Samsung Galaxy Icon I7500 Android Mobile Smartphone (Review)

I recently attended the launch of 5 new Samsung touchscreen mobile smartphones including the new Samsung Galaxy Icon (I7500) Google Android phone and they’ve loaned me review phone for a few weeks for testing.

With it’s 5megapixel camera, LED flash, 8GB built in storage, slim shape and 3.5mm headphone jack I think the Samsung I7500 Galaxy could have provided a strong challenge to the more flashy HTC Hero Google Android phone which will be launched soon in Australia but it’s let down by issues like requiring manual firmware updates.

Photos – Samsung Galaxy Icon (I7500)

Samsung I7500 Galaxy Icon Android Mobile Smartphone

Video Demo – Samsung Galaxy Icon (I7500)

I didn’t have time to record video while I tried the demo units at the launch so I suggest you checkout this video courtesy of androidcommunity.com:

Standout Features

  • Camera: 5 MegaPixel (actual JPG pixel size 2560×1920), Auto focus and most importantly an LED flash.
  • Storage Memory: – 944mb to install applications (more than 10 times the space offered by HTC Magic and HTC Dream) + 8GB internal storage (6.7GB available to use for videos, music etc) and it can be expanded using microSDHC cards upto 32Gb in size
  • Bargain Outright Purchase: – Yes, spotted as low as $549 which is very competitive against the iPhone 3G and 3GS. It’s also about $150 cheaper than buying an HTC Hero from the UK
  • OLED Display: compared to the HTC Android phones to date the Galaxy’s OLED display is noticeably better at rendering colours and blacks. At 100% brightness it’s also brighter
  • Speaker: compared to the HTC Android phones to date the Galaxy’s speaker sounds better and is much more powerful with a much louder volume at 100% setting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which mobile phone carriers will it be available through? – Optus, Virgin Mobile (which is owned by Optus), Crazy Johns (Vodafone reseller)
  • Did Samsung mention a release date? – late September eventually in mid-October, keep an eye on the mobile phone shops for stock
  • Does it have a custom interface like HTC sense – no the Samsung I7500 Galaxy Icon has a standard Google Android interface, just like the HTC Dream and HTC Magic
  • Does it have a built in compass and accelerometer – Yes
  • What CPU does the phone use and whats the speed? – 528Mhz Qualcomm MSM7200A (same as the HTC Magic and HTC Hero)
  • Will the phone be sold outright for cash at consumer electronics stores? – Yes
  • Will Android updates be sent OTA (over the air)? – No. Updates will have to be manually installed from the Samsung website. NOTE: Samsung says this phone does not officially support upgrade of OS from Android 1.5(Cupcake) to Android 2.0 (we’ll see if any 3rd party custom ROM’s are released)

Features and Specifications

  • Operating System: Google Android 1.5 (Cupcake)
  • Size: 115 x 56 x 11.9mm which is similar in size to the HTC Hero but manages to be 17% thinner.
  • Network: HSDPA 7.2Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps (900 / 2100MHz). EDGE / GPRS (850/ 900/1800/1900) – this means it will be able to make full use of the whole Optus 3G network (which has different parts running at 900 & 2100MHz)
  • Display: 3.2″ HVGA(320×480) AMOLED – in theory this means better battery life, able to display more colours and therefore have better image quality than the TFT-LCD screens used by HTC Google Android phones to date. Will have to be tested in various environments: office, home and bright outdoor sunlight to see if this is the case
  • Camera: 5 MegaPixel with LED flash.

    I snapped a few photos on the demo phones at the launch and was impressed by the photo exposure quality and how little shutter lag there was compared to the HTC Dream & HTC Magic

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, MicroUSB (USB 2.0), 3.5mm headphone jack – Kudos to the Samsung engineers for managing to fit this into the thinnest Google Android phone to date
  • File Storage: Builtin internal memory: 8GB, optional addon external memory: upto 32GB Micro SD card.
  • Battery: 1500 mAh, 11% more than the HTC Hero and 23% more than iPhone 3Gs
  • Colour: Black
  • Side Buttons: Volume rocker (left), Hold (Unlock) button and Camera button (right)
  • Video & Audio playback: Video: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV + Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, e-AAC+, WMA, RA
  • Google Applications Built-In: Web Browser, Google Search, Google Maps™, Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Calendar™, Google Talk™, Android Market™
  • Device Control: multi directional DPAD with OK button in the middle
  • Special FeaturesAccelerometer, Digital Compass, GPS

In-depth Review

It puzzles me that Samsung made such a big effort with the I7500 Galaxy’s hardware then it feels like they ran out of energy and just installed a basic unmodified Android 1.5 operating system with few bundled interesting apps & no Android tweaks.

Excellent hardware features like being very small & light, including 8gb internal storage, 5mp camera with flash etc alone wont sell lots of phones. It has to win hearts & minds with a great user experience like the slick Apple iPhone software.

At the moment of writing the Samsung Galaxy costs about $550 to buy outright from a local shop with Australian warranty which is a very sharp price and if “firmware replacement” means something to you than you should able to add the best applications from the Android Market and replace the stock Samsung firmware with more recent, fully featured 3rd party Android firmware.

In comparison if you want a phone with a WOW factor out of the box then spend $150 more and you can buy the fancier HTC Hero from the UK (it hasn’t been officially released in Australia yet).

41 thoughts on “Samsung Galaxy Icon I7500 Android Mobile Smartphone (Review)”

  1. EDITOR: well this sets the cat amongst the pigeons. Samsung just told me the Samsung Galaxy Icon = RRP $749. Much cheaper than the iPhone 3GS outright now and also much cheaper than HTC Magic/Dream at their launch time

  2. Looks like a real competitor to the Hero. One feature that I didn’t see mentioned was whether the screen was multi-touch or not? I wonder if this difference (assuming the Samsung is not multi-touch) has any impact – it seems like a pretty useful feature to me.

    EDITOR: the Samsung Galaxy Icon is not multi-touch because it uses the standard Android interface

  3. You mentioned Vodafone as one of the carriers of the Galaxy, yet Cnet didn’t list Vodafone as a carrier. Can you confirm that Vodafone is correct and any exact ETA yet from any carrier.

    EDITOR: at the launch the Samsung rep told me Vodafone and Crazy Johns (Vodafone reseller) were going to sell the phone (as well as Optus and Virgin Mobile).

    However their later press release only mentioned Crazy Johns, Optus and Virgin Mobile)

  4. These are the Optus plans for the Samsung i7500 Galaxy according to their call centre: $5 on 49cap, $1 on 59 cap, $0 on 79 cap, $0 on $113.99 timeless, $0 on $129 timeless

  5. Spotted in a Virgin Mobile store for $696 to buy outright. Sounds like a great deal to me! They are only stocking black Samsung Galaxy’s

    “Your Internet” Cap Plans/month*
    $34 + $8 handset
    $50 + $5 handset
    $80 free handset

    “Your Cap” Plans/Month
    $29 + $8 handset
    $45 + $5 handset
    $75 free handset

    Add your own data (*Your Internet Cap Plans come with 300Mb data)

    $5 – 50Mb
    $10 -300Mb
    $15 – 1Gb

  6. Do you know the release date and carriers of the HTC Hero in Australia?

    EDITOR: I asked HTC for you and they said: “There is no confirmed launch date for the Hero in Australia at the moment. We will let you know as soon as more information becomes available.”

  7. What is video recording like? Hoping that it will be able to do 640×480@30fps at least.

    EDITOR: the Camcorder App only has 2 settings Low & High. At High setting a 1minute recording file took up 2.6mb. Looking at it’s details it’s a 3GP file recorded using MPEG4 Video 352×288

  8. Any word yet on Samsung support for future OS version upgrades (eg from 1.5 to 1.6)??

    EDITOR: They say it won’t officially be upgraded from Android 1.5 to 2.0 but are checking to see if it can be upgraded to 1.6

  9. I asked about this at an optus store today and they told me it is $579 to buy outright but they hadn’t received any stock yet. Seems like a bargain to me.

  10. Hmm… I know that this is probably too hard to answer but would you be able to guess if the characteristics of the video recording limited by the hardware or the software?

    If someone comes up with a video recording app, would it be able to capture more pixels at a decent framerate?

    I’m asking because I prefer this phone over the Samsung HD, because its running android and when I compare the shop models of the HD vs Galaxy, I like the Galaxy’s size better. But I’d like to be able to take decent videos. =/

    EDITOR: the video recording is a hardware limitation

  11. Does this phone do phone calls, texts, mms, google maps, utube, notes, voice recordings, emails, web browsing well. Also what is the the music like, does it have a external speakers so u dont have to use headphones all the time.

    I am ditching the iphone because of such a bad experiance. iphone places you on hold and then dials another number, cuts me off, puts me on mute, call fail, rings people while i am in bed and the phone is on my computer desk, have to hard boot the phone several times per day, i am not keen to get any phone that does any of the above.

    Christine

    EDITOR: To all your questions: Yes. And it has surprisingly powerful external speakers.

  12. Can anyone tell me if the Android phones, such as the Galaxy, HTC Magic and the HTC Hero are easily syncd with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft exchange or do you have to be a tech savvy guru to do it.

    EDITOR: some Android phones eg: HTC Magic on 3 Mobile come with an inbuilt email app which can access Microsoft Exchange servers, others dont.

  13. Firmware for the Samsung Galaxy is labelled using a specific string, such as I7500XXIG8.

    The firmware you’re currently running on can be viewed from Settings >> About phone >> Baseband version. The string can be broken down and understood as follows:

    * I7500 – The model number.
    * I – year that the firmware was released (I = 2009)
    * G – month of release (G = July)
    * 6 – version number

    More information at Deciphering Firmware Update Codes for the i7500

  14. Just spoke to Samsung PR, pricing and release date has been finalised with all 3 carrriers

    The Galaxy will be available through Optus nationally from Oct 12th (delivery is Tues Oct 7th so this gives plenty of time for stock push to stores), Virgin and Crazy John’s will be ranging a generic version of the phone which isn’t due in stores for a few more weeks.

    $0 on a $59 cap plan – Optus, Telechoice & Allphones pricing
    $4 on a $45 cap – Virgin Mobile pricing
    $0 on a $79 cap – Crazy Johns

  15. Samsung has released a new firmware update for its i7500 Android Galaxy, helping to fix some of the inherent problems.

    The new device has been roundly panned by reviewers as the battery life is woefully short, with an annoying lock system putting many off purchase.

    However, the new I7500XXII5_VIAII5 firmware (say that three times fast) will apparently sort out the battery life and ‘bring stability’ to the phone …

    more info at Techradar

  16. Hello,

    I have been running a Samsung Galaxy for 1 month now, it is Optus Australia branded but like all my phones purchased outright and not locked to Optus.. I have given up on this phone it is a dog with flees, it is badly flawed on the current ROM version of I7500DFII3 and after a month of back and forward with Optus, Samsung and the reseller that sold me this lemonI can advise this:

    Not only is the firmware carrier dependent, but I have been told by Samsung Australia that the ability to update the ROM from the internet in using the Samsung New PC Studio software will not be made available to Australian customers with either Vodaphone or Optus handsets..

    This feature has been restricted by the Phone Companies and a ROM update can only be performed at a Samsung Service Centre at the customers expense.. I have complained so loudly that Samsung will be refunding the cost of my phone because it is fundamentally flawed in Australia…

    Problems with the Australian hand set:
    Cannot sync with PC via Samsung NPC software – Samsung will not update the software for Australia.
    Wifi does not work reliably.
    Applications cause the phone to hang
    Have had to hard reset the phone 6 times in 1 month
    Most application in Android market have been restricted to Australian customers as these are restricted by the network operator Optus

    There are a multitude of fantastic upgrades for Android and it’s applications available that Australian Galaxy users will not get because the network operator Optus have crippled the phone..

    Sad but true unless you want to void your warrantee and Root you phone and load a base ROM with no optus branding, your phone in Australia is a lemon…

    Now thats what I call a non open source open source phone.. Big thumbs down to Optus ans Samsung, because on paper this handset is brilliant, but the implementation in Australia means the quality of this phone will never be realised…

    Paul.

  17. Despite listing it on their website for a couple days Virgin are not getting this phone. I managed to place an order but was called a week later to be told that my order had been cancelled.

  18. Hi Paul,

    I am having the same issues abut are unable to get this phone returned. Who did you contact to do this and how did you do it? They are simply not letting me…

    Issues which exist are:
    – wifi unreliable. Sometimes doesn’t connect when 1 foot away from router.
    – I am unable to automatically reconnect to my car stereo via bluetooth. Even if paired, i still need to reconnect and renter password every time. Apparently Samsung do not allow automatic reconnection with non-Samsung devices – but there is apparently a fix around this with the new software, but I am unable to update. Even though New PC studio 1.4.0 says it should.
    – No voice dial as I was sold by Optus sales person. Same again, can apparently patch, with 1.6 version of firmware, but I am unable to get it…

    Apart from these issues, I quite like the phone… but will be doing my best to get it returned and shove it back at Samsung.

    Regards

    Doug.

  19. Doug,

    I got Samsung to agree to a refund only after yelling at them repeatedly, I called the mobile support number (1300 number) on the warrantee card, it took weeks to get them to agree, but as the phone did not work for me at all, 18 problems in total I read the riot act to them..

    They have the phone now, they agree in principal to refund the cost of the phone but I don’t have the money yet, I sent the phone 2 weeks ago via registered post.. I swear it’s like getting blood from a stone…

    Samsung have also told me the following: The Sync with NPS will be fixed, but they will not be allowing firmware updates via NPS to Australian delivered co-branded hand sets… The only way you can update your Aussie Optus handset is to take it to a Samsung Centre and pay $65.00 for an update… If you Root your phone that’s it Samsung will not do a warrantee repair on your hand sets, any attempt to tamper with the preloaded Optus ROM will void your warrantee… The fact is the problems are caused by the Optus ROM component to the phone…

    2 thumbs down to Samsung and Optus for this mess…

    Paul.

  20. I have just purchased this phone, and whilst setting up the PC Studio I received an error message stating that the phone is an ‘unsupported device’. Is this related to the inability to upgrade android and ROM?
    Does anyone know of a way for me to bypass this problem? because samsung and optus are not being at all helpful. At this point i’d be happy with a phone that I can use for text, calls, and transferring music & pics from pc to mobile (and vice versa).
    Thanks

  21. I have made a big mistake buying Samsung I7500 last week. With 2 days i got to this is not a good model. I have used Samsung 2 other phone models before which were realy good, but this one I7500 is really perofrming very bad. Blue tooth is available but of no use , battery life is very poor and many more …. Could some one help me or advice me to give this phone back to Samsung and get back my money . Is there a way to these problems or how to get my money back…. please someone help me.

  22. @Mel. I am thinking, and from what I have been hearing, and from what my guy at Optus is telling me, the best way to get the phone to do an update is to remove the Optus branding. This can be done at the Samsung centre. Once this is done, you should be able to use New PC Studio. The issue with me now is, who pays for it! I have told him that as far as I am concerned, what I bought (which is essentially NOT just the phone, but the software as well), is faulty and therefore, I should not have to pay for it…. I mean, who puts software in a package that doesn’t work with the device? Argghhhh… In my opinion, we both should be entitled to a full refund! This is what I am going to work on if they ask me to pay for it!

    @Sareev. Battery life is an issue with these phones. Especially if you want to use GPS, Bluetooth or Wireless. What I generally do (which I still think I shouldn’t have to) is using the switches button on the desktop, switch all these functions off when I am not using them. Once this is done, the battery WILL last for a couple of days. Problem is, if you are out, and want to use google maps to find your way somewhere, and you use GPS, you need to turn it on which immediately chuggin’ on the battery. Once, when I was out, I did this, and afterwards, turned it off – but still, by the end of the day my battery died! I am on my second phone now – my first phone I took back because even with these features turned off, it would die during the afternoon. That phone / battery was definitely faulty though!

    I wish I had just bought an iPhone. Whilst these phones I don’t mind, they have to many issues for my liking and are missing the simplest of features. Seriously, not having voice dial on a phone nowadays?

  23. Mel, apparently to connect to the New PC studio, you have to set the phone to mount as USB only. There is a checkbox in the data connection settings menu.

    I have the phone, on optus and am getting used to its ‘eccentricities’. Much better than any WinMo I have used and i flat-out hate apple.

    You can backup the ROM and firmware (and should before any mod) so there is less risk to voiding warranty. Just flash it all back if you have issues.

    I am going to attempt an upgrade to remove the OPTUS branding and jump up to 1.6 this weekend. I will report back.

  24. Given you are all complaining about the Optus branding, is it any better to go with Vodaphone as the carrier? Would this solve the issues, or will the phone still be a lemon without rooting it?

  25. Then again…maybe not…I can’t find it on their website any more. Maybe I was looking at the wrong site.

    Even still, would it be better finding another carrier…if there are any?

  26. Not available at Vodafone. I asked a salesperson today and she couldn’t find it on the list.

    EDITOR: i suspect that no one is selling this phone in Australia anymore due to the various technical difficulties suffered by customers (see the unhappy comments from Samsung Galaxy owners on this article)

  27. Ok, i made the upgrade from v1.5 IF to IK and removed the OPTUS branding.
    Only issue so far is the OPTUS stuff had the MMS and 3G settings and the blank canvas does not. Quick search of whirlpool and picked those up. Now the phone is much faster, 3x the battery life and things like the camera, txt, dictionary etc all work better and are much prettier.

    Next jump will be 1.6 to get the VOICE GOOGLE SEARCH.
    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=4&ved=0CBQQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.phonearena.com%2Fhtmls%2FSamsung-Galaxy-to-get-Android-2.1-by-2nd-quarter-article-a_9354.html&ei=JVlqS7bUL4SmnQf0tmA&usg=AFQjCNEcFI4dxIE7jKyVcg_Psjc3KZyAcQ&sig2=wcPFIszRCb3tbq4pg_VmEA
    Not sure if links work, but basically it appears SAMSUNG will release version 2.1 in Q2.

    EDITOR: thanks for that info Logan

  28. I had this on test for my company and even after upgrading the firmware several times, did not have a good experience with it. Android is not there yet in terms of real usability either. The HTC Flo touch range (Click, Diamond) are still my best bets.

  29. I had a Samsung Galaxy phone which gave me problems from two weeks after I purchased it, I sent it back to Optus tech 3 times and still no joy…problems with dialing up the internet on its own and I was being charged by Optus for it, mms would not send everytime it was random one day it would send the next it wouldn’t and I constantly had problems with it connecting via bluetooth to my car.

    I had to call the Ombudsman and report the phone twice. For three months Oputs blamed Samsung and Samsung blamed Optus. On my second report to the Ombudsman Optus come to the party and agreed to let me out of the contract. I upgraded to Sony Ericsson Satio….best thing I ever did!!!! I love SONY ERICSSONS 🙂 Don’t bother with Samsung go straight to the Ombudsman.

  30. Stephanie, i just wanted to ask what the number was for the Ombudsman? i also have had trouble with Samsung and had enough, i cant get through to any managers.

    EDITOR: The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman can be contacted by phone, fax, post etc via
    http://www.tio.com.au/contact.htm

  31. well,

    after Optus refused to let me out of the contract, even though the store manager admitted the issues were legitimate, the phone was sent back twice to samsung for repairs which never happened, optus still refused to let me out. Quick call to the ombudsman to ask advice, and after giving a description of the issues , he told me I had a legit case and he thought i shoujld lodge a complaint. He lodged one and an hour later, optus rang me and said ‘as a goodwill gesture’ they would accept it back. Goodwill my arse… the phone was a reject.

    Telecommunications Ombudsmans number: 1800 062 058

  32. I gave up on the Galaxy after about 3-4 months. The keypad never worked in-call, it was sluggish and dropped out all the time. The phone is a nice gadget but making phone calls was pain. I got the phone through Optus insurance since I lost my old HTC Touch Pro.

    I rang Optus talked to one of the managers. Since I’m on a high plan and have been a customer for years, they canceled my contract and renewed it with an iPhone 3GS 64G for free plus I got to keep the Android. Should have went with the iPhone years ago, best phone I’ve had.

    I will never be buying a Android again, well at least until they do some quality control with their hardware manufacturers. Samsung did a lousy job with the Galaxy.

    EDITOR: I agree Samsung did a lousy job with the Galaxy in terms of bad post-sales service and not updating the handset to a new version of Android. HTC has done a much better job with it’s Android phones

  33. Have I got a Lemon?? Saturday 10Jul2010 I ‘traded-in’ Telstra for Optus, which I had been considering for quite some being extremely peeved at T. Liked the look of the Samsung Galaxy iCon and had a quick demo, convinced I signed up for 24 months. Oops! From what I have just read above this unit has heaps of problems and mine have just started. Less than 24 hours and the battery has expired on me AFTER charging on Saturday and then again Sunday. Is this an inherent problem? And have Optus completed any upgrades or just shrugging their shoulders and relying on Samsung? I haven’t even started using the features at this stage just learning how to fly it after using my 3 year old Motorola V3. Come back to me people….

    EDITOR: Return it immediately, its a very old model and a lemon to boot. See if they’ll let you swap for a Samsung Galaxy S which is the successor and FAR better in hardware and software.

  34. To -Editor comment:
    Thanks for that. I have my ‘other half’ working on the issue for me as I am unable to get there myself. Will take your advice. Thanks..

    RayA

  35. can any one help me out
    I dont understand how to send files through bluetooth in SUMSANG GALAXY ICON
    and If i connect it to pc it dosnt shows any respons
    any one plz help me out
    than q

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