Samsung Galaxy Pro review

Samsung Galaxy Pro reviewThere was a time not so very long ago when handsets with hard QWERTY keyboards were the preserve of serious-minded business road warriors. The rise of the smart phone means they're not as popular as they used to be, but they still offer a welcome alternative to the touch screen option.

Samsung's Galaxy Pro is a budget model aimed at low-maintenance workers as well as networking social butterflies. Despite its budget price it still manages to cover virtually all the smart phone bases.

Design and build

The casing is the first clue to the Galaxy Pro's budget origins. It feels cheap and plasticky, and the thin backplate has a lot of give to it. The flimsy casing means it's very light however, at 106g, which feels feathery considering its 109x67x11mm dimensions. It slips easily into the pocket thanks to its gently curved sides, which feature a volume rocker and power/sleep button. On top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB power/sync slot which unusually, is hidden behind a fairly sturdy sliding cover.

The QWERTY keyboard is surprisingly large and manages to cram in 39 sizeable keys. It doesn't have the sophistication of BlackBerry's carefully ridged keys or the tactile feel of HTC's rubberised plastic, but each of the hard plastic keys has enough of a bulge to make it easy to distinguish under the thumbs and their sheer size means there's unlikely to be much mis-keying. The bright backlighting helps, as does the sturdy level of feedback when you press. The fact that the number keys are laid out in standard numeric keypad formation is useful for dialling with one thumb too.

Display

The screen measures 2.8in across the diagonal but looks bigger than that suggests thanks to its width, broader than you'll see on QWERTY phones from BlackBerry, for example. Sadly, the screen only stretches to 320x240-pixel resolution, so it's far from the sharpest available, and viewing websites, films or pictures is less than ideal, lacking the crispness you'd expect from even a midrange phone these days.

Interface and OS

It's running Android 2.2.2 Froyo, which seems distinctly old school when Samsung's Galaxy Nexus is about to arrive with version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Still, even if it doesn't support video calling or NFC, it's still a very capable OS, and the 800MHz processor does a pretty good job of keeping things running smoothly. It's not as fast as the best, but its leisurely pace isn't too frustrating, so long as you don't expect too much.

It comes with Samsung's Social Hub application, which collects all your social networking updates into a single area. Unlike more sophisticated systems like HTC's FriendStream or Sony Ericsson's Timescape however, it won't pull all your updates into a single, scrollable stream - you'll still need to open Facebook, Twitter etc to see all of your messages and reply.

Camera

The 3.2 megapixel camera is a sure sign that this is an inexpensive handset, especially when 5 megapixel cameras are starting to turn up on similarly priced handsets. There's no flash but there is autofocus and smile detection. Picture quality isn't bad so long as you take your time with the settings and it will record video at 30fps, which isn't bad.

Apps and browser

Despite the relatively old version of Android, there are loads of apps available from the Market to keep you busy. The standard Android browser is functional but effective, and the square-ish shape of the screen works particularly well when reading web pages.

Media and connectivity

That screen shape isn't particularly well suited for watching movies however, and the low pixel resolution means you probably won't have the patience for much more video than the odd YouTube clip. Android's music player gets the job done with little fuss but there's not much in the way of any extras, though there is an FM radio. The headphones also feel very cheap and tinny - you'll want to upgrade them at the earliest opportunity.

Performance and battery life

Samsung's included a 2GB microSD memory card along with the 512MB on board but you can go all the way up to 32GB with your own card. The 1350mAh battery might have been expected to perform better since it doesn't have a power-hungry screen to take care of, but it easily made it through a full day and a half of fairly heavy use.

Pros:

    QWERTY keyboard
    Lightweight
    3.2 megapixel camera
    Cons:
    Low-res screen
    Android 2.2.2 Froyo looking a bit old school these days
    Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Pro is a budget phone and proud of it, so it can't be expected to hold its own with the best of the smart phone thoroughbreds. The screen is fuzzy, the camera underpowered and it's not the fastest available, but the QWERTY keyboard is good, and despite its vintage version of the Android OS, the ever-bulging Android Market offers virtually endless app additions.

More info: http://www.mobot.net/samsung-galaxy-pro

    Price: £170
    Rating: 3

Pros

  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Lightweight
  • 3.2 megapixel camera

Cons

  • Low-res screen
  • Android 2.2.2 Froyo looking a bit old school these days

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Pro is a budget phone and proud of it, so it can't be expected to hold its own with the best of the smart phone thoroughbreds. The screen is fuzzy, the camera underpowered and it's not the fastest available, but the QWERTY keyboard is good, and despite its vintage version of the Android OS, the ever-bulging Android Market offers virtually endless app additions.

More info: Samsung Galaxy Pro spec

Price: £170

Samsung Galaxy Pro review

Read more about: AndroidSamsung Galaxy Pro

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