Samsung’s Galaxy range of devices is gaining quite a bit of popularity and after the success of their Corby devices, the company is getting more of the spotlight. One of their latest Android devices is the I5801 aka Galaxy 3. It’s offered up as a lower end Android device and could make things for the Spice Mi-300 a little difficult. Here’s a closer look.

Form Factor

The design is chunky and although quite comfortable to hold, I’m not happy with the look. It’s quite plain and the bulky and I know Samsung has a better fashion sense than this. The chrome finish makes it more of a mirror than a display (3.2-inch, 240 x 400 pixels) making it hard to view in bright sunlight. The 3.5mm handsfree socket, micro USB port and power/screen lock button are placed at the top. A hot swap slot for both the microSD card and SIM card are located under the rear panel. The Galaxy 3’s bundled handsfree is an in-ear styled speaker and is capable of delivering high quality sound while being comfortable to wear for long periods.

Features and Performance

If you buy the device right now you’ll be running Android 2.1 aka Éclair but the Galaxy 3 does support Froyo which will be out soon via an OTA update. Samsung’s Touch Wiz 3.0 UI is running on top of Android and, while I’m no fan, is nevertheless easy to navigate. The integration of Social Networking accounts with your phone book could have been better, but it gets the job done. There are Android and TouchWiz widgets available for the multiple desktops and you can download more off the Android market or Samsung’s App store. Swype for Android is by far one of the best assets that the Galaxy 3 comes pre-equipped with. It’s disappointing that other a generic Android Swype app isn’t available for all Android phones.

One major issue I did have with the device is that it was quite sluggish. It took really long to read an 8GB memory card for starters and there was a considerable amount of lag when trying to accessing apps/games etc. The light sensor has similar problems with delay. Oddly though multi-touch capabilities were a non-issue. It could be an issue with the test piece, but if any of you readers who own the device are facing similar issues, please let us know.

The one thing that almost all Samsung handsets, irrespective of price, manage to deliver on is media. The Galaxy 3’s media capabilities are no exception. Thanks to Samsung's DNSe audio enhancement the music player dishes out loud and very clear tones from the high to the low frequencies. With the assistance of Effects, presets and an 8 band customizable setting, tone quality can be personalized to your preference. A 5.1 Surround sound option is also thrown in to sweeten the deal. The device can also read .AVI video files in a DivX or XviD format which is another bonus. You won’t need to convert videos, just drag and drop files for playback. The 5.1 Surround option is also applicable here. The handset also comes with an FM radio that worked out quite well and a voice recorder.
3G with EDGE and Wi-Fi connectivity along with Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 2.0 are on board. The Feeds and Updates widget which is identical to FriendStream for HTC allows you to connect to multiple SN accounts for quick updates. Google talk is already preloaded but if you want separated apps for FB and Twitter you’ll have to get them off the Market. Samsung has also included the Layar, augmented reality browser in addition to the native android browser. The Daily Briefing (with widget) app provides details on your current city from data off of Yahoo! Finance, AP Mobile, and a Facebook connection as well. Email support includes MS Exchange support and standard POP/IMAP accounts and of course the Gmail option.

The Galaxy 3 also comes with built-in GPS and A-GPS support. It can be used with Google Maps or a third party application of your choice. For the camera it allows for Geo-tagging.

Misc. Features

Samsung has included quite a few handy tools with the Galaxy 3. The Write and Go app is by far the mot handy when it comes to taking notes. It also lets you either send the notes as a message or update it to your FB account, save it as a memo or to you calendar. Speaking of the calendar, it can sync with your Google/FB account to keep you updated with upcoming birthdays, appointments etc. Other handy apps include ThinkFree Office that allows you to view, edit and create documents that you can store in an online account or access from your SD card.

Another feather on the Galaxy 3’s cap is the heavily loaded 3MP autofocus camera. Features range from the basic like White balance and effects to a variety of scene modes to shooting modes like Samsung’s Auto Stitch Panorama, Action shot, Smile Shot and plenty more.

Image quality for a 3.1MP phone camera is really good in both outdoor and indoor conditions.

Macro shots are tend to be quite detailed.

The battery life was outstanding. With a talk time of over 5 hours on an average the Galaxy 3 fared really well on this front too. I didn’t need to charge the handset for over two days with regular usage. Very impressive.

The Bottom Line
I’m happy that Android powered devices are becoming more affordable all the time. Samsung’s Galaxy 3 comes with a price tag of Rs. 12,300 (MRP) but is available in certain locations for Rs. 11,900 (MOP). It might not as cheap as Spice’s Android offering but it offers a little more and fares just as good (if not a little better). Ultimately it’s your personal brand choice that will take precedence. The Galaxy 3, although I don’t think to be a great looking handset and a bit slow, is still a feature rich device that’s great for Multimedia and a lot more. As Android handsets go, it’s a great option. I say go for it.

Best Price (MOP) taken from Compare India.

I'd like to invite all Galaxy 3 users to share their experiences with the device via our comments section.

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