For email you're prompted to activate or set up a Google Mail account, but it's not essential, and it's easy to set up most accounts with just an address and password. The onscreen keyboard is cramped in portrait mode but flipping the phone on its side switches to landscape, which offers considerably more thumb room.
Unresponsive at times, perhaps Touchwiz wasn't so bad after all?
The letters flag up when you press them, iPhone-style, and there's a little bit of haptic feedback to further help you identify the keys. What doesn't help is that there's no automatic memory for email addresses, so you'll need to input the full address each time unless you save it to your contacts.
Browsing is standard Android, with a brush on the screen bringing up zoom in and out buttons, plus a search window, which you can drag around a web page to highlight the bit you want. Pressing the hard menu button gives you the option to save bookmarks, open a new window, select text and word search, as well as quick link to share pages.
The camera has very few frills – no a flash or lens cover – but there is autofocus and geotagging. There's very little in the way of options too, with no white balance or light sensitivity adjustments and no extras like macro or landscape modes. It's pretty tardy in action too. Start up from pressing the shutter button on the side takes just a shade under five seconds, and taking a picture requires another four seconds. All told, it’s far from ideal for quick snaps.
Though it's basic, picture quality actually isn't bad within its limits, with fairly accurate colour balance, though edges aren't very sharp – you'll need to be careful to get the lighting right and hold still. Switching to video, which takes about five seconds, drops the quality further and it's very prone to noise in anything but perfect lighting conditions.
Once you've taken your pics there are options to resize, rotate, crop and send them on, as well as arrange them in a slideshow. Strangely, while there are options to send your pics via email or MMS, as well as posting them to your Facebook or Picasa accounts, it won't allow you to transfer them using Bluetooth, even though Bluetooth is available.
Re: Not free
Being a bit skint, and having my contract up for renewal, I had the option of a G2 at £25/24months, or this, at £20/18months - I went for the Samsung; I'm too fecking pissed off with my 6650d to wait for the Bravo [AKA unbranded Nexus One] and can't justify the £600 for a near obselete phone. £360 is Ok though. And besides, when it comes to the next renewal, I reckon that all Android phones [and smartphones in general] will be rolling with 1ghz CPUs so I thought I'd introduce myself to the Smartphone world again, my last experience being XDAs. Which I hated with a passion I normally reserve for child rapists.
Overall impressions after a day of fiddling are quite good actually - I can see where Mr Oliver is coming from with regards to the *slight* tardiness - it's not as quick as the videos of the Nexus One for example, but from my fiddlings with Heros and Magics, it's not really much worse - it's perfectly servicable in that respect. The camera *is* slow as hell, but I have an SLR if I want to take pictures - I've never been one for cameraphones.
The capacitive screen is a real boon - once you get used to using it. I kept on trying to use a fingernail/edge of a rizla packet/etc to get more precision, then realising that doesn't work. it's really a case of getting used to working out where the corners/pads of your fingers and thumbs fall more than anything else, then it all starts to come together.
The biggest problem I've had so far was getting contacts to sync, which was more my fault for not being up on how Google arranges contacts more than anything else, although I was a bit miffed to know that I can't get my SMS messages to transfer over. Don't bother linking migration tools like sms2cvs and Sprite, they don't work for SMS from 6650 --> i5700. No major loss though.
Twidroid, facebook, gmail integration et al is very nice and works well, notifications are sane and rationally done, and there seems to be little in the way of interface bloat [regardless of what you think of the tehcnical backend] - it's just all very slick. Not iPhone smooth, but then it can run more than one third party app at a time, eh?
Next step is to get Android 2.1 and the lightweight pack on there - I've only had it ten hours and already I'm wanting to kick it up a notch.
So, my own little quick and dirty Android/i5700 verdict? It's quick enough, slick enough, and works nicely - I'm struggling to think of a better, 'semi-budget' contract android phone.
Mr Raith suggest playing with one in a T-mobile store - I can see where Mr Oliver is coming from with his comments about speed and whatnot, and while he isn't wrong [there are faster, better responding android phones out there] I think perhaps as a hardware reviewer, he may be looking at it from a different light than someone who is pissed off with their clunky bar/flip phone, is at the end of their contract and wants to try a touchscreen for not *too* much money - it's definitely worth a serious look, and better than the other cheapo Android handsets. Especially at £20/month for 300 mins, unlimited texts and free interwebs - the wifi mitigates any fair usage policies anyway.
Hope that helps :-)
[PS: I have nothing to do with T-Mob/Samsung et al. I'm just me, dribbling drunken ramblings...]
Too soon to tell
Few people I've heard talking about it have said it's _a bit_ slower than 1.5, but they are still using a beta version of the ROM.
Whether it's to be believed or not the official release might be out in the next few weeks. We'll know then for sure.
Eclair 2.1 available
Check this out.
The LwMod (LightWeight) makes the phone five times as snappy as the Samsung original 2.1 prerelease.
Google translate does a pretty decent job of translating the Russian - at least you get the drift.
Where's the keyboard...?