Samsung Galaxy SL GT-I9003 Review

by on April 2, 2011
in Android, Gadgets




Samsung Galaxy SL GT-I9003 is the latest in the Samsung Galaxy series which is very much a variant of the original Galaxy S with some noticeable changes under the hood.

Not too long ago, Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 phone. It was the fastest and the most powerful Android handset available at that time. You can read our full Samsung Galaxy S review here. Samsung Galaxy SL is pretty much the same, but does this phone really comes up to the mark of the original Galaxy S or not? This is what we’ll see discuss in this review.

Samsung Galaxy SL Review

In this Samsung Galaxy SL review, I will be taking the phone head to head with the original Samsung Galaxy S, and the Google Nexus S – the current Google flagship phone – and will cover various aspects of the phone, such as display, sound/music, OS, speed etc.

Like I have mentioned it before, Galaxy SL has some changes under the hood as compared to the Galaxy S. Let’s check out the technical specifications of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy SL Specifications

  • Display: 4-inch Super LCD (SLCD) touchscreen (480 x 800 pixels)
  • Processor: Texas Instruments OMAP 3630 1GHz processor
  • Camera: 5 MP camera with autofocus, no LED flash, secondary camera for video calls
  • Video: HD video recording at 30 fps (720p)
  • Memory: 512MB RAM, 16GB internal memory, microSD slot upto 32GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi, microUSB
  • Other: Flash Player 10.2 support, A-GPS, FM Radio, 3.5 mm jack, accelerometer, Swype, Augmented Reality browser, e-book, office, allshare etc
  • Battery: 1650 mAh Li-Po
  • OS: Android 2.2.1 with TouchWiz 3.0 UI

Samsung Galaxy SL vs Galaxy S – Tweets

I’ll quickly run down with the differences between both of these devices – differences that I have actually come across in my time using it. I posted most of the differences on my Twitter account, so I’ll just quote my tweets here:

“I must say, that the Samsung Galaxy SL (with Super LCD screen) is such a turn off! No fun in using this!”

“Okay, so the Galaxy SL doesn’t have the awesome Hummingbird processor. That explains the performance drop in it as compared to the Galaxy S.”

“Galaxy S has 1500mAh battery. Galaxy SL has 1650mAh battery and made the phone a little thicker in size.”

“And it looks even more thick, thanks to Galaxy SL’s fat ass at the bottom.”

“Galaxy SL has been unplugged from the charger since over 14 hours. Still 55% battery left. Very impressive battery!”

“Samsung Galaxy SL is at 47% battery level after being unplugged from the charger for over 22 hours! Amazing!”

“Galaxy SL is on battery steroids! Have been up since over 1 day and 8 hours. Still 36% battery! http://twitpic.com/4crtq7

“Galaxy SL does not have TV out, like the original Galaxy S.”

So yes, these have been my little tweets about some observations I made while using the Samsung Galaxy SL. Now let’s take a closer look at what other features does the Galaxy SL has to offer. Remember, this phone is no less than a beast and I believe, this is the only phone that can actually be compared to the iPhone 4 in terms of features and technical specifications.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Design

Galaxy SL is flat on the front, but have that rear-chin (I call that the famous Samsung hips ;-) ) at the back. On the front, just above the 4-inch display, you see a front-facing camera for video calls, light sensor, speaker and the Samsung logo. And onat the bottom of the screen, you see the two capacitive and one hard button: Menu, Home, Back. On the back side of the Galaxy SL, there is a 5 megapixels camera without LED flash and a stereo speaker.

On the sides, you can find the power button on the right side, and the volume controls on the left. Mic is at the bottom of the phone.

Top of the Galaxy SL has a 3.5mm audio jack that does not support TV out like in the original Galaxy S and the microUSB.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Display

Samsung Galaxy S is fitted with the Super LCD display screen, as compared to the gorgeous Super AMOLED display found in the original Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000) / Google Nexus S. And seriously, there is a major difference in between them.

In my opinion, the Super LCD display is a complete opposite of Super AMOLED. The colours seemed dull and faded, with low contrast ratio. This could be mainly because I have been using Super AMOLED display phones for the last 6-8 months. Super AMOLED display was one of the main hardware that set the Galaxy S at top of the line, but I wouldn’t say the same about the Galaxy SL.

Galaxy SL has a huge 4-inch 480 x 800 pixels WVGA display and trust me, even the ugliest apps and photos look amazing on it. If you have been a past LCD screen user on your phone, then this would be a great upgrade for you in terms of display.

In direct sunlight test, Galaxy SL’s Super LCD proved to be better than the Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy S / Nexus S.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Processor/Speed

Samsung Galaxy SL is powered by the Texas Instruments OMAP 3630 1GHz processor under its hood. The original Galaxy S is powered by the ARM Cortex A8 1GHz CPU (called as the Hummingbird). During my play time with both the devices, I feel that Hummingbird is still the best 1GHz processor out there.

A simple test on both the devices running on Android 2.2.1 shows that the original Galaxy S has absolutely no lag or any slowing down issues with the Hummingbird CPU for the phone. But on the other hand, Galaxy SL slows down a bit and also has lag problems while using the phone.

Not just the CPU, even the GPU seems to have some issues being compatible with the new OMAP processor. Benchmarks and gameplay of various games explain that Galaxy SL hardware is just not up to the mark as it was in the Galaxy S phone. May be, because of a different CPU.

Even after these few glitches, the Samsung Galaxy SL is speedy and quite responsive as compared to other devices out in the market. If you find it even a bit slow, there are always alternative methods of rooting the phone and then applying a lag fix, which, of course, we won’t recommend.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Camera/Video

Galaxy SL has a 5 megapixels camera at the back, but no flash. 5 megapixels camera is now like a standard requirement in all smartphones. This phone also has 1.3 megapixels camera on the front for video-calls.

Photo quality at daytime is better, but at night time, the camera fails to impress in any way. A LED flash would have been very much helpful. Comparing with Nexus S’ 5 megapixels camera, I found their quality exactly the same. It shouldn’t be, but the photo results from the Galaxy SL appear to be slightly better than that of the Galaxy S.  There are lots of photo effects and scene shots that you can try for getting the best possible results.

The Samsung Galaxy SL is capable of recording 720p HD videos at 720×1280 resolution.

You can see a few sample shots I took with the Galaxy SL below. Click on the image for the full-resolution photo.

Here’s a sample video recorded from the Samsung Galaxy SL:

Samsung Galaxy SL: Body/Build Quality

Samsung Galaxy SL looks very similar to the iPhone 3GS in design and looks. A quick glance at the device makes one wonder if it is actually the iPhone 3GS. Over all, the phone is big, thansk to its 4-inch display – but relatively you don’t feel it that big when holding the phone.

As compared to the Galaxy S, this phone is 1 mm less thinner. That is because of the 1650mAh battery that powers the Samsung Galaxy SL for a longer time. That also makes the phone slightly heavier than its cousin.

Build quality is not that good. When holding the Galaxy SL, it gives you the feeling of holding something in cheap plastic – especially when you have the Nexus One or any other HTC devices in your other hand.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy SL offers several connectivity options such as Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi and microUSB support. Unfortunately, Samsung has not included TV-out in the Samsung Galaxy SL, unlike Galaxy S which had TV-out for watching photos and videos on the TV.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Battery

The battery in Samsung Galaxy SL is something to talk about. This phone is powered with a 1650 mAh battery that provides talktime of 15 hours on 2G and 7 hours and 30 minutes on 3G. Standby time is of 610 hours on 2G and 550 hours on 3G.

When normal usage of the phone on WiFi, several apps running in background i.e Google Talk, taking photos etc. I was able to pull out 1 day and 15-17 hours with the Samsung Galaxy SL. This was not possible with the Galaxy S, thanks to Galaxy SL’s 1650 mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy SL: TouchWiz 3.0

HTC has Sense UI for Android, similarly, Motorola has Blur. Samsung didn’t wanted to left behind and they launched TouchWiz 3.0 on the Galaxy S which takes some major inspiration from the iOS interface. The same interface can be found on the Samsung Galaxy SL. Similarly, Galaxy S2 has TouchWiz 4.0 (photo below).

TouchWiz is really snappy and comes loaded with many apps of their own and also features Sasmung Apps – a market app for Samsung devices. Along with lots of other apps, Samsung brings SocialHub to the Galaxy SL. It is a social networking dashboard from where you can add and sync your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace friends with your contacts and you can manage all your social networking from one place. This is one of my favourite features in the Samsung Galaxy SL.

Samsung Galaxy SL also comes with region-specific apps. Galaxy SL in my region runs on a Middle East ROM build, which includes apps like Holy Quran, Prayer Timings and Qiblah Directions.

Other apps that Samsung Galaxy S has are: Swype, Augmented Reality browser, e-book, office, allshare etc.

Samsung Galaxy SL: Screenshots

Samsung Galaxy SL: Photos

For more reviews and hands-on photos/videos of Samsung Galaxy series, see links below:

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