Slim, sleek and sexy, the Galaxy Europa has a style that plenty of pricier phones scarcely match
Android is largely straightforward and Samsung has added a skin that complements it without hugely improving things. The small screen is no bonus, though
Although it lacks multi-touch and has a poor camera, this is mostly an impressively specced handset
The processor is slower than many rivals and occasionally it shows
Better than many an Android, the Galaxy Europa will sail through a full day's use and gently into a second day
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2010 6:39:20 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Good value, decent battery life, nice styling.
Small screen can strain the eyes, basic camera without flash.
If you liked the scooped, sloping curves of the Samsung Corby, this new budget Android handset may appeal. For those who don't know, the shape of the Corby, glammed up considerably here, is a slim candy bar with almost no straight edges. It was enjoyable enough but this is even nicer: smooth and pleasing to the touch, it's like a strokable, soothing worry stone.
The black edging round the 2.8-inch touchscreen is complemented by a dark chrome frame so the whole thing looks smart and businesslike. Inside, there's almost the latest version of Android software. This one sports version 2.1. The display is bright and colourful though lacking the stand-out visuals of Samsung's AMOLED screens (this is just regular LCD).
Underneath are a bunch of buttons, more than you'd expect to find on an Android touchscreen handset. There's the usual four suspects - menu, home, back and search. You need to learn which is where because these buttons are not backlit which doesn't help if you're in a low light area. Then there are two separate buttons for starting and ending calls plus a direction pad which is a rounded square, with a confirmation button in the middle. My, what a lot of buttons for a touchscreen.
Samsung's dressing of the Android skeleton is pretty basic, though as this is a pretty recent version of the software, this is not a serious problem. There are seven home screens and Samsung has put a bunch of shortcuts on the first one. Scroll between screens and there are three icons that remain constantly in view: Contacts, Apps List and Phone. You see, although there are two physical phone buttons on the front, neither takes you to the dialler. You need the little phone icon for that. Still, the fact that every home screen has a dialler on it is a bonus.
Samsung specials include an apps list which scrolls sideways (as on the Samsung Galaxy S) and one of those handy rows of shortcuts hidden in the window shade that turns wi-fi and Bluetooth on and off and activates silent or vibrate profiles. Then there's the Social Hub which will satisfyingly mix your Google data with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and more so you can find extra information from your contacts.
If you're a company making a budget Android, there are ways to reduce costs. Like switching to a cheaper (resistive) touchscreen or dropping wi-fi from the features list. But Samsung has gone for a proper capacitive screen and wi-fi is on board. So what's missing? Well, multi-touch. If you like to pinch-to-zoom (and who doesn't?) then you will probably miss this, but the double-tap option is fine and since it configures text to fit the screen, it looks good.
If you want to take photographs on the Europa you can, but here's where you come across another saving that Samsung's made: there's no flash and the resolution is just two megapixels.
The phone's third weakness is its processor. With 1GHz processors now commonplace on smartphones, the 600MHz chip on board here may seem rather slow. In fact, it rarely holds you up, but it's true that it's not as super-whizzy as top-flight smartphones.
For the money, this is a great phone. In terms of budget Android handsets, the HTC Wildfire still edges it, but this is a pretty good second. The other features you'd expect, like a 3.5mm headphone jack for instance, are all here. And it's a great looker.