At last there’s some real competition among phones running Google’s Android OS, with Samsung announcing its first “Gphone”, the unimaginatively named i7500, which should see a European release in June (no word yet on U.S. availability).
Despite Samsung being one of the first major handset makers to join the Google-led Open Handset Alliance, it was left to Taiwanese HTC, working closely with T-Mobile and Google itself, to release the first Android phone called the G1 (see our review). And although the Android OS impressed, particularly its fast and elegant web browser, the G1’s hardware was disappointing to say the least. The device is chunky, has a sub-par camera, and the phone’s battery life doesn’t tally with Android’s always-on connectivity. HTC’s follow-up, the Magic, looks to be an improvement over the G1, although I’ve yet to have a hands-on with the device so can’t say for sure. Enter Samsung’s i7500, which on paper at least, has a number of things going for it.
Sporting a 3.2 inch OLED 320×480 resolution screen, and a larger battery than the G1 (1500mAh), not only will images look superb but power consumption should be less of an issue. And in the style department, the i7500 is even thinner than the iPhone 3G, and like Apple’s iconic device, features metal in the casing. There’s no slide-out keyboard, unlike the G1 and similar to the Magic, instead user’s will need to utilize the on-screen ‘virtual’ keyboard courtesy of Android 1.5. Other key specs include 7.2Mbps HSDPA and WiFi connectivity, along with 8GB of storage, expandable up to 40GB via a 32GB microSD card.
As usual, I hope to source a review unit soon. I’m particularly interested to see how much Samsung have or have not tweaked Android’s UI, something they routinely do with other mobile OSes.