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lunes, 30 de julio de 2012

Samsung Galaxy 551

I got this phone in January 2011 and I used it as my main phone until last September, when I moved to the UK. I got it free with a Euro20 per month Austrian contract on the network 3 which lasts for two years, so I am still paying for this phone and still using it occasionally when I am in Austria or away where it is cheaper to use this network.

This was the first smartphone that I got and I was quite happy with it on the whole.

=== Typing ===

This phone has a touch screen but it also has a full QWERTY keyboard (well mine is QWERTZ because that's how the German and Austrian keyboards are!). I really liked the fact it had this full keyboard because when I got this I was not sure how confident I would be with typing on a touch screen keyboard. In fact, I didn't really find it a problem, as the keys on screen are large enough to easily press and if you turn the phone on its side, everything on the screen turns with it, making the letters look wider on the touch screen. I did find the full keyboard great to use on occasions when I was writing long messages though. You simply slide it out from underneath the phone body and then slide it back in when finished. It doesn't make the phone look bulky and it is not even noticeable when not in use.

All the symbols and numbers are clearly marked on the keyboard as well as the letters so there is no need to scroll through any menus to find the & % $ or whatever. Just press and alt and the corresponding key, as on a normal computer keyboard.

=== Navigation ===

This phone is very easy to navigate. The screen is large and takes up most of the front of the phone, so icons on the touch screen are all large enough to use without difficulty. There is a home screen, where I put my most used icons such as email, texts, phone book, internet browser, calculator, clock. To get an icon onto this screen you simply press down on it with your finger and drag. If you swipe across from this main home screen, there are more pages which you can fill with different icons shortcuts.

On the bottom of all screens there shortcuts to the most important functions - telephone, contacts, messages and home.

There is also a menu button on the bottom of the home screen. If you go to the menu, there you can get the full list of all your functions and apps. To move to the next page, you just swipe the screen across, basically the same as on the iphone.

The contacts are easy to navigate as it is simply an alphabetical list to scroll through, and you can arrange them into groups if you wish, such as colleagues, family, or whatever would be useful to you.

The only very annoying thing about the controls is that you don't seem to be able to lock the touch screen to stop things being pressed when the phone is in your bag or pocket. After the phone has not been touched for a while, the screen locks automatically and you have to swipe your finger across it to unlike, as with the ipone. However, there seems to be no way to choose to lock it. This means it can be a bit of a liability if you use it then put it straight in your bag without waiting for it to lock itself!

=== Phone Calls and Sound ===

I have not experienced any problems with the sound quality while making phone calls and I have been satisfied with it. The volume buttons are on the side and are easy to adjust while talking.

The sound in general is good and I have found it to be fine when listening to music or watching videos on the phone.

It has a standard headphone jack at the top to fit any normal headphones, so you don't need to buy specific ones for this phone if you want to listen to music on it.

=== Camera ===

The camera is not good enough to replace a proper camera in my opinion but it takes acceptable photos and it is easy to upload them straight to Facebook or send them by email. I have found this camera comes in handy just to capture something when I don't have my normal camera with me. You can also get apps to put different effects on the photos - the one I have is called Retro Camera and is similar to Instagram.

=== Operating System and Apps ===

This phone runs on Android. I have found it to mostly be quick and efficient, but occasionally I have found that the phone freezes which was extremely annoying for me as it meant that I could not always see the phone as completely reliable.

I was impressed with Android as far as apps go, and I have found that it seems to offer nearly as much variety as Apple. It is much much better than the Blackberry system which I have on my current UK phone and which hardly offers any apps worth having at all. The Android Marketplace is on the phone so you can easily search for apps, either free or paid. I pretty much only ever looked at the free ones as there are so many good free ones that I didn't feel I needed to branch out.

The apps I put on here include lots of news ones, such as UK Newspaper and World Newspaper which give quick links to various newspapers which you can read in smart phone friendly format for free. You can also get plenty of apps from specific papers or magazines, such as Time or BBC news. These are all so handy and I loved the fact they saved me from buying so many newspapers which I would then leave on the train, so saved me money and more environmentally friendly too. It also made me read more of a variety of newspapers than I normally would. You can get well known apps such as the Aldiko e-book reader, which also allows you to download a lot of free e-books, music apps, apps for learning languages, dictionaries, games etc. The usual ones like facebook are all available, and Wikidroid which is a good Android friendly version of Wikipedia. You can also download Skype and then as long as you have unlimited data on your contract, or you are in a WIFI zone, you can make Skype phone calls for free. I have unlimited data but my phone minutes did not allow international calls, so I used to use this to call the UK for free. Mostly if you want an app for something you should be able to find something suitable on Android.

=== Battery Life ===

I found the battery life of the phone is okay, but not outstanding. When I first got it I could use it for a couple of days without charging but as time went on I found that more often than not I had to charge it every day. Once it is plugged into the charger it doesn't take too long to charge up.

=== Overall ===

I was really impressed with this phone when I first got it. It is not really the latest thing now and I am sure the newest Samsung Galaxy phones do look a bit cooler and probably run faster, but this is not a bad little smartphone and I do appreciate the fact it has all the benefits of Android and a touch screen while still having a full QWERTY keyboard as well. However it does have its drawbacks, as the fact it occasionally freezes can be a bit of a concern, and I wish it was easier to lock the touch screen!