At 115 x 56 x 11.9 mm this is the slimmest Android phone in our database. Well, that's not saying much as the rest of the competition still makes it in the top 3 anyway, but the Samsung Google phone is quite easily pocketable. The weight of 119 grams isn't quite as breezy as - say - some Symbian phones, but it's on par with the HTC Magic and lighter than the iPhone.
For quite a while, the T-Mobile G1 had sole title to the Google phone nickname. The HTC Dream (the non-T-Mobile-branded version of the G1) and HTC Magic obviously have the same genes. The first thing that comes to mind when you see the I7500 Galaxy with the screen turned off is, clearly and undoubtedly, Samsung.
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. We should note that our unit had a greenish tint but again, it's an early version with many issues still to sort out.
The screen is very responsive, reacting to even the lightest touch. Once the green tint problem is dealt with, the display should get the amazing vibrancy typical of OLED screens.
The hardware buttons are where the user interface has changed the most. The trackball was replaced with a regular D-pad (a very old-school Samsung D-pad, we should add) and, while the other controls are the same, their layout and styling has changed. So if you're coming from a G1 you'll need a few minutes before you feel at home.
While the back key is obvious enough, the I7500 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. The Home key is small but comfortably raised, so pressing it is trouble free.
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 basic piano black front.
The sides of the I7500 Galaxy are not that different from the G1. 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 typical of Samsung touch phones.
Now, the need for a Hold key is questionable. In the G1, the end call button locks the display anyway.
On the I7500 Galaxy there's an application called "Spare Parts", which allows you to make minor tweaks like changing 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. We hope it gets updated to control the behavior of other buttons too. A user-configurable Hold key could be very helpful.
The top has the microUSB port and a lanyard eyelet and - guys at HTC, pay attention here! - a standard 3.5mm audio jack.
The all-plastic rear is rather plain. The only embellishment is a dot-printed world map to subtly hint of Google's global reign … erm, sorry… reach. The camera lens, single loudspeaker grill and the Samsung and Google logo are all there is at the back of the I7500 Galaxy.
The 5 megapixel camera lens is enclosed in a slightly raised frame, which also accommodates the LED flash.
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.
Overall, the Samsung I7500 Galaxy is pleasingly compact 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 on cheap and comes 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 take a look at what changes Cupcake has brought.