Samsung Galaxy Portal I5700 review

It takes more than a simple splash of colour to make a smartphone stand out from the crowd these days, but with its latest Android phone Samsung appears to have ignored this sage advice. From a distance its new Galaxy Portal I5700 looks identical to the top-end Samsung Galaxy I7500, save for a spot of red here and there.

Samsung Galaxy Portal I5700 review

So it needs to make its mark in other ways, and it does so principally through price. Available exclusively through T-Mobile, you can lay your hands on one for free on a £20 per month contract, a very good deal considering the hardware on offer.

For starters, you get a phone that feels better made and more thoughtfully designed for your money. We prefer the soft touch plastic back to the glossy one on the original Galaxy, and the revamped, slightly curvier button panel below the main screen feels higher quality, too. The screen is just as large, with a 3.2in diagonal, and has the same 320 x 480 resolution.

In terms of core specification, there’s not much missing either, with 3.6Mbits/sec HSDPA, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, an accelerometer for flipping the orientation of the screen and a digital compass.

Understandably, certain areas have been cut back, and the screen is the main focus of this. In place of a lovely OLED display, this cheaper model has only a TFT. As a result it’s not as bright, but it’s still more than acceptable by the standards of most smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy Portal I5700

The camera sees a reduction in resolution, from five to three megapixels, and there’s no LED flash to help out in low light either.

There’s no integrated storage to speak of – just 180MB internal and a 1GB Micro SD card supplied in the I5700’s expansion slot. As with the original Galaxy, the version of Android on offer – 1.5 – is both behind the times and untweaked, with very little in the way of software extras. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to add to via the Android Market.

But none of this really matters that much. The camera on the original wasn’t that great anyway, and the memory can be upgraded for very little money. More important is that the I5700 feels much faster and more responsive than its predecessor.

Lists scroll quicker, web pages pan more smoothly and the phone copes better with lots of applications running at once. Its 800MHz CPU takes the lion’s share of the credit for this.

Even battery life isn’t too bad. After 24 hours of moderate use – including 30 minutes of phone calls, 50MB of data downloads, 1hr of music playback and 1hr of screen-on time – we recorded 50% capacity remaining. That’s not as good as the best phones we’ve tested, but it’s a match for the Apple iPhone 3GS.

Despite this we like the Samsung Galaxy Portal I5700. It has a good specification – most notably its fast processor and capacitive touchscreen – and it feels well made, too. For the money, it’s hard to think of a better value smartphone.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £20.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider T-Mobile

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 12hrs
Standby, quoted 27 days

Physical

Dimensions 57 x 12.9 x 115mm (WDH)
Weight 120g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 180MB
ROM size 1,000MB
Camera megapixel rating 3.2mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 3.2in
Resolution 320 x 480
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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