After a number of CDMA QWERTY messengers deployed stateside, Samsung’s intentions are clear – continue to serve an underserved niche. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the Galaxy 551 in terms of styling or features but Samsung’s first QWERTY messenger droid to work on European networks won’t suffer from lack of attention.
An affordable smart messenger will be a great option to consider for many current feature phone users. The Galaxy 551 opens the door to the exciting world of Android and you don’t have to wait to get Froyo. With a complete connectivity package (Wi-Fi N, HSPA, GPS) and a great QWERTY keyboard, it’s a whole new level of performance.
As usual, the new territory is duly signposted: some are quick to frown at the TouchWiz user interface but it does help brand-loyal users feel at home. There are small but important novelties here - such as the new and improved task manager and upgraded notification area with rotation lock.
The Galaxy 551 enjoys access to both the Android Market and the Samsung Apps repository. The WQVGA screen resolution won’t let you fully tap the Market’s potential, but the handset wasn’t meant to be the ultimate multimedia device in the first place. On the other hand, Samsung will surely offer some free apps and updates through its own service.
Currently the Galaxy 551 costs about 230 euro, which certainly is a competitive launch price. The competition is there but we guess that Froyo will make the difference where necessary.
Let’s look at the rivals in ascending order. One of the cheapest Android messengers to find is the LG GW620. It’s a nicely built smartphone with a good enough QWERTY keyboard but runs the already obsolete Android 1.5 Cupcake. If budget is of utmost concern, you may have yourself a deal for about 160 euro.
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro currently costs less than the Galaxy 551 too. The smallest of QWERTY messengers runs Android 2.1. It will easily match the Galaxy 551 performance and is more compact and personalized. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Another couple of QWERTY Droids will offer bold design and a customized interface for about 200 euro. The Motorola BACKFLIP has a one of a kind reverse flip QWERTY keyboard, but runs the outdated Android 1.5. It only makes sense in the US where the Eclair 2.1 update is already available. The eccentric Moto FLIPOUT is running Android 2.1 Eclair – it’s small in size but social and with an ear for music.
Motorola’s first Android phone – the original MILESTONE – is about to get its Froyo update. And it has been getting cheaper. It’s still a tempting package with a big and high-res screen, superior imaging, the complimentary 8GB memory card and metal on the body. The MILESTONE still sounds a great deal. Let’s just hope Motorola keep their promise and finally release that Froyo update.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro costs the same as the Galaxy 551, but old Symbian inside puts a big question mark on the whole thing. Solid imaging and media are something you can’t take away from it though.
Back to the Samsung Galaxy 551, it seems priced right and ready to take on a market where most of the competition is aging. It is not a phone to get excited about – but you’d be wise to keep an eye on it. With the right kind of support from carriers, it might be a smart buy. Whether or not it’s your first smartphone buy.