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May 18, 2010

Samsung Spica i5700 Review

When the Samsung Spica came out a few weeks back, I was surprised with the retail price of the handset. It one of the most affordable Android-powered smartphone in the market. We looked deeper into the Samsung i5700 before handing out the verdict.

At first glance, the Spica looked like most other candybar phones released by Samsung with that distinctive design. The navigation panel is a bit intricate that you’d either love it or hate it. The control pad actually has 7 buttons laid out and separated by curved lines (and that does not include the 4-way directional pad).

spica

In hindsight, the physical controls are basically the same as that of the HTC Hero but because of the layout/design, using them is a bit confusing (it’s got to do more with the layout of the keys). You get used to it in time.

On the side — there’s a dedicated camera button on the right with a lock button on top of it while the volume rocker is on the left. The micro-USB port is on top beside the 3.5mm audio jack. The body is mostly made up of rubbery plastic back panel and brushed-metal finish in front. There are red accents on the OK button and the front speakers. It’s a little thick at 13.2mm but not really bulky on the hands.

I5700

The 3.2″ display screen isn’t the largest we’ve seen but enough for a touch screen phone. The display is nice with a bright and crisp resolution.

Like the Hero, the Spica also suffers a bit with the virtual keyboard that’s somewhat cramped. The individual keys are a little skinny in the vertical orientation but that changes when you switch to the landscape orientation.

The interface is the basic Android UI with 3 panels. Samsung did not bother to include a layer UI on top of it. It would have been nice to see some eye-candy, even if it’s just the TouchWiz UI.

spica

The Spica is powered by Samsung’s very own 800MHz processor and as such, apps and others functions (like media playback, browsing) are pretty snappy. The Spica actually ranks #2 among the fastest Android smartphones locally available, next to the X10, if we based it clock-for-clock. Most of the time though, it feels like the two handsets perform at par with each other.

The Spica has Android 1.5 (Cupcake) pre-installed but, as of this time, you can actually have it upgraded to Android 2.1 (Eclair). That’s an added bonus which I think was key to the Spica’s growing popularity.

spica

Connectivity isn’t an issue with the Samsung Spica — it’s got Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11 b/g, 3G/HSDPA and GPS. Like most other Android handsets, there’s no native 3G switch (there’s a Switchers widget that controls everything else) so you’ll have to install an app like APNdroid to control 3G connectivity on-the-fly. Not a big deal but first time users should take note of this.

The 3.2MP camera isn’t impressive but decent enough. There’s no built-in flash but at least it has auto-focus. Here’s one shot I managed to take with it (forget the 15fps video recording).

audi r8
Off-topic: I have to say — taking a ride on this Audi R8 was a blast. Feels like I’m on a rocket ship will all that G-force pulling me back.

Battery life is expectedly normal (with the 1500mAh Li-Ion) for smartphones like the Spica — can do 2 days on casual connectivity use but can easily drain in a day with heavy use. I suggest bringing a spare cable charger with you all the time.

If there’s a noticeable disappointment with the Spica, I think it would be the amount of internal storage that came with it. The 180MB internal storage seems too small if you’re looking to install a ton of apps. For all other file storage concerns, you’ll have to separately invest in a microSD card. The unit I got only had 1GB with it but you can stick in up to 32GB if you have the extra cash.

Ok, then there’s no multi-touch support too even if you upgrade to v2.1 — not a deal-killer but certainly something you’d miss on a touchscreen phone (especially with Google Maps and Photo Gallery). At least it’s got some sort of haptic feedback so you feel some subtle vibrations when tapping keys or the dial pad.

All in all, the Samsung Spica i5700 is a one desirable smartphone, especially to those who will be getting their first ever Android handset. This is highlighted by the fact that its got the basic features of Android smartphones at a very affordable price (Php13,800 in some stores) — less than half the price of other Android phones of the same caliber. It’s got its fair share of shortcomings but it gets bonus points for being capable to upgrade to Eclair v2.1. Samsung should get some good karma for introducing this handset into the local market.

Disclosure: Globe Telecom gave me this handset for free and Samsung is an advertiser on this blog.

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142 Responses to “Samsung Spica i5700 Review”

  1. patricia says:

    For all spica users, is it true that you can only save applications to the phone’s internal memory? Does it pose as a limitation for you in terms of maximizing the spica’s potential???;)

    thank you! ;)

  2. Thanks for the nice article, I’m eagerly waiting for my Samsung Captivate through T-Mobile once they formally confirm that they’re carrying it. I was in my local store today and experienced a hold of their own dummy unit. It looks and feels significantly better than I thought. This is going to be the cell phone to have. Never mind the iPhone 4g, the Galaxy S is where it’s at. As for me, I’m upgrading from a Samsung Pixon after an 18 month contract and am glad to have finally settled on the Galaxy S. The decision process was fraught with many, many hours of investigation on the web. I was close to an HTC Desire and actually closer to an Xperia X10 but then, from out of nowhere, I came across the GSMArena.com review of the Galaxy S and it just does everything so well.

  3. wij says:

    Woow, that’s awesome gadget with wonderful feature !
    I love the design, it’s cool..

  4. operacreed says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHrTT0XAPJg&feature=player_embedded

    SWIFTKEY . . . .A possible replacement or alternative to SWYPE.

  5. oky says:

    wowhh… it’s cool… this gadget so creative…

  6. rifky says:

    nice gadget..!!

  7. leemar
    Twitter: hex614
    says:

    makano na lang ngaun ang spica?

  8. operacreed says:

    @leemar with the Galaxy S available, price should drop from high P13,800 in May. Do shop around.

    from androinica…….got all of them except Facebook..
    The Top 10 Apps among AppBrain users are:

    Google Maps: 99.1% (preloaded on phone)
    Facebook: 84.9% (preloaded on most phones)
    Barcode Scanner: 63.8% (rose to top section in Android’s infancy, popular for QR code scanning)
    Google Goggles: 50.5% (top app, made by Google, popular for QR code/image recognition)
    Astro File Manager: 49.3% (rose to top in Android’s infancy, top rated file explorer)
    Shazam: 46.7% (rose to top in Android’s infancy)
    Amazon MP3: 46.3% (preloaded on phone)
    Google Sky Map: 43.5% (top app, made by Google)
    Advanced Task Killer: 37.1% (top rated task killing app) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BATTERY SAVER
    Pandora: 34.3% (most popular audio streaming app)

  9. Wreek says:

    Tumaas na 14100 latest pa wala na kasi ang model

  10. Shmoo says:

    I purchased mine sa SM Megamall for 13,700.

    @operacreed
    I went to a Globe Center in Festival Mall and they said that my number was not in their database of registered numbers to provide GPRS service.

    The globe assistance personnel configured my APN settings and told me to wait for an SMS telling me that my number is registered, its been 2 weeks and no SMS came unfortunately.

    I might go back to a Globe center again and make a follow up. Their website states that you have to send a message to 2591 with a pin and wait for a return message to be able to register your number for GPRS service, I guess with a Globe Tattoo sim, it might be different.

    I’m still hopeful to get 3G available on my Spica via Globe. :)

  11. operacreed says:

    @shmoo….. customer service in various carrier centers varies and i sympathize with those getting mixed advice.

    to avoid these problems i purposedly did not transfer my existing postpaid smart SIM to the spica and decided to use a globe tattoo sim instead. Globe surpasses all carriers for mobile broadband per speedtest.net for everyones information. Not an endorsement though but a real tested fact at wag taung mag bulag bulagan. Efficient and dedicated service for our hard earned money.

    http://www.netindex.com/download/2,10/Philippines/

    As u fully described, i encountered the same prob when i transitioned to Galaxy S. i had to go the SM Mega to have my tattoo sim configured and added to the gprs database. All these done in minutes.

  12. dumplings says:

    I’m planning to get the Spica for my Dad. But the last time I was able to test the phone there was no Chinese text input. Is there a way we could install or make it possible to have Chinese input when making SMS?

    Coz I saw in Samsung’s Singapore website, they have Chinese pinyin Input

  13. Arnold Gamboa
    Twitter: arnoldgamboa
    says:

    I’m selling my 2 month old Spica. Globe, unlocked. No scratch. P9k. Contact me http://bit.ly/cdU5jJ

  14. jeff says:

    i want to ask on how to use the installed THEMES/WALLPAPERS.. i really cant use it.. its already installed but dont know how to use it.. tnx!!!

  15. maces says:

    has anybody encountered problems regarding voip apps (gtalk, skype, fring) on their spica? i use voip a lot and i’ve read that the spica has several issues with the well known voip clients.

  16. dongv
    Twitter: willyyu
    says:

    just got a spica, but why I only have 1 keyboard, the android keyboard, no samsung keyboard etc,
    also what are the must have utils or apps to use with spica? kindly give some hints to start with,
    what are the must do or must haves for this baby?
    many TIA

  17. Caloy says:

    I’m really not familiar with the android format..so pardon the question.

    Would upgrading the firmware to 2.1 allow the Spica to have multitouch features, like pinch to zoom? Thanks for the help!

  18. roiji says:

    up grading to 2.1 will not enable multi-touch.
    as far as i know, multi-touch in spica is not possible at hardware level.

  19. javee says:

    Hi,sino may alam ng price ng spica ngaun sa globe?

  20. jane says:

    good day po, di po ako makapag-decide which phone to buy. alin po ba mas maganda ang features?
    HTC Tattoo, Samsung Galaxy,Samsung Wave, o meron pa pong better na phones na within the price po ng tatlong yan?

  21. roiji says:

    try the HTC Wildfire. It’s more recent.

  22. idlewild says:

    @roiji: the i5700 is very capable of multi-touch at the hardware level. it’s just that samsung hasn’t release the driver that can take full advantage of it. however, the good folks at samdroid have a working multi-touch implementation:

  23. roiji says:

    yes i just knew a few days ago..
    i’m gonna try to flash my spica in a few moments and hopefully everything works!

    thanks-

  24. roiji says:

    and.. i think i bricked my phone… huhu’

    ayaw nang mag boot after i flashed it.. hahaha

  25. roiji says:

    got it to finally work :)
    my phone isn’t bricked after all ^^,

    multi-touch works in Google Maps, the Browser, and in Gallery (3D gallery) >:)

    it’s not as accurate as the one in iPod touch or iPhone but it works!

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