Samsung Galaxy Europa review
We love
Built to bounce, Swype is a revelation here
We hate
Resistive screen, poor Wi-Fi reception
The best 2.8-inch touch only Android phone so far, but that’s not saying much

The Samsung Galaxy Europa comes at an inopportune time. Over the last year, we’ve seen plenty of 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen Android phones from the HTC Tattoo to the T-Mobile Pulse Mini, but phones like the much more responsive HTC Wildfire and Orange San Francisco are starting to take over the mantle of “budget Android phone”. Has the Samsung Galaxy Europa come too late? Is it still worth a look in? Find out here in our full Samsung Galaxy Europa review.

Samsung is a bit late to the party with the Samsung Galaxy Europa: while it easily eclipses the likes of the T-Mobile Pulse Mini and Vodafone 845 in build and performance, we’re struggling to see the point of settling for such a cramped screen to save what will only amount to tuppence over the lifetime of a phone or contract.

As we’ve come to expect from Samsung at this point, it’s stuck with its plastic and piano black design ethos for the Samsung Galaxy Europa. We’re not really sure why, to be honest, since it was the only glaring flaw in the Samsung Galaxy S, and this here phone doesn’t have a scorching Super AMOLED screen to make amends. All the ports are in the right place (3.5mm audio on top, volume and micro USB on the side), but it all feels a bit uninspired.

Instead, you’re left with a smudgy black back panel, clacky buttons on the front, and a phone that feels not dissimilar to a stumpy big toe. Of course, compared to the T-Mobile Pulse Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Europa is still a looker, but then so is the 2010 gurning world champion: can we have some more of that metal Samsung Wave design next time please Sammy?

The screen goes someway to atoning for this solid but dull look: while it’s the same QVGA resolution as rivals, in day to day use it performs better. Viewing angles are wide, and it’s not set far down below the glass giving you the impression of it being trapped. It’s still resistive of course, so multitouch gestures are out, and you’ll get better response out of the back of your finger nail than your fingertip – but we were bowled over by the way Swype almost manages to make this a non issue.

While we recognise how powerful Swype is on Android phones, we’ve rarely resorted to it on more powerful handsets, since the keyboards on the likes of the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S are so good anyway. The standard on screen QWERTY on the Samsung Galaxy Europa unsurprisingly is not, but switch the default keyboard to Swype in the settings (it comes preloaded) and you’ll be staggered at just how well it works. Dragging with your fingertip, it doesn’t miss a key, and it’s certainly the fastest typing experience we’ve ever had on a resistive touchscreen-only phone.

See our Best Android phone budget Top 5 now

We didn’t notice any of the GPS glitches that occasionally hampered the Samsung Galaxy S, but what we did discover on the Samsung Galaxy Europa might be more of a dealbreaker: its WiFi reception is appalling. No phone or laptop has ever struggled to get on our WiFi network from where we work until now: we had to go up a flight of stairs to get even a hint of reception. Still, with 3G onboard, this may not be an issue to you.

We’ll skirt over the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Europa, since you really shouldn’t expect much from a two megapixel sensor with no flash (Hint: it’s rubbish) and skip straight to the general performance of the phone, running Android 2.1 with a 600MHz processor.

While you can forget about trying to run a PlayStation emulator on the Samsung Galaxy Europa, this combination is more than enough to run basic tasks, from feeds and widgets to Google Maps Navigation, without much of a hitch, if not a huge hurry either. Dialling a name whittles down your contacts nigh on instantly – and that should be more than enough for the audience the Samsung Galaxy Europa is aimed at. Certainly the screen size and time spent zooming in on web pages will be the bottleneck here, not anything else.

It’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy Europa runs Android 2.1 with a TouchWiz skin similar – but not identical – to that on the Samsung Galaxy S. While some of the same Samsung apps are preloaded (Like the pointless Samsung Apps store), and the notification bar sports the same helpful connectivity toggles, the iPhone-esque tray of favourite icons is gone, and there’s no sign of the Wi-Fi hotspot app. Samsung’s AllShare DLNA app is also present in theory, but we never got it to work: it crashed spectacularly every time we opened it.

The Samsung Galaxy Europa is also not running the latest Android 2.2 unfortunately, and we wouldn’t hold out for an update either, but for social networking and a spot of free satnav via Google Maps Navigation, it should keep casual users happy. As should the battery life – the 1200mAh battery gives the Samsung Galaxy Europa a fantastic standby time for an Android phone, and we easily cleared more than a good two days of solid use out of it.

Check out the best Samsung Galaxy Europa deals here

Ultimately though, the Samsung Galaxy Europa is still a little too little, way too late. We’d say it’s the only one of its generation to pull off the Android-and-tiny-cheap-screen combination anywhere close to successfully, but frankly, with cheap Android Froyo phones toting capacitive screens just around the corner, it’s not quite enough.

Why choose the Samsung Galaxy Europa when you could have an Alcatel OT-980 with a keyboard, the HTC Wildfire, or a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro for a bit more? We can’t give you an answer. Consider this a suitable stocking filler for a social network hungry tween, and nothing more.

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