Review by Dan Seifert on Thursday March 29, 2012.
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Like any other Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G features a threaded SMS and MMS client and the native Google Talk app for instant messaging. It does not come pre-loaded with any other instant messaging apps, so buyers will have to head to the Google Play Store to download one if they are interested in using that functionality.
For email, Samsung's custom app has always been solid, and it is no different on the Blaze 4G. It supports POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts, and the most popular web email services are configured automatically. It offers multiple message management and text formatting within messages. Gmail users can also take advantage of the excellent native Gmail app for Android.
T-Mobile went a bit overboard with the number of included apps that come pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G. By my count, there are at least 15 pre-installed apps that aren't native to Android 2.3 Gingerbread or Samsung's TouchWiz interface. Some of them, such as Zinio and Yelp, can be useful, but the vast majority will probably never be touched by users. The Blaze 4G's home screens are littered with T-Mobile widgets when you first set up the phone for use, even though many of them have questionable value. And if you don't want the apps on the phone, tough cookies, because they can't be uninstalled or hidden. Fortunately, there is over 1GB of internal storage for app installation and the included apps use only a fraction of that. These days, the Google Play Store has pretty much any app that you could want, and the Blaze 4G has full access to it, as expected.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G may only have a 4-inch display, but browsing the web on it is a great experience. Samsung's custom browser is very fast on the Blaze 4G, with websites loading and rendering very quickly. Pinch-zooming is effortless, and scrolling is fast and smooth. The browser also supports multiple window management and Adobe Flash Player, so there isn't much you can't do with it.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S Blaze 4G with a 5 megapixel camera that can shoot 720p HD video. The camera may be of lower resolution than what's on many other smartphones on the market, but the images it produces are good, with lots of saturation and detail. Focus is appropriately quick, and you can tap the screen anywhere you want to refocus the image. Samsung's camera interface is top-notch and offers a number of shortcuts and settings right at your fingertips. The Blaze 4G also includes a photo editing app to tweak and customize images after capture.
Video captured with the camera is impressive as well, with good framerate and detail. The Blaze 4G can zoom while recording, but it lacks the ability to refocus. Audio captured during recording is very clear.
Samsung's custom music app that comes with the Galaxy S Blaze 4G is fairly straightforward. It supports album art and playlists, and includes autoplaylists for most played, recently played, and recently added tracks. The interface features a 5.1 channel simulation function that works with headphones (not included), but I didn't feel like it actually improved the quality of music and preferred it disabled. There are also a variety of equalizer settings and enhancements that you can enable. Unfortunately, there isn't a homescreen widget for the music player, but you can control playback from the lock screen and notification bar.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is equipped with a 1750mAh battery that T-Mobile says is good for up to 7 hours of talk time. In my tests, which includes syncing multiple email and social networking accounts and browsing the web and messaging throughout the day, the battery was able to last pretty much a whole day (12 to 14 hours) before needing to be recharged. Those that aren't as demanding on their phone will probably be able to get it to last even longer than that.
The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is an impressive device with great ergonomics and speedy performance. Apart from some issues with the display, it is also built very well. Even if you don't live in an area where you can access T-Mobile's super fast 42Mbps HSPA+ network, the Blaze 4G is a joy to use. Of course, the experience is only that much better if you can take advantage of the high-speed data services while on the go. If that isn't a problem for you, then, by all means, the Galaxy S Blaze 4G is worth a look.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.