When Samsung announced the Galaxy back in April, it looked destined to become the poster boy for Android; its noir looks and 5MP snapper made it a mouth-watering prospect.
But then the HTC Hero rocked-up, flaunting its cool social networking-styled Sense UI and stealing some of the Galaxy’s star dust on its way to becoming Stuff’s ‘Gadget of the Year’.
So how does the Galaxy stack up against an award winner? Well if you sit in the camp that loathes the Hero’s kinked design, then the Galaxy’s classic Samsung look will seem far more appealing.
Like most high profile Samsung handsets, it’s well made, lightweight and trimmer than its Android-rivals with a slim 11.9mm profile; think a wider, less minimal Samsung Jet.
Instead of employing a discreet trackball like the G1, Magic and Hero, the Galaxy opts for a sizeable five-way navigation pad. It’s great to use but utterly superfluous for general operation, only really coming in handy for gaming.
Touch and go
Unfortunately, the Galaxy’s spacious 3.2in AMOLED capacitive touchscreen suffers the same fate as the Motorola DEXT. For the most part, it’s responsive and flexible but susceptible to sometimes ignoring your finger swipes. But while it lacks the ultra sensitivity of the HTC Hero and Apple iPhone it’s, nonetheless, very usable indeed.
The onscreen QWERTY keyboard layout, whether in portrait or landscape mode, is also spacious enough for accurate finger-led text input. Naturally, you’ll find more room for manoeuvre in landscape orientation.
Original Android flavoured
Unlike the Motorola DEXT’s MotoBlur and HTC Hero’s Sense UI, Samsung doesn’t tart up the Android interface with any new skins or widgets and you’re left with the native Android arrangement to work through.
While this may initially seem disappointing, the original UI is still intuitive and flexible to use and the three sliding homescreens are open to wide-ranging widget and shortcut customisation.
Even without a new-fangled social network UI, heavy users can still get their fix by downloading Facebook, MySpace and Twitter apps from the Android Market place. They may not be fully integrated but they’re easily accessible.
Web surfer dude
With the full compliment of high-speed connectivity options and Android’s fantastic web browser, surfing the internet is effortless. Even without multi-touch support, prowling in on specific web pages is made easy by an elasticated ‘Mini-Map’ styled window.
Despite Samsung’s fine Pixon pedigree, the Galaxy’s 5MP snapper seems to conform to the Android’s stripped-bare camera set-up and although it boasts autofocus and an LED flash, picture quality is average. Video recording quality is even cruder with the CIF (352 × 288 pixels) resolution at 30fps riddled with digital blocking.
The Music player is similarly bare-boned but the presence of an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack is very welcome. The extra bass supplied by plugging in your own headphones will give the audio some much-needed depth, especially with the absence of any equaliser modes to adapt the sound.
The Galaxy is a solid Android debut and a decent enough slimline touchphone. But the HTC Hero and Motorola DEXT both prove more inventive practitioners of the Android OS, so deserve our recommendation above this more workmanlike Samsung.