Will a software update fix GPS and other issues with the Samsung Vibrant?

Summary:The Samsung Galaxy S series are hot right now, but many owners of the T-Mobile Vibrant are having some performance issues related to GPS, reception, speed, and battery life. These all look like software issues that appear to show the Vibrant may have been a bit rushed.

The Samsung Vibrant was released on T-Mobile two weeks ago and I went and visited my local store on launch day to check them out. After learning I had full upgrade price eligibility I plunked down the $293 ($250 plus $18 upgrade fee plus Seattle sales tax) and walked out quite happy with my purchase. I posted my initial hands-on with the device and was pleased with it for a few days. I then experienced a few issues that helped convince me to return the Vibrant and keep my upgrade credit for the upcoming HSPA+ device that T-Mobile said was coming sometime this summer.

The Vibrant display is FANTASTIC and I almost kept the device just to enjoy media content on it. However, there are aspects of the device that concern me and that I think can probably all be fixed with a software update. There are typos in different menus and displays (such as SNS instead of SMS), the GPS receiver works quite poorly and the compass is unusable, the reception is one of the weaker T-Mobile phones I have seen, and battery life is questionable because the indicator keeps changing randomly.

I was quite surprised with the poor GPS functionality since one of the major features of an Android device is the fantastic free Google Maps Navigation. I get a fix in seconds on the EVO 4G and it is accurate to within a few feet of where I am. The Samsung Vibrant kept placing me a couple blocks away from my actual location. I understand that there are some steps you can take to attempt to improve the GPS performance and it did seem to work a bit better for me, but still wasn't on par with the EVO 4G. As I said, I think Samsung can fix this GPS performance issue and the other issues with a software update, but I have yet to see any official statement that this will actually be coming.

I still think the Samsung Vibrant is the best Android smartphone available on T-Mobile, but I personally have gone back to using a Nokia E73 Mode with my T-Mobile SIM. Any readers experiencing these issues with their Vibrant?

Topics: Software, Hardware, Mobility, Samsung

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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