Samsung continues to pump out sleek-looking phones with the new Galaxy Continuum that follows the Galaxy S. It’s certainly one of their sleekest yet, sporting the Android OS (honestly, if your phone isn’t produced by Apple you ought to be using Android at this point) and an innovative “Customizable Ticker Experience.” There are a few other differences between the Continuum and the S, but how well the aesthetics of the Continuum mesh with its functionality largely depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. It certainly has a lot of features, but let’s take a look at what it can do.
Design and Features
Out of the box, the Galaxy Continuum comes with the phone, battery, quick start guide, and an AC adapter that doubles as a USB cable. The phone itself features a 3.4-inch touchscreen with a 480×800 pixel resolution. At 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches and 4.6 ounces, the Continuum is manageable while featuring a screen that is functional. Below the touchscreen are four main touch-style function buttons that access settings, the home screen, a quicksearch function, and the previous screen. Below this is the aforementioned “Customizable Ticker” strips which is 480 x 96 pixels and can be set to display incoming texts, the date and time, the weather, and myriad other applications (within reason). The buttons and ports are unobtrusive. The right side of the phone sports the dedicated camera button, sitting below the (covered) micro USB port. The left side holds the volume buttons, while the power button and 3.5” headphone jack sit on top.
The Continuum comes packaged with the Android 2.1 software update. It features a hefty 5 megapixel camera with a 4x digital zoom, powerful LED flash and image editing capabilities. The camera will also take HD video. Further bolstering its credentials, the Continuum comes with 2 GB onboard storage, a swappable 8 GB microSD card, and a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor.
Usability and Performance
There’s something to be said for the overall design of the phone; the buttons are all in the right places and the smooth curves feel nice. Since it’s a little smaller, it fits nicely in the hand without sacrificing too much of the screen. The 3.4” screen is nice and looks great when running the Android OS. The colors are richer than I expected, which is nice because everything can feel a little cramped. I prefer tactile function buttons to the four featured function buttons that are integrated into the touchscreen, but they are responsive enough.
The ticker strip below the buttons, however, is a mixed bag. While it responds to just as well as the rest of the phone, it feels a little clumsy and out of place. I had a hard time getting over the fact that it feels like the ticker is eating up screen real estate. Some will like that a small section of the screen is dedicated to specific alerts like texts, emails, and calendar notifications, and there is merit to be had here. Interestingly enough, the Continuum has grip sensors on the bottom of the phone that activate the ticker without having to touch the actual screen. These sensors are capacitive, similar to the phone’s screen, meaning they will recognize your hand only if it is not gloved. This is a nice function for those of us who check our phones on a fairly regular basis, but can also drain the battery if abused.
Otherwise, Samsung says that the Galaxy will run for 7 hours of continuous talk and 13 days of standby. Like most other smartphones, particularly ones running Android, you probably won’t get as much out of the battery as you would like, and though you can monitor your battery usage with a little care, you may not get a full day’s use out of the Continuum before you have to charge it. The Continuum uses Google Maps and features a GPS that some have criticized, but an update to the software seems to have fixed some of the overarching problems.
The Continuum has decent call quality, following its predecessor. With Verizon coverage, things are clear and you won’t find yourself complaining too much about being on a cell phone. The Continuum is also Bluetooth enabled, though quality there will depend on your headset.
The Galaxy Continuum works like a charm, putting its Hummingbird processor to good use. Everything scrolls smoothly; you won’t find the choppiness of other devices on the Continuum. Though it comes out of the box with the Android 2.1 OS, the 2.2 Froyo update was recently made available. Either way, we have the familiar Android operating system that runs very well on the Continuum. Running Android also gives you access to the Android market, essential for users who are interested in a plethora of user-contributed apps.
For the most part, the Continuum is very similar to the Galaxy S in terms of functionality and appearance, with the obvious exception of the ticker on the bottom of the Continuum that results in a smaller screen size (the S had a glorious 4” screen, which here has been reduced to 3.4”). While some might gripe about smaller icons and slightly more compressed browsing, others will get plenty of use out of the ticker. In fact, it could potentially save some battery life; I found myself turning the phone on and off less since I could just glance at the ticker which, being significantly smaller than the rest of the screen, presumably uses less battery. The choice between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Continuum is really between a larger screen or a portion of the screen dedicated to alerts. Overall, the Galaxy Continuum is a good option for those who want to get a lot of use out of their phone.
The Continuum is available for $149.99 with a 2-year Verizon contract.