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Samsung Galaxy Pro: QWERTY Expert


Samsung has broadened its horizons, extending its hugely successful Galaxy line of handsets into the mid-range smartphone market. The Samsung Galaxy Pro joins the Galaxy Ace in the cheaper and cheerier category but offers an alternative form factor to its siblings with a full QWERTY keyboard.

The Galaxy Pro’s striking resemblance to BlackBerry devices could possibly signify Samsung’s attempt to sway QWERTY fans to the Android side, but would will it prove a successful ploy?

Design

These days, most smartphones take on a smart black appearance but the Samsung Galaxy Pro bucks the trend with a chrome casing. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it has a slightly old-school charm thanks to its the rear panel which takes after the takes after the Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Pro in that it has a textured back. The casing makes the handset really light too at just 103.4 grams, and it doesn’t attract fingerprint marks either!

While the Galaxy Pro’s wide 66.7mm frame may take up more pocket space than some might like, it does provide loads of room for the QWERTY keyboard to reside. The buttons are nicely spaced out and slightly ridged so as to point fingers in the right direction and the keys are responsive too.

Above the QWERTY sits the 2.8 inch touchscreen, although we weren’t too impressed with its 320 x 240 pixel resolution. While the screen was responsive to the touch, the images weren’t particularly vivid when compared to what we’ve seen on other mid-range smartphones such as the Galaxy Ace. This was a real disappointment, especially since Galaxy devices are renowned for their fantastic displays, however, it’s an understandable sacrifice for Samsung to make in order to keep the price down.

Power and Operating System

The Samsung Galaxy Pro packs an 800MHz processor which powers along the Android 2.2. Yes, it may not be the fastest processor or indeed the latest version of Android but together, they make a pretty good team. The Galaxy Pro opened apps, played videos and loaded web pages with little lag and we didn’t really notice too much difference in responsiveness between this and some of their higher end handsets. The Samsung TouchWiz UI doesn’t make an appearance, although Samsung’s Social Hub comes pre-loaded on the main menu as well as Samsung Apps.

The usual Google services are on board too, including three customisable homescreens, access to the Android Market, Gmail, Maps and YouTube. Despite going for the business look, the Galaxy Pro only comes with ThinkFree Office rather than a host of enterprise-orientated features. It’s not like you have to go far to find apps though with two app stores at your fingertips.

Internet: Browsing on the Galaxy Pro was a fairly basic experience due to the lack of Flash support and pinch-to-zoom functionality. It’s fine for anyone who hasn’t used the internet on a smartphone before as there isn’t a lot to contend with, but the small touchscreen means it’s nigh on impossible to read text without using the manual zoom keys first. Providing you have a little patience, you’ll be able to get around though.

Camera: The Galaxy Pro has a 3 megapixel camera which will give you reasonable quality photos to upload to your social networks, however, if you’re looking for better quality images, you’ll be looking for a long time. There are a couple of scene modes to enhance your pictures, although the lack of a flash means the camera won’t be much use if you’re taking pictures in low-light conditions. You’ll need to insert a microSD card into the Pro before you take any photos too. A 2GB card is included in the box but you can up your storage space to 32GB via the microSD card slot.

The camera can also capture video (not in HD though) at 30fps.

Other tech specs:

  • Music player – Supports MP3, WAV and eAAC+ files
  • Video player – Supports DivX, Xvid, MP4, WMV and H.264 files
  • 512MB RAM
  • MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
  • A-GPS
  • MicroUSB port
  • Bluetooth
  • 6 hours 10 minutes talk time (3G)

Any downsides?

It’s a shame Samsung stuck such a low-resolution screen on the Galaxy Pro especially when it supports such a vast range of video files. We just expected a little better considering Samsung’s past record for using fantastic displays on its Galaxy smartphones. The touchscreen, though responsive, was a letdown when it came to browsing as we had to zoom into every web page to read any text or click links. We feel an optical trackpad would have been a better navigation choice for a 2.8 inch display rather than a touchscreen.

Conclusion

Compared to its Galaxy counterparts, the Samsung Galaxy Pro wears its mid-range features on its sleeve. The low-resolution display and small touchscreen cost it some brownie points but despite its downsides, the Pro still puts on a good show. Although it doesn’t rock the greatest specs, it all comes together very well to make this device both functional and great value. If you’re not quite ready to take the leap to a full touchscreen handset, the Samsung Galaxy Pro is a great alternative.

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