Samsung I9103 Galaxy R review: Riding shotgun

GSMArena team, 25 January 2012.
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Introduction

The Samsung I9103 Galaxy R rode in on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform and became the first affordable dual-core smartphone from the South Korean company. With a bright SC-LCD screen and brushed metal back, the Galaxy R is just different enough from the Galaxy S lineup to stand on its own.

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Samsung I9103 Galaxy R official photos

Samsung has so many variations of their models that sometimes it's hard to say when one model stops and another begins. Take the Samsung I9103 Galaxy R, positioned somewhere between the Galaxy S II flagship droid and the mid-range Galaxy W.

Not that we're complaining - having more options available is always a good thing and all dual-core droids from Samsung were only top of the line so far (S II and its variations, the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy Note phoneblet).

This is where the I9103 Galaxy R steps in in - it offers tangibly better specs than the Galaxy W, while staying a step below the top dogs in specs and price. Here's a summary of what you get with the Galaxy R and some downsides.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G support
  • 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA support
  • 4.2" 16M-color SC-LCD capacitive touchscreen of WVGA (480 x 800 pixel) resolution; Scratch-resistant glass
  • Android OS v2.3.3 with TouchWiz 4 launcher
  • 1 GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU, ULP GeForce GPU, NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset, 1GB of RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, face and smile detection
  • 720p HD video recording at 30fps
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n support; DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct support
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; digital compass
  • 8GB internal storage, microSD slot
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port
  • Stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Great audio quality
  • 1.3MP secondary video-call camera
  • Document editor
  • File manager comes preinstalled

Main disadvantages

  • SC-LCD has poor black levels
  • Tegra 2 falls slightly behind Exynos in CPU and GPU performance
  • No dedicated camera key
  • Non-hot-swappable microSD card

Depending on how you look at it, going from the Galaxy W to the Galaxy R means getting a better CPU and GPU, a bigger screen and extra built-in storage, or trading in several of the highlights of the Galaxy S II in exchange for a smaller total at the cash register.

Anyway, if you pull the Galaxy R away from the S II's shadow, you'll notice it stands pretty well on its own. Tegra 2 is at the heart of several popular dual-core droids and quite a few tablets too. And a 4.2" WVGA screen doesn’t sound too bad, even if it is an SC-LCD (we'll how it does in our tests though).

The camera could have been better - 5MP and 720p is nothing to brag about. We have seen some excellent 720p shooters lately though, so we'll postpone our final judgment on the camera for the camera section of this review.

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Samsung I9103 Galaxy R live shots • Next to the Galaxy S II

With a model number like I9103 the Galaxy R unavoidably draws comparisons with the S II. After a quick detour for an unboxing, we'll find out just how close the two phones are hardware-wise on the next page.

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