The budget Android handset market is full of devices. Full to brimming.
If you have got up to £150 to spend then you’ve a lot to choose from, and even if you go under £100 there’s plenty going on. Samsung has launched its Galaxy Y into quite a competitive market, and the handset has been picked up by a couple of operators. O2 has even launched with an exclusive design – a lozenge shaped Home button beneath the screen instead of the standard square one.
The trouble with the Samsung Galaxy Y is the Orange San Francisco. The Orange San Francisco is not a new handset, but it is still available at a very similar sub-£100 price, and it has some stunning specifications considering its price. It really does set the standard at this level, and the Samsung Galaxy Y can’t match it.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. There’s not a lot wrong with the build of the Samsung Galaxy Y. It’s all plastic, but the backplate has a metal-like finish, that makes it look like a more expensive phone.
The screen is on the small side at 3 inches and that’s really the minimum you can get away with for web browsing and looking at video media. It’s tolerable, but the resolution of 320 x 240 pixels means it is difficult to see enough detail on a screen. In fact, text can look a little fuzzy and we found this to be particularly the case on the lock screen.
There is another disappointment in the camera which shoots stills at just 2 megapixels. On paper this is very much an entry level specification, and shots we took didn’t do very well coping with varying outdoor light levels. There’s a panorama mode, which produces a wide, thin shot that requires a steady hand if you are not to be left with a blurred image. The video player can only shoot to a top resolution of 640 x 480, which is very disappointing.
There’s a microSD card slot under the backplate and you’ll need to invest in a card pretty quickly, as there’s just 160MB of memory accessible for your own music and other media, and for storing downloaded applications.
We’ve mentioned that the screen is a bit small for web browsing. There’s another factor that might put you of using this handset for the web too, and that’s the absence of Flash support. There’s nothing more annoying than getting to a web site, tapping to watch a piece of embedded video, and finding that your smartphone doesn’t support it.
The small screen could cause another problem for people with larger hands. If you are a keen generator of text, be that for email, SMS or other purposes, then you’ll need small fingertips if you are to have success tapping at the keyboard because individual keys are extremely small even in widescreen mode.
You can use handwriting recognition if you prefer, or opt for a mobile phone style grid when working in tall screen mode if that helps, and the predictive text is handy too, but we found text entry was slow for us even using these tweaks.
Samsung adds its Social Hub which can bring together your Twitter and Facebook feeds in one place, and there’s little memo app so you can make short notes to yourself. You can set the number of home screens to be between two and seven depending on your own preference and needs.
Overall the Samsung Galaxy Y is a basic smartphone with nothing on offer that makes it stand out in the crowd. If you shop around you’ll find far better equipped devices even at this ultra low price point.
Written by Sandra Vogel