The Samsung Galaxy 551 is one of the relatively unknown Samsung Android phones out in the market today. This mid-level smartphone has a feature that’s quite rare in Android phones available locally, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. If the HTC Desire Z is out of your budget and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro too small for your hands then this Samsung Galaxy 551 may strike the perfect balance for you.
The Samsung Galaxy 551 got its design from the Corby line but more elongated to accommodate the standard 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display.
It’s body is made of the usual plastic you see in Samsung phones with a dark chrome siding. It weighs 117g and feels solid to hold despite its plasticky build. Not too light to make it feel fragile nor too heavy to feel bulky. Veering away from traditional Android phones, it only has three physical buttons at the bottom of the display. There’s the Menu, Home and the Back button. Simple and not confusing unlike the buttons found in the Galaxy 5.
The top of the phone hosts the 3.5mm jack for your earphones and beside it is the microUSB port which has a sliding lid. One the left side is the volume rocker and on the right is the lock button. Really simple yet efficient, although there’s no dedicated camera button for the 3.15 megapixel camera found on its back.
Removing the back panel is easy, just pry it from the bottom and it will pop out revealing a 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery covering the sim slot. The microSD slot is located on the right side which is nice since you don’t have to turn the unit off just to remove or put in a microSD card.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard slides with an assuring snap and will automatically change the display orientation into landscape mode. The keys have a plastic rubber finish which is ok although I would prefer it to be a bit raised. They are too flat that it’s hard to to feel its edges but at least it goes deep to let you know if you successfully pressed a key.
The Galaxy 551 runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS layered by Samsung’s TouchWiz UI for that iPhone-style application view. It has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display with a 240 x 400 resolution utilizing 16 million colors. In other words, the screen is really nice to look at. Really!
You can have up to 7 homescreens where you can put widgets, apps you frequent, setting shortcuts, etc. Really customizable thanks to Android and Samsung’s TouchWiz.
Thanks to its slideout QWERTY keyboard, fans of touch typing and traditional typing can feel comfortable composing messages here in no time. Even with the not-so big screen and small virtual keys, I was able to type without too many errors in a short span with the Galaxy 551. I do miss Swype input though which is a common thing for Samsung Android devices including the Galaxy 5.
I wish the keys on the slideout keyboard would protrude more since it’s hard to know when you’ve successfully pressed the keys. There’s only one Alt key located on the lower left corner and this makes typing symbols and numbers located on the left side of the keyboard tricky.
Browsing on the Galaxy 551 is pretty ordinary with all your typical functions like multi-touch pinch and zoom, multiple windows, bookmarks, etc. It can also play flash videos but not inline, it will launch on its own player.
I find pages to load a bit slow. Instead of slowly loading the page object by object, it will load the whole page instantly when it’s done loading so sometimes I didn’t know if the browser hanged or what. Speaking of hanging, multiple windows (like three) will cause the browser to become unresponsive at times.
The Galaxy 551 sports Samsung’s simple-looking yet feature-rich and functional music player. It has the standard views: by artists, albums, songs or playlists. Playing a song shows the music info as well as the album art and there’s also a quick way for you to add it to a playlist. The speakers are quite loud too!
Unfortunately, it’s not capable of playing DivX/XviD videos. You have to convert your AVIs to MP4 in order to use the Galaxy 551 as a video player.
Being an Android phones, there are lots of casual games out there for you to enjoy on your phone during those lull times. Stick to those small and light games though since its 667MHz processor may not give you the smooth gaming experience that you want. It would even stutter on casual games like Ninjump but it was bearable.
There’s a 3.15 megapixel autofocus camera at the back (no front-facing camera) which captures okay photos when there’s enough light. It won’t really wow you but the autofocus really helps. No flash here so don’t expect much from indoor or low-light situation. Video recording is only at 15fps using QVGA resolution.
Here are some sample photos taken with the Galaxy 551 for you to look at (click to enlarge):
The Samsung Galaxy 551 gives me about 2 days max without having to charge the battery although I’m a light phone users. Maybe on average with WiFi on and occasional music playing, you would get a day or so out from its 1200mAh battery.
The Samsung Galaxy 551 is mainly created to address the market of those who want a slideout keyboard on their Android phone without spending too much. What’s good about it aside from the physical keyboard is the sharp WQVGA screen. It doesn’t try to be fancy nor skimp you on features, well except for the Swype input, DivX/Xvid support and probably a document editor to maximize it’s QWERTY keyboard. You can use it as a portable WiFi though.
It’s a decent and affordable mid-range Android phone that could keep you connected to your social networks when you’re on the go, keep you on track with the GPS, entertain you with music and games and also act as a fairly usable camera when you’re in a pinch. If you’re looking for a Android phone with a QWERTY keyboard, the Galaxy 551 should make it to your short list of phones to consider.
Samsung Galaxy 551 Specs:
- 3G: HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA
- 667 MHz processor
- Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS with TouchWiz UI 3.0
- 3.2″ / TFT / 16million / WQVGA capacitive touchscreen display (240 x 400)
- 3.15 megapixel autofocus camera without flash
- Slideout QWERTY keyboard
- Video playing & recording (MPEG4, H.263, H.264), QVGA@15fps
- Music Player, FM Radio with RDS
- GPS + A-GPS Support
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
- 160MB internal memory + microSD (up to 32GB)
- Standby: 370 hours; Talk time: 5 hours
- 1200mAh Li-Ion battery
- SRP: Php14,950