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

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

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  • Samsung magnetics problems

    Their Wave phone has a similar problem (not even an android phone). Seems all to be connected to the magnetics driver failing, and taking GPS with it.
    They've promised a fix in the coming weeks.
    • RE: Will a software update fix GPS and other issues with the Samsung Vibrant?

      @guihombre "They've promised a fix in the coming weeks. " source?
      • Bada


        Well Zdnet could ask Samsung about defect ID B0100327216 which is the tracking number I have for it (not my bug, I was not the first to report it).
  • Amen Brother!

    I think the GPS issue is more the "norm" than the exception. It is frankly unusable and I am glad folks like yourself are finally bringing this to light. As you also mentioned the phone is quite buggy to the point that I have had to factory reset it at least 5-6 times in the first two weeks after purchase. In addition, there are serious flaws in the way the phone handles email and more pertinently Microsoft Exchange. There have been a myriad of reports where it will recognize the email header, but not allow you to tap into the message. THe phone will give you an error and the only remedy is either factory reset or delete your cache and the mail account and start over. It is unbelievable to me that a company like Samsung can roll out such a half baked product. Unfortunately I can't return it as I am passed my 15 day window through a reseller. arrrghhh.
  • GPS is totally unusable

    The GPS is a major issue. It's totally unusable for navigation. My other issue are the buttons at the bottom, they don't stay on, and go on and off with almost a mind of their own and no consistency. Aside from that I'm finding excellent call quality and I like the device. Just need to get those GPS issues fixed ASAP.
  • GPS Is Key For Android

    The GPS capabilities is one of Androids key selling points.

    I picked up my new Vibrant a few days ago and the GPS is pretty much unusable. Samsung needs to fix this quickly.
  • Not a Happy Camper

    This phone is riddled with problems. Mainly the GPS and the Compass which are huge problems. The mail client does suck but I find the phone gets super hot and then locks up to the point of having to remove the battery to reset it. I did speak with Tmobile extensively on the 13th day of having the phone because I was going to take it back. They assured me that they are aware of the problem and it is a known issue with Samsung and they are working on a fix but there was no time line on when it would be released. I did decide to keep the phone and hope the update will fix the issue. Luckily where I bought it I can exchange for any other phone if I am not happy within 90 days. So if they don't fix the problem the HTC G1 Blaze HSPA+ is out early Sept and I will switch to that phone.
    • RE: Will a software update fix GPS and other issues with the Samsung Vibrant?

      @puremalice - I feel with you. I have 30 days to return my phone as I live in California. But where did you buy your phone to have a 90 day exchange? I love the phone but not sure what to do. I'm considering getting a N1 just for the sake of Froyo. I'll see.
  • RE: Will a software update fix GPS and other issues with the Samsung Vibrant?

    Just saw this article. I had 4 Vibrants (5 counting my wife's, which she kept).

    First had a bad camera. Second had an unresponsive home button. Third was RIDDLED with software bugs. 4th had a rattling volume rocker camera button that made the phone sound like a maraca when it vibrated.

    All had HORRIBLE GPS/Compasses and battery life. I'm back on my rooted G1 with perfectly working compass and GPS.
    Illegal Machine