The Samsung Galaxy i7500 is black and glossy, and its flat tablet form sits nicely in the hand.
The Galaxy’s three home screens are easy to navigate, and it’s simple to add apps from the Android Market.
Samsung hasn’t kitted out the Galaxy with any extras of its own, but the five-megapixel camera is one of the better ones we’ve seen on an Android device and the browser is excellent.
The on-screen keyboard will be frustrating for speedy typers but the browser provides an excellent internet experience and the camera is quick to take new pics.
Battery life was average.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:57:32 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Full featured browser, video looks great thanks to AMOLED display, user friendly, one of the better cameras on an Android phone, access to Android Market
Slow touch-screen keyboard, bundled in-ear headphones offer average audio especially considering the price of the phone
There are three things you can count on Samsung for – awesome screens, a nice beefy camera, and some variant of its clunky widget-based TouchWiz interface. Thankfully, on the Galaxy, we’ve only got the first two, along with the always friendly Android operating system.
The Galaxy is Samsung’s first Android phone, and one of the slimmest available. Black and glossy, its flat tablet form sits nicely in the hand and fits right in with the look of Samsung’s mid-range handsets. This is one high-spec device though (with a price tag to match), packing a 3.2-inch capacitive touch-screen, five-megapixel camera with auto-focus and LED flash, support for high-speed HSDPA internet and a massive 8GB of internal memory. The touch-screen is one of Samsung’s better efforts, registering swipes, taps and long presses with no lag, and we easily navigated the Galaxy’s three home screens (an Android standard). Content looks great with clear edges and extra-bright colours, thanks to the AMOLED display, and you can fully customise each home screen with program shortcuts and Android widgets such as an analog clock, or an updating calendar.
Unfortunately, the touch-screen keyboard is a no go – it’s just not fast enough to keep up with quick typists. And though there’s an auto-suggest system that will automatically slot in correct spellings, it’s not as intuitive as some other Android phones such as the HTC Hero. Numbers and symbols are on a whole other screen – so you can’t hold down a letter to select its alternative character, for example – and using punctuation doesn’t automatically take you back to the letters screen. We like the double-tap spacebar as a shortcut to type a full stop though.
As with any Android phone, you can sync and therefore back up contacts on Gmail. We’d like to see a software update that would allow contact sync with Facebook and Flickr though. Gmail is desktop-like, and you’ll be able to ‘star’ important emails, open and forward attachments and view custom folders just the way you can on a PC. Samsung hasn’t overlaid the OS with a custom interface like manufacturers such as HTC have done, so this is barebones Android, with nary a Samsung icon, widget or app in sight (though when you consider the clunkiness of its TouchWiz interface on phones such as the Tocco Ultra, or even the super-fast Jet, maybe that’s not such a bad thing).
It does get a bit frustrating when it comes to the email. Though you can get push-email on Gmail accounts, Samsung hasn’t included an app to sign into Microsoft Exchange accounts or other webmail for push notifications. You can still add these accounts, but to get push-email on them, you’ll have to go through manual setup and have the IMAP settings ready. Otherwise, auto-setup will use POP settings, then check for email at regular intervals, from five minutes to daily.
Samsung’s five-megapixel auto-focus lens is one of the better ones on Android phones, which tend to have rather mediocre camera software and sensors. Images taken in daylight were just slightly fuzzy, but the colours are warm, and the shutter release is immediate. The auto-focus takes up to a few seconds to focus, but generally results in a clear image. You can take a photo immediately after you’ve just snapped one as the camera reloads quickly, and the last picture remains as a small square in the top left corner. You can then tap it for more options, or scroll through to other pictures in your gallery. Editing features are limited to cropping, while there are no photo modes – only a choice of picture quality and flash on/off/auto. You can share the photos via email, text or Google’s photo-sharing site, Picasa. The Galaxy makes for a decent music player as well, with a preloaded music app, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack and bundled in-ear headphones. The ‘phones are nice and long with a simple remote control that allows play/pause, but the sound quality is only average, and bass is slightly thin. Still, that 8GB of internal memory means you can store several days’ worth of music or video; or of course, you can download the Spotify music streaming app from the Android Market. And despite a nifty little camera and one of the best displays on the market, that’s really the main draw of this phone – the 20,000-plus apps that are mostly free or under a few pounds. Samsung might have left the Galaxy pretty bare, but in a couple hours we had totally pimped out our model with Spotify, Facebook, a Twitter client, Layar to help us find nearby pizza, and two more video platforms to add to the preloaded YouTube app. When streaming video, quality is high, though even over Wi-Fi, YouTube occasionally froze. The browser is excellent though, and supports full HTML, so it will automatically load the full versions of websites, sized for a 100% view. There’s no zoom function, though we never needed it thanks to the automatic resizing. Instead, when you enter full-page view, you can drag a magnifying box down the screen to quickly scroll to the area you want. When you stop, the view in the box automatically expands to 100% view. All toolbars disappear when not in use, and the address bar doubles as a search field.
Without skinning the phone with a custom built interface, Samsung hasn’t really taken advantage of what Android can do, but it has manufactured some great hardware to carry an intuitive and powerful OS. Some software input from Samsung could add some cool features such as contact sync with popular social networks, or an app to simplify getting push-email on non-Gmail accounts, but the Galaxy is still fast and easy to use.