Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 review: Corby with brains

GSMArena team, 17 September 2010.

Unboxing the I5500 Galaxy 5

The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 is a no-frills smartphone with a standard set of accessories. There is a mandatory charger, a microUSB data cable and a one-piece 3.5mm headset. A 1GB microSD card is also supplied.

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The Samsung Galaxy 5 retail package

Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 360-degree spin

The all-plastic Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 measures 108 x 56 x 12.3 mm and weighs 102 grams, which is almost the same as phones like the Corby and the Lindy. The three handsets are clones really, save for the extra keys below the display.

Design and construction

Overall, the Galaxy 5 is nearly identical to its Corby siblings. The trademark diagonal contour on the sides makes the phone easily identifiable. The plastic construction certainly helps the Galaxy 5 keep its weight down to the sweet 102 grams. All the surfaces are glossy and fingerprint-prone, That’s especially true for the piano black rear cover.

Still, the phone turned out as quite resistant to scratches in defiance of it sleek front. We liked the ergonomics of all previous phones using the same design and the I5500 Galaxy 5 is no exception. Easy grip, pocket friendly and sleek body – you have to admit it’s easy to like.

The Galaxy 5 2.8" display has QVGA resolution (240 x 320 pixels), which is what low-end Androids typically use. The image quality isn't impressive but that's more or less implied by the price tag. Sunlight legibility is well below standards, the narrow viewing angle the biggest disadvantage. Indoors the screen is quite good though.

Despite the low resolution, Samsung tried to accommodate the Android OS. We have to admit, the interface looks better than expected on the QVGA screen – Samsung as taken the extra pains to smooth the fonts so they look as good as on the higher-resolution phones. Browsing inevitably suffers the most – neither the screen resolution nor the size will let you enjoy web surfing.

Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 has a capacitive touchscreen, which is very responsive to even the gentlest of taps and sweeps. Unfortunately, there is no multi-touch support here. We guess it’s too much to ask in this price range.

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2.8" is small by today's standards but the capacitive touchscreen is very responsive

Above the display, there is just the earpiece – no ambient light sensor to optimize the screen brightness. There’s no proximity sensor either. There are too many hardware keys around the D-pad – a hark back to the olden Android days. Alongside the two Call keys on each side of the D-pad, there’s the typical Android set: Menu, Home, Back and Search.

The Call and End keys are integrated into the body of the phone and have a soft but distinct press marked by an audible click. The Android controls are set on rocker-styled buttons that are quite comfortable to use too. A well-sized and tactile D-pad completes the tally. In the absence of a proper shutter key, the D-pad is used for capturing. Doesn’t make much difference anyway, given the fixed focus 2 MP camera.

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The lonely earpiece • the hardware keys are very comfortable to use

The right-hand side of the I5500 Galaxy 5 is completely bare. The lanyard eyelet is in the top left corner, followed by the volume rocker in the middle and the microUSB port beneath for connecting a charger or data cable. Traditionally, the connectivity port is covered with a plastic lid.

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The right side is empty • the left side: lanyard eyelet, volume rocker, and microUSB port

The top features the 3.5mm audio jack only, which has no protective cap, while the bottom side is absolutely bare, save for a tiny slit to help you remove the battery cover.

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The rounded top with 3.5 mm audio jack • nothing at the bottom

At the rear, we find the camera lens at the top end and the loudspeaker grill at the bottom.

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The rear panel with the camera lens and loudspeaker grill

Removing the back panel reveals the 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery. Samsung claims the phone should last nine and a half hours of talk time or 520 hours in stand-by mode (in 2G networks). Pretty impressive numbers, but given the small and low-res screen, we guess it might just be possible.

You can also find the microSD card slot on the left. Despite its location, the card is hot swappable, there is just the inconvenience of removing the battery cover first.

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The SIM card slot under the battery • the microSD card slot

The Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 is first a Corby, and then an Android smartphone. There’s obviously the more subtle choice of color as the Galaxy 5 is targeted at a more mature audience but the styling should still be comfortably familiar to any Corby user. It is a pleasingly compact touchscreen phone and while it's not the slimmest around, the ergonomic design more than makes up for that.

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Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 held in the hand