Name: Samsung Infuse 4G
Price: $200 w/Two-year contract
The Backstory: It’s no secret that AT&T’s HSPA+ network hasn’t lived up to the hype. Reports back in March had its high-speed network actually performing slower than its 3G network on some devices (the HTC Inspire can attest to that). Samsung would like to change that. With its newest AT&T offering, the Infuse 4G, Samsung becomes the first manufacturer to build a handset capable of delivering 21Mbps downloads.
Donning the largest capacitive touchscreen available (4.5 inches), along with some great software upgrades and accessories, Samsung definitely seems to have a monster on its hands. But can it prevail where HTC’s device failed? And can AT&T get its 4G network to perform at the lightening speed it's promised? We can only hope so. Here's our take.
• Largest Super AMOLED display ever: Samsung blesses the Infuse with its beautiful patented touchscreen and ups the ante by expanding it from the already huge 4.3 inches to 4.5 inches. The display generates over 16.7 million colors and offers colorful, stunning visuals. Viewing angles and onscreen typing proved to be a great experience thanks to the large display and spacious virtual keyboard. High-res images and high-quality videos looked phenomenal, too.
• Slimmer and lighter form factor: You see a phone with a ginormous display like the Infuse and presume two things: It’s bulky and heavy. Not the case here. Measuring at 0.35 inches thick, it could possible be the slimmest handset available. Not only that, but it tips the scales at a scant 4.90 ounces. It's lighter than a dumb phone.
• TouchWiz gets an upgrade: Even though the Infuse doesn’t ship with Samsung’s latest UI, TouchWiz 4.0, there are still some great features in the 3.0 version that enhances the user-experience. Besides coming fully loaded with 38 apps and seven homescreens, the Infuse offers some useful widgets like Power Control, Social Updates, and Google Search. Unlike HTC Sense, which requires users to manually place widgets on any homescreen, TouchWiz will automatically search and position it in the nearest open space. Best of all, there’s no need to download any bloatware task killers from the Android Market because there’s a robust Task Manager program that provides great usage activity stats.
• DLNA- and multimedia-ready: You can wirelessly share content with other DLNA devices using the AllShare app or view media files on any DLNA-enabled TV. The Gallery app flaunts a cool 3D background and allows you to crop and rotate images stored in the phone, while the music player has a dope interface that offers nine equalizer sound settings, including a custom setting to crank some serious noise. There’s even a widget that pops up when the phone is locked that lets you control your music playlist. DivX and WMV videos also looked incredible, ran smooth, and were lag-free.
• Great battery power? Yes: Most 4G phones are dubbed juice guzzlers, but the Infuse’s 1750 mAh battery has some serious power in its tank. We managed to go an entire day (through moderate use) without charging the phone and pulled a good 10 to 12 hours while running a few energy-draining programs like wi-fi and the video player.
• Additional MHL adapter: Not only does the accompanying MHL adapter (Mobile High-def Link) allow you to output to a universal HDMI outlet and view content on a larger display platform, but you can also charge the phone via USB cable or wall plug at the same time. Once connected to a Sony Bravia HDTV, images looked crisp and audio was impressively loud. What better way to put the newly available Netflix app to use, right?
• Another 4G-phone without true 4G: As the first-ever AT&T device to support HSPA+/HSUPA at launch, the Infuse is advertised to push up to 21Mbps data speeds. But just like the Inspire 4G, it fails to deliver the lightening-fast adventure the carrier promised everyone. Even after badmouthing its latest acquisition, Ma Bell could use some some assistance from T-Mobile’s 4G network.
• No Gingerbread or dual-core processor: The addition of a 1GHz dual-core CPU (found in the Motorola Atrix) or Android’s newest OS would have definitely made up for the lack of 4G speed. Instead, Samsung packages the device with the standard Android 2.2 Froyo OS and the second-gen 1GHz Hummingbird processor.
• Web browser and e-mail issues: Opening Flash-heavy websites resulted in long loading times and caused the phone to lock up once in a while. Even downloading a third-party web browser like Mozilla Firefox didn’t help the cause. We also experienced some problems with our Gmail inbox, as recent e-mails weren't being sent to our inbox, but were available when we accessed the All Mail option. Weird.
Final Say: When it comes to visual flair, Samsung’s latest Android model doesn’t half step. Its eye-catching and monstrous AMOLED screen looks awesome and offers great outdoor visibility. On top of that, the device welcomes some top-notch multimedia facets (MHL Adapter, DLNA), awesome dual-camera action, a user-friendly UI, and a huge app library that will keep you glued to the device. Still, besides its large touchscreen, the phone’s other huge selling point is its 4G coverage, which unfortunately disappoints. But once AT&T starts rolling out its 4G network across big city markets, we’re hoping it will be just as reliable as its 3G service. All in all, even with the carrier’s high-speed woes, the Infuse 4G serves as a great smartphone for any Android and AT&T user.