Written on 8/10/2010 04:46:00 PM by poison_ivy
Samsung is known for making cheap but feature rich mobile phones. The Samsung Genio line is proof enough that the Korean mobile phone giant is bent on conquering the mobile phone world and toppling Nokia off the top. Their latest addition to their affordable mobile phone line is the Samsung i5500 Europa or Samsung known as the Samsung Galaxy 5 in other countries.
Like Samsung's Genio / Corby device, the Samsung Europa took the rounded design cues from its Genio brothers but Samsung added some chrome-like finish on the edges to make the plastic build a bit more sophisticated. I don't know if Sammy will make the Samsung i5500 available in different colors but the black one's build is actually quite good. It doesn't feel cheap and is quite comfortable to hold. On top of this mobile phone is the 3.5mm headset jack, on the left is the volume controls and below that is the microUSB slot with its flappy covers. On the right, there are no buttons which is a bummer as it would have been nice to see a dedicated camera button there. On the front, there's the four standard Android buttons, the menu, home, back, and search buttons. There's the directional keypad on the center and Samsung added a call and end button below the four Android buttons which is something I've sorely missed on HTC Android phones. At 2.8 inches, the screen is quite small and the 240x320 resolution makes things seem pixelated. It definitely can't hold a candle against the iPhone 4's retina display.
The battery cover is pretty easy to take off and the microSD card is located on the side so you don't have to take off the battery when swapping your SD cards.
The Samsung Europa runs Android 2.1 and the interactive screen is quite fun to use, especially the ones with ripple effects. Anyways, you get up to nine homescreens and the homescreen is the native Android which is okay although I do miss HTC's Sense. This mobile phone is quite responsive when swiping through homescreens, no visible lags, thanks to the 600 MHz processor. One new thing about Android 2.1 is that when you press the menu, you no longer have to swipe up and down to look for your apps, you just have to swipe sideways.
Samsung put in their own widgets so if you miss the HTC Sense, you'll get a somewhat similar interface with Samsung's feeds and updates widgets and the Accuweather application although the latter really can't hold a candle against HTC's animated weather widget.
On the telephony part, signal strength is pretty decent, there's no death grip here and the phone microphone works great. Callers hear me loud and clear and so it goes the same way on the other end of the line. The only problem is that the speakers are located on the back of the phone so if you have it in your pocket, you might miss some calls because the speakers are muffled.
One of the best things I like about the Samsung i5500 Corby is that it has the option to let you choose between Samsung's Alphanumeric keypad or a QWERTY keypad in portrait mode. Of course, you'll be better off with Samsung's multitap keypad because the screen area is so small, plus you won't really find it hard typing on this thing using the Alphanumeric keypad as it's responsive.There's also the Swype keyboard available which is accessible via the input option, you can bring it up by pressing and holding the screen when in the message box. The screen is really small for typing but thankfully, the keyboard is much responsive than on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 I've reviewed. Like in other Android phones, there's some sort of smart dialing going on in the messaging app as you just type in the first two letters of your contacts and a drop down list of all contacts with similar letters on their names will appear.
Google updated the music player on the Android 2.1, which isn't really a vast improvement from the previous music player but the addition of an
There's no multitouch on the Samsung Europa, when using the web browser, you have to double tap to zoom or use the zoom in and out icons on the bottom. Even though there's no multitouch, I welcome the double tap, something which is missing on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. The web browser loads pages fast and has text reflow. Unfortunately, no flash here yet. Pages load quickly and there's text reflow.
The Samsung Europa i5500 or Galaxy 5 only has a 2 megapixel camera but unlike the Samsung Galaxy Portal which has limited camera options, Samsung didn't scrimp on the Europa. It has different scene modes, white balance, ISO, etc. Pictures are pretty decent although a bit washed.
The best thing about this cheap mobile phone is the Android market. There's many free apps to choose from plus games. Although there may be some issues with some apps that run on specific resolutions but so far, my favorite games such as basketball lite and Abduction! works. There's many free games and apps up for grabs on the Android market and chances are, if you're missing or want an iPhone applications, there's a similar app in the Android market.
Right now, the Samsung Europa i5500 is available in the UK from Carphonewarehouse for £15 on pay monthly, the unlocked price is £229.95 but lets hope that once Carphonewarehouse's exclusivity ends, the price will drop. It's not really cheap since there's the cheaper T-Mobile Pulse Mini but there's really no rave reviews about it on the Internet and let's face it, Samsung devices have much more appeal over Huawei. With Android 2.1, this mobile phone would've been the perfect choice but with Carphonewarehouse's pricing, some might go with other Android handsets such as the HTC Wildfire or the Samsung Galaxy Portal.