There's no sidestepping it: the Captivate Glide is built like a brick, although it possesses none of the associated heft. Fans of distinctive form factors won't find much to love in the way of design, as this handset is neither RAZR-thin
nor oval like the DoublePlay
. At 4.9 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches (124.5 x 63.5 x 12.7mm), it's 0.13 inches (3.3mm) thinner than LG's unique slider and 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) lighter at 5.2 ounces (147.4 grams). In typical Samsung fashion, there's lightweight plastic used throughout its construction and, of course, that signature textured backing which makes for a secure hold.
For all its chunky dimensions, you'd think the Captivate Glide would be awkward or uncomfortable to grip. But Samsung made sure to round out all of the phone's edges, giving way to a well-sculpted, palm-pleasing fit. In fact, it feels much the way cellphones used to, before tall and svelte became all the rage. It's thick enough to have a reassuring presence in the hand, with a large enough screen for easy one-handed navigation. Around back, the finely grooved, black casing is broken up by Samsung's logo at the bottom, a brushed metal plate that stretches across the top, housing a secondary mic, 8MP camera, LED flash and speaker grill. A 3.5mm headphone jack and covered micro-USB port sit at the top of the phone, with the volume rocker and power button residing on the upper left and right sides, respectively. The phone's main mic is hidden in a notch at its base that can be peeled back to expose the SIM and microSD card slots, both of which are easily accessible without removing the 1,650mAh battery.
On the front face, AT&T's managed to keep its logo rather discreet. That logo sits smack dab below the equally diminutive ear piece, which is flanked by a 1.3MP front-facing camera on the right and ambient light sensors on the left. And in case you missed it on the posterior, Samsung's once again brandished its logo, this time between the four capacitive buttons and the Captivate Glide's bright 4-inch screen. The phone's a gentle homage to Sammy's original Galaxy S
line, borrowing a sprinkling of design elements (think the PenTile display and covered micro-USB port), while still harking back to the Captivate of 2010.
As you may have guessed, the Captivate Glide's display is of the Super AMOLED variety -- not Plus or HD, just regular Super AMOLED. The tech is something of a hallmark for the company's phones and while the 800 x 480 resolution used here won't wow you in the way the Rezound
, Galaxy Nexus
or Nitro HD
might, it does an excellent job for this mid-range tier. Blacks appear rich and deep, while colors pop with an expected vibrancy. Viewing angles are excellent and we didn't have much trouble discerning the contents of the screen while outdoors, though brightness was set to 50 percent.
Touchscreen keyboards have come a long, long way and, when paired with an appropriately sized display, remove the majority of frustration and misspellings that are now considered par for the mobile course. If, however, you still cling to the notion that physical feedback is superior to capacitive tech, then the Captivate Glide's for you. Unlike the flimsy hinges used on T-Mobile's G2
or the stiff mechanism employed by the Droid 3
, this keypad snaps out smoothly and securely. It is slightly difficult to get a handle on the device while you attempt to slide it open and there were more than a few instances when it almost flew out of our hands given its relative lightness and the force of the slider.
Samsung's spread out the QWERTY fun over four rows, so there's a sense of spaciousness to the keyboard where other efforts come off as cluttered. Except for the oblong menu, home, back and search buttons bordering the layout, the rest of the keys are rounded squares that lie virtually flush with the pad. You'll have to rely on muscle memory to punch out those texts and emails or just keep a fixed eye on your thumb placement, considering the lack of any raised surface or texture to guide you, save for the slight notches on the F and J keys. The keys are backlit, however, so typing at night won't pose much of an issue, nor will using the keyboard while lying prostrate thanks to the equal weight distribution between the screen and slide out pad.
Much as you'd expect, popping open the keypad automatically reorients the screen into landscape mode, giving you the option to touch to navigate or use the provided physical buttons. Pressing any of the letter keys triggers the search function which displays a list of alphabetically relevant contacts and applications selectable via the OK button. It's an unintuitive setup that'll have you opting for a swipe instead of a button push. And speaking of Swype, the application comes pre-loaded onto the device as an alternative input option should you fall out of love with tactile feedback.
In our time with the Captivate Glide, we found typing on the keypad to be a mixture of fluid and frustrating -- the fault of which lies with the flat layout. Too often, our fingers would slip and depress the wrong key or even no key at all. If Samsung had only added a bit of a curve to the physical keys, the experience would be that much smoother. As it is, you won't be able to focus solely on the screen while you bang out messages and, if you do intend to rely solely on the keyboard, expect a few hiccups.
Performance and battery life
We pitted the Captivate Glide against fellow stablemate, the Galaxy S II
and AT&T's $50 pricier LTE offering, the HTC Vivid in a battery of benchmark tests. The result? Sammy's QWERTY slider managed to mostly keep in step with the SGS II, while outperforming the Vivid in Quadrant and Linpack multi-string -- a testament to its swift real-word performance. From the scores listed below, you can clearly see that the SGS II's overall excellence is without peer, but the Captivate Glide does an admirable job aspiring to that level of quality given its mid-range grounding.
Need a daily driver? The Captive Glide won't let you down. With its stock 1,650mAh battery, we managed to push this handset over the 12-hour mark in moderate to heavy usage. That's with Twitter set to sync at 15 minute intervals, one push email account, light browsing, ample use of Google Maps, brightness at 50 percent, GPS and WiFi enabled. Under less intensive use, you'll easily manage to hold a charge for well over a full day. As for our formal battery rundown test, in which we play a video in a continuous loop, the outcome was equally as longlasting. After eight and a half hours, the phone had fully depleted from a 100 percent charge. Bear in mind, you'll need to consume a heavy amount of media to achieve this same performance.
Voice calls made on the handset were incredibly disappointing. Not only did our caller sound distant and disjointed, but there also appeared to be some sort of delay, rendering a fluent two-way conversation impossible and forcing us to end the call. This could very well have been an AT&T network issue and not a flaw in Samsung's construction. Still, should you be the gossiping type, prepare to embrace decent call quality.
AT&T may have recently deployed its 4G LTE network here in New York City, but the Captivate Glide isn't among the chosen few handsets to take advantage of those 700MHz radio waves. Rather, the operator's given Sammy's phone the next best thing -- 21Mbps HSPA+. That is, when it's available. Coverage in the city is inconsistent at best and we found the majority of our speeds coming within the confines of HSPA -- no plus -- and averaging about 2Mbps to 3Mbps down and 0.20Mbps to 0.95Mbps up. When we did latch onto an HSPA+ signal, downlink speeds increased drastically, maxing out at 8.12Mbps down. The same, however, could not be said for uploads, as performance only improved marginally, topping out at 1.17Mbps.
You'd be hard pressed to find a rear-facing camera these days that seriously underwhelms. The majority of contemporary smartphones are equipped with above average modules that do a fine job taking photographs, though we wouldn't ditch that DSLR just yet. And so it goes that the Captivate Glide's powers of picture taking are, understandably, solid. It's 8 megapixel rear shooter is on par with those found on variants of the Galaxy S II and delivers muted and slightly grainy images when awash in direct sunlight. Shots taken at full zoom displayed a noticeable loss of detail, but we were more surprised by the camera's low light performance. Aided by a single LED flash, photos taken with a shallow depth of field exhibited a clarity and precision not present in other lighting conditions.