Samsung Galaxy Apollo I5801 4 Stars

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Do you want an Android handset without paying out a top price for a top-end device? Then a Samsung Android phone may be worth considering. But with the Apollo 15801 has the Korean phone maker managed to bring a budget, but not cheap and tacky Android handset to market? 

First looks

First on our list is the build quality – which is a double-edged sword in this case. Look at the front of the phone and you’ll see a 3.2in screen, sitting in a mirrored surround. It looks well built and smooth, but turn over the device and you’ll be greeted by a flimsy, cheap black plastic back that looks as if it will be scratched and dented after a week of use.

However, inside, the specs are more impressive – onboard memory adds up to 4GB and you can add 32GB more thanks to the hotswappable microSD slot. Plus there’s a 3.5mm audio jack and A-GPS.

While Samsung has managed to include a capacitive screen, it is not as responsive as those on more pricey handsets – and certainly is not in the same league as the iPhone’s. There was some lag when trying to swipe between home screens, plus it is not as clear as those screens on other Android devices; the resolution is just 240 x 400 – presumably in a bid to cut costs.

That said, it does benefit from haptic feedback, which makes typing texts and emails pretty easy.

Back to basics

The operating system is Android 2.1 Éclair, which has the TouchWiz 3.0 interface laid over the top.

Head to the main homepage and you’ll find a clock (tap on this to set your alarm) along with shortcuts for web browser, email and a games page, as well as Orange’s own Apps shop and music store. Beneath these sit icons for phone, contacts, messaging and the app menu. Whatever page you’re on, these four icons remain at the bottom of the screen.

To move between the other six home screens, just flick your finger from left to right. The home screens can all be customised, so you can include your choice of shortcuts and widgets. We especially liked the settings widget, which lets the user quickly toggle between Wi-Fi, on/off/Bluetooth, and the camera widget, which allows you to flick through images and share them via email and MMS.

Android also gives you access to Android Market, where you’ll find literally thousands of apps, games and software. We tried our favourite – Angry Birds – but it proved somewhat jerky.

Web and camera

The Galaxy’s 3.2 megapixel camera is very standard – there’s no LED flash, but there is auto-focus – and we found pictures taken indoors came out rather grainy and soft. But, in good light things didn’t get much better – lack of contrast and washed-out colours proved a problem.

Web browsing was a more positive experience, although because of the display’s low resolution and small dimensions we had to zoom in a lot (it’s a good thing it supports pinch to zoom). Flash is not supported when browsing the web using Android 2.1.

We were looking forward to using the Layer Reality Browser. This is a free augmented reality app that superimposes ‘layers’ on a live feed, using the camera and GPS. This means you should be able to play a game of virtual reality Pacman or find your way to the nearest underground station just by walking about. It’s a good idea, but because the GPS is so sluggish when trying to get a fix it’s actually rather useless.

The battery performance was more impressive – we ran the phone for a couple of days on one charge, while running both Wi-Fi and 3G.

The verdict

While the Samsung Galaxy Apollo has a lot of the benefits of Android, you’ll find some of its features, such as GPS, camera and screen, are not as good as those found on a high-end smartphone. However, if you’d like the benefits of Android (and its apps) but don’t have a big budget, the Apollo could represent a decent compromise.

Pros:
A well-priced Android phone; decent touch-screen; good onboard storage and access to Android Market.
Cons:
Mediocre camera; sluggish GPS; low-res, small screen.
Rating:
  • Look and Feel 4 Stars
  • Ease of use 4 Stars
  • Features 4 Stars
  • Performance 3 Stars
  • Battery life 3 Stars

Final verdict: 4 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice