Mobile Phones Guide

Samsung Galaxy Beam (2012) review

Samsung Galaxy Beam (2012) - The Second Light

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Launch SRP S$648

Overall rating 8/10
Design:
8
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
8
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Good range of features for its built-in projector
Good performance
Reasonable battery life
THE BAD
Bulky and heavy build
Outdated 2.3 Android OS
Below average camera capabilities


Performance & Conclusion

Smartphone Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Beam (new) comes equipped with a dual-core 1GHz processor alongside a 768MB of RAM. This places the device as a mid-tier smartphone in today's standards. As usual, we subjected the review unit to the Quadrant benchmark, which can be found on Google Play. To gauge how it performed against the competition, we matched its scores against a mixture of devices using dual-core processors such as the HTC One S, Motorola Atrix 2 and the old Samsung Galaxy Beam. For those who are unfamiliar with the Quadrant benchmark used below, it evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics of Android devices.
 

Test Phones Compared
Device Samsung Galaxy Beam (New) HTC One S Motorola Atrix 2
CPU Dual-core NovaThor U8500 1 GHz Cortex-A9 Dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon 1.5 GHz Krait Dual-core 1 GHz TI OMAP 4430 Cortex-A9
RAM 768MB 1GB 1GB
OS Google Android 2.3 Google Android 4.0 Google Android 2.3

 

The new Samsung Galaxy Beam is just not just a pocket projector, as it might appear to be, but is also a reasonably capable smartphone as well. Running on a dual-core 1GHz processor, the device scored an acceptable 2759, overtaking the Atrix 2's dual-core 1GHz processor. Unsurprisingly, it lost out to HTC One S, which ran on a dual-core S4 processor that was clocked at 1.5GHz.

Raw benchmarking results aside, the Galaxy Beam ran extremely smooth in actual usage and had absolutely no problems rendering pages or running graphic-intensive apps like Temple Run. The phone's lag-free performance, brisk day-to-day user experience and blazing fast web loading definitely contributed to a positive user experience.

 

Imaging Performance

The new Samsung Galaxy Beam comes with a 5-megapixel camera and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera. Images taken by the 5MP camera weren't up to mark - we found that the images were whitewashed and desaturated, with below average levels of details and relatively high levels of noise.





Battery Mileage

Using the same 480 x 800 pixels resolution video that we use across all our mobile device battery tests, we set the same test parameters which includes having the video looped under the following conditions:

  • Brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
     
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device Samsung Galaxy Beam
(2012)
HTC One S Motorola Atrix 2 Samsung Galaxy Beam
Processor
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 720MHz
Display Size
  • 4.0-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 3.7-inch
Display Type
  • TFT LCD
  • Super AMOLED
  • TFT LCD
  • Super AMOLED
Display Resolution
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
Dimensions
  • 124 x 64.2 x 12.5mm
  • 130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm
  • 126 x 66 x 10mm
  • 123 x 59.8 x 14.9mm
Weight
  • 145.3 g
  • 119.5g
  • 147g
  • 156g
Battery
  • 2000mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1785mAh
  • 1800mAh


Previously, the Galaxy Beam came with a generous 1800mAh battery, obviously catering to its projector abilities. This time, the new successor comes with an even higher capacity battery rated for 2000mAh. Still, the successor lasted slightly lower less than its predecessor with an uptime of 477 minutes compared to the latter's uptime of 511 minutes. We reckon this is due to the new Beam's larger screen size of 4.0 inches and stronger processing capabilities. Otherwise, it did significantly better than the HTC One S and slightly better than the Motorola Atrix 2. Of course, taking into consideration that both come with smaller battery capacities and bigger screens, the results weren't too surprising. However, its added weight and dimensions still places the new Galaxy Beam at a slight disadvantage when it comes to the Portability index, but still commendable for its dimensions and weight (easily overthrowing its predecessor).

Because of its added projector capabilities, we decided to conduct another battery test similar to the one mentioned above, but this time with the projector switched on and projecting the same video at a sufficient level of brightness of 50%. We obtained a pretty decent uptime of 3 hours and 30 minutes (with an extra 10% of battery left - the phone shuts the projector off and refuses to switch on when battery is low). This is definitely sufficient, on the assumption that the average length of a presentation is about 30 minutes to an hour.

Other than the above formal usage based tests, we observed that the phone could last almost a whole day on a single charge, with emails and Twitter feeds pushed constantly to it when using the phone in a casual manner for day-to-day needs. Other activities included occasional web surfing and phone calls. To wrap up, the new Samsung Galaxy Beam has enough battery stamina for any kind of usage.

 

Conclusion

The new Samsung Galaxy Beam is certainly a niche product and will most certainly appeal to a certain crowd - a smartphone with a built-in projector is a rare gadget. There's no doubt about its general performance; it ran apps with no lags, internet browsing was speedy, transitions were smooth and so forth. The bottom line is that it is a very functional and capable phone even when not considering its projector capabilities, which is its main selling point. 

However, there are a couple of reasons why a regular consumer might not be willing to invest in the Galaxy Beam. First off, its bulky build. At 12.5mm thick and 145g in weight, it towers over the average thickness of modern smartphones which typically range from 8 to 9mm these days and weight of 120 to 130g. It's perfectly fine once you factor in the built-in projector, but if you've no use for it, the phone's physical attributes will not appeal against a sea of other options. Secondly, it is still running on Android 2.3, with an Android 4.0 update in the works for Q4 2012. The regular users aren't going to opt for a thicker smartphone with outdated software for a niche and 'gimmicky' feature (only because it has no advantage to this group of users).

The built-in projector would certainly appeal to businessmen looking for ad-hoc usage, as well as those working in the sales industry and many more if you frequently have small group meetings and you're trying to keep your accompanying travel gear as lean as possible. That's not to say that there aren't ways to utilize the Galaxy Beam as a casual consumer - you can certainly share photos or stream movie clips via the built-in projector with family and friends at a party and so forth. The opportunities are plenty, but if you're really serious, an all-in-one gadget may not be your solution as it does have limitations to audience size, resolution, reach, ideal lighting conditions, etc.


Based on its price tag of S$648, you can probably get a slimmer dual-core smartphone of similar specifications. Options within the price range include the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 (S$438), Motorola Atrix 2 (S$699) and Sony Xperia P (S$688). If your budget is flexible, you can take a look at the quad-core Android 4.0 LG Optimus 4X HD, which is slightly more expensive at S$738, or the dual-core Android 4.0 HTC One S (S$748, phone only / $948 with Beats Audio headset). Of course, if you like the idea of an all-in-one device with a simple built-in projector, the new Samsung Galaxy Beam is the best and to be honest, the only option in the market right now. Its reasonable all-round performance and battery life should suffice for a functional smartphone experience and you're really not paying a premium for its projection functionality. If only the imaging performance and screen type used was improved, it could have been an even more versatile phone.