Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 review: Corby with brains
Excellent phonebook does social networking
The phonebook on the Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 has loads of functionality and practically unlimited storage. You can sync your contacts with the Google cloud (an easy way to keep several devices and computers in sync) or you can view contacts on the phone only and even disable syncing altogether. There’s an option to show contacts on the SIM card too.
You can search the entries by either flick-scrolling the list or using the alphabet scroll at the side of the screen (courtesy of Samsung and the TouchWiz UI).
With Android 2.1, the Galaxy 5 packs the new Quick contacts feature. It lets you use the contact photo in the phonebook and call, text, or email the person with a single click.
The phonebook has another quick way to call a contact or send them a message, which has been borrowed from the Bada OS. In the main contact list, a swipe to the right on a name will dial the contact’s default number, while a swipe to the left will start the New message interface. The side-sweep thing works in other lists too where you have names or numbers.
Thanks to Android 2.1, there is also multiple account support for email and contact syncing, including Exchange accounts.
Editing a contact gives you plenty of options: there are many info fields that you can assign to each contact. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right – clicking it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes the unneeded field.
The Contacts app has a social side to it – if you log in to your Facebook account (or other social networks), you can link contacts. All the data available in the contact’s social networking profile will be copied and you’ll have a quick way of viewing their recent updates and media uploads. You can link one contact to several accounts from various services – this is synergy at its best.
The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 caused us no trouble during calls. The reception was good and the in-call sound was loud and clear.
Smart Dial is available and works like a charm – the implementation on the Galaxy 5 searches both contact numbers and names. Only one matching contact is displayed at a time, but pressing the down arrow on the right will give you the full list.
There is no proximity sensor on the I5500 Galaxy 5 – the screen locks soon after you start the call. You can drag out a dialpad or hit the hardware menu key for more options. Available options during a call include muting, holding or conference call.
The call log is the tab next to the dialpad. It shows all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list sorting your call history by contacts.
We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the I5500 Galaxy 5 and it did well to snatch a Good mark. More info on our loudspeaker test as well as the results of other tested devices can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica||66.6||62.1||75.7|
|Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3||73.7||66.6||72.3||Good|
|Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5||73.1||66.6||76.0||Good|
|Samsung S3650 Corby||75.7||72.0||77.1||Very Good|
Messaging brings combined inbox, Swype
The SMS and MMS messaging section is quite straightforward – there are no folders here, just a new message button. Under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads. In the I5800 Galaxy 3, the Messaging app had the same swipe to call/message capability, which unfortunately is missing here.
There’s application-specific search that lets you quickly find a given message among all your stored SMS and MMS.
To add message recipients, just start typing the corresponding name or number and choose from the contacts offered.
If you wish to manage a specific message in the history, you can press and hold a message to bring up options such as edit, forward, delete and lock as well as view details and copy message text.
A press-and-hold in the tap-to-compose area gives you access to functions such as cut, copy and paste. You are free to paste the copied text across applications like email, notes, chats, etc. and vice versa.
A handy addition is the “pin” that appears when you tap the text field – it does look like another Apple-inspired trick. It makes moving the cursor to a specific location between the letters much easier than having to aim and tap between the letters. We’ll cover text input in more detail in a moment, but first we’ll finish up the messaging part.
Converting an SMS to MMS happens automatically when you add any sort of media content to the message. You can just quickly add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or – depending on your needs – you can choose to go into a full-blown MMS editor.
Moving onto email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allows multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. Multiple Gmail accounts are also supported.
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can support multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
The Galaxy 5 also has a combined inbox, which brings together all your mail in a single folder so you don’t need to check each one for new mail. This can be quite handy if you have lots of accounts and you just want to check if there is a new message needing your attention.
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The G-Talk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
Text input is enhanced by Swype – we covered it thoroughly in the Samsung I9000 Galaxy S review and we won’t go into so much detail here.
In portrait mode, the on-screen QWERTY is just too small for comfortable typing – the keys require quite a bit of precision to hit correctly. Swype is a life-saver here – you don’t have to be very accurate with your swyping, which makes text input faster and easier.
You could turn the Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 on its side and use the landscape QWERTY. The keys are bigger, but still not the most comfortable (or fastest) keyboard we’ve seen. Swype is the better option again (and the bigger keys are easier to swipe over, which helps a lot while learning to use Swype).