Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica review: Stars serving Eclairs
Phonebook is the usual good stuff
A typical Android-running smartphone, Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica packs a phonebook with extensive functionality and practically unlimited capacity.
The handset is unable to display the SIM contacts unless you choose to import them but that is basically our only grudge against it. You can search the available contacts by either flick-scrolling the list, using the alphabet scroll at the side of the screen (courtesy of Samsung and the TouchWiz UI) or by pressing the hardware search key and typing a part of their name.
With Android 2.1 the Galaxy Spica has also received the so called Quick contacts. Those let you use the contact photo in the phonebook and to call, text, or email the person with a single click.
Another upgrade brought by the new version is the support for multiple accounts for email and contact synchronization, including Exchange accounts.
There are many info fields that you can assign to each contact, but it still remains perfectly organized. 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.
You can assign an IM nickname to contacts, as well as a postal address, company and job title, several notes, you name it. There is also the option to redirect calls directly to voicemail.
Telephony is doing fine
The Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica caused us no trouble during calls. There were neither reception issues nor in-call voice quality drops.
There is some kind of smart dialing on board but it’s not exactly useful. Once you tap in some digits the Galaxy Spica shows the contacts in your phonebook whose numbers contain them. Now, we don’t know if you have the habit of remembering the numbers of your contacts but we certainly don’t.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Spica lacks a proximity sensor so you will have to be careful not to press something on the screen with your cheek while in a call. Luckily Samsung have find a way to minimize this chance by leaving the dialpad as the only available control and you need to slide it upwards and not just press for it to appear.
The immediate consequence is the need to go through several menus if you actually want to press something – like take a note or write down a phone number.
The call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It shows all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list.
We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Galaxy Spica. We weren't overwhelmed but the Spica still snatched a good score, meaning missed calls are only likely in noisier environments. More info on our loudspeaker test as well as other results can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 3G||66.1||62.1||71.7|
|Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica||66.6||62.1||75.7|
|Google Nexus One||69.9||66.6||79.1||Good|
|HTC Hero||76.7||71.9||77.7||Very Good|
Messaging well taken care of
The SMS and MMS messaging section is quite straightforward and simple - there are no folders here, just a new message button. Under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads.
There’s search functionality that allows you to quickly find a specific message among all your saved SMS and MMS.
To add message recipients, just start typing the corresponding name or number and choose from the contacts offered.
Any unsent messages and drafts are marked with a red "Draft" label. What we really like is that each thread keeps the text in the tap-to-compose box even if you exit without sending it or explicitly save it. The "undelivered messages" section however has been removed.
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 and delete 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 into any other application like email, notes, chats, etc. and vice versa.
Converting an SMS to MMS is logical and easy. When you add multimedia content to the message, it is automatically turned into an MMS. You can just add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or you can choose to go into a full-blown MMS editor, depending on your needs.
Moving onto email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted.
There is also a standard email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
And by the way, the folders are organized in a tree structure - one click over a specific folder reveals its contents and the second click closes it.
The Galaxy Spica also sports a common inbox, which combines 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 new mail 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.
As far as text input is concerned, the Galaxy Spica offers the traditional landscape and portrait QWERTY keyboard options. Those are reasonably comfortable to type on and while no match for a hardware keyboard, they will do the job for most of the users just fine.