Review: Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G (T-Mobile)
With the Unpacked event being held in under a day, many users are prepping themselves for the announcement of the Galaxy S III. However, some users may prefer a smaller screen, or may not want to wait very long for a phone to come out. If you fall into these two categories, the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G may be for you. The Blaze 4G runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor. The Blaze offers many features that combine high-end and mid-range phones to form a high quality budget device. How does the Blaze stand up against its competitors? Keep reading to find out.
Samsung impacted the Android ecosystem two years ago with the Galaxy S. The device featured what would become a trademark name and would be known to almost every Android nerd out there; the Super AMOLED display. Samsungʼs marketing on the Galaxy S line was its strong display and fast processor. Now with the Blaze 4G, the Super AMOLED screen returns, but to a little disappointment. The screen on the device is 4-inches diagonally, which is significantly smaller than the Galaxy S II on T-Mobile, which has a 4.5-inch display. Behind the 4-inch glass is an 800 by 480 SAMOLED display. It’s a little upsetting that Samsung and T-Mobile decided to include the Super AMOLED display, as opposed to the Super AMOLED + display which was announced over a year ago. Either way, the display on the Blaze is outstanding, featuring high quality colors and great brightness. I had little no to problems with the display such as screen-bleeds, dead pixels, etc. Although I feel that a Super AMOLED + display would’ve been a better choice, the Blaze 4G gets the job done.
Amongst the arrival of phones such as the One S and One XL which run on Qualcomm’s S4 processor, the Blaze 4G was recently announced with the S3 that appeared on the Galaxy S II for T-Mobile and the Galaxy S II Skyrocket 4G for AT&T. The S3 processor was used as a buffer against the lack of Exynos, which was clearly the stronger chipset, when the carriers decided to opt out of it in favor of promoting their high-tier data speeds. The S3 joins the Blaze 4G’s hardware at a clock speed of 1.5GHz per core, at two cores. The S3 provides great speeds, and although not as speedy as the S4 or last year’s Exynos, it was able to run through my tasks at ease, some of which involve processor and GPU intensive games, heavy multitasking, and the occasional social networking. In Quadrant, the Blaze 4G consistently scored a 3800, which was only 300 (points?) below what I received on the Epic 4G Touch, which ran on a 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos CPU. In everyday tasks, there were no problems, but if you’re a heavy gamer whose looking into purchasing some expensive games such as Modern Combat 3 and Shadowgun, you might want to look into something else for the time being.
Behind the scenes of the Blaze 4G lies a 1750 mAh battery that promises up to 7 hours of talk time. As my time with the Blaze 4G has been spent mostly while on vacation while I was away from a computer, my usage has been pretty intense. Still, the battery life had been better than expected, as I was able to squeeze in around 6-7 hours of usage before having to stop and charge. In this time, I had the display on automatic brightness, 4G on, constantly using the internet, and playing games like Temple Run and Pocket God. Samsung and T-Mobile joined together to build a power-saving app that utilizes both T-Mobile pre-installed applications and Samsung’s power saving utility. The power saver gives users the option to activate the service once the battery percentage hits a certain level. I had the power saver set to 20% battery, at which point it would dim the screen and disable many features that I wouldn’t plan on using once I hit critical battery life. I have to give it to Samsung and T-Mobile for being honest with their battery expectancies, unlike some other devices that promised much more than I was able to get.
Whether you’re a professional photographer, a teenage girl who uses Instagram and prefers to call themselves a photographer, or just a regular person, you should be curious about the details of the camera on your phone. The Blaze 4G brings a 5MP camera on the back, featuring LED flash and 720p video recording. On the front of the device right above the screen is a 1.3MP camera. The Galaxy S Blaze 4G won’t be able to capture images as well as a Galaxy S II would, but it is pretty standard in terms of current devices. Besides, after all those retro-filters that people add to it, what will it matter anyway?
(taken with a Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G)
The Galaxy S Blaze 4G is pretty basic in terms of design. It follows Samsung’s uniform line of devices, with the four traditional Android buttons (menu, home, back, and search), along with a Samsung branding right above, followed by the screen, a carrier branding, and then laid across the top portion of the front of the device lay your speaker, sensors, and 1.3MP front-facing camera. A band of metallic silver plastic surrounds the sides of the devices where the glass of the screen meets with the rubber backing of the device. On the rear there is a Galaxy S branding along with a brushed aluminum plate where the camera, flash, and additional speaker grill are. The left side of the device houses a volume rocker switch, and the right side holds the power/lock switch. On the top of the Blaze 4G is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, followed by a microUSB charging and data port on the bottom. The Blaze 4G does a spectacular job of differentiating itself from its Samsung counterparts by bringing in a quality design that moves away from the basic cheap plastic feel of most Samsung products.
As Samsung continues to roll out Android 4.0 upgrades to their line of devices, it was pretty unexpected that the Blaze 4G launched with Gingerbread (2.3). The device features Samsung’s TouchWiz 4.0 UI overlay on top of Google’s previous iteration of Android: Gingerbread. TouchWiz is known to be one of the least bloated user interfaces available from manufacturers. Unlike MotoBLUR and Sense, many of the TouchWiz features are embedded into the launcher, and can easily be diminished by installing a third party home screen application such as Go Launcher EX, Launcher Pro, or HELauncher. I prefer the TouchWiz software over any other manufacturer overlay because it gives a lot of features at little to no cost of the performance or battery life. UIs like MotoBLUR are known to be battery intensive and slow down your phone, all for the ability to update your FaceBook and Twitter at the same time. That’s pretty magical if you ask me. </sarcasm> Overall, I hope that Samsung keeps support for the Galaxy S Blaze 4G and updates it to Android 4.0.
The Blaze 4G receives most of its marketing through the same feature that many phones nowadays do; data speeds. The Blaze runs on T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network. The Blaze 4G is capable of reaching theoretical speeds of up to 42 megabytes/second. That won’t happen, unfortunately. I was getting around 6MB/s with full coverage in Orlando, Florida. I’m perfectly content with these speeds, as they were much more than my Motorola Cliq ever got. T-Mobile did a great job with making download speeds on the Blaze 4G fly, but I feel like their marketing could’ve targeted realistic speeds instead of theoretical speeds.
Overall, the Blaze 4G is a great phone. It provides a high-end experience for users who are beginning to move up in the Android world. Even though it uses the previous generation in the Snapdragon chipset family, the Blaze runs extremely fast, and the slim fit and well thought out design makes sure that users aren’t out carrying a plastic brick. Samsung and T-Mobile prepared the device perfectly, and it isn’t getting quite the hype and recognition that it receives. The Blaze makes a great addition to the Galaxy S line, as it joined the series along with the Captivate Glide on AT&T. Although it doesn’t quite compare to the Galaxy S II lineup, it gives a great option to those who want a blazing fast phone with speedy networks and need it to fit in their pockets with more than enough room. If I were to put this on a scale in terms of high-end phones, it would get a 3.5/5, but if it’s in a mid-ranged category, the Blaze 4G receives a 4.5/5 stars. For anyone looking for an easy to handle and fast phone, you can get the Blaze 4G now at T-Mobile USA for only $79.99 online with a new two year contract. Thank you for reading, and we hope this review helps you make a decision!