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Samsung Galaxy Europa GT-i5500 Review

Pros

  • Low price
  • Capacitive touchscreen

Cons

  • No multi-touch

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £178.00
  • Capacitive touchscreen
  • Android

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.
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?
Samsung Galaxy Europa front


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.
Samsung Galaxy Europa front angle


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.
Samsung Galaxy Europa UI


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.

Thankfully, Samsung hasn’t lumped the handset with an ageing version of Android. Instead, the phone runs the relatively recent Android 2.1 release. This means you get the improved user interface that was introduced with this version including some eye candy such as the live wallpapers. For example, there’s one preloaded that has leaves floating on water. When you touch the water you’ll see ripples form on the surface.
Samsung Galaxy Europa UI


Naturally, there are other improvements, too, including HTML5 support, a new contacts list, general speed increases and support for Bluetooth 2.1. Samsung has also added its own skin over the top, but really the only major difference is that instead of the traditional scrolling effect in the main menu, you’re instead presented with a number of screens that swipe back and forth to move through your list of apps. The company has also included its own Samsung Apps store, although this was curiously empty during our review period. There’s also the Layar augmented reality browser along with Samsung’s Allshare software that allows you to share media from the handset to other Samsung devices, including its range of Internet-connected TVs.
Samsung Galaxy Europa shots


On the hardware front, the Europa has 512MB of RAM, 256MB of ROM and runs on a 600MHz processor. It feels quite speedy for a phone in this price range with very little slow down in evidence even with a couple of apps open in the background. The phone covers all the bases when it comes to connectivity too. Along with support for HSDPA, there’s Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Wireless N Wi-Fi and GPS. Call quality was generally pretty good as the earpiece is loud, but the mic didn’t produce quite as clean audio as some other Android handsets we’ve reviewed. Nevertheless, battery life wasn’t bad as we got just under two days from it for a mixture of calls, web surfing over Wi-Fi and music listening. This is pretty much par for the course on Android handsets.


The phone’s camera is very basic, though. It’s a simple 2-megapixel shooter that lacks both autofocus and flash. The shots it captures are quite poor as colours aren’t very accurate and pictures look smudgy when viewed on a PC. Indoor shots also look pretty bad unless there’s lots of light streaming into the room, as otherwise you end up with excessively grainy and noisy photos.


Obviously, the built-in storage space is a little tight if you’re going to take lots of pictures and videos or store music on the phone, but thankfully Samsung includes a 1GB microSD card in the deal. This tucks into a slot found behind the battery cover, but as you don’t actually have to remove the battery to get at it, you can hot swap cards.

Verdict


The big downer with the GT-i5500 is the fact that Samsung hasn’t added in multi-touch support, despite the fact that the display uses capacitive technology. Nevertheless, the phone remains a tempting option if you can’t afford the multi-touch enabled GT-I5801, as the screen is very responsive and it feels speedy to use. It certainly trashes similarly priced rivals like the Vodafone 845.

Samsung Galaxy Europa test photo

Samsung Galaxy Europa test photo

Samsung Galaxy Europa test photo

Samsung Galaxy Europa specs

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Design 7
  • Value 8
  • Features 7

General

Operating System Android OS
Height (Millimeter) 108mm
Width (Millimeter) 56mm
Depth (Millimeter) 12.3mm
Weight (Gram) 102g
Available Colours Black

Display

Screen Size (inches) (Inch) 2.8in
Screen Resolution 240x320
Touchscreen Yes

Battery

Talk Time (Minute) 390m
Standby Time (Hour) 375hr

Storage

Internal Storage (Gigabyte) 0.17GB
Camera (Megapixel) 2 Megapixel
Front Facing Camera (Megapixel) No Megapixel
Camera Flash No

Connectivity

Bluetooth Yes
WiFi Yes
3G/4G Yes
3.5mm Headphone Jack Yes
Charging/Computer Connection microUSB

Processor and Internal Specs

CPU 600MHz

Misc

App Store Android Market
GPS Yes

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