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Samsung Galaxy Spica (i5700)

On the surface the Spica looks like a very competent smartphone, but we're beginning to expect a lot more from manufacturers that take on Google's OS.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
2 min read

Samsung continues to dip its toe into the Google Android pond, with the Spica being the company's second Android phone, and while the physical design looks sharp, Samsung still hasn't invested in designing its own Android UI.

Upsides

A side-by-side comparison of specs between the already released Galaxy Icon and the new Galaxy Spica reveals only one significant difference in the Spica's favour: more power. Samsung has turned up the heat with a punchy 800MHz processor under the hood of the Spica. This is a welcome change of pace, we found the Galaxy was a little sluggish when we tested it a few months ago.

One feature that will differentiate the Spica from all other Android phones is DivX video format playback, a first for the platform. We've criticised almost all previous Android releases for poor file format recognition and lacking overall as a media player. The inclusion of DivX is a step in the right direction, though we'll have to see videos on the Spica before we believe this is a truly media-friendly Android phone.

Downsides

With a few exceptions, the Spica is a downgrade from the Galaxy Icon. Samsung has removed the 8GB internal storage available in the Galaxy Icon and left a paltry 180MB in its place. You will be able to install a microSD card for storing media, but at this time new Android applications downloaded from the Android Market can only be installed on internal memory, limiting the amount of applications you will be able to keep installed at any one time.

It's also disappointing that Samsung isn't embracing the latest versions of the Android OS. The Spica will run version 1.5, but 1.6 is already available on the HTC Tattoo, and version 2.0 is just around the corner, with the Motorola Milestone (Droid in the US) using this system now. Add to this the fact that Samsung has not improved on its basic Android user interface the way the competition has, and it becomes harder to see why someone would choose the Spica over an HTC Hero or one of the other future Android handsets.

Outlook

Another Android is always welcomed by the team here at CNET, but the Spica looks like it might struggle to wow us the way new phones from HTC and Sony Ericsson have recently. On the surface the Spica looks like a very competent smartphone, but we're beginning to expect a lot more from manufacturers that take on Google's OS.