The term is ‘Touch and Type’ and although it may have been coined by Nokia, but it’s a term that’s stuck and frequently pops up when talking about handsets that offer both Touchscreens and keypads for input. Samsung’s Galaxy Series also has a ‘Touch and Type’ option with their Galaxy Pro Android Smartphone and here’s what I think about it.

Form Factor
It’s an extremely likeable handset with a large 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen (landscape) display that sports a 320 x 240 pixel resolution with 256k colors. I would have liked it to be a little higher but it’s quite alright as it is. What’s quite interesting is that it has an accelerometer that will rotate the display to show you the screen in portrait mode if you like. It’s not a comfortable option owing to the fact that it has a full QWERTY keypad, but it’s there should you ever require it. Speaking of the keypad, the Galaxy Pro’s is actually very comfortable and being such a wide handset to begin with, the layout is well spaced. The raised keys are comfortable to use and facilitate speedy typing even for long stretches if need be. I particularly like the fact that it has navigation keys sitting comfortably at the bottom corner of the keypad.

Very well designed

Very well designed

To keep the handset small and “convenient”, Samsung has left out any sort of navigation pad. You have the touchscreen display, physical keys for Android functions like pulling up the sub-menus, Home, Return and Search, and then of course there’s the keypad. A micro USB port is located at the top under a little slider cover and can be used both for charging as well as USB connectivity. Beside that is a 3.5mm handsfree socket with a screen lock/power button located on the right and a volume/camera zoom rocker on the left. A hot Swap microSD card slot is placed under the rear panel just under the 3 megapixel camera lens.

Slim and comfortable to grip

Slim and comfortable to grip

At just 103g the Galaxy Pro is quite lightweight making it very portable and at 10.7mm in depth it’s also quite slim and although it may not look it, it’s quite a sturdy handset, capable of withstanding a few hard knocks. How I know is a professional secret (wink wink). It really is a very likeable handset.

Features and Performance
Interface
Running Android 2.2 aka FroYo on an 800MHz processor, the Galaxy Pro is a speedy handset that manages to perform quite well without much lag or disruption of the system if multi-tasking. The touch sensitivity is very responsive so getting around the features and accessing options is a breeze. What’s a little weird is that there’s also a built-in option for using a virtual QWERTY keypad instead of the physical one. I tried it and although it’s not the easiest option to use obviously, it does work out just like any other Android handset.

Did it really need an onscreen QWERTU as well...

Did it really need an onscreen QWERTU as well…

What was a bit of a disappointment is that the Galaxy Pro lacks an indicator to let you know when there’s a message or missed call waiting to be accessed. Another let down is the absence of multi-touch functionality and a light sensor to adjust the display. Without the ambient light sensor you’ll have to adjust the display’s brightness according to your surrounding manually. Not that it’s a major problem or anything but one does expect these small things nevertheless. 

Media
The Pro’s media capabilities are more than just adequate as smartphones in this range go. The music player features a 5.1 surround sound option as well as quite a few EQ presets. As is, the audio quality via the rather comfortable handsfree (in-ear type), is not bad at all. The highs and mid range frequencies are well balanced and there’s quite a bit of bass thrown in as well. With EQ presets the audio quality and tone gets just a little better depending on your kind of music and choice of setting. The Galaxy Pro also comes preloaded with an FM radio as well that also performed quite well picking up and storing 6 of the available channels within 10 seconds and providing decent reception throughout.

Good audio quality at a decent decible

Good audio quality at a decent decible

The device was able to read H264 MPEG4, 3GP and WMV video files without any issue up to a resolution of 800 x 480. The display size is conducive for watching short clips or even a couple of 40 minute episodes of your favorite TV shows but could be a bit of a strain with full length feature films.
Connectivity
Offering quite a bit of connectivity for the price from 3G to Wi-Fi with hot-spot creation, EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0, the Galaxy Pro is quite versatile in this regard. When it comes to browsing though, the native browser is fast and easy enough to use, however, due to the small landscape styled display, it does tend to get a little hard to read text. Double tapping or using the zoom buttons helped but you’ll need to make sure that you adjust the setting to Auto-Fit pages and view them in landscape only.

Quite  few connectivity options for the price

Quite few connectivity options for the price

Google’s host of services that include Gmail, YouTube, Gtalk, Google Search, Google Maps, Navigation, Places and Latitude are all on board. Samsung’s IM option is also present but is Quite redundant for Gtalk as you’ll end up getting two notifications every time you’re pinged. The IM app usually ended up giving me an update much later than Gtalk which was more on a real-time basis. However Samsung’s IM option does allow you to connect to multiple chat accounts. The Social Hub app also consolidates your messages that come in from various sources like Twitter, Facebook and your regular SMS texts – a sort of one stop shop for all your messages on the device. Samsung also offers Samsung Email, another “hub” like set up for getting email from various accounts, not very different from Android’s own Email set up. You will have to have a specific Samsung Email account created first.

Aside from the Android Market, Samsung Apps is also available for getting applications and games for purposes. With 512MB of internal storage and support for up to 32GB via microSD cards, you’ll have enough space to get all you need.

Misc. Features
Other than the basic that include an Alarm clock, Calendar that syncs with your Gmail account, Calculator, Voice recorder and Voice Search, the Galaxy Pro doesn’t offer anything substantially extra. For business purposes, ThinkFree Office has been thrown in to read MS Office files. The app also allows you to upload them to a ThinkFree online account for cloud storage so you can access the files from any other compatible device. A Memo Pad is also available for taking down quick notes. It also allows you to email the notes to any account online. Yahoo! Finance is also provided in the form of a desktop widget.

Not too many extras but that's easily fixed with a trip to the App Market

Not too many extras but that's easily fixed with a trip to the App Market

Camera
With its 3 megapixel AF camera, the Galaxy Pro is able to capture some pretty decent images. Since there’s no dedicated shutter release, you can opt to use the onscreen button or the ‘Enter’ key on the keypad which is far more convenient. Features are in plenty and include settings for Smile Shot, Panorama (auto stitch), Scene modes with Sports, Fireworks and Night modes, and there’re also a few color effects and geo-tagging as well. The Galaxy Pro records video in QVGA resolution i.e. 320 x 240 @30fps.

Great picture quality for a camera phone in this range

Great picture quality for a camera phone in this range

Image quality, all things considered, is really quite good. They’re sharp and colors don’t come off looking dull and washed out.

Battery
The 1350mAh battery seemed to be the biggest let down when it came to the Galaxy Pro. It was disappointing to say the least and after asking around, I found a few other users who had similar issues. It just seemed like the battery was not very capable of handling all the capabilities that the feature rich handset provided too well. I found myself having to charge the handset at the end of each day if I needed to use the device the next morning. With usage that included about 2 hours of music, push mail, social networking a few messages and about an hour's worth of talk time, the battery was heaving its last breaths. On an average, the Galaxy Pro was able to dish out about 3 hours and 20 minutes worth of stand alone talk time.

Neatly positioned ports

Neatly positioned ports

The Bottom Line
While I would be recommending this handset to everyone who was looking for an affordable smartphone with dual input capabilities, the battery life was the deterrent in this endeavor. With a best buy price tag of just Rs. 8,500, the Galaxy Pro would have been the perfect budget smartphone if it wasn’t for that pesky battery. It’s a feature rich, well designed device, capable of good audio quality for calls and music and even has a great camera. I loathe the fact that the battery is not up to par.

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