At 115 x 56 x 11.9 mm this is the slimmest Android phone on the market yet - even if by a whisker. There's no chin this time around, so despite its size it can comfortably slip into a pocket.
Still the Galaxy is not a small phone by any means and has all the advantages of size. How about that AMOLED capacitive screen for starters? But that big Android is still quite comfortable to handle. The weight of 119 grams isn't quite as breezy as some Symbian phones, but it's on par with the HTC Magic and lighter than the Apple iPhone (whichever the generation).
Samsung decided to put stock Android on the I7500 instead of going the modders way covering everything up in a custom UI. And we can't say that this is a bad thing, but we'll get to that. What's important here is that design-wise the Galaxy has Samsung written all over it - figuratively speaking, of course.
Only when the screen lights up do you realize that Android's inside. The screen is easily the best part of the hardware - a 3.2" HVGA capacitive OLED touchscreen. The size of the screen stretches the resolution a little thin but the lively colors and great contrast do add up to some pleasing image quality. Not to mention the extremely good viewing angles, which seem almost unmatched from what we've seen so far.
What's more the screen is very responsive. It reacts to your thumb with amazing speed and precision that make the interface appear surprisingly snappy. However it suffers from the low sunlight legibility that's quite typical of AMOLED screens.
The Galaxy front hardware buttons are generously sized and have a very pleasant click. You won't mind using them at all, even with such an excellent screen. A trackball is no longer the Android rule, in fact it's something of an HTC trademark.
The back key is obvious enough, but the menu key is marked by an arrow pointing up from a square bracket. That doesn't exactly scream "menu". The home key - that looks like an Nseries multimedia knob - is squeezed between the back and end button. This Home key is small but comfortably raised, so pressing it is trouble free.
As far as key assignment is concerned, you can download the free application "Spare Parts" off the Market. It will let you make minor tweaks including the behavior of the End button. You can set whether the End key should lock the phone, return to home screen or go to homescreen and then lock.
The styling of the phone is quite plain, more on the cheap than the conservative side. It's plastic all around, and the silvery accents on the control and navigation pad do little to glam up the simple black front.
The sides of the I7500 Galaxy are not that different from the typical Samsung touch-operated handset. On the left there's just the volume rocker. The right-hand side has the shutter key, which can be half-pressed to handle autofocus, and a hold key. The shutter key is very soft and responsive.
The top has the microUSB port, a lanyard eyelet and a standard 3.5mm audio jack. The USB port is covered, but the audio jack is left exposed.
The all-plastic rear is rather plain - uninspiring piano black finish and flat as a pool table. The only things to note are the lens with flash beneath, loudspeaker grill and the lonely Samsung logo (for whatever reason, there's no Google logo this time as opposed to the first sample we had for early previewing).
The camera lens is placed in the top left corner, so your support finger occasionally gets in the way of the picture.
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera lens is enclosed in a slightly raised frame, which also accommodates the LED flash. This frame is the lens' only mean of protection against scratches. The loudspeaker grill has two small nubs, so it doesn't get muffled on a flat surface.
Removing the back panel reveals the easily accessible SIM compartment. Unfortunately, that's how you get to the microSD card slot as well. The memory card slot is under the battery cover, but the card can be swapped without removing the battery.
Opening the back cover often results in the battery popping out so be careful when you're swapping out the memory card. On the plus side, the back cover has "ribs", which make it sturdier.
The battery is massive - 1500mAh are said to keep the Galaxy up and running for up to 450 hours and allow up to 9 hours of talk time. It may as well, in a controlled environment. In reality we had to charge the phone rather often - almost every day at some point when testing was getting too intense.
Overall, the Samsung I7500 Galaxy handles nicely even if it's not the most compact of phones, and the hardware controls are quite roomy. It sits well in the hand, its 11.9mm of thickness count for a lot of that.
The Plain Jane styling borders are a bit on the cheap and come out a bit too boring for a handset that's debuting a brand new OS in the Samsung portfolio. The handset has a distinct Samsung face though and the brand's loyal customers will perhaps appreciate that. The other positive thing is that we have no reason to question the phone's long-term durability.
On the next page we make good on our promise to explain why we liked the plain Android.