New Galaxy Discovered

Smartphones based on the Android operating system have enjoyed a breakout year, with attention focused on top models such as the HTC Evo and the Motorola Droid X. Now, Samsung is poised to join the discussion as it is introduces Android phones at each of the nation’s major wireless carriers.

I’ve been testing the Samsung Vibrant, a Galaxy phone offered by T-Mobile. I’d put it in the same class as the Evo and the Droid X as phones you want to interact with. It’s lighter than those phones, in part because it has a 4-inch screen, not 4.3 inches like the Evo and Droid X, and is slimmer than just about any touch-screen smartphone I’ve held. It sells for $199 after contract, runs version 2.1 of Android, offers 16GB of internal memory (upgradeable with a MicroSD card) and has a 5-megapixel camera.

Oh, and it ships with a copy of Avatar.

The Avatar gimmick is a lure to test what Samsung calls its “Super AMOLED” screen. The phone’s screen is very sharp, and its thinner than competing touch-screen phones (including the iPhone) because touch sensors are integrated into the screen; colors are brighter because the layer needed for the touch sensors is gone.

The Vibrant uses Swype for messaging, perhaps my favorite technology innovation for phones this year. Swype is available on several Android phones, and one hopes it will come to the iPhone as well. Once you use this new method for typing, you don’t want to go back to typing.

Two things I don’t like about the Samsung Vibrant: First, the on/off switch is along the side of the phone and is very small. Second, the camera has been subpar in my tests. It suffers from slow shutter speeds while the focus can be hit or miss.

The Samsung Vibrant is a good option if you’re considering an Android phone. It should be a winner for T-Mobile and I suspect it will garner success for the other wireless carriers.