Announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year the unique selling point of the Samsung Galaxy Beam against all other mobile phones currently on the market is the built in projector on the top, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
First let’s look at the specs. The phone is Quad band handset and has a 4 inch TFT screen with a 480×800 resolution screen and that gives you a pixel density of 233. There is 768mb of RAM alongside a Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9. The rear camera is 5 megapixel whilst the front camera is 1.3 megapixel. There is 8gb of onboard storage and the usual collection of sensors such as GPS, Accelorometer, compass etc.
The phone has a dedicated button in the top right that activates this feature. The projector then shows whatever is on the display and you can adjust the focus, rotation and a whole load of other options using the included software. I was expecting this feature to be a gimmick but it really does work quite well, video playback is smooth and there is no lag between performing an action on the screen and seeing it projected. I can see this feature being used at parties for those funny YouTube videos, in business meetings for slides or if you just want to watch Netflix or the iPlayer in bed. I managed to get the size up to approximately 42 inches without too much trouble. Obviously the darker the room you are in, the better this will work. You’ll be left disappointed if you try this in bright sunlight.
Hardware wise the projector is situated at the top. The edges on the devices are yellow, which stands out against the black front and back. The right hand side has the Projector button, the standby button and the MicroSD card slot whereas the left hand side has the volume rocker, sim tray and 3.5mm headphone jack. The bottom has the Micro USB charging port. The removable back is plastic and has an effect that reminded me of carbon fibre. The camera lens is lower than you would normally find on a phone owing to the top being occupied by the projector.
Onto the front and we have a silver bezel around the 4 inch TFT screen with a 480×800 resolution screen which, with a pixel density of 233, isn’t the best I’ve seen but it isn’t bad either. Below the screen is the home button which is physical and the menu and back buttons which are capacitive. There is no dedicated search key. The phone feels a little chunky in the hand but not overly so. There is a reassuring weight to the device.
The software on the handset will be familiar to anyone who has used a Samsung Galaxy device before the Galaxy S3 and its Nature UX came along. The phone runs Android version 2.3.6 Gingerbread which is disappointing. In real terms that means no access to Google’s Chrome browser or any of the new features Google have added to their OS in the last year like facial unlock or data monitoring.
The home screen is a 4×4 grid with a 4 icon dock at the bottom which is also present in the App drawer. You have the option to add and delete home screens and Samsung has included their own selection of Clock, Weather, Social and News widgets.
The browser (or Internet as it’s called here), is fast enough for browsing and there was very little lag when pinching to zoom or scrolling. Heavy pages loaded about as fast as you would expect on a mobile device.
Samsung has also skinned various bundled apps. The SMS app for example has alternating bubbles and no contact pictures which allows for more text on the screen. Everything is still pretty close to what you would expect to fond on the stock apps but usually with a different colour scheme, such as the Gmail app which gets a blue bar at the top.
The camera is 5 megapixels and takes reasonably good photos. The camera software is simple and easy to use. Video is recorded in 720p. If you remember back to the tour around the hardware I didn’t mention a camera button. I’d have like to see the projector button pull double duty here but it doesn’t. It will project the camera viewfinder though which I can’t figure out a use for.
Battery life has been far better than other Android handsets I’ve used, getting me through to about 10pm with heavy use, such as constant use of calls, texts, emails and social networks all set to push.
Overall I was very impressed with the projector on the phone but as for the rest, well there wasn’t really anything that made it stand out if I’m honest. It’s running Touchwiz 4.0 on top of gingerbread which is a bit of a let down and the camera and other specs aren’t going to be winning any battles. It’s not that I think this is a bad phone I just think there are far better out there for the near £400 price point. If you find yourself hooking your phone up to displays and projectors or showing things off then this could be the convergence you’ve been looking for.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Phones 4u for letting us review the Galaxy Beam.