Budget Android devices are gaining popularity as the ‘high-end’ specifications are finally starting to trickle down to phones under Rs.10,000. Samsung’s latest Galaxy Y is one such example of an affordable, yet very much user friendly Android phone. It’s designed for the young teenager on a budget, something his/her parents don’t want to spend a lot on, but at the same time save the kid from being ridiculed by his peers.
Design and Build
The Galaxy Y is small and compact and with just a 3.0-inch screen, it’s clearly designed for those with small hands. It’s quite light at just 97.5g and rounded edges lend it a very sober look. Although it has been built mostly out of plastic, it does not feel very plasticky and the matt finish on the cover attracts fewer fingerprints. On the front, we just have a proximity sensor, but no front facing camera or an ambient light sensor.
A smart looking phone
The buttons, include a volume rocker and a power/sleep button and… that’s it. The 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB port is placed at the top. It’s a good setup with the buttons being easy to press and within reach of your fingers. None of the shortcut buttons are backlit, there’s just a physical home button and two capacitive ones. The sensitivity is good, but at times some of the inputs failed to register. Overall, the design is pleasing; it’s simple, yet functional. The build quality feels like it can handle accidental drops without shattering.
Samsung has bundled the latest Android 2.3.6 along with a stripped down version of Touchwiz UI. Thanks to the 830MHz ARM v6 chipset, the Galaxy Y is a peppy little phone. Swiping through homescreens and apps is quick and relatively fluid with very little to no lag.
A familiar looking interface
This being TouchWiz, you get the handy toggle switches in the notification bar and the colourful icons that go with it. My only issue with the screen is the low resolution and 240 x 320 is just too less. The edges of practically everything look a bit blurry and pixellated and there’s quite bad colour banding noticeable on the homescreen as well as videos.
Samsung once again brings its A-game in the audio department. The music player is borrowed from their other phones like the Galaxy S and S II and features 5.1 channel audio enhancements. There are also equalizer presets to play around with, but honestly you won’t need any, as the audio processor does a very good job. It sounds best when used with a good pair of in-earphones like the EP630s. Unlike their higher-end handsets though, the Galaxy Y doesn’t play FLAC.
Excellent sound quality
The video player isn’t as impressive as the music player, since Samsung have gone with the stock Android player depriving you of sound enhancements. The player supports the standard MP4 file format, but the video quality leaves a lot to be desired, mainly due to the poor screen.
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The Galaxy Y is a quad-band phone, meaning you can use it on almost any GSM network in the world. It also supports 3G through HSDPA (up to 7.2Mbps). Unlike other phones in this price range, Samsung have bundled Wi-Fi ‘n’. You also get Bluetooth 3.0 and 180 MB of internal storage. The stock browser does a decent job of rendering web pages, but it’s not the best experience, owing to the low resolution screen.
Keyboard feels a bit cramped if you have chubby fingers
We also felt the on screen keyboard was a little cramped and if you have chubby fingers like mine, typing can be nightmare. The problem was a little less in landscape mode, but I still found myself hitting the wrong key time and again. Thankfully, there’s Swype built-in, which comes to the rescue.
Some productivity apps
There aren’t too many miscellaneous apps other than the stock ones that come with Gingerbread. You get QuickOffice, a voice recorder and a task manager. Samsung have also bundled their SocialHub app for Facebook and Twitter access.
The 2MP fixed-focus camera is not very good, I’m afraid and doesn’t do well at all in indoor shots. It’s a tiny bit better under natural light, but just that. The colours still appear a bit muted and it’s not able to capture a great amount of detail.
Good camera interface but the sensor it self is quite poor
Having said that, you do get a ton of options through Samsung’s custom interface, including panorama mode, which works well.
Video recording is quite bad as well, since you can only go up to QVGA resolution at 15fps. Overall, the camera is below average, so if this is an important factor to you, then look elsewhere.
Since we had the phone for a short time, we could only run some of our battery tests. Armed with a 1200mAh battery, the phone lasted close to 10hrs in our video drain test. This is with the brightness set to medium and the phone set to 2G mode. This is a very good number and we’re not too surprised considering what the battery has to power.
The Galaxy Y goes for a street price of Rs.7,350, which puts it on the same lines as the Micromax A70 and the Spice Mi-350n. You might find it for a little lower in places like Delhi, however. If you want switchable back covers, then it'll cost you an additional Rs. 400. The A70 is a good phone, which we liked very much, but it’s still stuck on Froyo and there’s no Wi-Fi ‘n’, so that’s out of the running. We are actually testing the Spice Mi-350n, right now and so far it feels like a much better buy compared to the Galaxy Y. My main gripe with this phone is the lack lustre screen, which just ruins the whole experience, if you’re into watching videos or surfing the net. Overall, we feel it’s a decent buy, if you have small hands and desperately want a touchscreen phone on the cheap side. I would strongly recommend you try it out at a store, before taking the plunge.
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