Update: When originally reviewing the we mistakenly identified the touchscreen as being resistive, when it is actually capacitive. The review text below has therefore been modified to reflect this. Europa
The Galaxy Europa is the latest model to join Samsung’s ever-expanding Galaxy range of Android phones. It’s a mid-priced touchscreen phone with 3G internet browsing and a 2-megapixel camera.
What we like
The Samsung Galaxy Europa comes with Android 2.1 running under the hood. While this is not the latest version of the Android OS going it still means that the Galaxy Europa runs pretty quickly. It isn’t a slouch when it comes to loading menus, web pages and pictures in the gallery. Thanks to Android 2.1 the Galaxy Europa can support animated ‘live’ wallpapers, such as the Water background which has a pleasant rippling effect.
Design-wise the Samsung Galaxy Europa is pretty easy on the eye and the palm. It features a smart metallic trim around its edges on the front, smooth reflective black plastic elsewhere and fits comfortably in the hand.
Thanks to Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface (a slight remodelling of the default Android UI) its easy to arrange app shortcuts and widgets on the seven homescreens. If you try to place a widget or app icon onto one of the screens and there isn’t enough room, the Galaxy Europa will automatically scroll across to the nearest available blank screen and drop the icon there for you. This little feature is something we first saw on the Samsung Galaxy S and it’s nice to see it return here on the Galaxy Europa.
We like that you can access the settings menu when you press the menu key. Normally you’d have to create a shortcut on one of the home screens if you wanted quick access to the settings menu, so having this shortcut built in means there’s at least one more space on the home screen.
Likewise, the contacts and the phone dialler are also easily accessible from the launcher that sits at the bottom of the screen. All of the basic phone functions have been repositioned so they’re always where you need them, while giving you more space for apps and widgets.
Sound quality of songs played on the Galaxy Europa is good. It’s not Dolby Mobile-amazing but it’s not tinny and terrible either. It’s really easy to simply plug the Galaxy Europa into your PC, select the mass storage mode on the screen and sling MP3s straight onto the phone. The supplied headphones aren’t massively comfortable and are pretty leaky but fortunately you can use your own 3.5mm headphones.
The 2-megapixel camera admittedly isn’t packing much of a punch in 2010 but we liked the general layout of the camera app and the fact that it took pictures quickly with next to no lag. The central navigation key acts as a shutter button and thus doesn’t result in blurred shots, unlike the dedicated shutter keys of some phones.
What we don’t like
One of the stock features of Android 2.1 is making use of Google’s voice search and voice shortcuts. However on the Galaxy Europa we found that voice searches would force crash more often than not and when it did work search results weren’t very accurate. The shiny black plastic battery cover can also get seriously fingerprinty so diligent wiping is required.
The touchscreen doesn’t support multi-touch. This means you can’t pinch to zoom on web pages which makes for a slightly restricted browsing experience. It’s also not the highest resolution display we’ve seen either, meaning that app icons, text and pictures can sometimes look blurry and jagged.
Also as capacitive touchscreens go it’s not that nice to the touch or easy to use. So much so that in fact the first time we picked the phone up we mistook the screen for a resistive one.
You get seven homescreens to play with on the Galaxy Europa which is great but for some reason the main screen - the one the phone jumps to when you press the Home button - is the left-most of them. This might seem like a pretty minor quibble but it makes so much more sense to have the main homescreen in the centre, like on most other Android phones.
There’s nothing like 'leap mode' which you get on HTC Android phones like the Wildfire, which would allow you to jump quickly from one screen to another. Any widgets and shortcuts you’ve placed on the right hand-most screen will require a lot of scrolling to get to. After a while this starts to feel really feel tedious.
As good as the camera is for a 2-megapixel camera with no flash, it’s still a 2-megapixel camera with no flash. This means that the Galaxy Europa will only be good for Facebook pics and the occasional funny picture, and only when it’s daytime or somewhere well lit.
The Samsung Galaxy Europa is a decent mid-range Android phone. It runs Android 2.1, gives you access to the wide range of apps on the Android Market and is easily customisable. The low-res screen and 2-megapixel camera do make the Galaxy Europa feel a bit old hat next to the slighty-more expensive Galaxy Apollo, which features a more powerful camera and a sharper screen.