As a flagship phone, Samsung’s Galaxy S has grabbed a lot of media attention, but not everyone can afford its rather steep asking price. It’s also far from the only Android handset in Samsung’s current line-up as the Korean company has steadily been adding new phones to its Galaxy range. The Europa is the latest to put in an appearance and it’s one of the most affordable yet. However, with some compromises having been made to keep the price down, are the results worthy of your hard-earned cash?
At first glance, the Europa looks very similar to Samsung’s Genio Touch. It has the same rounded design and two-tone colour scheme, although the Europa has a more professional chrome and glossy black finish than some of the day-glo colours that the youth orientated Genio is available in. The Europa also feels a lot sturdier. For example, although the rear battery cover is made from plastic it snaps firmly into place and doesn’t creak or flex like on some cheaper models.
The top of the handset is home to a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and you’ll find the volume controls and micro-USB port (which is used for both syncing and charging the phone) on the left-hand side. Samsung has kitted the phone out with the usual menu, home, back and search buttons that you’ll find on most android handsets. These sit above the call buttons and a five way D-pad. All the buttons are traditional physical buttons rather than touch ones, which is no bad thing in our book. One thing that the Europa is missing, though, is a dedicated camera button. As a result, you have to dive into the main menu or use a homescreen shortcut every time you want to launch the camera – not ideal if you need to quickly capture one of those spur of the moment shots.
The screen is the area where the most obvious compromises have been made in an effort to keep the price down. At 2.8in it’s probably the smallest display that you can get away with on a touchscreen device, especially as its resolution is also quite low at just 240 x 320 pixels. Also, although the display uses capacitive technology, Samsung hasn’t enabled it for multi-touch so you can’t pinch to zoom as you can on the Samsung’s Galaxy Apollo GT-i5801 - the next step up in Samsung’s line-up of Android phones.
That said, the display is very responsive to finger swipes, dabs and presses, and seems to be quite accurate too. For example, we were easily able to hit small hyperlinks in the browser first time, whereas on some phones you have to prod around to get them to respond correctly. The display is also reasonably bright, and colours are punchy. However, the low resolution does compromise the web browsing experience somewhat, as when you have the phone held in portrait orientation, text looks a bit blurry even when zoomed in on a column of text on a webpage.
It’s also annoying that the Samsung onscreen keyboard only has a QWERTY layout when used in landscape mode. If you’re working in portrait mode it defaults to a numerical keypad where you have to tap multiple times to reach different letters.