Samsung Galaxy R i9103 Mobile Phone Hands-on Review

The Samsung Galaxy R is a combination of style and performance, bringing out one of the good alternatives to the high-range Galaxy phone Galaxy S II. No difference in the size, a few advantages over the Galaxy S but does lack the features where the Galaxy S II still stands high. The phone is quite similar to the S II, but is made a little thicker, heavier and has a different material that covers the battery. Check out the entire review after the break.

Samsung Galaxy R Display

Galaxy R - 4.2-inch screen, sleek and professional look

Design, display and feel

When we had reviewed the Galaxy S II design, we called it “elegant design, thin and large”. We have no lesser comments for the Galaxy R, which shows itself as more professional than the former, thanks to the front and back material used for the exterior. The Galaxy R gets a 0.04-inch thickness higher than that of the SII, but that isn’t a noticeable thing as the phone fits well into the hands. What we were not impressed with, is the screen which joins the league of Super LCD display as the Super-AMOLED display of the other Galaxy devices is gone. One won’t be able to boast with the screen as the size although looks similar to the S II, is a 1/10th of inch lesser being at 4.2-inch thickness. On the front side there is no difference and nothing special, as the Galaxy R has the headphone on the top, and just beside that is the sensors for brightness, and the front camera. Just below that, lies the Samsung logo and the 4.2-inch display. The bottom has the center physical home key, and on the either side are the touch-sensitive keys for menu and back, which has a light getting activated only when the screen is turned on.

Samsung Galaxy R Front  Samsung Galaxy R Back

Samsung Galaxy R Left Side  Samsung Galaxy R Right Side

The sides are pretty neat and similar to the Galaxy series devices, with the left side having the volume jack keys, and the right side holding a single lock/switch key. The volume jack is a single key pressable on both top and bottom of its. The bottom side of the Galaxy R has the MicroUSB port, and the top holds the 3.5-mm headset jack. We do sometimes complain that the sides are very simple and don’t hold anything much other than just the minimal connectivity ports, but when we get what is needed from the provided ports, we call it a simple-yet-productive Android smartphone. Samsung has tried to compromise with a lot of stuff while making the Galaxy R, and making people notice the differences easily when trying to compare the Galaxy R with the Galaxy S or S II. There is an additional secondary mic for cancellation of the noise and making the output voice clear.

Samsung Galaxy R Top  Samsung Galaxy R Bottom

The Galaxy R looks great from all the sides, the brush-metal make on the back panel which covers the battery gives all the professional look that is needed, and which is better than the matte finish in the same place given in the S II. But the camera takes a considerable area on the backside of the phone, extending its info, lens and flash from the left to right just above the battery panel. The camera does look odd, as it gets no border and the circular lens of its, is very much vulnerable to scratches with the usual placing of phone on any rough surfaces, thanks to the small high-raised border of the camera.

Operating System, Interface and Apps

The Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread operating system, comes as a copy-paste from the other Galaxy devices, and still what we like is the high-specs which replicate what the Galaxy S II has and that is where the Galaxy S is kept at the bay. The Touchwiz 4.0 User interface seems neat but nothing real classy that sets the Galaxy R apart, as you would see the standard 7 multiple home screens on the front. The icons are neat, there are many shortcuts and widgets on those home screens, but mind you, these are the ones which could take the big responsibility of making the performance slower later on. The widgets are quite handy and can be moved, resized and shifted to the other home screens. What is loved about the Android interface is the customization, and that could be very much done in the Galaxy R.

Galaxy R interface  Galaxy R apps list

(Above 2 pictures taken from phonearena)

If you are not trying to test something hard in the Galaxy R, you would be very well satisfied with the speed of loading of apps, shifting between the app pages and the home screens etc. Powered with the 1GHz NVIDIA dual-core Tegra 2 chipset, Samsung Galaxy R has all the basic stuff which you would need to start using it. Samsung has included a Gaming hub, Social hub, Music hub and a Readers hub. The social hub is a single stop where one can do all the social network stuff and can login to multiple social networks. Music hub is where one could purchase the music, listen to it on the go. Readers hub replaces the need for having an e-book reader, as it helps one read the various books, magazines, and the newspapers anytime from within its app.
Apart from these apps, there are the default pre-loaded applications that come with every Samsung Android smartphone, including the Gmail, Google Talk, Samsung Mail app, Youtube, Android market, Music Player, Allshare, Google Latitude.

Overall the interface is neat, the application lists and the settings do not confuse even the basic users who haven’t had a long-time touch with the Android OS. The 2.3.4 version is upgradeable as there is a newer version available, but the current version the Galaxy R comes with, doesn’t have anything much different. The internet browsing too is fast, no lagging while the pages are being browsed or heavy content is being loaded in web pages, all this because of the Tegra 2 processor. We didn’t notice any lag when the pages were zoomed in or out with the pinch, and the downloads were neat with the dedicated downloads section showing the information of the loading speed and the download progress.

Camera of the Galaxy R

Samsung Galaxy R Camera

The Galaxy R comes with a 5-Megapixel camera and a flash, and in the league of Android smartphones which has a neat camera, the Galaxy R looks no where. When the devices asks for a comparison with the big guys Galaxy S II, Xperia Arc S, Droid Razr for having similar sizes and specs, the camera of the Galaxy R sucks, and is no where comparable to all the other three. But when we aren’t comparing, the pictures taken were decent enough and for the screen of 4.2-inch, the pictures looked perfect even at dark conditions with the assistance of the flash. It won’t anyways replace the need for a digital camera quality pictures, which the Galaxy S II would do.

The video recording is of 720p HD quality, and it delivers what is promised. The 720p quality video is clear and has a good audio recording too. The flash doesn’t help much when you try to capture a video in dark conditions, as the details are gone and the video quality becomes blurry.

Comparing the Galaxy R and Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy R S II Front

Galaxy S II on the left side, and Galaxy R on the right. No much difference except the S II having 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, and Galaxy R having a 4.2-inch scratch-resistant glass

The Galaxy S II has got an 8MP camera, while the Galaxy R has a 5MP camera. The back panel is different and makes Galaxy R look more professional, in comparison to the S II

Connectivity, Performance and Battery

The Samsung Galaxy R has a good number of connectivity options, with the 3G HSDPA+, Wi-Fi helping it keep itself connected to the wireless networks. Even though the company claims that a download speed of 21 MBps can be reached with the 4G network of its, the unavailability of a 4G network kept us limited to a 3G test and the download speed was noteworthy, and there was a continuous connection without any glitches.

The other options that one could get the advantage of, include the Bluetooth 3.0, the GPS radio which showed a bit of problems while trying to detect the location on the go. The Galaxy R acts like a Mobile Hotspot sharing the data network with 5 Wi-Fi enabled devices at the same time. The phone gets heated up after more than an hour of continuous sharing but that is what happens when the data network is on, and that is being pulled by other devices and this keep the phone system active for all the time.

The 1650 mAh battery, looks less with the numbers but doesn’t fail to provide around 7 hours of talk time, but the actual claimed time was 9 hours. The processor could have made the battery last lesser but the compromise with the screen and display did play a role in saving the battery life.

We have shared a few tips on how to Increase Galaxy R battery life –

Final Verdict

Samsung Galaxy R Hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy R is a middleman between the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II, and stands well on front with the good performance, screen size, battery life but is at the same time, hit back due to the camera which cannot compete with the big players in the current market. The performance as we said is neat and non-sluggish. At a price that is way lesser than the Galaxy S II, we would suggest the Galaxy R than the latter in all the ways, if you wish to ignore the camera and the display (although the display of Galaxy R is not real bad, but the AMOLED-name-effect stays in mind). The professional look, the good voice in calls due to the noise cancellation thanks to the secondary mic, the dual-core Tegra 2 processor are all the best one can notice.



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