Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3 preview: First look

GSMArena team, 15 June 2010.
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Samsung I5800 360-degree spin

Designwise, the Samsung I5800 looks quite close to the Samsung S5560 Marvel but it’s actually just a bit bigger. In fact, the gem-shaped center key and the touch-sensitive soft keys that are hidden most of the time making it look like just any one of the countless Samsung touchscreen bars. Not much of a looker this one, but makes sense as a midrange phone. The I5800 measures 113.5 x 55 x 12.9 mm and weighs 109.7 grams.

The handset avoids right angles and is curved all around. The I5800 has a strong emphasis on simplicity – the only things that stand out on the neat and simple front are the thin silver rim of the D-Pad and the grill of the earpiece.

Design and construction

The design of the Samsung I5800 is not revolutionary, but the touchscreen bar is very limiting in what manufacturers can do. Samsung have given us another neat and simple, all-plastic device.

The design is utterly minimalistic and hides away most of the functional elements. The Android keys (menu, home, back and search) are touch sensitive and are only visible when their backlight is on. The D-pad looks like a simple center key, even the volume rocker is not very prominent.

The display is a 3.2” touchscreen of WQVGA resolution. It’s the first Android smartphone we see that has this particular resolution. It uses capacitive technology to sense even very light taps. The image quality is good as far as TFT screens go, with good brightness and decent contrast.

The sunlight legibility is pretty bad however – there’re too much reflections and the display often ends up reflecting sunlight right into your eyes, obscuring everything on screen.

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The display doesn't do well in the sun

Below the display are the D-pad and the standard arrangement of Android keys. The D-pad has the appearance of a simple center key, but can be used to scroll both vertically and sideways. You probably won’t use it much, the only time it’s actually better than just using the touchscreen is when you need to go back a couple of letters and fix a typo.

The other four keys – Menu and Home keys on the left; Back and Search on the right – are touch sensitive. When their backlighting is off, they become invisible and blend with the black plastic of the front.

The keys are capacitive, which means they react only to bare fingers. They don’t provide any haptic feedback at this point, but that’s about to be fixed we guess. There’s a setting for it in the menu.

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The front is more crowded than it looks

Above the display there’s the earpiece on top and the Samsung logo below it. To the left there are a couple of sensors that didn’t work on our unit, but we guess they are an ambient light sensor and a proximity sensor.

On the left side of the phone you get the volume rocker and a lanyard eyelet. The right is completely bare, not even a shutter key.

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The volume rocker and lanyard eyelet on the left • there’s nothing on the right side

The top does not surprise at all nor does it disappoint - it houses a 3.5 mm audio jack, a standard microUSB port with a protective cover and the power key, which also serves as a lock/hold key. The phone charges off the microUSB port - just like most of its recent siblings. The bottom is not very interesting - only the mouthpiece is there.

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The microUSB and audio jack • the bottom side

As usual, the 3.2-megapixel camera lens is on the back, along with the Samsung logo and a “with Google” label. The camera is inset, which is the only protection against scratches.

The handset’s rear is curved in - the top and bottom slightly raised - which is another way of making sure the camera lens won’t touch the surface the phone rests on. The speaker is very close to the edge of the “bump” at the bottom but doesn’t get muffled.

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The top and bottom part of the back are slightly raised

Under the back cover you'll find a 1500 mAh battery and the SIM and microSD card slots. Typically for the latest Samsung devices the memory slot is under the back cover and even though it's hot-swappable, you still need to open the cover first. The slot is on the left side of the device and the SIM card compartment is on the right.

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The microSD and SIM slots are under the rear cover

The Samsung I5800 sits well in the hand and you can comfortably reach everything, but it isn’t a small phone. The I5800 is generally pocketable, but not the most compact of handsets. It’s glossy black plastic all-around so be prepared to regularly deal with fingerprints. All in all, there’s nothing much to get excited about in the I5800 hardware. It’s a midrange package all right, but it just seems too plain for an Android.

But hey, here’s a little spoiler. We get the feeling the I5800 is more than likely to redeem itself in the software department.

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Samsung I5800 in the hand • Next to the Apple iPhone

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