Android is easily the most popular mobile operating system. It has overtaken Symbian as the smartphone OS of choice and the number of Android devices available has overtaken the iPhone, as well as the BlackBerry, in the US in terms of sales numbers.
Android was making most sales only in the high-end smartphone segment. The low-end smartphone market was dominated almost entirely by Symbian. With the launch of low cost phones like the Huawei Ideos and the Samsung Galaxy 5 and Galaxy 3, Android is starting to become a dominant force at the budget end of the smartphone sales spectrum as well.
The Samsung Galaxy 5 i5500 is one of the cheapest Android smartphones. It runs Android 2.1 Eclair and has some pretty good hardware specs.
Samsung Galaxy 5 Specifications
- Dimensions: 108 x 56 x 12.3 mm
- Weight: 102 gms
- Display: 2.8 inch TFT capacitive touch-screen display, 240 x 320 pixels, 256k colors
- OS: Android 2.1 Eclair
- Processor: 600 MHz
- RAM: 256 MB
- Memory: 170 MB internal, up to 16 GB microSD cards
- Camera: 2 MP camera, 1600 x 1200 pixels
- Connectivity: GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g with DLNA, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
- GPS: GPS transceiver with A-GPS support
- Radio: Stereo FM Radio with RDS
- Battery: Standard Li-ion battery, 1200 mAh
Design (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Galaxy 5 i5500 has a nice stylish, compact design. It has the standard touch-screen candybar form factor with the Menu, Home, Back and Search keys. It also has a D-pad and the Call and End keys below the display. It has dimensions of 108 x 56 x 12.3 mm and weighs just about 102 grams which makes it very pocketable. The build quality is very good and the overall feel of the phone is excellent.
The display of the Galaxy 5 is a 2.8 inch TFT capacitive touch-screen display with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. The resolution is a bit low, but considering the price, there isn't much to complain about. The display is adequately bright and offers good contrast.
On the left, there is the volume rocker and the microUSB port while on the top, there is the 3.5 mm audio jack. The back sports the 2 MP camera and the battery compartment.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
When it comes to software, the Samsung Galaxy 5 is one of the best budget Android phones. Unlike many budget phones which run Android 1.6, the Galaxy 5 runs Android 2.1 Eclair with the TouchWiz UI. It has pretty decent hardware specs – a 600 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM. The OS performance on the Galaxy 5 is pretty fast and the UI feels very responsive.
My only gripe would be the low display resolution. Due to it, some apps in the Android Market won't work on the Galaxy 5. Such a low resolution also isn't the best way to experience Android. The TouchWiz UI supports everything like homescreens, widgets, shortcuts etc. It looks quite nice and is one of the best custom Android UI jobs out there.
Features (3 out of 5)
The Samsung Galaxy 5 ranks really low when it comes to multimedia capabilities. But then, you couldn't realistically expect a multimedia powerhouse at this price, so I guess it's OK.
It comes with a mediocre 2 MP camera with an image capture resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels. It lacks both autofocus and flash and supports video recording only at the QVGA resolution at 15 FPS.
It also has an FM radio with RDS. The image gallery app is quite good and fast. The camera interface is also very user friendly. The video player can play 3GP and MP4 videos, though watching videos isn't what the 2.8 inch display was meant for. The audio quality of the Galaxy 5 is quite good, especially when coupled with good headphones.
What it lacks in multimedia capabilities, the Galaxy 5 more than makes up for in connectivity options. It has all the standard connectivity options like GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSDPA and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g with DLNA.
It also has Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and comes with a GPS transceiver with A-GPS support. It also offers microUSB 2.0 connectivity. It comes with the best mobile browser – the Webkit based one in Android. The only limiting factor is the low display resolution and size.
Performance (3 out of 5)
The call quality on this phone is fine and you shouldn't encounter any real problems with dropped calls. You might get a litle bit of an echo sometimes.
Despite the 600 MHz processor it actually runs very smoothly with no real lag.
It is powered by a standard 1200 mAh Li-ion battery which lasts for about 2 days with moderate usage. Basically, the upside to the smaller screen is a longer lasting battery.
The Verdict (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Galaxy 5 i5500 is one of the best budget Android smartphones. You should be able to pick one up very cheaply and if the price is right then I would definitely recommend it. Except for the low display resolution, it is a decent Android phone. If you are willing to spend a bit more then check out our list of the best Android smartphones.