Super AMOLED resolution is very comfortable and bright. If you’re used to the iPhone’s screen, you’ll definately love the Galaxy S bright and high contrast screen. Also its a very fast phone with its 1Ghz processor and a very fast GPU unit, its the most decent Android phone offered by the largest carrier Telcel (at the time of this writing).
That said, now to the bad sides of it. First, it comes with Eclair and the Froyo update is yet to be announced in Latin America (or at least Mexico as far as I know). But mainly, the bad part is: its from Telcel. And I’m not talking about the carrier service (which is very questionable, but off topic). What I’m saying here is that Telcel “crippled” it. The phone is loaded with crapware, and is missing key android OS ingredients.
They decided to remove Google search and replace it with Yahoo! (Bing). They removed the Gmail and Gtalk apps, and replace is with a Samsung email app doesn’t support Gmail at all, Gtalk is completely abscent. Oh and forget about trying to install them through the Android Market; its been filtered so these Google apps and others (like Firefox and Adobe Flash among others) are not available.
And last but not least, they removed the Voice Dialler app. Now why would they do that? For me its a security risk, since I drive a lot and I’m used to voice dial via my Bluetooth headset. Now I have to turn my sight off the road to see the phone in order to dial a phone, risking myself (and others) while driving.
I contacted Samsung Mexico and they answered back saying that those changes were made by Telcel, so they are really the ones to blame for this atrocities.
The good news is that custom ROMs are the solution to these problems. If you don’t mind the warranty and all that, you can “safely” use Darky’s ROM which is based on Froyo with some nice improvements (thanks to @weymaster for helping me with my fear to install it). So far its the only ROM I know that works well with Telcel in Mexico. It makes the phone very fast, improve battery use and fix some GPS issues the Eclair based original firmware has. It also restores all the Google apps that Telcel removed, removes the carrier’s crapware and unfilters the Android Market. I really recommend the “upgrade”.
The Darky’s ROM page has all the instructions on how to upgrade. On my experience, I recommend you to use the Wipe version, which will delete everything on your phone, so be sure to make a backup first, of the data and an image of the original firmware, just in case you need to take it to warranty and you have to restore the phone’s original state from the carrier.
Overall its a very good choice if you’re in the looks for a smartphone of this kind and don’t want to buy an iPhone. I’ve been very happy with it, and even more after I “upgraded” it.
If have one, share in the comments your experience with it, maybe give out some tips on must have apps. I’ll be posting more on android and mobile computing now that I finally joined that bandwagon.