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Samsung Galaxy Portal review

 Review: April 2010  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy Portal is an Android phone, but it uses last year's technology. It's a good enough phone, and not too expensive, but being average isn't good enough these days when there are some truly amazing alternatives available.



Samsung have come late to the Android party, and it looks like they brought a cheap bottle of wine from Tesco with them, hoping nobody would notice the difference.

The Galaxy Portal looks like a slightly overweight version of the Samsung Jet, and it shares the same superfast 800MHz processor. We'd say that it's oversized and overweight compared to rival phones, especially since the screen size is quite average, at 3.2 inches diagonally. We also question the need for quite so many buttons on the front, although they work well enough and the D-pad gives plenty of control when moving around. The phone is plastic but feels solid enough.

Although the screen is of average size and with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, which is nothing special compared to rival smartphones, it's a capacitive touchscreen with a good response. The phone is easy enough to use, but nothing special.

Although this is an Android phone, it's running Android 1.5, which is frankly a dinosaur, and Samsung haven't made the effort to wrap it in any kind of user-friendly UI, like HTC have done with HTC Sense in the HTC Desire for instance, or Sony Ericsson with their Timescape and Mediascape technology in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. Nevertheless, you do get access to plenty of apps from the Android Market, as well as easy access to email, youtube, and other internet-based applications. The web browser is particularly good. You can of course customise the user interface by downloading all the applications you want and fiddling with your home pages (of which there are three). And, if Samsung make Android 2.1 available for the Galaxy portal, even more options will become possible.

The technology inside is nothing special, with a mediocre 3 megapixel camera, although perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Galaxy Portal is its huge battery, which will power the phone for days without the need for charging.

The big feature (gimmick?) that Samsung are pushing is its visual search engine which will show you "loads of exciting places, from new bars and clubs to cash machines and taxis" - yawn. That's a standard feature on all Android phones, if you really want it.

The Galaxy Portal is pretty well connected, with 3G and Wi-Fi for fast data access, although it isn't the fastest flavour of 3G, being limited to 3.6Mbps download. The memory is 200MB, which falls below what's on offer from other Android phones such as the HTC Desire or HTC Legend. You can of course add a microSD memory card for extra data storage.

To be fair, the Galaxy Portal isn't a bad phone. It's got a fast processor, a big battery, and a decent array of tech stuff. It just feels like last year's product, not something released in 2010. If you want Android, there are far better choices available - from the HTC Desire to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 or even the Googlephone itself, the Google Nexus One. The new Samsung Galaxy S looks set to be the super Android phone that the Galaxy portal never was.

Samsung Galaxy Portal features include:

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Samsung Galaxy Portal user reviews

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Average rating from 35 reviews:

Reviewed by Megan from England on 4th Mar 2012
I've had this phone for 2 years now on my contract. It served me well for the first year but then everything started shutting its self down and force closing. The thing now has a mind of its own. It restarts its self, puts its self on 'safe mode', deletes pictures and videos,and a whole lot more.(gladly I'm getting a HTC in 2 days) I'd say if you are on a 2 year contract and want to get this phone, don't.

Reply by pinkp from Bristol on 8th Apr 2012
HTC not no better mind!!! What one did you have in mind? Still got my portal which I use more then my HTC!!!

Reviewed by zak macdoody from england on 2nd Jan 2012
i don't know what all the moaning is about!?. i've had this phone for nearly two years now, i upgraded it from 1.5 to 2.1. it never crashes and it never did, much faster than most phones in its price range like the sony x8 as it has the 800mghz processor instead of the 600.it's my phone and my internet modem and i never have any trouble with it.i tried many touch screen phones and this seems to be most responsive. firmware upgrade to 2.2 would be nice

Reviewed by Daniel from UK on 8th Oct 2011
If I could put a minus rating on this phone I would, It is by a long way the worse phone I have ever used. I could write all day about how bad it is, but I will say just do not buy it!

Reviewed by Steven from England on 22nd Aug 2011
The absolute WORST phone I have ever owned! Sluggish, simple procedures like reading a text takes tens of seconds to open, sometimes up to a minute. Crashes frequently and will die even when the battery is charged! Awful awful awful!

Reviewed by Yvonne Macdonald from United Kingdom on 22nd Aug 2011
I have had a samsung portal in March on contract and it isn;t like other samsungs - its not user friendly and I had a lot of trouble copying my sim card contacts onto this phone I wish I hadn;t had it to be honest

Reviewed by richard from england on 5th Jul 2011
does this phone even have an alarm because i dont think it is a good alarm

Reviewed by CaribbeanQT from Canada on 30th Jun 2011
Worst phone I have ever had!! I would never advise anyone to buy this phone. Texting on it is crappy, and it goes off every 30 seconds in the middle of a call. The goes off overnight (even when your battery is 57% charged). I have only had it for 2 days now and I am frustrated. I could just smash it against the wall. Save yourself the headache, and buy something better.

Reviewed by Galaxy Chortle from UK on 5th Jun 2011
Had this phone for about 9 months and it is the bane of my life. Where shall I start; simple functions such as the dial pad and phonebook crash regularly, messages/phonebook/camera take literally 30 seconds to load up (half a minute is an outrageously long time to wait just to find your friend's name when you want to ring them or read a text), many apps are too slow to work on a phone which is supposed to have a superior processor in terms of speed, the touch screen is a liability and often rings someone completely different to the name I pressed and sometimes won't even let me unlock the phone because the slider gets confused! If you have any sort of temper I doubt this phone will last you a week.

Reviewed by Oscar Mild from UK on 6th May 2011
Hate it. Had it year & awaiting delivery replacement. I hope its an improvement. This has been one of the worst phones I have ever possessed. Have really wanted to smash it on several occasions. Its sluggish beyond belief, opening a newly received sms takes up to 1 minute. Not only is the touch screen totally non-responsive (unless hands & screen are squeaky clean)but the keys are too small. Then theres the ridiculous number of buttons. (Lack of faith in touch screen?) You can't hold it without pressing something annoying. No wonder Apple a soaring ahead in this market.

Reviewed by theron Pearman from UK on 4th Apr 2011
rubbish. try to connect it to a computer using a usb cable... doesn't work. standard battery... rubbish using google navigation quickly drains the battery... try typing on it... poor show samsung a real turkey

Reviewed by carlos from china on 7th Mar 2011
excuse my english if i make mistake, i not advanced yet, but this mobile telephone has been a very wrong decision, i have other mobile smartphone of which works much better. I work in phone shop where i live and compare phones for a hobby, the galaxy europa is much better choice, much more advanced with crisper display, portal phone old and uses disappointing camera, phone is very average and does not match up to other mobile telephones on market, samsung jet or samsung europa are recommended, this phone one step behind technology. Overall phone is a pointless buy, offers average, dated features that dont keep buyer happy, offers no exciting aspect so not recomended. I give 2 1/2 stars not 3.

Reviewed by Ruth from UK on 10th Feb 2011
I'm really disappointed with this phone. I think I really wanted an iphone and this isn't a good substitute. I find texting very troublesome and now find myself accused of poor spelling. I also call people by mistake by merely dusting my fingers on the screen and at other times I can keep touching the screen and getting no response. The variable sensitivity is probably my biggest complaint along with the signal drop out. I miss calls frequently and have to position myself carefully to keep a call active..... and no I don't live deep in the country but it could be due to the network I'm on. I have experienced "freezing" and have to restore the phone by switching it off. I wish I hadn't bought this phone and I'm counting down the months for my contract to end.

Reviewed by independent reviews from england, north east on 6th Feb 2011
although the reviewer of this mobile phone really put it down, this is one of the better android phones I've used, its older technology yes but ot works amazingly well, a friend of mine has an HTC (not naming which one) and its junk, the version of android on his 2.1 and ita very buggy, I haven't had a single error or crash or issue in general, its an amazing phone for the price (I'm on 3 and get a hell of a lot of minutes and internet) all in all its an amazing phone on a budget and may I add I own this phone and in using it right now to write this review, this is a good all rounder cheap. compact android phone bursting with features and the app market makes possibilities endless.

Reviewed by Pete from uk on 14th Jan 2011
No complaints with this phone at all. I've hd it 5 months now and it's not bored me yet.

Reviewed by liam from isle of man on 18th Dec 2010

Reviewed by Linda W from UK on 10th Dec 2010
I've had this phone about 7 months. It's my first Android or Smart phone and I love it. I only pay 15pm for unlimited texts & internet and 350 mins on T mobile. Just a couple of moans. When texting, the space bar is next to the next line down key which then gets pressed all the time by mistake. As I text fairly fast I end up with one or two words on each line and have to use the hard key to get the cursor into the right place to re-set the lines. Really annoying. Secondly, the phone lock which some have mentioned is annoying as you can turn the screen off if you press unlock a fraction too long. Not much wrong with it apart from the fact I can't get my Orange emails on it or the Tesco clubcard app that Iphones accept. I just hope the battery lasts till my contract ends in May 2012!

Reviewed by russ from uk on 4th Nov 2010
got my phone in may 2010 on the three network at first it worked perfectly and I was very impressed. But then things started going wrong firstly it kept dropping it's signal so i couldn't make or receive calls and i would need to turn the handset off and then on again to regain a signal. then it went through a stage of turning itself off for no reason and it didn't care if I was in a call or not, sent it in for repair worked a few more weeks then started all over again just phoned three and now I am swapping it for the HTC Wildfire hope thats better

Reviewed by dave from uk on 20th Sep 2010
nice phone,no droped calls ,everything works,good price i get mine for 10 PER MONTH 300 text+300 mins and free internet access.The other phones on the market are alot of money to pay for things you proberly dont need ,and i only need to charge every few days.recomended!

Reviewed by bev from uk on 22nd Aug 2010
i've only had this a week and i'm still getting used to it. apart from a couple of things i really like this phone. does anyone know how to stop incoming texts appearing at the top of the screen? the only way i can see round it is if you un-tick the notification setting box, but then you dont know that you've got a text at all!! i leave my phone on my desk at work and i dont like the way that anyone standing near the phone can read my texts before i do:(

Reviewed by Rosie from UK on 16th Aug 2010
I've found that the alarm is extremely quiet on this. It didn't wake me up! It's on full in the alarm menu, is there any way of getting it louder?

Reviewed by paddy from england on 16th Aug 2010
I bought my phone from t mobile and have had no issues whatsoever. It doesn't have android 2.1, but their are many apps which enhance your user experience making it very similar (if not better) than android 2.1. A good example of this is pandahome, giving you up to 11 homescreens and giving you many home-editing options. Also l, I have found the internet capabilties of this phone fantastic l, as it us incredibly fast. 5 stars

Reviewed by Joe from UK on 16th Aug 2010
Wanted a HTC Wildfire, but got offered this phone on a really good upgrade deal. Love it. Screen is far better than the Wildfire, really good to use and very responsive. Having the hard keys at the bottom is really useful when you are not in the mood for touch screen (very helpful later at night). Only area that needs addressing is the camera...but I don't really use that anyway. Well worth a look.

Reviewed by Paul from UK on 22nd Jul 2010
Don't buy from T-Mobile! It comes with Android 1.5 and a software CD that will screw up your PC. The software isn't Windows 7 compatible, but it doesn't work so that's only half the problem. The manual is useless and T-Mobile support no better, so it's really hard to make the phone useful. Samsung have an upgrade to Amdroid 2.1 which you get if you buy the phone from 3. For those of us who previously ad phones that sync with a PC a guide to how to do all that stuff would be really useful.

Reviewed by Kim from UK on 4th Jul 2010
This phone is not difficult to use, it is not complicated. This is my first smartphone so i'm still learning about it, but it's simple if you have patience. i've only had this phone since yesterday and i love it, bluetooth is works fine, internet is good, absolutely loving it! Martyn, if you go into messaging, press the menu button (the one on the left) then select settings, go down to where is says about notifications, and tick the box where it says vibrate when notifiedm then it'll vibrate when you get a text. To set music as a ringtone just go into your files, find the song you want, press the menu button, then set as voice ringtone. don't know how to change the message tone yet, haven't tried as i don't mind the current tone. Going to rate is as a 4, only because theres still lots for me to figure out on it! Hope i helped x

Reviewed by Greg from UK on 29th Jun 2010
This month I renewed my contract and upgraded to this phone, I received the latest version with the 2.1 Android OS (Eclair) already built in. This puts the Galaxy Portal right back in the pack of top smart phones, while not the best it's a good contender at an affordable price. I pay just 20 a month for unlimited internet, 5000 texts and 500 minutes. The phone itself takes awhile to get used to but working it all out can be half the fun. All in all it has alot to offer without costing the earth and so far I'm more than happy.

Reviewed by Luke from UK on 18th Jun 2010
I've had this phone for 3 weeks now and I couldn't be happier. Only pay 20 pounds a month on contract - so this phone is a steal! Got an 8gb card on ebay for a tenner and also have spotify too. No - it is not the best android phone on the market, but it never said it was. The HTC Wildfire might be worth waiting for if you want something cheap and cheerful - but the i5700 Portal has a faster processor - so I'm stick with the Samsung. Just really hope Samsung do the 2.2 Android Update for this phone. Conclusion - yeah, the HTC Desire is better - but it costs more.....so if you want cheap, fun and loads of gadgets, get one! hehe

Reviewed by diane from south wales on 14th Jun 2010
absolute rubbish phone sold it on two weeks after getting it as an upgrade went back to old nokia dont bother with this its difficult to use hard to get it to bond with pc quite frankly im sorry i ever had it

Reviewed by Martyn from United Kingdom on 6th Jun 2010
Got the phone few days ago, so far I'm pretty happy with it. It is easy to use. I can't figure out how to set up vibrate alert for when receive text message. I have put the phone in silent but it not vibrate. I know the vibrate is working as it vibrate when I press button while texting. Anyone know how, please explain to me! Also does the alarm work if you turn the phone off? Mine seems don't. I normally use mobile phone as alarm to get me up for work! Rather not to leave the phone on during night in case someone might text me (but at the moment no vibrate when someone text me!) Otherwise the phone is great, only 17 per month for unlimited text, unlimited internet, 100 mins call. Free MSN and Skype.

Reviewed by aaron from uk on 29th May 2010
i like the phone but i dont know how to set a mp3 file as a message ringtone only as a voice call ringing ton

Reviewed by SamSingh from UK on 24th May 2010
I got this phone last week, yes its good phone. A bit annoyed that you get set your own tunes as message tones also coul not use BBC iplayer as it requires android 2.2 software apart from that the phone is ok compared to the rubbish nokia 6500 slide I got stuck with.

Reviewed by Barry from London on 12th May 2010
Hi Mandy if you down load mabilo app you can download music then you can set as ring tone you do have to set up a google mail account on the phone hope this helps.

Reviewed by jo from uk on 10th May 2010
iv had my portal for a few days and love the applications on it and the grate touch screen, the down sides iv found apart from not haveing a flash is that the bluetooth is rubbish!!! i carnt send or recive files and carnt set an mp3 song as a ringtone, saying that, the apps age good and there are many to choose from, but the few things it lacks are a real let down

Reviewed by Ciaran from UK on 3rd May 2010
I love this phone!!! I just got it the other day and I don't understand why people think it's so mediocre. But I guess I think it's the height of modern technology because I've never had an Android Phone before... But I do know that you can update the system to Android 2.1 and I'm going to do it as soon as I can. I also think the phone looks very nice and I don't really mind the buttons at the bottom and I laughed when my friend tried to navigate it using just the D-Pad and the OK button and the look of shock on their face when I took it from them and began doing a text on the virtual QWERTY Key Pad. I think this phone is amazing and I recommend to anyone who wants an affordable smart-phone which has good online features and a variety of different things to do (and don't worry, you can make phone calls and text :P) Good Job SAMSUNG!!!

Reviewed by Cryptic from UK on 2nd May 2010
Just don't buy this phone. I am now stuck in a 2 year contract with this phone and it does not do what I wanted. Bluetooth is a big feature on how I use my phone but you cannot use file exchange with this phone as it is not supported until android 2.0. This apparently is on its way but you can get some phones that already have it. Had I known this I would have gone for a more up to date phone. Also need at least 1.6 to get the google sat nav and this phone is only 1.5. Very disappointing and when I emailed Samsung about why they advertise that it is bluetooth when you can't actually use it they fobbed me off and did not really answer me.

Reviewed by Mandy from England on 1st May 2010
I've just got this phone today and am finding it a little confusing to work out - but getting there! I wondered if anyone could help with a query though - is there any way to set a voice recording, or ringtone, as the text message alert? The Samsung Tocco allows this, but I can't find a way to do it on the Galaxy Portal - can anyone help?

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