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Samsung Galaxy Portal i5700 review

Niall Magennis

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

User Score:

The Galaxy Portal is only Samsung’s second Android phone, although the company seems to have plenty more in the pipeline. Essentially this handset can be seen as a cut down version of Samsung’s first Android effort, the Galaxy, but although some features have been removed, some have also been upgraded too, as we’ll find out.

Samsung’s handset designs are usually rather stylish – we liked the look of the Tocco Lite and the Pixon, for example – but unfortunately the company’s designers must have been suffering from a hangover when it came to styling the Portal as it’s far from the prettiest phone Samsung has released.

At 115 x 57 x 13mm it’s not exactly overly chunky, but the design is quite drab and boring. We also hate the cluster of buttons at the bottom of the screen. There’s simply too many of them and they’re too tightly packed together to be comfortable to use. Another issue is that the reddish line around the OK button makes the d-pad look exceptionally cheap. In fact, as with trackballs, we don’t think you should really need a D-pad on a touchscreen phone, but we’ll let you make up your own mind on that one.

At least the Portal does feel reasonably solid and the rubberised plastic on the removable battery cover makes the handset relatively comfortable to hold. There’s also a standard 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the handset next to the microUSB port, so it’s easy to use your own cans with the phone, although the supplied in-ear style ones are actually pretty good.

Instead of the AMOLED display used on the Galaxay, Samsung has gone for a more standard TFT display on the Portal. However, it’s still a fine screen. Its resolution of 320 x 480 is pretty good for a phone in this price bracket, it’s very bright and colours are probably a bit more natural looking than on the Galaxy’s AMOLED screen. The display also uses capacitive rather than resistive technology for registering finger dabs and swipes and as a result feels very responsive to touch input.

Unfortunately, although multi-touch is starting to become a standard feature on most new Android handsets, it’s not available on the Portal despite the presences of that capacitive display. In fact, the Portal is some way behind the pack when it comes to its Android OS as Samsung has used the older version 1.5 of the software. It hasn’t added any of its own interface tweaks over the top either, so you’re left with a plain vanilla version of Android with just three homescreens and no fancy live widgets like you get on HTC’s handsets. There are a couple of neat apps preloaded, though, including a Divx movie player and the Layer augmented reality browser that uses the phone’s GPS chip and camera to display a real time view of your surroundings with stuff like cash machine locations blended over the top.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

gobucks

April 14, 2010, 4:34 am

I bought a i5700 recently and feel quite differently to Niall about the phone. I've got the white version which makes the phone look more distinctive and in my humble but excellent opinion, stylish. Also I immediately upgraded the firmware to Android 2.1 using Odin (I understand that Samsung will release an official firmware in the future in the UK but I didn't feel like waiting and installed one of the European firmware releases).





I really like the phone - it is snappy, responsive and the screen is vibrant. However I do agree that the camera isn't up to much. The real acid test for me is that this phone makes my iphone 3G look rather tired and clobbers it on almost every level. 6 out of 10 may be a fair score for the phone reviewed but its certainly not for the white version running 2.1.

Hands0n

April 14, 2010, 11:25 am

For £229.95 this is a bit of a bargain buy. But it is a Samsung and their support for Android, at least in the UK, so far has been lamentable. What were they thinking of when they decided to release this in Spring 2010 with Android 1.6. That it can be updated to a European firmware release of Android 2.1 is irrelevant as most people buying these on contract will barely have a clue that they can actually do that, let alone the knowhow to actually perform an update manually.





So, in short, a bargain for the technically proficient {maybe} but a complete let down for the average punter.





Samsung? Stay away from.

Hamish Campbell

April 14, 2010, 1:04 pm

This is called the Spica in Denmark I think. Very cheap on contract compared to the HTC android phones.


Seems samsung has promised android 2.1 for it as well.


I was tempted recently to get it as a cheap entry into the android world, but now I'm holding out for an HTC legend as it stunning good looks suit mine.

Fallen2004

April 14, 2010, 3:04 pm

I like this phone but i do want 2.1, Supposidly an official update will come soon, http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/ar... , but i dont no if that includes the UK thou and if it does how long wil it take to get here im thinking of flashing it.

drittenorn

April 14, 2010, 3:42 pm

The handset being sold by 3 in the UK already has the 2.1 code. Last time I looked it was 200GBP on PAYG.

HarryGlass

April 14, 2010, 6:38 pm

Yeah considering 2.1 is now available I think you should re-do this review.





It's still got plenty shortcomings compared to newer HTC phones, but I think the fact they've released 2.1 for it, and it's pretty cheap means this review is a bit unfair.

99tollap

April 14, 2010, 9:33 pm

I think this phone is rated at least 1 point too low for every category.

Niall

April 14, 2010, 11:49 pm

Hi guys,





The phone was reviewed as is, because that's the sample that was provided to us by Samsung.





Our Samsung PR contact didn't seem to be aware that Three is offering the phone with 2.1 pre-installed.





We're talking with Samsung at the moment to see if we can either get a new handset with the updated software, or whether they'll provide us with an official 2.1 update for our current phone. If they do, I'll take another look at the phone and scores.





However, as far as I can tell, even with 2.1 it still doesn't have multi-touch.

pinkllama

April 15, 2010, 7:10 am

i think it's a great phone for the price. i got it on T-mobile for £36 on a £15pm tariff with 300mins, 300 sms, 1gb internet & a choice of another free add on. i chose the 60 mins of calls to europe.





i've only got the T-mobile pulse to compare it to in the android phone stakes and compared to that, it's way snappier.





this is my first samsung phone and based on their support alone, it would be my last. neither samsung pc suite nor kies recognize the phone. though as another poster has done, i've upgraded to android 2.1 via odin.





the buttons at the bottom are a mess. they are my only real complaint about the phone.





for sure the nexus one, htc desire etc are better, but cost loads more.

HarryGlass

April 15, 2010, 3:03 pm

@pinkllama: Well I've got the Galaxy i7500 and considering I'm paying double what you are I think the Spica is amazing value. You can get 2.1 for it, and the Galaxy only has a buggy version of 1.6.





While I wouldn't get this phone myself (desire, incredible all catching my eye) I think for the money this is one of the best phones around just now.





@Niall: I'm not surprised, Samsung don't seem to know their ass from their elbow. They have some lovely lovely products, but they just seem to throw them out there and forget about them. I'm sure the designers must hate the way some other parts of the company are run. If Samsung got their act together they'd be the biggest manufacturer in the world (oh wait, they already are... but think how much bigger they could be).

Ben 8

April 15, 2010, 6:09 pm

I was about to go and buy a Pulse this weekend but you got me thinking now.





In a pretty similar price tag, the Galaxy has a better processor but a smaller screen, and apparently comes with 2.1 on Three.





I guess I'll have to see them in the flesh to decide which one I prefer...

Ben 8

April 19, 2010, 6:20 pm

Update from above, I bought the Galaxy Portal from Three and it does indeed come with 2.1 Eclair. The white version looks a bit better as well.





After a few days using I am very happy and for the price (£199.99) it is the best budget Android phone atm. The t-mobile pulse has been discontinued apparently (or so the guy said in the shop) so could not really compare the two.

ralpheal4

June 25, 2010, 12:25 am

hi i just bought this phone unlocked and in white... seems quite nice so far compared to my past phones.





just wondering now how i can update this to the android 2.1 version?


please reply soon

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