Lightweight, solid and reasonably attractive from the front – but the back panel is made from cheap black plastic
The touch interface and customisable home screen both work well, so after a bit of setting up you’ll have the Galaxy Apollo exactly how you want it
The flash-free camera isn’t great, but Android 2.1 means access to multi-touch, a decent web browser and thousands of apps and games
GPS is poor, as is the image quality of the camera, and the CPU doesn’t seem quick enough to run every app smoothly, but the phone acts swiftly enough in general use
You’ll get well over a day out of the battery with moderate use. Better than an iPhone and many higher end Android handsets
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2011 6:50:32 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Affordable for an Android phone. Fairly impressive capacitive touch-screen, decent built-in storage and access to the Android Market
Poor camera and sluggish GPS. Screen is relatively small and low-resolution
The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is designed to deliver the Android experience to those on a budget. Don’t want to shell out megabucks for Google’s feted operating system? This, says Samsung, is the handset for you. So has the Korean firm turned out a phone that’s cheap ‘n’ cheerful or merely cheap ‘n’ nasty?
On the hardware front, the Galaxy Apollo is a tale of two sides. The 3.2-inch screen and its mirrored frame dominate the front panel, while its solidity and smoothness are a nod to the high-end of the market. The plastic-clad rear is another story: flimsy, cheap and likely to be covered in dings and scratches after a week of use.The specs, however, are impressive: 4GB of internal memory and a hotswappable microSD slot supporting up to 32GB more. There’s also A-GPS, and an always handy 3.5mm headphone socket.The touch-screen is capacitive, although it’s not as responsive as some pricier models, and certainly a few notches below the iPhone: when you swipe from one page of the home screen to the next, there’s a slight delay that takes some getting used to. The screen is also noticeably less sharp than most Android phones, its 240x400 resolution one of the more obvious places where Samsung has trimmed things to reduce costs.It does have haptics though, which makes tapping out texts and emails a fairly straightforward process.
The Galaxy Apollo has the TouchWiz 3.0 user interface laid on top of Android 2.1 Eclair.By default, the main homepage features a clock (tap it to set the alarm), plus shortcuts to the web browser, email client, installed games page and Orange’s own App Shop and music store. Below these are icons to take you to your contacts, phone, messaging and full app menu, and these four stay at the bottom of the home screen no matter which page you are on.Flicking your finger to the left and right moves to other home screens. You can have up to six additional home screens, customising them with your own choice of shortcuts and widgets. Some highlights? The settings widget lets you quickly toggle Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/sounds on and off, and the camera widget that allows you to flick through photos and quickly share them via email or MMS.The Android Market app gives you access to thousands of useful bits of software, games and more. We can confirm that Angry Birds runs, if a little more jerkily than we’d like.
The 3.2 megapixel camera is very basic: there is auto-focus but no LED flash, so indoor shots come out grainy and soft at best. But even in good outdoor light, colours are washed out and images lack contrast – so don’t expect much or you’ll be disappointed.The web browser fares better, although the smallish screen size and low-resolution mean you’ll be doing a lot of zooming in to read things (the pinch-to-zoom works well, thankfully). Because it’s Android 2.1 Eclair, there’s no native support for Flash when browsing.The Galaxy Apollo comes with the Layar Reality Browser, a free augmented reality app that uses the camera and GPS to superimpose “layers” on a live feed. The idea is that you can find your way to the nearest tube station or even play a game of virtual reality Pacman by wandering about. It’s a fine idea, but the phone’s GPS is so sluggish to lock down your location that we found it next to useless. What a shame.Battery life is OK, however. We found we could keep the phone switched on (with Wi-Fi and 3G running) for a couple of days without needing to top it up.
While the Samsung Galaxy Apollo manages to offer a lot of what makes Android so appealing, you should be aware that there are parts of it – the screen, the camera, the GPS – that wouldn’t come within 20 miles of a high-end smartphone. But if you want Android apps and decent all-round performance but don’t fancy shelling out the big bucks, it’s worthy of consideration.