Preview of the Samsung Galaxy Portal

27 Apr 2010
Samsung Galaxy Portal

The Samsung Galaxy Portal is a new entry to the Galaxy family that intends to bring the Android operating system to a wider audience without cutting out on the high end smartphone fun that can be had with some of its more expensive alternatives. With the growing availability of Android smartphones, Samsung will need to make the Galaxy Portal a very worthy handset if it is to remain relevant, so let us delve into what it offers.

The Galaxy Portal follows on from the i7500 Galaxy and in homage takes a slight twist on its name to become the i5700 if you pay attention to Samsung's alternative naming system. On the continent it is known as the Galaxy Spica and when it was first announced it was going to arrive as the Galaxy Lite. Since then Samsung has ditched this tag in favour of a less descriptive one.

On the outside it manages to break away from Samsung's relatively bland range of similar smartphones simply by adding in a more interesting array of physical buttons to the mix. Below the 3.2 inch LCD screen are a selection of seven physical keys and a four way directional pad. These are grouped together fairly tightly, but they still give the Galaxy Portal a pronounced length with which other full touchscreen mobiles do away. At first these buttons may seem superfluous, but since they all serve a useful purpose they will probably grow on you as you continue to use them. The directional pad, for instance, is useful when you are scrolling through menus and web pages and could be put to good use in apps and games when you want to free up space onscreen that might normally be occupied by a virtual control pad or your thumb.

The Galaxy Portal uses an unmodified version of Android 1.5. Samsung sometimes chooses to implement its own TouchWiz interface to make its smartphones look uniform across different platforms, but here this is not the case. Android in its basic standard form is still very capable when used in conjunction with a touchscreen display and there is plenty of software support out there thanks to the thousands of apps which stock the virtual shelves of the Android Market. Interacting with onscreen icons is easy thanks to the capacitive touch sensitivity and it means that the screen itself is firm and resistant to scratches. Many smartphones of this type either stick with older, squidgy resistive screens, or have cheaper plastic capacitive displays, which makes the Galaxy Portal easy to recommend to anyone who is worried about how they will cope with the move to touchscreen mobile ownership.

The Samsung Galaxy Portal has three distinct homescreens which can be switched between using your finger and each can be populated with your own choice of shortcuts and widgets that provide you with information or let you jump straight into an app or phone feature. You might want to make one homescreen up for use at work, one for when you want to socialise with friends and one for accessing your media files. The Android Market is the perfect place for anyone who want to overhaul the look of their Galaxy Portal, as it will let you download customised themes and widgets which augment the standard array of shortcuts.

Inside the Portal is an 800MHz processor and this is really one of its biggest assets. It outclasses the speeds afforded by many of its rivals and means that apps load up in a snap. Web pages also load swiftly and with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity onboard this will be a frequently enjoyed perk.

Various UK network providers have said that they will offer the Samsung Galaxy Portal, including T-Mobile, 3 and Virgin Media.