Samsung produces a lot of smartphones, and sometimes they can seem indistinguishable when they are in the mid-range sector. That can’t be said of the Galaxy Pro, though, which is physically rather different from the norm.
The smallish main screen and mini qwerty keyboard are obviously meant to rival BlackBerry devices, and while it is unusual to see this format in an Android handset it is not unprecedented. Acer’s beTouch E210 is an example. Outside Android there are rivals too, such as the Palm Pre 2 and Nokia E5.
The keyboard on the Samsung Galaxy Pro is absolutely superb. The keys are as large as they can be given the chassis size, domed, and individually shaped so that they are easy to find and hit. Smileys are easily accessible, there are plenty of useful second characters available on every key and there’s even space for a set of cursor keys which make editing text really fast and easy.
You’ve got the option of using softkeyboards too, but frankly we wouldn’t bother when the physical one is so very good.
What lets the Samsung Galaxy Pro down is its screen. At 2.8 inches and offering just 320 x 240 pixels it isn’t really the right size or shape for Android to function well in. There’s an awful lot of vertical scrolling needed to get around, and often you have to scroll even when you are moving through selection menus.
The screen auto rotates, but that’s not too useful either. The width to height dimensions are very similar so that you don’t gain much by way of wide format viewing when you swivel the screen.
And there’s another irritation with regard to the screen. While it is capacitive, it does not support pinch to zoom. This is an odd omission really, and it makes web browsing in particular a bit painful. You will need to zoom to read most web pages because of the low screen resolution, and this requires a double tap action or use of a zoom icon on screen.
This all makes for quite an irritating experience in lots of ways. When viewing SMS messages, for example, they are threaded but you can only see two interactions without the need to scroll.
When looking at finds having searched the contacts list you can only see three matches at once. We could list a lot more problems, but suffice it to say we never really felt comfortable with the screen.
Samsung has lightly skinned Android 2.2 so that there are four shortcuts sitting permanently on the right side of each of the three home screens that are available. These link you to the dialler, contacts, messaging and the apps list. They’re handy to have, and side mounting them does make the most of the available screen space.
As far as the general specifications are concerned the Samsung Galaxy Pro offers about what you’d expect considering its price. The camera shoots stills at 3 megapixels and lacks a flash, video is captured at a very limited 320 x 240 pixels. Stills are actually not too bad within the technical restrictions, though the 8-shot panorama mode produces long, thin images that aren’t very satisfactory.
There is just 512MB of internal storage, augmented by a 2GB microSD card. The HSDPA supports downloads to 7.2Mbps, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The 800MHz processor nips along nicely, and is powerful enough to support Flash so that video embedded in web sites can be watched.
Overall, though, the Samsung Galaxy Pro is hamstrung by its screen. Android simply isn’t designed to function within such a constricted space, and the user experience suffers significantly as a consequence.