Samsung Galaxy 3 and Galaxy Apollo review: Galactic twins

GSMArena team, 12 August 2010.

Samsung I5800 360-degree spin

The I5800/I5801 duo looks like identical twins and unless you see them side by side they may be hard to tell apart. Here are the differences.

The I5800 Galaxy 3 goes for physical keys on the front, piano black plastic on the back and an angled home key. The I5801 Galaxy Apollo on the other hand has two touch sensitive keys on the front, matte plastic on the back and a more rounded home key.

That’s it, even the dimensions are so similar that differences are only detectable by scales and a caliper gauge. The I5800 measures 113.5 x 55 x 12.9 mm and weighs 109 grams, while the I5801 is 113.5 x 55 x 12.6 mm and weighs 113 grams.

Design and construction

To avoid confusion, we’ll cover the hardware of the Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3 and only mention the differences between it and the I5801 Galaxy Apollo (in the few places there are differences).

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The Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3 and I5801 Galaxy Apollo look very similar

The display is a 3.2” touchscreen of WQVGA resolution, which is rather unpopular among Androids. Still, it has some advantages over QVGA – 25% more pixels and a 15:9 aspect ratio which is preferable to the almost obsolete 4:3 ratio of QVGA.

Still, as far as resolution and pixels density goes it’s low for a 3.2” screen. We’re not saying it’s not usable – it is. But pixelisation is especially visible in text and that doesn’t do the software justice – it looks like text in a compressed, downscaled image rather than the sharp look of natively rendered text.

The screen uses capacitive technology to register even the lightest taps. This is a big advantage over the resistive screens that are sometimes used in lower-end Androids.

The sunlight legibility is pretty poor – on a bright sunny day the display washes out and it becomes very hard to make anything out.

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The display doesn't do well in the sun

If you’ve read our preview, we should warn you that this was an early pre-production version and the keys below the display have changed significantly since then.

Now the situation is typical Samsung – a home key in the center (not a D-pad like in the early version) and a menu and back keys. On the I5800 Galaxy 3 they are physical keys, while on the I5801 Galaxy Apollo they are touch-sensitive.

Both are big and easy to hit – the physical keys have a satisfying click, while the touch sensitive ones rely on haptic feedback. The fourth Android key (search) is missing, but you can long press the menu key to pull that up.

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The keys below the display come in two flavors but the sensors are the same

Above the display there’s the earpiece in the middle and the proximity sensor to the left.

On the left side of the phone you get the volume rocker and a lanyard eyelet while the right is completely bare. Nope there isn’t even a shutter key.

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The volume rocker and lanyard eyelet on the left • there’s nothing on the right side

The top handles the wired connectivity – the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port. The microUSB port is charging and is covered by a plastic flap. There’s hardly much to see at bottom - the mouthpiece is the only functional element there.

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The microUSB and audio jack • the bottom side

As usual, the 3.2-megapixel camera lens is on the back and there’s either a “with Google” or Orange label below it depending on which phone you got. The camera is inset, which provides some protection against scratches.

The handset’s back is curved in - the top and bottom slightly raised - which is another way of making sure the camera lens won’t touch the surface the phone rests on. The speaker is very close to the edge of the “bump” at the bottom but luckily it doesn’t get muffled easily.

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The top and bottom part of the back are slightly raised

Under the back cover you'll find a 1500 mAh battery and the SIM and microSD card slots. The memory slot is under the back cover and even though it's hot-swappable, you still need to open the cover first. The slot is on the left side of the device and the SIM card compartment is on the right.

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The microSD and SIM slots are under the rear cover

The back of the Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3 is piano black (that’s for the black version obviously) and it’s a real fingerprint magnet. The I5801 Galaxy Apollo goes for the smudge-resistant matte plastic with ribbed lines (though they don’t contribute much to grip) and it seems like that is the better option.

The Samsung I5800 sits well in the hand thanks to the rounded corners and curves, but it isn’t a small phone. The I5800 is generally pocketable, but not the most compact of handsets. The controls are easy to reach and comfy to use.

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Samsung I5800 in the hand • Next to the Apple iPhone