First Looks: Samsung Galaxy Pro
The Android Messenger
Samsung's line of Galaxy models have generally been popular among consumers, especially the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S II which became the company's best seller. Besides focusing on the high end segment of smartphones, Samsung also set its sights on the mid-range which has a pretty large base. Joining the ranks of its Galaxy counterparts in this category is the Samsung Galaxy Pro, which targets consumers who need a phone for work or personal communication, but most importantly a QWERTY keypad for frequent messaging. With a competitive price tag of S$398, is the Galaxy Pro a good messenger phone? Let's find out.
Built for Messaging
As expected of a messenger phone, the Samsung Galaxy Pro is built for mobile communications on the move. Thanks to its plastic body construction, the Galaxy Pro maintains a weight of 103.4g, which is neither too heavy to carry for long periods nor too light to feel that you are carrying a toy. The Galaxy Pro also feels great in the hand with no sharp edges around the corners.
Gracing the front of the Galaxy Pro is a 2.8-inch touch screen, which is capable of displaying a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The size is pretty decent for its form factor but in terms of touch screen experience, it would have been better if the screen is bigger. This is a compromise that's hard to strike on a phone with a full keypad, so it's best that one tries the phone out personally to see if the usage experience is to your liking. Located below the screen is a row of physical buttons (Menu, Home, Back, Search) that will help you in navigating the user interface.
Sharing the other half of the front is the full four-row QWERTY keyboard, which stands out with its large keys. People with large fingers should have no problem using the keyboard.
When holding the device in your hands, you will immediately notice the back of the Galaxy Pro is textured, giving you sufficient grip of the phone even with sweaty palms. You will also the 3.2-megapixel camera and speaker at the top section.
Flanking the left and right side of the Galaxy Pro are the volume controls and Power / Screen lock button respectively. The 3.5mm audio jack is found on top. We particularly like the sliding cover concealing the microUSB port, which is something that not a lot of phones have nowadays. The sliding cover should give some degree of protection against water splashes and prevent accumulation of dust in the port .
Usability and Performance
To be honest, we are a little disappointed that the Galaxy Pro is powered by Android 2.2. Its biggest rival, the HTC ChaCha, is equipped with the latest Android 2.3 OS. Nevertheless, Samsung's very own customized user interface, TouchWiz, steps in to save the day by making the interface more aesthetically pleasing and providing new features such as the Social Hub Premium which integrates the emails, messages and social networking services. When using the device, the 800MHz processor of the Samsung Galaxy Pro could handle most tasks without any problems. The touch screen was responsive and animations were smooth. We do have to caution you that Samsung Galaxy Pro has only 384MB of RAM, which will severely limit the extent of multitasking on the device.
The messaging experience on the Samsung Galaxy Pro was satisfactory. Although the keys are big, the layout of the keyboard seemed constricted, resulting in us pressing more than one key at times. We also felt that we had to spend a tad more effort pressing each key compared to the HTC ChaCha. Do take note this is subjective and our account of the keyboard may not reflect the general feedback on the keyboard. Putting these observations aside, we were still able to type out messages at a fairly fast speed.
Another aspect which the Samsung Galaxy Pro falls short is the screen. While it offers a generous screen size for viewing messages and surfing the Internet, the Galaxy Pro's low resolution screen is unable to match its competitors. The HTC ChaCha's screen stands at 480 x 320 pixel resolution, which makes us wonder why Samsung did not bump up the one on the Galaxy Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy Pro's 3.2-megapixel camera seems very basic with no flash. Image quality is at best acceptable for casual shots. It does not have a front facing camera, which means that you cannot use the Galaxy Pro for video calling and taking self portraits. Audio playback is also passable but it will do just fine as a rudimentary audio player with its 3.5mm audio jack that allows you to plug in your own earphones.
Equipped with a 1350mAh battery, you can expect the Samsung Galaxy Pro to last a full day of normal usage. If you do not need to use 3G, you can probably squeeze out more battery mileage by logging onto Wi-Fi networks.
Power users will definitely have second thoughts with this phone as it lacks the many multimedia features that they need. However, taking into consideration that this phone is not built to slay the competition and steal the limelight, it is fine for messaging and keeping in touch.
The price factor of S$398 seems reasonable, perhaps even affordable, for a mobile phone of this category. Against the likes of the HTC ChaCha, we feel you will get more bang for the buck with the latter HTC alternative. As there are very few QWERTY phones that come with touch screen capability in the market, you may want to test out the device yourself to get a feel of the phone, the interface and the keyboard. Who knows, the Galaxy Pro might just be the phone for your needs.