The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 uses the TouchWiz 3.0 UI, which is among our favorite Android UI mods. This one has been tailor made for the smaller, lower-res screen of the Galaxy 3 and it looks better than expected.
It’s mostly the same TouchWiz you’re used to, with a few minor changes. The Galaxy 5 uses the stock Android 2.1 lock screen (which lets you easily switch Silent mode on and off) and the homescreen got a couple of tweaks.
There are only three buttons at the bottom of the screen – dialer, menu and contacts. The dots that mark the current homescreen pane are not numbered – no huge loss.
But changes under the hood make a huge difference – text rendering has been tweaked, and even smallest letters look good despite the low resolution. Of course the smaller diagonal helps (QVGA on 3.2” looks awful). Still, it’s not as good as high-res screens but it’s better than expected.
Other than that, it’s the usual smooth TouchWiz experience – you get up to 7 homescreen panes, though you can delete the empty ones. Rearranging homescreens is very quick and easy.
Samsung have also added 7 widgets of their own, available under “Samsung widgets” when adding content to your homescreen. Those include four different clocks (Calendar, Weather, Dual and Yahoo Finance).
There’s also the Feeds & Update widget (shows social network status updates), and Buddies now, which is similar to Photo contacts. The final Samsung widget is Daily Briefing, giving you an aggregated view of weather forecasts from AccuWeather, stock rates from Yahoo Finance, news feeds from AP and your upcoming appointments.
The main menu consists of side-scrollable panes - much like the homescreen - instead of the vertical scrollable grid you get in the vanilla Android. You can add new pages manually by dragging an app to a new screen in edit mode. A list view is also available, just as on the HTC alternative, Sense UI.
When the launcher is in edit mode, you can uninstall applications (only the user-installed ones though) just by tapping them.
The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 supports live wallpapers – there are a few preinstalled and you can get more off the Android Market. Keep in mind though, those do strain the battery.
The task switcher has not been affected by the TouchWiz changes, but the notification area has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and sound toggles on top.
The performance of the Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 is very good – we experienced no lags, even with UI animations turned on. The CPU is powerful enough to take on even more expensive handsets (and with the lower-res screen the Galaxy 5 is flying).
Our usual batch of benchmarks lacked support for QVGA resolution, so we ran others instead. Here’s how the Galaxy 5 stacks up against the I5800 Galaxy 3. The I5800 has a CPU speed advantage (667MHz vs. 600Mhz) but the I5500 has a lower-res screen (QVGA, vs. WQVGA).