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Android Explainer Series: Best Samsung Android phones and devices

by Ian Black

Samsung keeps innovating. At tradeshows you’ll find their applied research projects that include next generation touch-screen vending machines, 3D TVs that don’t require special glasses, and much more. Samsung also produces many top-selling Android phones and is one of the key makers of Android-based tablets.

We know you love Android apps and you’ll want to know that Samsung often pre-loads some of the best apps on the phone, so there’s no download and setup. For pre-loaded apps you can just launch and go. Samsung even features their own video store called the Samsung Media Hub on their Android phones and tablets.

Here’s everything you need to know.

The best phones

Samsung Galaxy S 4G (T-Mobile)

Built to run on T-Mobile’s fast HSPA+ network (though there is some disagreement over weather that qualifies for a “4G” label), the Samsung Galaxy 4G features seven customizable home screens, a brilliant 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, a lightweight body, a 5-megapixel camera and a second front-facing camera in an overall very light phone. The phone uses Android version 2.2 and runs on a 1GHz processor.

In terms of apps, the Galaxy S 4G will come pre-loaded with T-Mobile’s TV app and Samsung’s Media Hub video store where you can download other TV shows and movies directly to your phone. Other pre-loaded Android apps include: the Qik video web-cast service, Slacker Radio for Internet music streaming, Amazon Kindle app for e-books, and doubleTwist with AirSync for playing iTunes playlists wirelessly over your Android phone using your home’s Wi-Fi network.

Samsung Droid Charge (Verizon)

New super AMOLED (Active Matrix Light Emitting Diode) screens promise brilliant readability even in bright sunlight. Verizon offers the Samsung Droid Charge with a 4.3-inch super AMOLED Plus display, a 1GHz processor, 4G/LTE capabilities and pre-installed apps like the DivX video player, Swype, Skype Mobile, VZ Navigator, Visual Voice Mail, and ThinkFree Office.

Samsung’s mini phones

Want to get small? Samsung delivers four of the smallest Android phones with their upcoming Galaxy S series – the Ace, Gio, Fit, and Mini. The screens range from the largest of 3.5-inch (Ace) to a tiny 3.1-inch (Mini). Expect 600 to 800 MHz processors, Wi-Fi, and GPS on some models. These mini phone aren’t yet released so it’s unknown what apps will come pre-loaded.

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Bigger than a phone, smaller than the iPad

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was one of the first Android-based tablets released and it’s now available from every major US carrier. With its 7-inch capacitive touch screen, its size lies in the middle between a large-screen phone and the Apple iPad. It can slide into the large back pocket of a pair of jeans. The Tab sports also two cameras, GPS, an SD card slot, speakers, and Samsung’s docking port.

For apps, the Tab comes pre-loaded with Swipe for typing without lifting your finger off the screen and Amazon’s Kindle app for e-book reading. You’ll find Samsung’s Media Hub store for downloading movies and TV shows. And, exclusive to the Tab, Samsung has optimized Android’s Contacts, Calendar, and Memo apps for the larger screen.

The Tab runs Android version 2.2, not the newer Android tablet-specific version called Honeycomb. And, the Tab include the Android Market and you can download every Android app you could on an Android phone.

You can now also pre-order the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Verizon. Check out Appolicious Advisor Phil Hornshaw’s extensive review here.

Download to personalize

With all Samsung Android products, you can access the huge catalog (over 130,000) of Android apps through the Android Market. Flip through the screens on your Samsung phone or Tab until you find the icon – which looks like a shopping bag – labeled “Market”. Click the icon to launch the Market. Then search for specific apps using the search bar at the top of the screen. Or, browse through the app categories until you discover app that captures your imagination.

Early this year, Google launched a web-based version of the Android Market. You can sign in with a Gmail account, register your Android phone, and select apps to download to your phone straight from the Web.

Overall, Samsung remains a dedicated maker of Android based phones and tablets. It will be interesting to watch their innovations across 2011 and 2012.

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