Review – Samsung Galaxy 3 (i5801)

Samsung has done a remarkable job with Android smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy S is the best example. However, the Galaxy S is not all that Samsung did with Android. Back during CommunicAsia 2010 the company introduced two price sensitive Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy 3 (i5801) and the Samsung Galaxy 5 (i5503). We got to know the Galaxy 3 better, and this is what we think about Samsung’s entry level Android offering.

Design

I am not a big fan of Samsung’s design team, but this phone though an entry level is an exception. It is pretty compact design measuring at 113.5mm x 55mm x 13mm and sports a great 3.2-inch LCD display. This WQVGA display which has a resolution of 240 x 400 is perhaps one reason I would recommend the Galaxy 3. The screen though not as beautiful as HVGA display does a great job compared to the WVGA screens which other devices in this price range have to offer.

Below the screen is the Home button, surrounded by the Menu and Back buttons which are in the touch-sensitive style. Yes, it has no Search button. On the top of the Galaxy 3 i5801 is the 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port and the power button. On the back side you have the 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and the battery cover reveals a 1500mAh battery, SIM card slot and microSD slot.

The i5801 is a plastic build but surprisingly it is very sturdy, has a brilliant grip and feels real easy in hand.

Interface and Features

The phone runs Android 2.1 Éclair comes with Google Apps for Android, while a Android 2.2 FroYo update is expected to be coming on the device we have no information on the dates. The phone is topped up with Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz UI 3.0, this brings the iPhone-like side scrolling in the menu and some additional widgets improving the Android experience. I find the TouchWiz UI to be very irritating and I feel like it’s the least worked on skin for Android. The TouchWiz is also pretty buggy, a few times while on the menu screen it went back to the home screen and there seems to be a bug with the notifications.

However, in this segment over other device the i5801 has a very responsive touchscreen, which obviously is a very important thing. The Android keyboard is not perfect, so the addition of Swype input method makes perfect sense and feels like a blessing from above.

The beauty of this device is the wide connectivity options including HSPDA, WiFi, Bluetooth and A-GPS for satellite based navigation. The ability to make perfect use of Google Maps with location awareness on such a low budget smartphone is a great option.

Multimedia

If you are into multimedia, this phone does DivX files without converting them. Hence, we tested a few videos and they played great. The audio and video playback on this device is great. It has a FM Tuner but I can hardly imagine many people using it.

The 3.2 megapixel camera does come with auto focus but lacks LED flash and I am not very impressed with it. Outdoor photos shot in daylight look good and the colors are simply great, while indoor photos have some contrast issues and capturing images under moonlight makes no sense. It offers a macro mode and when shooting close-ups the success rate of a good shot is very low as most them will turn out blurry.

Performance

The multimedia and the touch feedback is where the Galaxy 3 i5801 scored good points, but when you put the performance at test it loses more than a few points. It has 256MB of RAM and a 667MHz processor. Multitasking makes the device quite slow and same is the story with heavy applications like games with intense graphics. Opening multiple windows on the browser will result in a sluggish web browsing experience and this can be very irritating at times.

The 1,500mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy 3 is very impressive. A full charge will keep the phone running for around 15-16 hours on medium usage and much more if you do not go online very often.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy 3 i5801 is not the entry level smartphone which will satisfy all your requirements, mainly because of Android 2.1 Éclair and the sluggish experience on heavy usage. However, those who want to experience Android but do not the gold this is the cheapest offering from a global manufacturer and is absolutely worth the money.

It desperately needs the Android 2.2 FroYo update as it does improve the processor performance as LG has the Optimus One P500 running Android 2.2 FroYo priced at Rs. 13,000 a mere Rs. 1,500 more than the Samsung Galaxy 3 i5801 which goes out at Rs. 11,500.

[cb type=”company”]Samsung Electronics[/cb]

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