Samsung Vibrant picture sampler
4 carriers, 4 phones, 4 variations, 4 cameras!

Samsung’s Galaxy S for the US market – the Vibrant (T-Mobile), Captivate (AT&T), Epic 4G (Sprint), and Fascinate (Verizon) – share the same core specs, but diverge in appearance and implementation.

How do these similarities and differences affect camera performance and user experience? Find out after the break…


Clearly, Samsung knows how to make a nice cameraphone – just look at the T929 (Memoir), or more recently, the S8500 (Wave). The Galaxy S is no exception – in fact, it shares its autofocus optics and 5 megapixel sensor with the Wave.

Pictures taken with the Galaxy S are excellent. The results are better than most other 5 megapixel cameraphones, except for Nokia’s classic Nseries imaging flagships (the N95 and N82).

The camera captures tons of information, with great color balance and decent exposure. Low light performance is top notch. Noise is kept well under control, and loss of detail is minimal.

The Vibrant represents the baseline for the Galaxy S in the US. It lacks a flash and a 2-stage camera button, but performs really well overall.

The Captivate hardware is identical to the Vibrant (no flash or shutter key), but the software is prone to overexposing shots.

The Epic 4G adds a single LED flash and a dedicated 2-stage shutter key, making it the most desirable choice for camera buffs. Yet it performs slightly worse in low light than the others.

The Fascinate also features an LED flash, but no camera button. Strangely, there’s no setting to geo-tag pictures. It also tends to overexpose shots, but less than the Captivate.


The Galaxy S does a fine job recording 720p HD video at 30 fps. Still, all 4 devices often drop frames randomly. Hopefully, this will be fixed in a future firmware update.

While there’s no initial autofocus, Samsung wisely opted for AAC (instead of AMR), resulting in better sound quality. The flash on the Epic 4G and Fascinate also doubles as a video light.


User experience can make or break a cameraphone. Thankfully, Samsung’s camera interface is one of the best for Android phones, no doubt thanks to years spent making dedicated point-and-shoot cameras.

It’s pretty intuitive, and all the important controls are easily accessible. Less common settings are nestled within menus. There’s touch-to-focus, smile/blink detection, and a panorama mode, amongst others.


While there’s still room for improvement, especially in terms of video recording, there’s a lot to like about the camera on the Galaxy S. It strikes a good balance between image quality and usability, without making too many compromises.

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