Leaving the screen aside, the rest of the hardware of the I9003 Galaxy SL is the same as the original I9000 Galaxy S.
There are three keys below the display – capacitive Menu and Back buttons on either side of a hardware home key.
A long press on the menu key launches the search field, so in effect users have a dedicated search key too.
As usual, pressing and holding the home key activates the task switcher (which in turn has a shortcut to the task manager).
The power and screen lock key on the Samsung I9003Galaxy SL is placed high up on the right side of the handset. There is no camera key here, but there should be a way around this sooner rather than later. Custom ROMs for the original Galaxy had the power button serve as a shutter key in the camera app.
On the left, we find the volume rocker, which provides enough pressing area and good enough feedback to make usage trouble-free.
The bottom of the I9003 Galaxy SL has nothing but the mouthpiece.
On the top of the phone is the tiny sliding lid that covers the microUSB port. Next to it is the exposed 3.5mm standard audio jack.
At the back, we find the 5 megapixel camera lens and the loudspeaker grill. There is no flash of any kind so low-light photography or video capture is not the I9003 Galaxy SL element. It’s a pity this didn’t become the second Galaxy S to pack a flash, after the CDMA-based EPIC 4G.
The microSD card slot is under the battery cover, but fortunately is hot-swappable. It handled a 16GB card trouble-free and support for 32GB is promised too.
The other element of interest under the I9003 Galaxy SL back panel is the 1650 mAh Li-Ion battery. Its large capacity however doesn’t give longer service than the 1500 mAh battery that powers the I9000, due to the more power-hungry display. You can still count on two to three days of heavy usage though.
An interesting detail – the new battery fits the old Galaxy S perfectly and doesn’t need a new back cover or anything.
The Samsung I9003 Galaxy SL is quite well built. We can confirm the I9000 ages pretty decently – scratches on the back panel and mostly the little chin on its bottom do appear over time and drops on rough surface cause damage to the frame around the display, but that happens to most phones out there. On the other hand you will have to try really hard if you are to damage the Gorilla glass-protected screen.
The general ergonomics of the Galaxy SL is perfectly fine too. You might or might not want to work with a 4” screen, but if size doesn’t bother you, the display sensitivity is top notch and the controls are excellent.