Samsung Galaxy Apollo - first impressions

The Samsung Galaxy Apollo is an Android-based smartphone that I bought from Carphone Warehouse in London for £90 (approximately $147 at time of writing). Of course, that's for the unit alone without a SIM card and not attached to any contract. It's my first smartphone and I thought I'd put down my first impressions of it, having owned the phone for 3 days now.

The Galaxy Apollo is on the small side for a smart phone but I prefer not to carry around a large phone anyway. Despite this size, I find it easy enough to read web pages by zooming in a little. The easiest way to do this is to double tap the screen when on a webpage and the page is resized so that the text is readable and wrapped along the width of the screen. When typing I occasionally hit the wrong key due to the keys' small size, but not often enough that it becomes annoying.

The Apollo's build quality is fair. The front of the phone looks and feels solid and stylish, but the back is fashioned from a cheaper plastic. However, the build quality is good when the price is taken into consideration.

The Apollo's touch screen is very good. As mentioned earlier, typing is good despite the small screen, and this is thanks mostly to the sensitivity of the screen. I haven't tried playing any games, which I imagine would test the touch screen more fully.

The Apollo's operating system is Android 2.1 and as such will be familiar to lots of users. I'd never used an Android phone before (or any other smartphone for any real length of time), but I found that my experience with Apple's fourth generation iPod helped me get started quickly. To me, the Android interface looks and feels a little bit less slick than Apple's, but it's still very good and easy to get to grips with.

The phone comes with 1 GB of removable storage - not much by today's smartphone standards, but something that is easy to upgrade. I was offered a deal on a larger memory stick but chose to stick with the 1 GB for now. This will only ever seem inadequate if I download lots of music onto the phone.

The Apollo includes 3G capability, but just in case (like many people) you think that means free internet anywhere in the world, think again. It can make use of 3G networks as provided by mobile operators, and it's up to them what they charge and what packages are available. (Compare this with, for example, the Amazon Kindle's free global 3G coverage.) In my case internet over 3G has to be activated via my local phone company's website, and without a contract is charged at 45p per MB. There are packages that give you unlimited 3G internet use, but they don't seem worth it to me. This is because you can still use wi-fi to connect to the internet, and with free wi-fi hotspots being found in many places nowadays, on many occasions 3G connectivity would be redundant (due its being slower than connecting through a typical broadband/wi-fi connection).

Supposedly, the main reasons we buy phones are to place and receive calls, and the Apollo does this well enough. The clarity of the voice on the other end is good, and the phone comes with a nice pair of headphones that include a microphone. Receiving a call involves sliding the green "Accept" button across the screen, making it less likely that you'd mistakenly accept it by inadvertently pushing the button, for instance when fumbling to get the phone out of your pocket. Texting is nicely done too because the Android interface groups texts into "conversations". That said, Android can also annoyingly think you haven't read a message because you only saw it in conversation view and not on its own. This isn't always the case and I still haven't figured out exactly what rules govern this.

The Apollo comes with several useful apps, of which so far I have used: Google Mail, YouTube, Memo, Calculator, Camera, Clock and Internet. Being an Android phone you have many more apps available for download, many of them for free. If like me you are a developer, then you could also create your own Android apps using the free software development kit available from Google. The programming language used is Java, which will suit many developers already familiar with the language.

Those are my first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Apollo. I'm sure there are many other aspects of the phone that could be mentioned, but these are the ones that stand out to me. I hope this article has been helpful and that if you opt for an Apollo as well, you will enjoy it as much as me!