While Samsung's Galaxy i7500 Android handset is struggling to make it to the UK's shores following a series of delays, that didn't stop us hunting down the new model at IFA to find out whether HTC finally has a competitor.
The Samsung Galaxy, or i7500 as it is also known, is a slim handset (115 x 56 x 11.9mm) sporting a 3.2-inch AMOLED screen, HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a 5-megapixels camera and a design that makes the HTC Hero look decidedly overweight.
Without a pull-out QWERTY keyboard like the T-Mobile G1, virtually everything is controlled via the 320 x 480 pixels resolution touchscreen display, however that hasn't stopped Samsung placing a bevy of buttons under it for those fearful of going completely touchy-feely.
Excluding the d-pad there are five buttons on the front dedicated to making calls, accessing the menu, calling up the home screen, going back a step, and cancelling all the above.
The sides offer more options still with volume, camera and unlock buttons giving you plenty to press. The back sports that 5-megapixel camera with flash.
Other tech specs include a welcomed 3.5mm stereo jack - handy for listening to music or streaming your Spotify playlist, and 8GB of on-board memory to save said music and those images you've snapped with the autofocus camera and a microSD slot for when that runs out of space too.
Power the phone up and you'll get the Android 1.5 OS with on-screen keyboard and other such gems. The capacitive touchscreen and software combination is quick to respond and we didn't notice any lag in our quick play. Unlike HTC, Samsung has done nothing, and we mean nothing, to customise the experience in any way. This will appeal to Android purists no doubt, but does, as we've said in the past, make it look a little, well fun rather than functional.
Because it is light on the interface changes, the processor doesn't have any issues getting to work running through the menus and loading applications. The phone's performance was fast and nippy. It's also worth noting that because it's not a "with Google" branded handset, it should be open to updates as they arrive - with the possible chance of hacking in the HTC Sense UI update, although this is us theorising rather than stating the official.
Back to the i7500 and the thin design makes for a light overall weight (114g) and while it doesn't offer the quirkiness of the HTC chin, it does mean that you're unlikely to notice it in your pocket.
Dependent on contract
Coming in a choice of two colours; white or black, the Samsung Galaxy i7500 is a well designed handset from Samsung that only suffers slightly on a fiddly home key (it's the one on the right in the pictures squashed between the back and hang up keys) location.
As an Android handset it is unlikely to disappoint, however those wanting more than just the core basics (as they got with the Vodafone Magic) are likely to be disappointed. This isn't in anyway shape or form the HTC Hero and its funky looking Sense UI, but just Android, untouched and unspoilt.
If that's your thing, then we think you find the design aspects of this out perform the lackluster Magic in virtually every aspect.
The Samsung Galaxy i7500 is due out in the next couple of weeks.