Watching video seems like a chance missed. The screen is OK, but not strikingly sharp, and there's no option to fit movie resolutions to the screen, with the result that most of those we tried appeared very cramped with heavy letterboxing top and bottom. It will however play MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, and DivX formats.
Augmented Reality's Layar adds to the eye candy
The Android music player has its usual elegant layout with songs searchable by name, artist, album or playlist and the ability to play MP3, AAC and WMA files. Sound through the supplied headphones, which feature noise-isolating grommets, was surprisingly good, with plenty of detail, presence and yes, even a decently full bass for once. Just as well really since there's no option to adjust the sound.
Call quality isn't the best we've tried, with a little harshness to the tone of voice, and it could have done with going a little bit louder too. Battery life held up pretty well, giving us the better part of two whole days of fairly intensive use. There's 180MB of memory on board and it comes with a 1GB microSD card but will accept anything up to 16GB.
Neither Samsung or T-Mobile have added much to make the Galaxy Portal stand out from the Android crowd, though a few apps have been preloaded to save you the bother of downloading them from the Android Market. As well as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace there's also a version of the Augmented Reality browser Layar, which uses the Portal's GPS to offer on-the-spot info about local services, including pics, reviews and contact details, including instant dialling and lays all the info over a real-time image on the screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Portal's name gives the impression of a gateway to the information superhighway, but it falls far short of this. As a basic, largely untreated Android, it's fully open to customisation, and comes in at a reasonable price, Yet that sticky processor and poor camera, in particular, hold it back from being amongst the good stuff. ®
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Samsung Galaxy Portal GT-i5700
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.