Samsung recently launched the new Spica i5700 - its latest offensive in the Android segment. Its predecessor - the i7500 Galaxy failed to create any waves when pitted against competitors like the HTC Hero in the same price range. This time Samsung seems to have decided to go all out and present a budget Android offering - the i5700. It is the cheapest Android phone available yet, cheaper than even the HTC Tattoo without compromising on the hardware front. It is available for less than $300 for the unlocked version in most markets.
Design (3 out of 5)
The Spica i5700 has dimensions of 115 x 57 x 13.2 mm - almost the same as the i7500 and weighs slightly more at about 124 gms. The key layout has changed slightly with the addition of an extra key which opens a universal search pane. The display is a 3.2 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen supporting a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels and 65K colors.
On the sides, you have a dedicated volume rocker to the left, lock button and camera shutter to the right and a 3.5mm jack and microUSB port on the top. Design wise, not much has changed between the i5700 and the i7500.
Hardware and OS (4 out of 5)
The Spica i5700 is powered by a 800 MHz processor which is noticeably faster than the Galaxy i7500’s 528 MHz processor. It has 128 MB of RAM and comes with 180 MB of internal storage.
It runs Android 1.5 (Cupcake) just like the Galaxy. It uses the standard Android UI, not a customized one like the HTC Sense UI. However it comes with built in support for DivX and XviD content. Other than that, there is no deviation from the standard Android OS features. The SPica is rumored to get an upgrade to the Android 2.1 OS soon.
On the connectivity side, it comes equipped with GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP. It also has built in GPS with A-GPS support.
Camera and Multimedia (4 out of 5)
It sports a 3.2 MP camera with autofocus and geotagging support. However it lacks flash. The camera interface is the standard Android one, without any advanced features like effects, contrast, white balance etc. The image capture quality is pretty decent with realistic colors. The video recording quality is mediocre - it can record videos at a maximum resolution of 352x288 pixels at 15 FPS.
On the multimedia front, the Spica more than makes up for the bad image quality by supporting DivX and XviD encoded videos right out of the box, largely due to the presence of the 800 MHz processor. The video playback quality is pretty amazing and fluid. The audio quality is also pretty good. You can use your own headphones with the Spica as it sports a standard 3.5 mm jack. The sound is loud and clear with good bass through both the loudspeakers and the earphones.
It is powered by a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery which offers a battery life of about 2-3 days with moderate usage. All in all, the Samsung Spica i5700 is a very good phone and probably the best budget Android offering yet. The only con would be that Samsung uses the vanilla Android UI with it, not a customized UI. Superb phone, nevertheless.