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Samsung Galaxy Y review: Samsung Galaxy Y

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Web browsing can also be a squeeze unless you stick with mobile versions of websites, rather than attempting to digest full-fat sites, piece by low-res piece.

Software

The Galaxy Y runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, skinned with Samsung's TouchWiz software, which serves up as many as seven home screens to fill with apps and widgets. With so few pixels to play with though, space for widgets is pretty limited.

Samsung Galaxy Y
The Galaxy Y sports a home button, much like other Samsung Android phones such as the S2.

Google's Android OS gives you a free pass for stacks of apps on Google's Play store. The Galaxy Y can happily handle graphically light games and apps such as Angry Birds, YouTube and Twitter. But be prepared for some Android apps to be off-limits -- owing to the Y's small screen and relatively small engine.

In portrait mode, the software keyboard is terribly cramped on the Y's teeny screen, making typo-free typing tricky. The landscape keyboard is better but the best option is to switch on the Swype input method in the settings.

Swype lets you swipe across keys to form words rather than tapping each individual letter. Using Swype resolved most of my typo issues with the Y, although entering complex strings such as usernames, passwords, email addresses and URLs remained annoyingly fiddly.

Performance

The Galaxy Y isn't the fastest budget phone around but for basic tasks it's got your back. The chip is actually slightly beefier than the physically larger T-Mobile Vivacity -- 832MHz vs 800MHz -- so for lightweight use such as swiping around home screens, typing messages, using apps such as the camera, the Y is perfectly serviceable.

Samsung Galaxy Y
On the back there's a 2-megapixel snapper that isn't as terrible as it could have been.

In some scenarios it can even be nippier than budget rivals, such as the Orange San Francisco 2 -- which appears more premium on the surface, thanks to its higher resolution screen, but actually has a slightly smaller chip. The Galaxy Y is quickest off the mark to snap a photo, for example. It takes just under a second, while the San Francisco 2 and the Vivacity take around twice as long.

However, put some more load on the Y's engines and it starts to chug. Rendering full-fat web pages or scaling and viewing maps certainly taxes the phone, so prepare to be patient to get your digital fix. Graphically rich apps can also take some time to load so expect to be eyeballing a fair few loading screens.

The Y is also being challenged afresh by a newcomer to the budget end of Androidland. Huawei's Ascend G300 has a 1GHz chip and is noticeably nippier than the Y. Its 4-inch display is also bigger, higher res and generally far easier on the eye. If you can afford to splash a little more cash, you'll be rewarded with a far richer smart phone experience with the G300.

Audio

Although audio clarity isn't amazing on the Y, this is Budgetville, so that's to be expected. The phone can still double as a cheap MP3 player, using Samsung's basic music player app, or downloading a third-party app from Google Play.

Call quality was also serviceable in my experience, if not especially clear. I didn't experience any dropped calls during testing.

Camera

The Galaxy Y has a 2-megapixel snapper on the back so my expectations weren't high. And yes, it's certainly not going to turn you into Annie Leibovitz. That said, it delivered more than I was expecting -- producing shots of people and things that you could upload to Facebook and have your buddies recognise what's in them.

Samsung Galaxy Y camera test
Southwark's Boris bikes have looked lovelier -- but the Y's lens manages a better snap than some budget blowers (click image to enlarge).

Colours tend to be washed out and bright shades tend to bleed out in an eerie halo effect, but for quick snaps of your mates, the Y ticks the box.

Samsung Galaxy Y camera test
These flowers look washed out and have a halo ghosting their petals (click image to enlarge).

Video footage was less impressive -- very fuzzy with audio that was a tad distorted. It'll serve for making a quick YouTube clip but nothing more fancy than that.

Battery

Battery life is very good, as you'd expect from a phone with such a small screen and engine. You'll easily get through a day's use without needing to charge and maybe even two. With light use, the Galaxy Y might even see you through a few days before demanding you plug it in.

Samsung Galaxy Y
The Galaxy Y had plentiful battery stamina when I tested it. With modest use, it could go for days without needing a charge.

Conclusion

The Y in Galaxy Y stands for 'young' and that's exactly what this phone delivers -- a starter smart phone for kids. Its budget screen probably won't even impress the under 10s, but for playing Angry Birds, checking Facebook and ignoring phone calls from parents, this device can suffice.

However, if you want something that does more than that, the Huawei Ascend G300 provides 4 inches of screen and a 1GHz chip for roughly the same pay-as-you-go price. The G300 is a newcomer to the UK market but its presence is a sign that budget Android handsets are becoming ever more capable -- which means kids can pester their parents to get them a 'proper phone' for around the same price as a 'kids phone'.

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