By May 27, 2010

Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Review

Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Review

The Samsung Galaxy Portal has been around for some time now, however we have only just managed to get out hands on one running Android 2.1. We didn’t feel it would do it justice reviewing the original 1.5 version we had and unboxed.

The Galaxy Portal is clearly a follow on from the Galaxy that I reviewed last year. That one was not great in my opinion so it will be interesting to see if the Portal is an improvement.

Read on to discover the verdict.


The ten second review:

  • Device: Samsung GT-I5700 Galaxy Portal
  • Price: From free on contract.
  • Summary: A feature packed Android device with a low price tag.
  • Best of: Great Music Player, Free Skype on 3, Android 2.1
  • Worst of: Camera, Hardware buttons.
  • Buy it now from: 3 from only £12 per month!


What’s in the box:

  • Device
  • Batter
  • Wall Charger
  • USB Cable
  • A spare Red back cover
  • Headset
  • Manual/Warranty


Samsung Galaxy Portal specification:

  • Android 2.1 (Éclair) OS
  • 3.2″ HVGA 320×480 pixel display
  • Capacitive touchscreen
  • 115x57x13.2mm
  • 124 grams
  • Quad-band GSM (GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900)
  • Dual-band 3G/HSDPA (UMTS900, UMTS2100)
  • 1500mAh battery
  • 800 MHz Samsung S3C6410 CPU
  • 180mb built in memory
  • microSDHC memory card slot (up to 32GB)
  • 3.5mm Headphone Socket
  • 3.2 Megapixel auto-focus camera
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP support
  • WiFi 802.11b/g
  • GPS
  • Digital Compass
  • Accelerometer




The left hand side of the Galaxy Portal has only one button, the up/down volume rocker.

Samsung Galaxy Portal  left

Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Left Side

The camera and screen lock buttons can be found on the left side.


Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Right Side

On the top of the device is the 3.5mm headset jack alongside the microUSB charging port. The bottom is bare.


Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Top

On the rear of the Portal is the camera lens and a speaker. No flash!


Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Rear

On the front we have the D- Pad surrounded by six buttons. Yes six!


Samsung GT-i5700 Galaxy Portal Buttons



  • Great Music Player
  • Customizable
  • Free Skype on 3



  • Bad camera and video
  • No camera flash
  • To many buttons



Taking the Samsung Galaxy Portal out of the box for the first time I was fairly pleased with it’s appearance. It is not a bad looking device but those six buttons below the screen are a little overwhelming at first.

The handset is a nice size and feels pretty good in the hand. The back cover is a little slippery so hold on tight! My main criticism of the hardware is it’s build quality. It just doesn’t feel great. I am sure it will be fine over a year or two but it does feel a little cheap and plastic. The buttons on the left and right sides of the Galaxy Portal feel really budget. They would have felt and looked nicer in either metal or at least a better plastic.

The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Portal is of decent quality. It is crisp and bright. Not on par with Samsungs latest AMOLED ones but more than acceptable.

Back on to those many buttons that sit beneath the screen. Starting on the far left we have a search button. This opens up a Google search box and the search input can be done either buy using the keypad or by using the voice to text option. This latter option works a treat and was pretty much spot on. I even tried it while doing some foreign accents and most of the time it new what I was saying.

To the upper right of the search button is the options key. While on the home screen it also gives you a shortcut to settings as well as a search. Yes, it’s the same search as the dedicated key!

Below the options button we have the call send key. On the opposite side of the D-Pad you will find the call end key. Directly above that is a back button and to the right of that is the home key.

And stuck in the middle of them is the D-Pad with a button in the middle for selecting.


Moving onto the software, the user interface is just like you would expect, naked Android if that is the right term? I must be honest with you and say that after using HTC Android devices with there Sense UI going back to naked Android it a little bland for me. I just find it a bit boring in comparison but that is just my opinion.

You are first greeted with the lock screen. This lock screen is a new one to me. As you can see, the time, day and date are displayed on the top part of the screen and below that you have two symbols. The left one you slide to the right to unlock the device and the right one you slide to the left to turn the sound on or off. It seems to work ok. It was just a little odd as I have been used to scrolling up or down to screen unlock on other Android devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Portals home screen is made up from three screens which can be accessed by a swipe left or right. Each one can be customized to include which ever shortcuts, widgets or folders you so desire. This is one of the best things about using an Android device. The are so many ways you can make the phone look.

home 2home 1  home 3

At the bottom of the screen are four icons which as far as I can see can not be changed. These are messages, contacts, phone and planet 3. Mind you, they don’t really need to be customized as they are all frequently used features.

As always with an Android handset you have the notifications bar at the top of the screen. This will always show you the time, signal strength, and what you are connected to whether it be Wi-Fi or 3G. If you do have any additional notifications such as SMS or email you can drag this bar down to see a list of the messages you have.


Let’s not forget that the Samsung Galaxy Portal is a phone. Making calls makes good use of the nice sensitive touch screen. The number keys are big and bold and if you have haptic feedback turned on they give a nice buzz when pressed. As you can see below you have four tabs at the top of this screen. These are phone, call log, contacts and favourites. In particular I really like the grey keys on the black background with a touch of green. Makes a nice change.


Let’s have a look at the main features held within the menu of the Portal. As I said earlier you can have a shortcut to any of these on the home screens. To access the main menu you slide up the little blue arrow that sits above the four icons at the base of the screen. Here the application icons are set out in pages. Like the home screens you swipe left and right to move to the next one.

An Android device would not be complete without the Android Market. If you have not used Android before this is where you can download applications much like Apples App Store. There is a massive selection to choose from both free and paid. Hours of fun!

market 1

Web browsing on the Galaxy Portal was really nice. It is very much a full on web experience as you can see from the image below.

broswer 1

browser 3

There is no multiple touch on the device so zooming is achieved by either a double tap or by using the zoom buttons that appear in the bottom right of the screen. The best bit here is that when you do zoom in the text re flows to fit the screen therefore eliminate having to move left and right to finish reading a sentence. Bonus!

browser 2

A press of the options key will then allow you to open a new window, view bookmarks,view all windows and a whole array of other things. Adding bookmarks is simple and as you can see, viewing them is great as each bookmark is shown as a little thumbnail. I like that. Flipping the phone into landscape will auto rotate the screen and allow you to use a bigger onscreen keyboard when entering text. More on that later.

The Android facebook app came pre installed on the review device. Like on all platforms it really does a great job and is a nice or quicker alternative to using facebook in the web browser. It is not the most in depth facebook app but if you are out and about it will let you update your status as well as keeping a close eye on what your friends are up to.

fb 1

MySpace is also pre installed and was just as efficient as the facebook app.

The camera on the Galaxy Portal is as I expected. Fairly bad. At only 3MP and no flash I didn’t expect it to be great so i am not really disappointed. It is not terrible but not the best 3 megapixel one I have used. The dedicated camera button on the right hand side of the Portal is awful. When pressed you are not even sure it has worked. Once the picture has been taken you do not get a snapshot of it on screen so for the first few times I used it I didn’t actually know if it was working. The video recorded was really bad. Looks ok on the device but once the videos are on the computer they are blocky and grainy.


Samsung Galaxy Portal Camera Sample

With built in GPS you will not be getting lost with the Portal. Google maps is of course on the device and it looks great. Zooming is once again done with those same on screen zoom buttons as found in the web browser. Pressing the options key allows you to search nearby or get directions. No voice guided navigation on this yet I am afraid.

maps 1 maps2

Email is always a nice experience on Android, especially if you use Gmail. The Samsung Galaxy Portal comes with both a Gmail and email application. Setting up email accounts is a breeze and it seemed to work perfectly. Sending SMS is just as easy. I think now would be a good time to mention the onscreen keyboard on the Galaxy Portal.

gmail 1 gmail 2  gmail 3

Typing is fairly painless on the Portal. It could be better but for a screen this size it is more than acceptable. Once again, rotating the phone will pop up a larger version of the keyboard. My main criticism here is that this is where I really noticed that the Portal is really light weight and cheap feeling and I don’t like that. I am not saying I like a heavy phone. What I mean is I like to feel that I am holding something solid when typing out an email and I didn’t feel that with this device. This doesn’t affect typing, merely an observation of mine. Once again the haptic feedback feels great when using the keyboard and as your finger or thumb will cover the letter you are pressing an icon containing that letter pops up above it ensuing you can type as mistake free as possible.

key 1

key 2

Being a Samsung device it supports DivX. Unfortunately I could not put this to the test as I have no films in that format but I have used it on other Samsung devices and the quality has been superb. I am sure the Galaxy Portal will be no different.

As the Samsung Galaxy Portal I reviewed came from 3, Skype is free. That is the good news. The bad news is I could not test it out as they wanted my phone number to send the download link. It may have helped if they had supplied a sim card with the device! I have used Skype on other devices so I know it works but 3 are the only network that allow you to use it free of charge.

The music player on the Portal was excellent. The speaker was nice and loud and as usual Samsung have provided amazing headphones. Out of all the phone manufactures I think the Samsung ones are surely the best. Music quality was clean and crisp. Another good job Samsung.

music 1 music 2

Google talk comes pre installed in the phone. I don’t use it myself but it is basically an instant messaging client much the same as Windows Live Messenger or BBM on a BlackBerry. The good bit here is i believe it is available on all platforms.

The YouTube application that comes already on the Samsung Galaxy Portal rocks! Quality is good and the speaker on the device is nice and loud. You also get a nice UI on Android. Spot on.

   youtube 2 youtube 3

So that is pretty much the main stuff on the Galaxy Portal. It does come with some smaller applications that you would expect like a voice recorder and a calculator but if you do find anything missing just jump into the Android Market. Chances are it will be there.



The Samsung Galaxy Portal is a pretty nice device overall. The main thing I really do not like is all those buttons below the screen. There are way to many and navigating them is not great. It just doesn’t feel natural. In fact I will be honest. The buttons are rubbish!

Apart from the button issue it seems to do most things well. Some of it’s competitors are better but if you are looking for value for money then the Galaxy Portal is worth considering. From only £12 per month on contract it is a bargain. Spend a little more and you could do a lot better though.


Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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