Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
8/25/2011 5:54:13 PM
Good value on prepay, runs Android OS and has a well designed keyboard
The tiny low-rent screen strangles its multimedia functionality
It was only a matter of time before Samsung sniffed out the BlackBerry pie, sharpened its teeth and moved in for a bite. Pretty much every other phone manufacturer has released a handset that homogenises RIM’s flagship Bold range, albeit in a slightly cheaper fashion. Bargain bucket BlackBerry clones are the new black, and Samsung’s Android 2.2 Froyo device is a fair – if restrained – stab at this increasingly crowded market.
Combining both a QWERTY keyboard and capacitive, 2.8-inch touch-screen, what we have here is a phone built for email and not-at-all for web browsing. In the hand it feels cheap and weak, a plastic exoskeleton that you could probably snap with one hand if you frequent the gym. It’s light at 103g, and sizes up at 108.6x66.7x10.7mm – which feels a little wide at first, but you’ll forgive it once you start typing.
Casing buttons are scarce - the top houses the microSD port (with snazzy little slide dust gate) plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. The left side accommodates a volume control, the right a tiny little on/off button. And that’s your lot. The backplate has a weird stippled garnish on it, making it feel stubbly and rough. You could probably grate cheese on it, a capability few phones can boast.
The 2.8-inch touch-screen is notable only for its pint-sized dimensions, and its 320x240 resolution makes everything look like it’s built out of Lego. Films, games and web browsing are all dispiriting activities, passable if you get the Galaxy Pro for £130 on prepay, but on a £15 per month two-year deal you’ll crave an upgrade long before the contractual handcuffs come off. We also harbour doubts that a media-centric OS like Android functions well on a screen this puny - even the vastly more expensive BlackBerry Bold 9900 with its higher-res screen struggles to deliver a comfortable media experience.
The three-megapixel camera is pedestrian, peddling along without even a flash. It does an acceptable job in low light situations, but it’s no replacement for a standalone camera. You can record video – but if you recorded your child’s first steps in 320x240, expect few visits when you’re confined to the old folks’ home.
But like the Bold 9900, the Galaxy Pro is all about the keyboard, and in this department it shines like Mr. Sheen. There’s a thin strip of Android keys separating the mediocre screen from the wonderful keyboard – the usual fare of Settings, Home, Back and Search. It’s shockingly thin, clumsily so, and your thumb often slips down onto the top row of the QWERTY – this is completely unnecessary as there’s a huge fat border between the strip and screen that does nothing but house the company logo.
However, the QWERTY keyboard is borderline BlackBerry quality. The domed keys are perfectly sized and, unlike its similarly priced cohorts, aren’t packed in like sardines. This is a handset made for rattling out emails with ease the second you pick it up - you could probably write a novel on it if you were mental (or your laptop was broke).
The three-megapixel camera is pedestrian, peddling along without even a flash. It does an acceptable job in low light situations, but it’s no replacement for a standalone camera. You can record video – but if you recorded your child’s first steps in 320x240, expect few visits when you’re confined to the old folks’ home.Connectivity couldn’t be any better, with 7.2mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi and A-GPS. Pages loaded quick, sat nav locked on sharpish – it’s no slouch when it comes to pushing and pulling signals around.
If all you’re after is an email device that does a sterling job for a fraction of the price of RIM’s offering, you can’t fault the Pro. But its screen doesn’t do the Android experience any justice at all. It’s worth a punt for £130 on pay-as-you-go, but it’s not something you’d want on a long contract.