I’ve been discussing issues I’ve had with Samsung’s Vibrant Android Phone. This is just one of four new phones in Samsung’s Galaxy S Series which includes Epic 4G (Sprint), the Captivate (AT&T), and Fascinate (Verizon).
So far my small yet bothersome problems have been the Contact Manager and the Calendar. Now comes the biggie. The problem that pushed me over the edge and made me return the phone for another model. (I’ll tell you what I got instead).
GPS. I am far from the first to complain about the GPS problems with the Samsung Vibrant. Sadly I wasn’t aware of this when I bought the phone, or I didn’t believe the magnitude of the problem.
The complaints have been that the GPS doesn’t get a strong satellite lock or that it takes too long to get one or that it’s just not reliable. I experienced all three problems. Various fixes were discussed in a variety of places online, but none of the fixes I found and implemented fixed the problem.
Poor GPS Experience 1. I’ve been using WorkSmartLabs CardioTrainer app for Android with its Weight Loss Tracker on a near daily basis. It has GPS features that allow me to track how far and fast I travel when exercise by walking or cycling. It’s a great feature, but only when your phone has a reliable GPS function. My G1 always gave me extremely accurate readings, but on one particular cycling trip the Samsung Vibrant showed me following a course almost 10 miles east of my actual location.
Poor GPS Experience 2. While using CardioTrainer on a walk, the Samsung Vibrant showed me as walking in along a spiraling or corkscrew direction. Furthermore, it showed me as moving while I was standing still. I imagine the movement was the device working on pinpointing my location while its link to the satellite signal improved.
Poor GPS Experience 3. Here’s a beaut. I’m riding my bike under the clear open sky, yet the Samsung Vibrant lost its GPS signal and showed several gaps in he course I followed. the largest gap was almost a quarter mile long.
Taking It Back. I took the Vibrant back to T-Mobile, and told them I was very disappointed with the phone and wanted to exchange it for the MyTouch 3G Slide Android Phone (made by HTC; makers of the G1 and the Sprint EVO 4G). The 3G Slide is smaller than the Samsung Vibrant and doesn’t have the Vibrant’s sexy iPhone look-alike charm, so they were amazed I wanted to exchange it since no one had returned one to that location in the two or more weeks since its release.
“They obviously don’t need GPS,” I replied. “I use it everyday, and I need to be able to count on it.” Specially since I was traveling out of state soon. (I was in Denver from 8/14 to 8/17 to see the rock group Rush at the Red Rocks Amphitheater on Aug. 16 — great show! Hurrah! Where you there?)
Update: In the last 48 hours, while I was in Denver I read online that Samsung is releasing a GPS fix in September. They don’t have an exact date as yet. I’d consider a possible move back to the Vibrant if the fix really works. My old G1 was highly reliable with GPS. I’d like to see if the Vibrant can be too.
Currently, the MyTouch 3G Slide is working fine by me. The contact manager and calendar work the way I used to, along with a few other improvements. The GPS is solid and my workouts have been tracking fine. As a matter of fact, the Vibrant couldn’t get a GPS signal in the T-Mobile store, but the 3G Slide got a fix within 300 meters in less than 3 seconds in the same location. The only problem I am having is the power switch is right on top and tends to activate the phone when its off in my pocket.
The Vibrant has great HD video and multimedia features. That seems to me to be Samsung’s focus — video and photos — but these, as nice as they are, are not features I really need. I considered quitting T-Mobile and getting the Sprint EVO 4G (another HTC phone) but I have a lot of friends who use T-Mobile so its nice to be able to call them any time at no extra charge, ie minutes of airtime.