Review: Samsung Galaxy 551

Our score: 2/5
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March 3, 2011 2:00 PM
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Published: March 2, 2011 11:00 PM
By Vincent Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Mission Impossible, part two. Samsung, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a mobile with a full physical keyboard that's free with contract deals but runs on Android rather than the Bada operating system.

If anyone can, Samsung can. To cut costs, the Korean manufacturer has made two versions of what's basically the same phone. Both handsets have the same full physical keyboard, but while the Wave 533 runs on Samsung's Bada OS, the Galaxy 551 is loaded with Android 2.2. Although the phones are very similar, the Galaxy 551 is actually quite a lot better than the Wave 533!

Samsung Galaxy 551


A Souped-Up Clone

The Wave 533 and Galaxy 551 share the same dimensions, weight, 1200 mAh battery and full keyboard. The keyboard is totally flat, but you get used to it quickly and it's really quite good quality. Both models also have the same screen, which reproduces colours accurately—something that's very rare for a mobile phone! In fact, on the outside there are only a few minor differences between the two models, such as a slightly repositioned button.
 
On the inside, however, the Galaxy 551 has a 600 MHz processor, instead of the 455 MHz chip used in the Bada version. Needless to say, that brings a welcome boost to the phone's responsiveness! While the Wave 533 is so painfully slow that you always have to wait around for it to keep up with what you're doing, the Galaxy 551 handles everything much more smoothly. You can scroll through contacts with no glitches or slow-downs, and the handset is more responsive on the whole. That said, there's no doubt that an even faster processor would improve things further as the Galaxy 551 is still not perfect, even if it is a heck of a lot less frustrating than the Wave 533!

The Same But Better: battery life, photos etc.

The faster processor made us fear for the battery life of this phone. However, we were pleasantly surprised, as the Galaxy 551 holds out for 6 hrs 40 mins of video playback, compared with 5 hrs 30 mins for the Wave 533. And while we're talking about videos, it's also worth noting that the 551 can play DivX files directly (once you've downloaded the appropriate application), so there's no need to use the painful conversion system seen in the Wave 533.
















The photo mode is also better in the Android-based handset, as the 551 has the functional autofocus that was so sorely lacking in the Bada version. Whites are still overexposed, but the photos are a fair bit sharper with this model. However, the video resolution is just as poor (320 x 240 pixels), making the video mode pretty much redundant.

One thing that makes surfing the web (in 3G, when the Wave just has Edge) playing games and working with this mobile slightly less enjoyable than it should be is the screen resolution of just 240 x 400 pixels. That's really quite poor ... and it shows! The slim text used in Android applications isn't rendered well and the screen generally isn't very easy to read. It's certainly a shame, but it's not all that surprising for a mobile in this price bracket.

Samsung Galaxy 551 review
 
Such a big difference in quality between the Bada and Android versions of this mobile don't make Bada's future look any brighter!

Screen test: Alexandre. Audio: Tristan. Photo & video mode: Morgane
 
2/5 Samsung Galaxy 551 DigitalVersus 2011-03-03 00:00:00

Pros

  • Decent battery life: 6 hrs 40 mins of video playback
  • Practical, good-quality physical keyboard
  • Android 2.2 with access to thousands of applications
  • Accurate colour reproduction on screen
  • Direct access to memory card (on the side of the handset)

Cons

  • Low-def screen (240 x 400 pixels)
  • Disappointing sound
  • 1.5 cm thick
  • Could be more responsive
  • Overexposed areas in photos, low-resolution camera

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy 551 does everything better than the Bada version of this handset (Wave 533). It's more responsive, it can play DivX files, photos are sharper, it has 3G and it still has a good-quality full physical keyboard. For a 'free' mobile with a contract deal it's not a bad choice.

OUR SCORE 2/5
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