Loaded out with a 1.2 GHz processor, the Samsung Infuse 4G has horsepower to spare. But I did run into a substantial snag when I ran it through the standard array of Quadrant benchmarks, however. Simply put, it didn't measure up to where it should, scoring under 1200 on three consecutive tests. A device with it's processor should run closer to 2000. Even after making sure all the memory was clear, no running apps, and rebooting the thing, it still performed extremely sub-par.
While I can't give an exact reason for this, I can find a hint by looking at the device's progress through the benchmarks, finding the point where it drops to a crawl: the Input/Output portion of the tests, with memory and database writes, where it takes several times longer than any other device I've tested. This may be the result of a bug in the device, a bug in Quadrant Benchmark, both, or simply an oddity. I say all this as a long winded way of making the following point... Ignore the benchmarks. They are not at all representative of the real world performance of the Infuse 4G. They may represent a technical bug which needs to be squashed, but it's not one that is going to impair your enjoyment of the device, nor it's usefulness for video or gaming. It streams online video like a pro, and gives 40+ frames per second in the Quadrant 3D rendering tests. It is, by the measurement of actual use, a very fast device.
And with an advertised 16 GB of internal memory, it's also a fairly spacious device. The actual memory available to the user is partitioned into 1 GB for system storage, and 13.5 GB as a "virtual" internal microSD card. This is separate and distinct from the very real microSD card under the battery--fortunately, Android is capable of handling multiple "memory cards" at once, and presenting them separately when you connect to a computer via USB for file transfers.
The Infuse also comes bundled with a 2GB microSD card, but given the fact that you've already got 14.5 GB in the device itself, an extra 2GB is barely worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning is the value of the microSD slot itself. With 14.5GB on board, you can quickly and easily slip a 16 GB microSD card into the device, and be toting 30GB of data. This is something that only a fraction of devices can do.
The Infuse comes loaded with Samsung's "TouchWiz" customizations for the Android user interface. In general, I've been of the opinion that most manufacturer added UI add-ons are essentially pointless, but TouchWiz on the Infuse actually has a couple nice points. Most particularly is the addition of controls in the pull-down status screen for toggling on and off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, ring/silent, and automatic screen rotation. This is actually much appreciated, particularly the Wi-Fi and screen rotation controls. The screen rotation option makes simple something that Android has always made unnecessarily complex; the ability to choose manually between landscape and portrait modes. Well done, Samsung. I hope Google adopts this for future versions.
The last thing I'll note also concerns the operating system, but AT&T's tweaks, not Samsung's. For a long time, AT&T has prevented users from loading applications on AT&T Android phones except through the Android Market. This made a lot of people annoyed, particularly with the rise of other independent app stores such as Amazon. Fortunately, the Infuse is officially the first Android phone on AT&T that does not have this restriction: you can load any applications from any source, without restriction.
As I have done in previous reviews, I have to caution people about the term "4G," which has become diluted to a ridiculous extent. It is, pretty much completely, a marketing term at this point. AT&T's current "4G" network is a slightly tweaked and upgraded version of its 3G network, more akin to T-Mobile's system than Verizon and Sprint's dedicated "4G" networks. Basically, AT&T rubbed a little more bandwidth on it and changed the name, because it didn't want to wait to start selling "4G" devices and services. That's not to say it won't provide good speeds, even competitive to other "4G" networks like Sprint's with dedicated technology. Of course once AT&T rolls out an LTE network like Verizon's, it'll probably call that 4G as well -- but the Infuse won't handle LTE.
Short answer to all this technical jargon? The Infuse will deliver solid and competitive data transfer speeds given the right coverage. It's not completely future proof, but it is capable of handling everything you'll throw at it until you upgrade to a new phone.
Besides AT&T's "4G" internet, the Infuse carries all the usual goodies: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, high quality GPS, etcetera. The Wi-Fi signal strength seemed rather weak to me, to be honest -- it would report only two out of three bars while sitting in the same room as the router. It did successfully connect for me even showing no bars at all, so this may be a fluke, but I'd be hesitant to depend on it in areas where the Wi-Fi signal is known to be sketchy.
Android includes a very capable web browser, and the Infuse's large display makes it a better option for looking at web sites than other smartphones with smaller screens. The same goes for email -- these are apps that really benefit from extra screen real estate. You can use this device to check consumer email services like Gmail or your company's email if it is based on Microsoft Exchange.
The major productivity app on the Infuse is Quickoffice, which allows full Microsoft Office and PDF interoperability. Quickoffice is generally considered the application of record for office documents on Android, so you're well served here. It includes full word processing, spreadsheet, and PowerPoint-style presentation options, both viewing/editing and creating new files.
But I don't want to sell short the standard productivity apps that are part of Android, namely the Calendar and Contacts apps. I understand that these are old hat to many long-time smartphone users, but you'll be hard-pressed to find software that can do more to make you productive than a good calendar that can remind you of where you're suposed to be in time for you to get there.
The Infuse's single biggest entertainment capability is, by far, it's HDMI output. In theory, it's a great feature, allowing you to "mirror" the Infuse's screen onto an HDMI capable TV or projector. Not just for video or presentations, as with some other phones, but everything, including the app launcher, web browsing, games, anything you can do on the device's regular screen.
Unfortunately, real world use isn't as simple as that. As mentioned up above, you need to use a dongle to connect from the Infuse's micro-USB port to an HDMI cable. That's not such a big deal --e xcept that in order to turn on HDMI, you also need to have the power supply plugged into the dongle. So now to use HDMI, you're carrying not just the phone and dongle, but those two plus the charger and the USB cable, which distinctly puts a crimp in using it spontaneously.
There's also one other problem I discovered. And this one may be particular to my unit, but it still gave me a great deal of frustration. Specifically, the HDMI connection will at times randomly cut out, leaving the TV with a completely blank screen. Unplugging the power connection from the dongle and replugging it usually solved this, but it's not the sort of thing that I'd really fancy doing in the middle of, say, watching a movie.
The actual HDMI output is decent, but nothing to write home about. Putting an 800 x 480 picture onto a 1280 x 720 screen results in a lot of pixelation, as you might imagine, but it's still comparable to or in some cases better than watching standard definition TV. Web sites are viewable, and there should be no problem with video or games.
The Infuse has more to offer in the entertianment category, of course. Its big screen makes it a fine option for playing games, reading ebooks, or watching video when on the go. Google has included basic audio and video players in Android, as wwell as a YouTube player, and there are tons of more options in the Android Store.
The Infuse's 8-megapixel camera is a small step up from the average, with slightly crisper results. This is thanks more to better optics than higher resolution, but it's still nice. The auto-focus is a little dumb, not necessarily focusing on the object the camera is pointed at. But that's what touch-to-focus is for.
And on the plus side, the LED flash is considerably stronger than it's fellows. While most LED flashes fade out after 12 to 18 inches, the Infuse allows you to photograph something several feet away even in otherwise total darkness. It won't be Pulitzer Prize winning shots, but they'll certainly be good enough.
OK. Forget the big, beautiful screen. Forget the HDMI output. Forget the 16GB of internal memory. Because the real star of the Infuse 4G is the battery. Even though the device is thin and light, the broad footprint allows for packing in a very roomy 1750 mAh battery, giving a third more power than many of it's competitiors.
The first full day I had the Infuse, I put it through the wringer. Wi-Fi on all day. Screen at automatic brightness, even outdoors where it would have to compete with the sun. Checking GPS a couple times. Streaming high quality video. And when I got done at the end of the day, the battery meter indicated that I still had 32% remaining. I was shocked. I'm not kidding when I say that the Infuse 4G has the best battery performance of any large-screen smartphone that I've dealt with. And it manages this without the user having to make compromises.
Yes, some phones will give you great battery life if you keep the brightness turned down, the Wi-Fi off, and don't tax it too much. The difference with the Infuse is that you don't need to ration your battery--it'll take the hit and keep on going. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Infuse for those who need the assurance that they can get through the day without needing to be on and off the charger. I will say this: I haven't had the chance to test the Infuse on AT&T's 4G network, primarily because AT&T's 4G network doesn't reach close to my home town yet. So battery life probably will suffer somewhat more when operating on high speed coverage. But frankly, the Infuse can afford it.
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