One of the coolest things about Android being open-source is that it’s easily tweakable and adaptable to all kinds of hardware configurations. This means that it can not only power true specs monsters like the Galaxy S III or One X, but can also run on much more modest handsets… like the Samsung Galaxy Pocket that we have here.
The Samsung Galaxy Pocket represents the true meaning of low-end. It’s hard to imagine that you can go any lower than that in terms of specs, yet it’s much better to have a smart OS like Android powering this device, rather than a feature phone platform. Even though the screen is very small for today’s standards, and the resolution is the exact opposite of Retina-grade, it’s still a device that lets users on budget experience what it is to have a smartphone.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy Pocket is your typical Samsung affair. The phone has a Galaxy S-que look to it, but is way smaller. It’s constructed out of plastic, and has a relatively light weight.
The Galaxy Pocket is certainly not a looker, especially compared to some other budget Android offerings like the Xperia X8, for example. However, it doesn’t hurt our eyes too much either.
If you have really long hands, you can actually make a Retina Display out of the 2.8” QVGA (240×320) screen by holding it as far as you can from your eyes. Unfortunately, this will also make things to small to see, so doing it is not an option, and you have to put up with the realities of this 143 ppi display. Actually, this is one of the main downfalls of the Galaxy Pocket. To anyone who might consider buying this handset – keep in mind that this screen is U-G-L-Y. Of course, this is what makes having such a cheap Android smartphone possible, buy if you plan to use it a lot for more advanced stuff like web browsing and gaming, better go for a phone that has at least HVGA (320×480) resolution.
Viewing angles aren’t very good, as there’s some visible overall image degradation, but thankfully, outdoor visibility turned out to be OK.
Interface and Functionality:
You won’t find ICS running the show with the Galaxy Pocket, instead, you’ll enjoy Gingerbread, skinned with TouchWiz. All of the software features that you’d expect from an Android smartphone are here: widgets, multiple home screens, YouTube, the Google Play store for applications, etc.
The handset will run most apps, including some simpler games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. However, due to the extremely low resolution and small screen size, games and apps that feature very small graphical elements (like the birds and pigs in Angry Birds, for example) aren’t very comfortable to use, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you avoid running those apps.
Yeah, the diagonal of the screen is only 2.8”, but the typing experience with the on-screen QWERTY keyboard of the Pocket is pretty decent, both in portrait and landscape. However, if you have relatively big fingers, or want to be able to type really fast, this handset won’t be very suitable for the purpose.
Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Pocket comes with all standard connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth. This means that you’ll be able to browse the web (and use web services) without paying for mobile data, wherever a Wi-Fi Hotspot is available. Still, you should keep in mind that the handset’s low-resolution screen is making everything very difficult to read. It will get the job done, but it will be uncomfortable and tiring for your eyes. The Galaxy Pocket’s browser is surprisingly usable, with an adequate response even in heavier web pages, but the QVGA resolution makes it very difficult to actually read the text.
Processor and Memory:
The CPU powering the Pocket is nothing to write home about, as expected, but it’s not too slow. It’s a single-core 832MHz processor that manages to provide a relatively smooth UI movement.
One of the things we like about this phone is that the internal memory is 3GB, which means you can install whatever apps you want, unlike many other low-end Android phones. Plus, there’s also the option to install a microSD card of up to 32GB.
There’s an unambitious 2MP camera in the Galaxy Pocket, which is equipped with a basic set of settings. The images could be worse. They are actually fine for a 2MP shooter, but don’t expect too much, as colors are a bit dull, and brightly-lit things tend to come out overexposed.
Unfortunately, video is captured at a maximum resolution of 320×240, and this should be enough to keep you away from using the option. Still, if this will do the job for you, keep in mind it’s recorded at about 14 frames per second.
The Galaxy Pocket is a decent music player, although the loudspeakers starts to crackle if you put it to the highest setting. You can also apply different EQ presets if you feel like tweaking the sounding to your liking.
If 2.8 inches aren’t too small for you, it’s also possible to watch movies with this handset. Just make sure they are converted to a phone-friendly format like MPEG-4. The Pocket can run videos in various resolutions, so you won’t be limited to the display’s native res.
We were nicely surprised to find out that incoming call quality is actually pretty good with the Galaxy Pocket. Voices have some nice loudness and even depth to them. Unfortunately, the mic doesn’t seem so good, because our callers didn’t enjoy our voice as much as we enjoyed theirs.
The battery of the Galaxy Pocket is a 1200mAh unit, which should be able to provide enough juice for 6 hours of continuous 3G talk-time, or 19 days of 3G stand-by time.
We like the concept behind the Samsung Galaxy Pocket. This is the handset that can bring much of the power of a smartphone to the hands of yesterday’s feature phone users, without costing them more. It covers pretty much every basic Android functionality, and manages to build on top of that by being able to run most of the applications found in the Google Play store.
However, do not think that you’ll be able to taste the sweetness of using a top-class smartphone with the Galaxy Pocket, because the experience here is totally different, mostly due to the low-resolution screen.
If you don’t plan to use it very heavily for web browsing and media consumption, though, the Pocket will get the job done without too much hassle.
Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 2.3.6, Baseband: S5300XXLCB