Samsung Galaxy I7500 review

£475
Price when reviewed

We like Android as a mobile operating system, but that’s not to say it couldn’t benefit from a few tweaks here and there. That’s why our favourite Google phone to date has been the HTC Hero, and why we weren’t too keen on the Samung I7500 Galaxy at first. It’s a back-to-basics Android handset: the OS is plain and unenhanced, and there are no fancy software extras. Instead, it relies on its hardware to gain votes.

At first, this approach appears misguided; physically, the Galaxy is an unremarkable thing. Its design – in glossy and rather tacky black plastic – will do nothing for your street cred, and its dimensions aren’t particularly exciting either. It measures 52mm wide, 115.5mm tall and it’s 13.2mm thick. That’s slightly narrower than an iPhone but its angular edges make it harder to slip into a pocket.

Turn it on, however, and you’ll immediately spot the Galaxy’s main gambit: the display is an OLED one, boasting fantastic contrast, eye-popping colours and amazing brightness. Although it’s not as broad as the screen on the HTC Hero – at just 3.2in – its sheer vibrancy more than makes up for this.

You might think this is overstating the case, but it really does make using the phone very easy. Icons and graphics leap out of the page at you, text is less of a strain on the eye, and video – when you can get it to play back smoothly – is a great watch. Better still, if you drop the brightness to save on battery life, you can still actually see what’s on screen. And as with all the Android phones we’ve seen so far, the Galaxy’s touchscreen is capacitive, so onscreen buttons require only a the lightest of touches to activate.

Behind the screen is a solid feature set. There’s GPS for location-based and satnav applications, HSDPA for fast browsing and downloads, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 8GB of integrated storage (plus a Micro SD slot for memory expansion), a 5-megapixel digital camera with an LED flash, VGA video shooting, plus an accelerometer that rotates the screen automatically for you, depending on the orientation of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy I7500

The screen is an undeniable highlight, then; alas, the rest of the phone fails to live up to its promise. One of the most frustrating aspects of the design is the button arrangement below the screen. Where the Hero goes for a responsive clickable scroll ball, the Galaxy sticks to a plain old five-way directional pad.

We found this fiddly and plasticky to use – and left it alone most of the time – but worse are the keys surrounding it. Not only are they flat and uncomfortable, but the symbols and their intended meaning are cryptic in the extreme. It will be a while before you get used to the fact, for example, that the one that looks like a tray with an arrow pointing up launches the context sensitive menu – what’s wrong with using the word “menu”?

Performance isn’t quite up to snuff either. Although most OS operations were carried out instantaneously, scrolling and panning web pages on the Android browser wasn’t as slick, occasionally hesitating before moving the page.

The camera produces acceptable images but it’s not the best in the world, with a soft, washed-out look to many images – even in good light. Video quality was worse, only shooting at 352 x 288 resolution in Xvid format. And, finally, battery life was okay but it again not outstanding. In our real world, mixed usage tests it lasted a touch longer than three days. That’s not terrible by any means, but it can’t match the Hero, the iPhone 3GS or the latest Nokia handsets. More worryingly, two hours of browsing with the screen on robbed the battery of 42% of its reserves.

The Samsung Galaxy I7500 is far from a bad phone. Its screen is truly stunning and Android makes it simple to use. Alas, the overall package isn’t quite as convincing as HTC’s Hero, and it’s currently far too expensive.

Details

Cheapest price on contract £0
Contract monthly charge £44.00
Contract period 18 months
Contract provider O2

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 560hrs
Standby, quoted 19 days

Physical

Dimensions 52 x 13.2 x 115.5mm (WDH)
Weight 117g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 128MB
ROM size 8,000MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
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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