Samsung S5230 Star review: Hot starlet

GSMArena team, 06 July 2009.
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Tags: Samsung, Touch UI

Unboxing the Samsung S5230 Star

The retail package of the S5230 offers the basics - a USB cable, a charger and a headset. The headset is in one piece so there's no way to plug in your favorite headphones. There's also a CD with software and a user guide but it's probably easier to get those from the Samsung Mobile website anyway.

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The contents of the retail package

Samsung S5230 360-degree spin

The Samsung S5230 Star hasn't changed too much since the pre-release unit we previewed but there are differences. The frame around the display is now much darker, the rear panel pattern has changed and - perhaps most noticeably - the stylus is gone. Given that Samsung went for a quick redesign, they could have swapped the proprietary connectivity port for microUSB as well, but for some reason they decided not to.

Design and construction

The Samsung S5230 is quite a compact device - and lightweight too. It's more angular than its sibling - the S5600 - which gives it a slightly boxy appearance. You will however notice the resemblance to some other Samsung phones - the original Omnia comes to mind.

The 3" display takes centerstage on the S5230 front. It has a 240 x 400 pixel resolution, just like most previous-generation touchscreens by Samsung. Its image quality isn't as impressive as the one high-end Samsungs can offer but it isn't too bad either. The brightness levels, for one, are pretty good.

The Star uses a resistive touchscreen as opposed to the capacitive displays in devices like LG Arena and Apple iPhone. This means there's a need for a bit of extra pressure to the screen for a click to be registered. On the other hand the resistive display technology has the advantage of allowing the use of stylus (and fingers with gloves).

The sensitivity of the Samsung S5230 display is pretty decent, although, hardly comparable to the Samsung Jet, even though they use the same technology. A comparison to the LG Cookie, however, is in Star's favor, even if the difference isn't too great at all.

Unfortunately, the display sunlight legibility is well below the iPhone or Nokia standards.

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The 3" touchscreen is the main attraction of the S5230 Star

The Samsung S5230 Star is modestly styled - the brushed and grooved deck, which hosts the hardware keys on the front and the dark grey frame around the display are the only subtle accents. The strip has gotten much darker than the early version of the phone, giving it a more understated look. Simplicity is key again, but we cannot help noticing that the Star lacks the Cookie's character and charm.

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Simple and subtle, a Star in name only

Above the display, there's just the earpiece and the Samsung logo - there's no ambient light sensor to adjust the brightness of the display. Below the screen there are three hardware keys - the receiver keys on the left and right and the Back button in the middle. The latter has been slightly redesigned since the pre-release sample and now it has an ico on it. Not much of a change, but it will help TouchWiz novices.

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The hardware keys are tactile and solid to press • Earpiece and Samsung logo above the display

The S5230 Star's right-hand side houses just two keys - the camera key and the HOLD key, which is used to lock and unlock the touchscreen. The lanyard eyelet is on the right too, though the stylus compartment of the early version is gone.

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The shutter key and HOLD key are on the right

On the left side of the Samsung S5230 there is a simple volume rocker and the proprietary Samsung port that's used for connecting the charger, data cable and headset. We would have preferred a more standard connector here like microUSB, but the extra development will probably have resulted in a higher price tag so it might be better the way it is.

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Volume rocker and the proprietary Samsung connectivity port

The back panel of the Samsung S5230 is even more modest than the front - the whole phone looks like a dressed down Omnia. The back is dot-patterned, which is more of a design choice than a boost to grip. It does attract fingerprints but they're not too visible - a noticeable improvement over the pre-market sample.

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A look at Samsung S5230's back

The 3 megapixel camera lens and self-portrait mirror are housed in a silver plate with a grooved texture. It draws the eye to the camera even though the camera itself probably doesn't deserve the attention - there's no autofocus, nor flash of any kind.

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A basic 3-megapixel snapper

Removing the back panel grants you access to the easily visible SIM card compartment. Unfortunately, the memory card slot is under the battery. A strange decision by Samsung - the other way around would have been much better.

Battery life is where the Star gets an upper hand over the LG Cookie with more than twice the juice. It lasted for four days in moderate use, which is pretty decent achievement and even more so, when compared to the only two days that we achieved with the LG. If you are, however, the kind of user that just doesn't let their handset have a rest you will certainly have to charge your Star every other day.

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The non-hot-swappable memory card slot is under the battery

Overall the Samsung S5230 is a pleasingly compact touchscreen phone. It's not the slimmest around, and the old-school styling and USB port suggest it's a rehash of an older design - it's got 2008 written all over it. The white version of the Star, however, really refreshes the whole thing and makes it just as sexy as the Cookie.

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Samsung S5230 held in hand

Still, we are happy with Star's ergonomics and handling and so must a million people be… every month

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