Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica review: Stars serving Eclairs

GSMArena team, 7 April 2010.
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Android Market has what you need

With the latest version of the OS and the most common screen resolution, the Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica has unrestricted access to the Android Market. The number of apps in the market is ever growing and a recent survey showed that it has the highest free-to-paid apps ratio out of all the app stores.

The first screen of the Market shows several featured apps. The Market organizes apps and games into two separate tabs and each tab lists sub-categories (e.g. Finance applications, Arcade & Action games). In each category you can select to view the Top free apps or ones that are “Just in”.

There's a third tab – Downloads – that keeps track of what you’ve already downloaded. Do keep an eye on this tab – when updates become available for an app you’ve installed, a label shows up next to the app name to notify you.

Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica
The Android Market in action

Searching is very easy – just tap the search button, type what you’re looking for (e.g. “navigation”). From then on, it’s pretty easy to choose – each app has a rating, a short description by the author, user comments and screen shots.

Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica
Finding the app you need is as easy as pie

Applications range from pretty silly (including one that simulates a doorbell), through fun (e.g. a virtual guitar) to real must-have's (including office document viewers, navigation software and more), but that’s true for every other app store.

Tweaks & Modding

We haven’t had a Tweaks & Modding section in a while, so we decided to drop a few lines about modding your Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica.

Even though the Galaxy Spica runs Android v2.1 it doesn’t have live wallpapers like the Nexus One has (you know, the animated interactive backgrounds).

There’s a way to add them, but it comes at a price – for one you have to root your device and you have to replace the Samsung-made homescreen with a third party issue like Launcher, Launcher2 or aHome.

There are reports that the live wallpapers get laggy sometimes, so they might not be as smooth as on the Nexus One.

Check out this forum thread for instructions and guidance on how to install Live wallpapers on your Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica (including links on how to root it, if you’re into it). As usual, we take no responsibility if any of these tricks goes bad for your phone.

Final words

The rate of Android proliferation is matched by no other platform on today’s market – you only need to look as far as the review section of our site, which is swamped with droids of all shapes and sizes.

The likes of Nexus One, HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 and Motorola MILESTONE make up the Android elite, the Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica is priced and spec’d in the middle.

It’s a reasonably cheap buy into the Android world, which opens the doors to a well-stocked Android Market and all sorts of cloud-based features (Google’s Near Me Now and the likes come to mind).

Android is shaping up to be the multitasking OS to buy – the iPhone OS and Windows Phone 7 can’t, Symbian^3 is still in future tense. Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5 or Symbian S60 are ageing platforms. Maemo and WebOS have limited reach.

Not that the Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica doesn’t have its quirks. The CPU may be clocked at 800MHz (faster than most Androids) but the UI is still laggy. The camera acts up, but those are things that can potentially be fixed with a software update.

The Galaxy Spica specs detail the archetypal Android – no real deal-breakers, but no mind-blowing features either. Maybe some other phone with roughly the same asking price will be better suited for your needs.

The Samsung I7500 Galaxy immediately jumps to mind – you’d find it for less than the Galaxy Spica but it tops it with an AMOLED screen, 8GB built-in storage, better camera and it’s actually thinner. The CPU speed and RAM are set noticeably lower though and the I7500 Galaxy hasn’t gotten a taste of Eclair yet.

Samsung I7500 Galaxy
Samsung I7500 Galaxy

If price is key, look no further than the HTC Tattoo – it’s got the pedigree, it’s greatly customizable and matches most of what the Galaxy Spica has to offer at a bargain price.

HTC Tattoo
HTC Tattoo

Of course you could be willing to part with some more cash for sweet perks like aluminum unibody (HTC Legend). Or go all in with an HTC Desire or a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10. If you need a physical keyboard, the Motorola BACKFLIP and the MILESTONE are at your service.

HTC Legend HTC Desire Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Motorola MILESTONE
HTC Legend • HTC Desire • Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 • Motorola MILESTONE

However, for the price gap between the Galaxy Spica and, say, the XPERIA X10, you could buy a point-and-shoot digicam that will outdo the X10’s 8MP shooter. You won’t have a 4” touchscreen or the Snapdragon CPU and so on, but still.

You could also take a walk on the wild side, by which we mean pick another OS or even a feature phone. There’s so many to choose from, but here are a few examples, each with its pros and cons – be it the camera, the screen, free navigation or office document editor.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Samsung S8000 Jet LG KC910i Renoir HTC Touch Diamond2
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic • Samsung S8000 Jet • LG KC910i Renoir • HTC Touch Diamond2

So, we’ve come a long way since the days when “Android” meant either an HTC Dream or Magic. There’s choice – lots of it – and the Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica is a great option.

It’s not a silver bullet though, not a crowd pleaser. The Samsung Galaxy Spica probably won’t be a bestseller, but it’s on the recommended reading list. If your operator has a sweet deal, the Samsung Galaxy Spica can be quite the thing for you.

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