If not for the model number, we probably wouldn’t be comparing the I9100 and I9103 directly in terms of hardware, but we have no choice now.
One of the major bragging points of the regular Galaxy S II is just how thin and light it is. The I9103 Galaxy R however measures 9.5mm thick and weighs 135 grams. Not that that’s really slim and light (given the size) even by today’s standards, but it’s not as headline grabbing as the 8.5mm waistline and the 116 g weight of the I9100.
The SC-LCD screen on the I9103 Galaxy R has a 4.2” diagonal with 480 x 800 pixels resolution. It’s pretty bright and with good image quality and viewing angles. The blacks are not nearly as deep as on a SuperAMOLED unit, but judging them by the LCD standards they are actually quite good.
The front looks very similar to the front of the SuperAMOLED Plus packing Galaxy S II. It’s just the home button that’s different. So, above the screen we have (from left to right) the 1.3MP video call camera, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and earpiece.
Below the display there are three keys only – the touch-sensitive menu and back buttons are on either side of a hardware home key. A long press on the menu key launches the search, so in effect users still have a dedicated search key. As usual, pressing and holding the home key activates the task switcher.
The only thing of interest on the left side of the Samsung I9103 Galaxy R is the volume rocker. It’s a bit on the thin side, but that doesn't cause any usability issues.
The power/lock key is placed high up on the right side of the handset. It is a bit hard to reach but Samsung has used this spot on many of their handsets, so it shouldn’t be much trouble for those who come from another Samsung smartphone.
All there is on the top side of the phone is the 3.5mm audio jack. At the bottom, there’s the microUSB port, which doubles as a charging port. Both the audio jack and microUSB port are left open to the elements.
The back cover is one big plastic piece with a metallic inlay with brushed metal finish. We tugged at the metal inlay for a while until we realized that it’s only a part of the back cover and not the whole back cover. And you need to remove the whole thing to get to the battery.
Above and below the inlay, we find the 5MP camera with LED flash and the loudspeaker grill respectively. The camera is out in the open, with no guards against scratches. We assume it uses some kind of reinforced glass though and we really hope it will suffice, but somehow we aren't too optimistic about it.
The loudspeaker is placed on a low hump at the bottom of the phone (the bottom hump is a Galaxy S tradition). It gets slightly muffled when the phone is placed on a level surface.
Below the battery cover is the easily accessible SIM card slot and the not so easily accessible microSD card slot (it’s blocked by the battery). The battery has a large 1650mAh capacity but it’s too early to talk about battery life – when the design and software is finalized, we’ll take a better look at that.
The Samsung I9103 Galaxy R might not be as thin and light as its sibling, but the metallic inlay and its heft make it feel very solid. At 9.5mm thick and 135g or so, it’s far from chubby and its tapered edges make it sit very well in the hand. It’s not that wide and tall despite its huge 4.2” screen either.
Before we proceed with the software we’d like to remind you once again that we’re testing a pre-production I9103 Galaxy R unit and the design might change by the time the device launches. Now join us after the break.