Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA, but without 3G.

Introduction and Design:

Back in June Samsung took its first step in the Android universe with the release of the galactic conqueror the Samsung Galaxy i7500. Then in quick succession the manufacturer announced the Behold II and Moment. What we´ve got in our hands now is their second Android-based handset for Europe – none other but the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700, named after the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, Spica. At first the rumor had it the device would be lightweight version of its predecessor, but ultimately, things fell out to be different. The Spica runs Android edition 1.5 as well, but comes with 800MHz processor (as compared to the 528MHz core integrated into the i7500) and support for DivX and Xvid files. The handset has similar overall design as the Galaxy i7500, but looks more youthful and will be available in two color solutions – black-red like the one we are currently reviewing and white-green that looks more expressive. 

The Galaxy Spica i5700 has pretty similar overall dimensions like the Galaxy. The newer model is not as thin, but the difference is not big really. The capacitive screen measures 3.2-inches once again, utilizes, features native resolution of 320x480 pixels and supports 16mln colors. Thanks to the AMOLED technology, the image quality is great, with truly saturated and beautiful colors. Unfortunately and just like the Galaxy, the Spica i5700 is a die-hard fan of fingerprints and its deep affection tends to create certain troubles when using the device in direct sunlight.

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The buttons on the front side come with the same overall styling we know from the Galaxy, but you´ve got an additional key, plus their layout is slightly different. The phone has a D-Pad as its predecessor and the button in the center features nice red framing that complements the overall appearance. The button that gets you to the home screen has its own symbol and unlike the one on the Galaxy, is transparent now. The new key on the Spica is on the left, is also translucent and is used for calling up a dedicated search pane in various applications, say the phone contacts, calendar, messaging, Google etc. It´s a good thing that all buttons are easy to press (unlike those of the Galaxy) and we don’t have any major gripes about any of them. The only issue we´ve noticed is the lack of backlighting, meaning they are somewhat uncomfortable to use in the dark.
What you´ve got on either side are virtually the same buttons you can see on the Galaxy i7500 – volume rocker on the left hand side, 3.5mm jack and microUSB port on the top, additional microphone used during video capture, screen lock/unlock button and camera shutter on the right hand side. We don’t have any complaints about them either and feel satisfied with their implementation.

The back side of the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 is not glossy as the Galaxy, however it´s less slippery and therefore makes the phone more comfortable to hold in your hand. The 3.2-megapixel camera without flash is also here, but we will tell you more about it later.

Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 360 Degrees View:

Interface and functionality:

We have already mentioned the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 runs Android 1.5, just like the first Galaxy. Once again, there is no personalization whatsoever to indicate you are actually using a Samsung-made device and the software of the Spica is almost the same as the version running on the T-Mobile G1 and HTC Magic, with the only difference being the built-in support for DivX and Xvid coded content (quite a significant advantage really) and the preinstalled application called Switchers. 

As a standard feature of Android version 1.5, the home screen consists of three separate pages that host application shortcuts, widgets etc. Similarly to the other handsets equipped with the same operating system, the phone contacts and calendar can be synchronized to Google accounts and remain as capable as ever.

The application Switchers comes in quite handy, because it allows quick access to GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth activation/deactivation options as well as the automated synchronization function. In case you don’t like it, you can always get an alternative program and most of those available on Android Market have richer functionality.

Similarly to all other Android handsets, the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 comes with support for the full arsenal of messaging standards – SMS, MMS, email, several IM and a built-in Gmail client. The interface is simplified and lucid and offers you the option to attach pictures and audio files. Due to the lack of hardware keyboard, you will have to make do with the screen QWERTY. It´s accessible in both landscape and portrait mode. You might think the buttons are rather small and unhandy at first, but you will get used to them in no time and shouldn´t have any problems, although we wish text entry was faster. A slightly better screen sensitivity wouldn’t have hurt either.

You have the standard WebKit-based browser that comes with the operating system to surf the Internet. Since the Spica doesn’t feature multitouch support like the first Galaxy, T-Mobile G1 and HTC Magic, you will have to press the plus and minus keys at the bottom of the screen to zoom in and out on things, which feels rather inconveniencing. The browser application has its merits, like fast loading of pages and their proper visualization. As a whole, we consider it a capable program, although we believe there is a lot of room for improvement here.

Samsung´s fourth Android cell phone is equipped with A-GPS. Naturally, the preinstalled navigational software is none other but Google Maps and it needs active internet connection in order to load the necessary maps and show relevant directions. It sports support for Google Latitude, so you can share your current location with your online buddies. The GPS is quite snappy and needs about 30-40 seconds to pinpoint your location after cold start and about 5 seconds after hot start. Proper performance indeed, given we tested the feature in overcast weather.


The Samsung Galaxy Spica is equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera without flash that comes with the standard interface of this version of the operating system. Like we said in our review of the Galaxy , it doesn’t offer any extra features like color effects, white balance or image contrast – you just start it and get down to shooting right away. We cannot say we like really, especially alongside of the versions available on other Samsung-made cell phones. Still, image quality is far more important, so let’s get to it.

Snapshotstaken in the open are really good – they are extremely detailed, which is a commendable. More often than not, colors appear realistically represented, except for the noticeable purple fringing when you have captured a patch of the sky in the picture. On the overall, we are pleased at the camera of the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 when it comes to taking images in broad daylight. Things get really bad in artificial lighting conditions though, owing to the lack of flash of course.

The Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 can capture videos, but is rather bad at this really. The maximum video resolution is 352x288 pixels (rather low as per today´s standards), the frame count is 15 per second, which is even worse, but the worst is the extremely poor image quality. Unlike the first Galaxy, the presence of the additional microphone goes unnoticed.

Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 video sample at 352x288 pixles resolution


The major weapon of the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 is its DivX and Xvid video playback capability. This is the first Android cell phone than can actually do that and therefore, able to address the significant shortcoming of the Google-made operating system.

The Spica plays DivX files with maximum resolution of 720x480, bitrate of 1,500 kbps and coded at 30 frames per second, although we evidenced slight stuttering. Things get much better if the bitrate is lower (under 1,000 kbps), but in this case the video becomes choppy. Ultimately, we achieved the best results with content coded at resolution of 640x480 pixels, bitrate of 1,400 kbps and 30 frames per second. Fortunately, the phone handles Xvid files with resolution of 720x480 pixels and bitrate around 1,500 kbps without a hitch and clips are played smoothly.

Regardless of the video codec, the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 delivers beautiful, saturated colors, largely thanks to its AMOLED screen. Given its native resolution of 480x320, we are really pleased with the phone and its video playback performance is more than adequate. Samsung has done a great job in properly addressing a major gap in the functionality of the operating system, because like we said, Android doesn’t come with native DivX and Xvid support. We just hope other manufacturers of Android-based handsets follow suit.

The multimedia capabilities of the handset overshadow its audio functions. The audio player interface is the standard one that comes with the operating system and can´t hold a candle to the corresponding applications found on the iPhone or latest Samsung handsets (the Jet, OMNIA HD). Still, it fits the bill and doesn’t look unappealing. The library is excellent and we definitely rate it at par with the Apple´s. What´s more, it´s much better than what we´ve seen on recent HTC cell phones.

Since our unit came without a box and accessories, we decided to put the 3.5mm jack to good use and plugged in one of our headset pairs to see how the Spica fares against the competition in terms of audio quality. The sound is very loud, the bass frequencies are clearly discernible, but the trebles appear overemphasized. The situation gets much better once you´ve turned the volume down a bit. The loudspeaker also performs well – it´s powerful enough and the sound through it is of above average quality.

Performance and conclusion:

The Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 sports a snappy 800MHz processor, but in reality, the presence of the mighty hardware is almost undetectable, because the phone doesn’t feel noticeably faster than the T-Mobile G1 or Magic... or the first Galaxy. The CPU, however, makes the quality Xvid and DivX playback possible at relatively high resolution. Moreover, the handset offers good sound quality when you listen to music and performs very well in terms of in-call quality (8/10). Voices sound loud and clear on both ends of the line and our only gripe relates to their sharpness.

The Spica is equipped with very robust battery and will keep your hone operational for 3 days before you have to recharge it in case of moderate daily use and for day and a half on heavy-duty use, meaning lots of calls and serious Wi-Fi abuse.

Some people may consider the support for HSDPA 3.6Mbps (7.2Mbps with the Galaxy) a disadvantage, but we don’t really think it´s such a serious shortcoming. Throw the appealing overall design into the deal, and the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 looks like a better option than the Galaxy i7500 and HTC Magic, not to mention it’s expected to roll out at much the same price as the latter two. One of the major drawbacks of the handset is the lack of OS personalization and the HTC Hero remains our favorite in this respect.

All told, the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 is worth it, despite its minor shortcomings, because it offers something that no other Android handset does – proper multimedia functionality. If you are willing to disregard it and opt for a more appealing interface and attractive overall design, consider the HTC Hero and its Sense UI.

Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 Video Review:


  • DivX and Xvid support
  • Proper AMOLED display
  • Decent in-call quality and audio playback
  • Robust battery
  • 3.5mm jack


  • No interface personalization... and yet again
  • Low quality, low-resolution video capture

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

4 Reviews

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