September 25th, 2012

Ctrl+Alt+Del - Scott & Ted

Regular Use Impressions: Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G

Today for my exercise out for some fresh air I bit the bullet by buying a new phone. My current one is showing its age with mild battery drain issues and some very notable stutter when launching certain applications, like the maps. The new phone is one I previously mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G. It has a bigger physical keyboard, a bigger screen, practically more than twice as fast of a processor, and on paper looked better in every way.

Until I got a close look at the screen without my glasses on while playing Solitaire. This is a screen you're not supposed to get closer than ~1.5 feet to. No, seriously, much closer than that and I can see all the black lines between the sub-pixels and everything looks jagged. Upon further research I discovered that the Relay uses a subpixel matrix called PenTile. This makes each subpixel a different size and even shape, causing the jagged look. What should appear as a straight line instead appears liked a jagged wave.

Click through to see images of these different displays through a microscope

This blog entry contains high resolution pictures and drawings of "the checker board effect"

Several of the screen resolution specifications put the new phone as having a slightly higher pixel dimensions. It didn't take me long to think that the display didn't feel much, if any, bigger than my old one, and Wikipedia has just confirmed that it's using the exact same 480x800 display. My 2 year old G2 phone has a 252 pixels per inch display, while the new one has a 233 ppi display. What this essentially does is take the same picture and stretch it across a larger surface, distorting it. This also helps explain the high visibility of the black area between the subpixels.

Lastly, the slide-out motion of the keyboard is very stiff. If my fingers are even slightly slick it becomes impossible to push it open; instead I have to push it open a fraction, then grab it from the other side and pull it the rest of the way open. Also, being even slightly off-center makes it incredibly difficult to slide open as well. In general it's not such a huge deal, but it can become rather frustrating very quickly and makes what should be a quick easy-to-type message into more of an ordeal.

For something that I'm going to look at often and closely, this could be a deal breaker. Without my glasses things more than 1.25 feet away start to get blurry, yet that's the exact point in which things on the screen start to get pixelated. If I'm looking at my phone in bed without my glasses on then chances are I'm going to see those jagged edges. I'll give it a few days to adjust, see if it's still bothering me, and then decide if I'll keep or return it. Chances are, though, this has become a 50$ restocking fee of a lesson to stop buying things without having hands-on experience with them.
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