The 8-megapixel camera is another of the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator's bright spots. Indoor test shots of still life were clear with crisp details and accurate color, even under fluorescent lighting. Moving outdoors, the Galaxy S Aviator had no trouble snapping colorful shots in strong sunlight at a nearby park. The green leaves, and red and purple flowers were vibrant, and shadow details weren't lost since images were correctly exposed.
With a maximum resolution of 720p, video I captured with the Galaxy S Aviator was acceptable, though a bit soft and not as clear as from phones capable of full 1080p HD quality. The handset did pick up ambient sounds, such as birds chirping and splashing water.
The Samsung Galaxy S Aviator's Android 2.3 OS is pushed along by an outdated single-core 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor complemented by 1.44GHz of internal memory. As you'd expect, these basic specs resulted in pokey mobile performance. I often experienced stutters simply swiping through the Aviator's home screens, and opening apps lacked the pep I typically see on modern dual-core Android devices.
Running the Linpack Android (single thread) test application confirmed my suspicions, with the Galaxy S Aviator turning in a low 16.2 MFLOPS completed in a long 5.17 seconds. By contrast, the HTC One S (T-Mobile) blazed through the same task in 0.82 second and notched a high score of 102.4 MFLOPS (single core).
Sadly, I was unable to verify Galaxy S Aviator's 4G credentials since U.S. Cellular's LTE network is not currently available in New York City. A U.S. Cellular representative explained that the closest LTE region to me was located in Portland, Maine. Now Maine is a glorious state and Portland a truly excellent city with some of the best microbreweries in the world, but that's just too long a drive, my friend.
Additionally, the Aviator roams on Sprint's CDMA EVDO network here in New York, and the data speeds I clocked using the Ookla Speedtest app were decidedly 3G. Average downloads came in at a molasses-like 0.58Mbps; I measured upload speeds at a faster 0.93Mbps.
Samsung Galaxy S Aviator call quality sample Listen now:
Call quality on U.S. Cellular's roaming network was pleasing, though, and calls I placed were clear and static-free. People on the other end also reported that my voice was easy to hear, but they quickly identified that I was calling from a cellular phone. The Aviator's earpiece doesn't get very loud, either, nor does its small speaker placed on the back side.
Samsung rates the Galaxy S Aviator's 1,600mAh battery to provide 12 days of standby time and a usage time of 5.5 hours. On my anecdotal tests, the phone played video for a full 8 hours and 58 minutes before shutting down.
If you're perplexed by the $199.99 Samsung Galaxy S Aviator and where it fits into U.S. Cellular's roster of smartphones, you're not alone. The device features a great screen and everything users need for a basic Android experience and 4G LTE data where you can find it. Yet, its sluggish performance and steep price give me pause. A better deal would be to spring for the Samsung Galaxy S II, which for the same price offers dual-core processing but without 4G.