Samsung has always been known as the top of all technologies, and to master the Android scene, they are having a try after messing up the original Galaxy. That i7500 Galaxy fell into the mud, and to prove that Samsung is learning from past mistakes comes the Samsung Galaxy Portal i5700 – which features Android 1.5.
The first impression of the Portal is rather good – the phone feels solid, and if you’re prone to dropping your phone too often, that won’t happen here because of the grippy, rubberized effect of the back cover. You may be surprised to know that the Portal is actually thicker and a bit chunkier than the Galaxy of last year – it’s 13.2 mm as compared to the 11.9 mm of last year’s model. This phone has reliable old LCD technology, a 3.2 inch screen which you’re bound to love. There’s HVGA resolution, which is sure to impress all those who have never used a smartphone before.
The button layout is just a slightly changed version of the original Galaxy’s; there is no trackball or optical pad. There is a clickable d-pad which takes care of the directional controls; it feels very much like those old video games you used to play. But in fact, it’s much easier in the case of text messaging, because the clicky button makes things more convenient. For instance, just imagine that you have to send an important message during a meeting, and you accidentally make a typo. It’s much easier to correct that typo by simply clicking a button three times, instead of having to scroll a little wheel into position, or even poking at the screen’s relevant point.
The screen of the Galaxy i5700 is quite impressive – it’s solid and glassy thanks to the capacitive technology. Plus, it’s also occasionally patchy, just like most touchscreens out there in the market. But when it comes to pressing harder around the edges, you’ll definitely get used to it. You get the standard Android buttons – but as to what they do, there’s not much explanation. For instance, the Menu button doesn’t specify that it’s the Menu button – instead, the icon just looks like a tray with an arrow on it. The Home button has an illustration of a little house on it, though.
The bottom of the handset feels unnaturally heavy, which is a little disconcerting. The button placement approach is a little confusing – there are loads and loads of buttons which you need to figure out! There is a separate Lock button on the top-right edge of the case, which wakes it up and sends it to sleep. There is a camera button on the bottom right side and the volume up/down clicker is on the left. It’s actually quite difficult to pick up this phone without accidentally pressing something – so make sure you have a really steady hand.
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We think that Samsung should actually take a leaf out of HTC’s book and have the power buttons also act as the screen lock – this would make things more convenient, and also make the phone design look better. But you’ve got to be grateful for the fact that there is a button solely for taking photos – this removes the horrible concept of taking photos through a touchscreen button.
Samsung Galaxy is truly a turning point for the brand Samsung. It has dabbled in all smartphone platforms, even Windows Mobile (Omnia) and Symbian (i8510), also the BREW-based Vodafone 360. Now the manufacturer is going mainstream. The Galaxy was a reasonably good first attempt at an Android, but it still lacked some features which the competitors gave. But this Galaxy Portal is a slimmed down version, both in terms of price and features.
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The internal memory of the Galaxy Portal is just 180 MB. Compared to the 8GB of native storage, it’s quite a jump. You can fix this by adding a MicroSD card – but you would need to remove the back cover to gain access to it – and if you have a number of different cards, this can be quite a bother. The screen works on TFT technology and not OLED. So colors aren’t that bright –but that’s not likely to be a big issue.