March 24, 2012, 7:58 AM — In a world where smartphone displays are getting more and more gargantuan, the 3.97-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G is refreshingly compact. Not everybody needs a 5.3-inch display on their phone (Galaxy Note, I'm looking at you!), and it's nice to see a more pocketable phone for those consumers. In addition, the Galaxy S Blaze 4G ($150 with a two-year contract on T-Mobile; price as of March 20, 2012) has fast data speeds (thanks to T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 network) and smooth performance powered by a dual-core processor. But regrettably, the phone is riddled with carrier and manufacturer bloatware that you can't easily remove.
Design and Display
The Blaze has a fairly basic, Samsung-esque design with a glossy black face and rounded corners. The soft-touch, textured back gets fingerprint-greasy fast and seems to be a magnet for dust, crumbs, lint, and whatever else is in your pocket or bag. It's easy enough to clean, though. The Blaze looks a bit chunky, measuring 4.8 by 2.48 by 0.46 inches thick. It weighs a satisfactory 4.51 ounces.
The Blaze's 3.97-inch 480-by-800-pixel display is roomy enough for watching videos and playing games. Viewing angles are excellent on the Blaze's display, which uses Super AMOLED technology. Unfortunately, like other Super AMOLED displays we've encountered on Samsung phones, the Blaze's looked oversaturated in our color-bar and grayscale tests. In our color-bar test, the colors bled into each other; in the grayscale test, we had trouble differentiating the light-to-dark shades from one another. Still, oversaturation isn't always a bad thing: Colors looked rich and bright, and blacks were deep.
Software and Extras
Instead of the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, the Blaze runs Android 2.3.6, (Gingerbread). Like other Samsung Galaxy phones (but not the Galaxy Nexus), it runs Samsung's TouchWiz user interface over Android.
Consumers (and reviewers) have a love/hate relationship with TouchWiz. On the one hand, it's relatively light and fast, and it adds some needed color to Android Gingerbread. On the other hand, the borderline cheesy, cartoony look of the user interface is a bit of a turn-off.