The Samsung Galaxy W is the latest Galaxy Smartphone to arrive in the UK. As the younger brother of the million selling, award winning Samsung Galaxy S2, it offers many similar specs but at a much more affordable price point.
Is it a compromise too far? Or is this 1.4Ghz touting Android handset a killer smartphone in its own right? We’ll find out.
Design and build
With a textured curved rather than rectangular back, the Galaxy W’s appearance has more in common with the Ace than Galaxy and certainly feels more comfortable to hold than its older sibling. At 114g, it’s a reasonable weight and feels well built and able to withstand a drop. However, there’s no denying it feels chunky and certainly doesn’t feel as nice as the HTC Desire S or HTC Radar.
On the top is the 3.5mm jack and microUSB port protected by a slideout door, on the left is the volume rocker, while the power/lock button is on the right. Located on the back is a speaker that musters a reasonable volume – certainly loud enough for several people to listen to music at once.
Samsung quotes 4GB internal memory, our review sample had 1.7GB available space, so you’ll need a microSD card, which slots into the back of the phone.
At 3.7-inches the screen is a respectable size (the same size as the iPhone 4S). Sadly there’s no Super AMOLED here, but despite this the 480×800 resolution is pretty high resulting in sharp text, which makes websites easy to read. Elsewhere whites very bright and off-angle viewing doesn’t have the blue tint of a SAMOLED screen. Movie playback is good too, it’s smooth and bright, if lacking punchy colours.
Android and TouchWiz
Equipped with the latest version of Android 2.3.5, the phone is ovelayed with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and includes widgets like AccuWeather and Google Search.
If you are looking for a UI with more features than Vanilla Android, but more flexible than HTC Sense, TouchWiz is a good alternative and includes Social Hub for aggregating a wide range of social network and email accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, while the 7Digital powered Music Hub lets you download music tracks for 99p. We like the way you can skip tracks via the lock screen
Alongside the conventional Android keyboard you get Samsung Swype, where you swipe over the letters to complete a word, once you get used to it, it’s incredibly quick.
Alongside the Android market, you can of course download content from S amsung apps, we’re not a big fan of having two apps stores, but it does mean a bit more chocie.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy W with a meaty 1.4Ghz processor, which ensures the phone never feels slow. When launching applications and opening web pages, it’s only a second or so behind the S2, but still quick. And as we’ve said before many people won’t need the power offered by dual-core processor.
If you are careful with battery you’ll get over a days use, with push email, WiFi on and lots of browsing we had to charge at the end of every day.
On-board the phone is a 5-megapixel stills camera, which captures pretty good photographs, they’re sharp and detailed, if a little under underexposed. It doesn’t quite have the exhaustive list of features offered by the S2, but there are some scene modes, white balance, ISO and metering.
The Galaxy W shoots 720p HD movies, which is best described as average. The frame rate often drops from 30-26fps so it’s not always smooth or as sharp as we’d like and the fully auto settings, like stills highlights can looks over bright, but again you can tweak the white balance and exposure. But for a phone at this price it’s adequate.
Samsung Galaxy W: should I buy it?
To call it a budget Galaxy S2 is selling the Galaxy W short. With a 1.4Ghz processor, decent camera and great screen, it can hold its own in the mid-range handset market against the HTC Desire S and HTC Explorer. While offering all the customisable features you expect from Android. It’s a shame the phone itself feels a bit chunky and lacks the quality feel of rivals like the HTC Desire S and HTC Rhyme.
However, you need to be careful about which tariff to go for. Our review sample came from Three and on The One Plan it will cost you £32 a month, but for £35 a month you can get the Samsung Galaxy S2 (also on The One Plan). If you have want to spend this much go for the S2 – there’s no question it is the superior phone.
It’s at cheaper tariffs the Galaxy W becomes more enticing. Three has tariffs starting at £22 a month with a free phone, £8 cheaper than the S2. In addition on PAYG it will set you back £249 – half the price of the Galaxy S2.
Thanks to Three for the review sample