AT&T Samsung Captivate [Review]

It took a while, but AT&T finally has an Android phone that can play with the big boys. While it certainly has it’s faults, it also has things that it does extremely well. We posted our unboxing and first impressions of this Galaxy S-based phone a few days ago, so that should get you caught up with the basics of the device, so let’s get in depth:

YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image

Now obviously the one thing we didn’t cover in the video was benchmarks, so let’s address that shall we? First up on the benchmark block is Google’s V8 Benchmark version 5. This test benchmarks a devices JavaScript performance, mainly while web browsing. One thing that I should point out is that the Nexus One that Captivate was compared to was running Android 2.2, while the Captivate was stuck with Android 2.1. Now some people may say “Oh that’s not fair” but it is. If you buy a Nexus One right now, it will come with Froyo. If you buy any Galaxy S based phone right now, you get Android 2.1. So thats how the cards are dealt, and that’s why it’s perfectly acceptable.

So obviously, this was a landslide victory for the N1. If you do a little snooping around the web you’ll find that pre-Froyo, the N1 was getting scores in the low-60′s. So to say that Froyo has a few performance increases is an understatement. Next up, BenchmarkPi.

BenchmarkPi calculates Pi, so it’s all about CPU power, plain and simple. Since both phones are packing heat in the form of 1GHz CPU’s, you’d think this would be a fair fight, but it’s not. Our little Hummingbird is no match for the Snapdragon and Froyo:

For our last CPU test, we have Linpack. The Linpack Score relies heavily on CPU performance and how it handles some of the interactions with the Dalvik VM in Android:

So there you have it, the Nexus One and Froyo won all the CPU benchmarks. This does not make the Captivate a loser though, as all Galaxy S devices are slated to get Froyo, so once they do, these benchmarks will have to be revisited.

Now for our final and last benchmark, we’ll get to what this phone screams at, 3D graphics. The GPU on the AT&T Captivate is simply amazing. Every game or video I threw at it, it chewed up and spit right back out. Just take a look at the trouncing it gave the Nexus One in the NeoCore benchmark, which is all about 3D acceleration:

While a 27 FPS difference may not seem like a lot, it’s the difference between laggy, choppy video and nearly smooth as silk video. And that is exactly what you get on the Captivate, pure video bliss.

Next up is NenaMark1. NenaMark1 is an Android 2.0 benchmark/demo of OpenGL ES 2.0, using programmable shaders for graphical effects such as reflections, dynamic shadows, parametric surfaces, particles and different light models to push the GPU to its limits.

Again, the Captivate spanks the Nexus One in anything GPU-releated.

Finally, the last benchmark we have is GLBenchmark 1.1.4. We ran two different instances of GLBenchmark, PRO ES 1.1 as well as HD ES 1.1. Take a look at the results:

So as you can see, in ANY GPU benchmark, the Captivate (and all Galaxy S phones) simply walk away from the Nexus One.

Now in my opinion, the biggest let down on this device is the camera. With the great pictures being taken by the Droid X, they simply fell short here. At the very least, they should have included a flash like some of the other Galaxy S phones on other carriers are getting. If you want to see the kind of photo’s and 720p video that the Captivate produces, then take a look for yourself.

Well boys and girls, that will about do it for our review of the AT&T Samsung Captivate, we hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading.

An original article by Scott Young

» See more articles by Chris Moor


  • Michael

    I’d love to see a Nexus One running Android 2.1 in those benchmarks. While I agree you benchmarked what a user would get if they purchased today it doesn’t do anything to say which hardware is faster.

  • http://thetechagents.com John Sembrot

    Your face is too straight when you go through the whole thing about IM’s, and that there is no GTalk option. The side apps, no front camera and it’s the best Droider can get at ATT. Will you do all versions of the “S” Series?

  • George Black

    Thanks Scott. Great video overview. Maybe I missed it, but can you post something about the Captivate’s ability to work with Microsoft Word, Excel, etc….synch to office stuff.

    Thanks,
    George Black

  • http://beafraid.com hellfire

    A note of caution to anyone stuck on AT&T who see the Captivate as the first real non-Apple superphone option for the carrier.

    I’ve been fighting with the hackjob AT&T/Samsung did to the Contacts application since I got the phone to no avail, ultimately admitting defeat as even with a rooted phone I still can’t make it go in an acceptable fashion.

    The phone’s going back next week after which my number is going to get ported to Verizon and a new DroidX. Which, out of the box, does everything my Captivate was supposed to do without being rooted or installing a single app. It’s not my first choice. I find the GalaxyS to be a far nicer platform than the DroidX, but my phone is a work device and that trumps all.

  • DaveS

    Thank you for the excellent review. But the annoying reference the the white “Galaxy S” rubbing off the back of the phone is just childishly materialistic. If you are THAT worried about it, take some clear packaging tape and cover it so you can always remember what phone you have.

  • ED

    I HATE MY SAMSUNG CAPTIVATE S PHONE IT IS JUNK I WAS TOLD IT IS FASTER THAN MY IPHONE AND THAT IS A LIE. I CAN TRASH THIS PHONE MAY 2011 AND BACK TO THE GREATEST PHONE EVER APPLE IPHONE THE DAY I DO I AM REALY GOING TO SMASH THIS PHONE WITH A HAMMER. I LIKE SAMSUNG PRODUCTS BUT THIS ONE ISNT ONE OF YOUR GOOD ONES. PLEASE READ THIS AND DONT GO THIS ROUTE ANYMORE.THIS PHONE IS SLOWER THAN DIRT AND THE SCREEN GOES BLACK WHEN SOMEONE CALLS AND AND CANT DO ALOT OF THINGS THAT I CAN DO ON THE IPHONE WITH WATCHING VIDEOS THE RESPOSE RATE MY 14YR OLD DOG MOVES FASTER. ALSO UPDATES ARE A JOKE NO UPDATES THAT ARE GREAT TO THE FIRMWARE I DONT RECAMEND THIS PHONE TO ENYONE SCALE 1 TO 10 A NEG ZERO

  • marla

    I agree with Ed. I am on my third Samsung Captivate. I have had nothing but trouble from this phone and all AT&T will do is send me another refurbished problem phone. Samsung really dropped the ball when they created this phone.It randomly turns off…41 times in one day, the screen freezes up and you have to pull the battery out. I have had so many problems I can’t count them all. Buyers beware when it comes to this phone.

  • Morgan

    Please- DO NOT GET THIS PHONE. You will regret it!!!! I was able to upgrade in Feb of this year. The captivate had good reviews at the time…… It was the worst mistake I made in buying a phone.

    PLEASE LISTEN TO US WHEN WE SAY DON’T BUY IT.

    I am on my 4th replacement phone. They said “It’s brand new, not refurb” which is B.S. The second replacement I had to send back the same week because it wouldn’t turn on no matter how much charging I had done.

    Some of MANY known problems:

    *The GPS is always buggy and loses reception so easily, and also gives me wrong directions
    *Gtalk doesn’t work- it lags all the time and doesn’t send messages.
    *When I get a phone call (keyword: when) , even if I don’t have it on silent or vibrate- it still won’t ring! Same with text messages! It’s on and off constantly.
    *The phone doesn’t send or recieve text messages sometimes
    *It shuts itself off all the time. Captivate keep alive App hardly works.
    *The alarm doesn’t go off -i’ve gotten to work late several times because of this……
    *I don’t get service on my Couch or in my bedroom- I live in the middle of a busy city!!!
    *I have to restart my phone whenever I want to watch a youtube video or listen to music. Error saying that the phone doesn’t support that file type- but after I restart it, it plays just fine.
    *Phone freezes on screens and makes it hard to scroll thru menus,
    *When texting even in Android keyboard mode, it doesn’t pick up half of the letters I hit- even if I type really slowly and push firmly. (Solution? Restart phone..again..)
    And Many, many other well- known problems.

    I have nothing on my phone to cause a virus to appear. Antivirus AVG is installed and up to date. System is completely clean and safe.

    AT&T refuses to let me get another samsung model. If you root, you void your warranty. Would much rather not get a new phone off of craigslist- you never know what you get then (bad personal experience)

    I agree with Ed and Maria. SAVE YOUR TIME AND FUSTERATION AND DON’T GET THIS PHONE.

    Heck… Don’t get AT&T. Horrible customer service…

  • Brian

    I’ve had the Captivate since August ’10 and I absolutely hate it. I so wish I would have held out for the iphone, but I was swayed by the sales staff at the at&t store (my mistake) to not wait and get this instead. Never had an iphone or mac, but ithas to be a helluva lot better than this.

    I get random lockups, poor gps functionality, and mediocre call reception. Had to add a third-party app just to send out group texts. I’ve forgotten a lot of what I hate about this because i’ve given up on it functioning like promised and expected.