Samsung has delivered its own little green robot into the world. That's right, smart-phone fans, the company's first Android handset, the Galaxy i7500, has been born. Samsung has given it some of the features it does best, like a vivid AMOLED screen and a good-quality camera, but it's left Android pretty much alone. The result is a phone that feels like an improved version of the HTC Magic, but doesn't fly with the eagles like the HTC Hero.
The Galaxy is only available on a contract from O2. You can get it for free on a £44.05-per-month,
18-month contract or a £39.15-per-month, 24-month contract. You can also pick it up for around £440 SIM-free.
Look into my screen
The crowning glory of the Galaxy is its screen, which is bright and vivid, with satisfyingly deep blacks. Unlike with the Hero, whose screen seems to sit slightly below the surface of the glass, the Galaxy's display is wonderfully in-your-face. The colours are so bright and saturated that they sometimes seem slightly inaccurate, but we'll trade accuracy for blinding good looks any day.
We only wish Samsung had stuck the beautiful screen into a better-looking body, although, at 12mm thick, it is pleasingly slim. For us, the layout of the keys, with their thin, chrome trim, looks old-school -- and not in a good way. The all-over black plastic is pretty boring. We also found it odd that the menu key is labelled with a cryptic icon rather than the standard 'menu', and the home button is small and wedged between the back and end-call keys.
The five-way navigation key isn't as groovy-looking as HTC's trackball, and takes up more room, although you may prefer it if you have big, clumsy, sausage-like fingers. It also doesn't glow and flash seductively like the trackball, but maybe this toned-down appearance will appeal to users with more conservative tastes.
AMOLED screens are meant to suck less battery juice than LED screens, and Samsung promises up to 390 minutes of talk time with the Galaxy. The company doesn't specify whether it means 3G or 2G talk time, though. The Magic claims to provide up to 450 hours of talk time on 2G and 400 hours on 3G, but, in our long-term test, we found the Magic barely makes it through a day without requiring charging. Stay tuned for our long-term test of the Galaxy's battery life -- we'll find out if it's really worse than the Magic or if it's just more modest with its claims.
Flash and go
The Galaxy is the first Android phone to offer an LED photo light, to go with its 5-megapixel camera. It's the best camera we've seen on an Android phone, but it's still can't compete with that of a great camera phone, like the Sony Ericsson C903 Cyber-shot. In good light, its photos are sharp and clear, although whites look rather grey. The LED light makes a brave stab at illuminating dark shots, but it only works well when objects are close by and you keep a very steady hand.