Samsung have adopted a simple way of distinguishing the phones in their Galaxy range from each other by a single letter after the word ‘Galaxy’. This system was more than likely born out of the naming convention that debuted with the Galaxy S and is now in full flow, the latest handset to be titled in such a way being the Galaxy W, a mid-priced handset that has power beyond its standing.
The first impression upon getting hold of the Galaxy W is that it’s styled in a similar way to many of the other handsets in the Galaxy range. It’s a simple, black rectangle with nicely-rounded corners that fits well in your hand but certainly doesn’t look distinctive or stand out in terms of appearance.
A nice touch is the return of the textured back found on the Galaxy S II which makes it nicely tactile and gives it a rugged feel. This is reflected in the overall design of the phone – it’s well-built, sturdy and doesn’t give the impression that it’s going to smash open if you drop it.The device weighs in at 109.9g and being 11.55mm thick it isn’t the slimmest phone around but that contributes to the rugged feel which makes the Galaxy W comfortable to hold.
There’s a 3.7inch touchscreen on the front which is bigger than that on the iPhone 4 but the impressive size of the screen is negated by the low resolution of only 480×800 pixels. It’s noticeably less than that seen on high-end smartphones and even though there’s enough room to fit everything in you do miss out slightly in terms of quality of image reproduction.
Below the screen are three keys, including two touch-sensitive navigation buttons and a physical ‘Home’ key similar to those found on other Galaxy handsets. It’s a credit to the designers that even with the decent size of the touchscreen there’s no trouble in holding the phone in one hand and pressing everything with your thumb – the Galaxy W is sturdy without being bulky and cumbersome.
Power and Operating System
Inside the Galaxy W is its most impressive feature – the 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. To find a high-specced CPU in a mid-range phone such as this is quite impressive. So whilst the W might not stand out in terms of looks it certainly can with its processing speed.
The Galaxy W runs the latest version of Android, 2.3 Gingerbread, with Samsung’s own user interface, TouchWiz, thrown in as well. TouchWiz brings with it some nice touches such as providing users with the ability to customise widgets. Samsung’s Social Hub, which gathers all your social network feeds into one place, also makes a reappearance but the extra functionality struggles to make up for the fact that the UI looks a lot more basic and two-dimensional than the those of other manufacturers and this is something that really stands out on the Galaxy W’s low-resolution screen. The fast processor handles all the phone’s features really well but it’s a bit of a shame that TouchWiz doesn’t look as polished as on handsets from higher up the Galaxy range.
As a plus point though, there is Samsung’s Kies Air software, which is a quick and easy way of transferring music, photos etc form a PC or Mac to the phone without a connecting cable. Apple have introduced a similar system with the latest version of iOS5 but Samsung have been doing it for a while – Kies Air was available on the Galaxy S2 prior to its appearance here. Plugging a phone into your computer seems a bit antiquated nowadays so it’s good to see that Samsung have found a way around this.
The swift nature of the Galaxy W’s processor ensures that browsing, with a decent connection, is fast and fluid and that everything loads quickly. Having the latest version of Android means you’re not going to miss out on Flash animations although websites don’t look too good on the low-resolution screen. Text is certainly clear and easy to read but web-based images don’t really leap out at you.
On the back of the Galaxy W is the main camera, a pretty standard five megapixel one that produces some decent images which look surprisingly good on the screen despite the low resolution. The camera can record video in 720p at 30 frames per second and there’s also a front-mounted VGA camera for video calls. There’s the standard 2GB of internal memory which is expandable via microSD upto 32GB.
Other tech specs
- Wi-Fi 802.11/ Wi-Fi hotspot
- v2.0 microUSB
- Stereo FM radio with RDS
- MP4/DivX/XviD/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
- MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
- Li-Ion 1500 mAh Battery
The Galaxy W’s screen is its biggest letdown with the low pixel-count really noticeable.TouchWiz is a good UI but again, the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, although this isn’t helped by the less than impressive screen.
The Galaxy W might not be as striking in terms of appearance as other Galaxy devices but its mid-range positioning and affordable price making it a lot more accessible for those looking to make the jump from feature phone to smartphone. You don’t get the bright, crisp screen that you would on a high-end smartphone but the commendable speed of the processor does make up for this, meaning that, when it comes to Android phones, Samsung can put up some decent competition for any other manufacturer.