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Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 review: Corby with brains

Posted by Herman Chee on 2:08 PM

Don’t know what Android is? Don’t sweat it. Prepare to want one. The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 looks like a Corby, but walks and talks like a smartphone. More importantly though, it’s got no problem finding an audience to talk to. With so many Corby phones around, there must be enough users mustering up their courage to take that extra step – and upgrade to something more advanced and more exciting.

We’ve seen plenty of Corby variations – QWERTY keyboards, 3G, Wi-Fi. There’s even music Corbies. Those who thought a smartphone was in order, can finally have their told-ya-so

With the Galaxy 5, Samsung are encouraging young users to give smartphones a thought. A Corby smartphone makes it all so much easier. The name says it all: we’re looking at a cheap and friendly touch phone with premium connectivity and a smart OS. In a way, this is some good news and some bad news. No one would say no to high-speed network data and Wi-Fi. But smartphone just sounds too scary for some. Well, not any more.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE, UMTS 900/2100, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
  • 2.8" capacitive TFT touchscreen of QVGA resolution, 256K colors
  • Android OS v2.1 Eclair
  • 600 MHz processor
  • 170 MB onboard storage, microSD card slot (up to 16GB), 1GB card included
  • 2 megapixel camera with geotagging, QVGA video @ 15fps
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • microUSB slot
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Excellent audio
  • FM radio with RDS
  • TouchWiz UI v3.0
  • Accelerometer for UI auto-rotate
  • Social networking integration with direct file uploads
  • SWYPE text input method

Main disadvantages

  • Small QVGA screen: not to good for browsing, limited choice of apps
  • No multi-touch support
  • Poor still imaging and video recording
  • No DivX video support
  • microSD slot under the battery cover
  • No dedicated camera key
  • No secondary video-call camera

There’s much to question about the Galaxy 5 if you’re a seasoned smartphone user. This isn’t who this phone is for though. It’s a Corby, remember? There are weak spots of course, but calling them deal breakers would be too much. The Samsung Galaxy 5 is for those who take one step at a time. An entry level smartphone for learners, not pros.

Unboxing the I5500 Galaxy 5

The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 is a no-frills smartphone with a standard set of accessories. There is a mandatory charger, a microUSB data cable and a one-piece 3.5mm headset. A 1GB microSD card is also supplied.

Design and construction

Overall, the Galaxy 5 is nearly identical to its Corby siblings. The trademark diagonal contour on the sides makes the phone easily identifiable. The plastic construction certainly helps the Galaxy 5 keep its weight down to the sweet 102 grams. All the surfaces are glossy and fingerprint-prone, That’s especially true for the piano black rear cover.

Still, the phone turned out as quite resistant to scratches in defiance of it sleek front. We liked the ergonomics of all previous phones using the same design and the I5500 Galaxy 5 is no exception. Easy grip, pocket friendly and sleek body – you have to admit it’s easy to like.

The Galaxy 5 2.8" display has QVGA resolution (240 x 320 pixels), which is what low-end Androids typically use. The image quality isn't impressive but that's more or less implied by the price tag. Sunlight legibility is well below standards, the narrow viewing angle the biggest disadvantage. Indoors the screen is quite good though.

Despite the low resolution, Samsung tried to accommodate the Android OS. We have to admit, the interface looks better than expected on the QVGA screen – Samsung as taken the extra pains to smooth the fonts so they look as good as on the higher-resolution phones. Browsing inevitably suffers the most – neither the screen resolution nor the size will let you enjoy web surfing.

Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 has a capacitive touchscreen, which is very responsive to even the gentlest of taps and sweeps. Unfortunately, there is no multi-touch support here. We guess it’s too much to ask in this price range.

Above the display, there is just the earpiece – no ambient light sensor to optimize the screen brightness. There’s no proximity sensor either. There are too many hardware keys around the D-pad – a hark back to the olden Android days. Alongside the two Call keys on each side of the D-pad, there’s the typical Android set: Menu, Home, Back and Search.

The Call and End keys are integrated into the body of the phone and have a soft but distinct press marked by an audible click. The Android controls are set on rocker-styled buttons that are quite comfortable to use too. A well-sized and tactile D-pad completes the tally. In the absence of a proper shutter key, the D-pad is used for capturing. Doesn’t make much difference anyway, given the fixed focus 2 MP camera.


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