Review of Samsung Galaxy Apollo: Samsung's Middle Tier March for Dominance in the U.K.

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Samsung Galaxy Apollo

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is Samsung’s next rumored phone to be released in the United Kingdom. With the successful launch of the Samsung Galaxy S in the European market, Samsung is hoping to expand and capitalize on the lower end market with the Samsung Galaxy Apollo. Though not as impressively powered as the Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy Apollo has the specifications to meet the target audience’s demands and to really expand Samsung’s dominance in the competitive smartphone market.

Samsung Galaxy Apollo Specifications

  • Dimensions: 4.47 x 2.15 x 0.49 inches (113.5 x 54.5 x 12.5 mm)
  • Weight: 3.99 oz (113 g)
  • Display: 3.2 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 240 x 400 pixels
  • Memory: 166MB + Expandable external MicroSD
  • OS: Android OS 2.1
  • Processor: 720MHz TI OMAP3440
  • Camera: 3 MP camera
  • Connectivity: GSM Quad-band phone capable of global roaming (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), UMTS dual-band European/Asian 3G (900/2100 MHz)
  • Data: EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA 3.6 Mbit/s
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0, Stereo Bluetooth
  • GPS: GPS with A-GPS
  • Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh

Design and Display (4 out of 5)

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is fairly well designed. It has the usual candy bar design with touchscreen display. The front is created with one piece of glass from top to bottom, excluding the gem shaped button at the bottom of the phone. This gives the phone a beautiful shine, and with the silver covering underneath the glass, the Samsung Galaxy Apollo has an amazing mirrored look. Unfortunately, the back of the phone is the exact opposite, as it’s a rounded piece of black plastic. It seems very cheap in comparison to the front with the rough, unpolished plastic residing on the back.

Across the top of the phone is the USB socket, power/lock button and the 3.5 mm headphone jack, and along the left edge is the volume rocker. On the back is a small hole where the camera resides, with no LED flash, and the logo for Orange, where the Samsung Galaxy Apollo is currently available. The front has the 3.2 inch capacitive touchscreen display that is extremely responsive. Below the touchscreen are 3 buttons, menu, home and back. They’re touch sensitive buttons, not physical buttons that have haptic feedback. The home button is in an interesting shape, residing in a gem shaped hole. Though, at first glance it may seem like an optical trackpad, it is just a button.

The display itself is not as nice as the Super AMOLED that the Samsung Galaxy S packs, but for a lower end phone, it more than meets requirements. It’s also very responsive, even the slightest touch brings the Samsung Galaxy Apollo to life. Using multitouch on the screen is a snap and at times it seems the touchscreen on the Samsung Galaxy Apollo is much more responsive than even the Samsung Galaxy S.

Hardware and Software (3 out of 5)

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo doesn’t pack the most powerful punch when it comes to hardware. It offers a TI OMAP3440 clocking in at 720 MHz, a bit lower than the higher end phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S that packs a 1 GHz processor. Even though it may seem slow, it’s actually fairly responsive and lag was rarely noticeable. The lack of internal memory is a big minus, but it does make up for it with an expandable external microSD slot. However, Samsung should have put at least 1 gig of internal memory to help boost the hardware, which unfortunately they did not.

Much like its more powerful brother, the Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy Apollo runs on Android 2.1 (Eclair) with Samsung’s third party proprietary overlay, TouchWiz UI 3.0. However, one thing to note, as the Samsung Galaxy Apollo is currently only available on Orange, there’s actually another launcher attached to the phone. One launcher loads the custom Orange home screen, while the other leads to the more familiar Android 2.1 with TouchWiz UI 3.0 screen. This is a bit annoying and cumbersome at times if you accidentally end up on the launcher after closing an application.

User Interface (3 out of 5)

Though the Samsung Galaxy Apollo has 2 ways to launch Android, this review will mainly focus on the Samsung TouchWiz UI 3.0 integrated version and briefly cover the Orange branded launcher. The Orange branded launcher is more cumbersome, less useful and will most likely not be used by the majority of Samsung Galaxy Apollo users. It’s strange that two separate ways to launch Android have been included in the Samsung Galaxy Apollo and seems like a big miss for Orange.

The Android 2.1 with TouchWiz UI 3.0 integration is much like the Samsung Galaxy S, offering 4 quick launch applications across the bottom and 7 different home screens. The Orange branded launcher only offer 5 home screens, 2 of which are already preloaded and filled with applications. The Samsung Galaxy Apollo, once launched in the Samsung interface, is a very familiar interface to most people who have used Samsung Android powered phones. For new users, the interface is not overwhelming and actually very simple and easy to use. Simply swipe or click to navigate from screen to application.

Features (3 out of 5)

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo has an average array of features. There are no exclusive applications or any features that really make the Apollo stand out. The Galaxy Apollo comes equipped with a 3 megapixel camera with no LED flash. The 3 megapixel camera is fairly unimpressive, but for on the go shots, it does its job. The lack of LED flash is surprising as it’s near impossible to take a nice picture once it starts getting dark out. A simple LED flash added in would’ve helped raise the value of the phone. Even the low to mid-tier market that the Samsung Galaxy Apollo is aiming for would probably love the ability to use some kind of light source when taking pictures in the night. The Galaxy Apollo, has the Android Market preinstalled for expanding the phone’s list of applications.

The Verdict (3 out of 5)

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is truly an average phone that fits right in between power users and regular cell phone users. It’s interesting to note that in the U.S. market, Samsung is currently planning a very similar phone, the Samsung Gem, and one has to wonder how similar these two phones will end up being. The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is a popular, stylish phone that’s reaching for the low to mid-tier market and doing a fairly good job in the United Kingdom. There have been no rumors of a U.S. release but the Samsung Gem will most likely be the closest cousin to the Samsung Galaxy Apollo.