Samsung Galaxy Beam review: Home cinema

GSMArena team, 24 July 2012.
Pages: 1234567891011

Introduction

The first attempts at a projector phone didn't quite work out for Samsung. For many that would be enough to call it a day, but not the Koreans. You don't become the world's number 1 phone manufacturer by giving up easily, so Samsung chose to take a step back, learn from mistakes and give it another go.

The Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam takes a completely different approach to making a projector phone and a smartphone work together. Last time around, with the original Beam, Samsung took a high-end device and slapped a rather advanced projector on its back, effectively ending up with something very thick and expensive, which was nearly impossible to sell. Thicker devices lack the high-end vibe one normally associates with smartphones in that price range, so it never really managed to get going.

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Samsung I8350 Galaxy Beam official photos

The I8530 Galaxy Beam on the other hand aims far lower - it's based on a mid-range phone and throws in a projector that's good enough for casual use. Serious, corporate use is out of the question here, but that was never in the requirements, and you get a more compact and reasonably priced package instead. Now add the NovaThor chipset and its dual-core CPU and you get a deal that's definitely worth a second look.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit PLS TFT touchscreen of WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixels), Scratch-resistant glass
  • Built-in 15-lumen DLP nHD projector
  • Android OS v2.3.7 Gingerbread, planned Android 4.0 ICS update
  • Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, 768MB RAM, Mali-400 GPU, NovaThor U8500 chipset
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, Multi Angle shot
  • 720p video recording @ 30fps
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • Built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS
  • 8GB built-in storage expandable through the microSD card slot
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Rich retail package
  • Voice dialing
  • Adobe Flash 11 support
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor

Main disadvantages

  • No Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box
  • All plastic construction
  • Feeble loudspeaker
  • NovaThor U8500 is the least powerful of the dual-core offerings on the market
  • Thicker and heavier than mid-range competition

So, the Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam is basically a Galaxy S Advance with an extra DLP projector and a different screen. The lack of character in the overcrowded mid-range was the main thing wrong with the Samsung mid-range flagship, and it seems like the Beam made easy work of adding some.

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Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam at ours

However, for all its sensible, down-to-earth approach, the Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam still ends up priced notably higher than smartphones using the same screens and based on the same chipsets. So it will have to try and convince us that it's really offering something extra.

Good build quality would be a nice start - follow us on the next page where the hardware checkup begins.

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