Our Score


User Score

Review Price £232.93

On the Galaxy Samsung used a 528Mhz processor, but despite the fact that the Portal has a lower price tag it’s actually equipped with a faster 800Mhz CPU. The phone certainly feels more responsive than its older sibling, but there are still times - usually when you’re running multiple apps - when a bit of sluggishness creeps in. Whether this is due to the older version of Android, lack of available memory or just a weakness of the processor in dealing with multitasking we’re not completely sure. One thing is certain, though, it doesn’t feel quite as sprightly as the latest 1Ghz Snapdragon equipped handsets. Nevertheless, given the phone’s relatively low price tag we don’t think it’s too bad a performer.

But while the processor may have been upgraded, Samsung has drastically chopped back the memory in comparison to the Galaxy. That handset had 8GB of internal storage, but the Portal makes do with a meagre 200MB. However, it does come with a 1GB microSD card and larger capacity microSD cards aren’t all that expensive these days. One annoyance, however, is the fact that you have to remove the battery cover to get at the card slot, although mercifully you don’t actually have to remove the battery, so hot swapping cards is still possible.

Unfortunately, the Portal’s camera is also a bit more basic than the one found on the Galaxy. Its 3.2-megapixel resolution is nothing special by smartphone standards, but perhaps more disappointing is the fact it lacks any form of flash. The camera software isn’t the best either as there’s a pretty limited range of controls on offer – it lacks white balance and brightness settings, for example, but as the Portal has GPS you can at least geotag your photos. And while the snapper does support autofocus it’s very tardy and as a result there’s a very long delay between pressing the shutter button and it actually capturing a picture. Shots tend to come out looking a bit noisy with soft edges, even when taken out doors in pretty decent lighting conditions, so it’s not like it makes up for it’s tardiness with it’s overall picture quality.

At least Samsung hasn’t skimped when it comes to connectivity. As well as the aforementioned GPS, it also support both Wi-Fi and HSDPA (up to 3.6Mbps) for web browsing and data downloads and naturally there’s Bluetooth for connecting to wireless headsets, but annoyingly the phone doesn’t support picture transfer via Bluetooth. The Portal’s earpiece is reasonably loud so it’s easy to hear callers even when you’re in noisy places like packed bars or busy streets and overall call quality was pretty good as we had no major problems with it during our test period.

The handset is powered by a 1500mAh battery and on the whole battery life was pretty much on par with other Android handsets we’ve used recently. With medium usage of core features you can expect to get around two days from it, but if you hammer the GPS chip or do a lot of surfing via HSDPA you can expect this to drop to a day at most.


The Portal may sport a fast-ish processor and have a low-ish price tag, but it’s let down by Samsung’s decision to use an older version of Android and the lack of multi-touch support. With so many great Android phones now flooding the market, we think the Portal is likely to get swapped by the competition.

Previous page
Next page
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


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.


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.


April 14, 2010, 3:04 pm

I like this phone but i do want 2.1, Supposidly an official update will come soon, , 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.


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.


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.


April 14, 2010, 9:33 pm

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


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.


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.


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.


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

comments powered by Disqus