Samsung GALAXY Xcover Preview

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Although we've heard more than a few stories of smartphones surviving all kinds of abuse – being dropped from a plane, baked in an oven, or ran over by a car, to name a few examples, they are pretty vulnerable devices in general. The Samsung GALAXY Xcover, however, does not want to obey this unwritten rule and stands out with its IP67 certification. In plain words, the phone is allegedly resistant to dust, dirt and submersion in water at up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

But being able to withstand the elements does not mean that the GALAXY Xcover belongs to the feature phone kind. It is powered by Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, packs a 3.65-inch HVGA display and a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash graces its back. Besides that, you get GPS, Wi-Fi, and a 7.2Mbps 3G radio..

So in theory, the Samsung GALAXY Xcover is shaping up like a blend between a smartphone and a tough phone combining various bits of both worlds. But will the end result from such a concoction really deserve your attention? Let's take a close look at the prototype unit that we have here and see whether we can answer that question.

Design:

Just a brief inspection of the Samsung GALAXY Xcover is enough for one to realize that this smartphone is meant to be tougher than the rest. Sure, the handset may not be among the prettiest we've ever seen, but it feels solid in the hand despite the fact that its body is made solely out of plastic. Strangely, we noticed that holding the smartphone gives the impression that you are using a larger device, but nevertheless, operating it with a single hand is an effortless process. The handset’s textured battery cover provides a bit of extra grip, and the ridges on its side give it an adventurous look. Still, the lack of rubberized edges serves as a reminder that the GALAXY Xcover is resistant only to dust and liquid damage while shock and drop resistance are not in its repertoire.



You can compare the Samsung GALAXY Xcover with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Samsung has chosen to go with only physical buttons for the GALAXY Xcover.We are glad to say that they are all well exposed, which makes finding them with your thumb pretty easy.


What glows on the front side of the Samsung GALAXY Xcover is a 3.65-inch scratch-resistant display with the decent for its size resolution of 320 by 480 pixels.  

Taking the smartphone's back cover off is possible after untwisting the special lock, which holds it firmly attached in place. Once it is gone, we are treated to a view of the smartphone's 1500mAh battery, under which hide the SIM and microSD card slots. We also noticed the rubber trims, which are there to prevent moisture and dust from destroying the phone's circuitry. The phone's insulation would not be complete without the removable covers, which both the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and the microUSB port are protected with.


Overall, the Samsung GALAXY Xcover gives the impression of a durable device without being excessively macho about it. Still, just like the case is with other rugged devices, the smartphone is not that appealing to the eye. On top of that, protection against dust and water damage is not enough to put the GALAXY Xcover on top of the rugged smartphone food chain as the handset is still vulnerable to shock and drops.



Samsung GALAXY Xcover 360-degrees View:





Interface:

The Samsung GALAXY Xcover runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with the TouchWiz user interface installed on top of it. You get up to seven customizable home screens and a grid-like application list that every Android user is already familiar with. A Marvell Xscale processor is what ticks under the smartphone's hood, but it is still too early to rate its performance as we are dealing with a prototype model here.


Using the on-screen virtual keyboard is pretty straightforward as it is comfortable and responsive. Text can be easily typed at high speeds in both landscape and portrait mode.



Functionality:

Samsung has not forgotten to include a set of apps that will surely come in handy. The AllShare app allows for files to be transferred wirelessly between the smartphone and another AllShare-enabled device, such as a PC, TV, digtal camera or a handset. The Music Hub app also comes preloaded and lets you browse and purchase music on the go.

SocialHub is what has been added to satisfy your social networking needs. Sure, it may not be as versatile as a dedicated Twitter or Facebook client, but it gets the job done if you simply need to shoot out a quick message on the fly. Some other goodies like a File Manager app and Polaris Office for document viewing have also been included out of the box.



Internet Browser:

Even on the prototype unit that we got to play around with, browsing the web using the GALAXY Xcover’s stock browser is pretty comfortable. Pages rendered in a timely manner, scrolling around worked flawlessly, and the pinch-to-zoom functionality worked without a hitch. Unfortunately, the experience feels incomplete due to the fact that Adobe Flash support is out of the question, most likely due to insufficient hardware requirements.

Camera:

The 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera on the Samsung GALAXY Xcover is backed up by an LED flash, which has the neat ability to act as a flashlight. Still, 3.2 megapixels is a relatively low figure considering that even some entry-level smartphones feature 5-megapixel sensors.  Thankfully, there is a broad selection of shooting modes, including panorama and smile shot. The GALAXY Xcover is also capable of shooting videos in VGA resolution, which is the bare minimum that all modern smartphones should handle.




Samsung GALAXY Xcover Sample Video:



Multimedia:

In terms of multimedia, all you get is the stock music and video players that Android comes equipped with, but the important thing about them is that they get the job done. Videos of size up to 720p played smoothly, but the smartphone's lack of support for the DivX/Xvid formats needs to be pointed out. There is an FM radio built in as well, yet it still requires you to plug a pair of earphones in order for it to work.



Expectations:

All in all, the Samsung GALAXY Xcover combines the functionality of a mid-range Android-powered smartphone with the ability to withstand dust and water damage, which is a profile that few handsets can match. It may not be fit to win any beauty contests, but the smartphone has a distinctive look that people leading an active lifestyle might find appealing.

However, one must not forget that this simply isn't a true rugged device as it is still vulnerable to drops and shock. The Casio G'zOne Commando, on the other hand, is a good example of how a tough smartphone should be built as it does not lag in terms of features, yet is capable of surviving more than a few bumps and dents.

In our opinion, the upcoming Motorola DEFY+ will be competing head to head with the GALAXY Xcover as it bears the same IP67 certification. However, it will most likely be a step above the Xcover in terms of hardware. Another worthy opponent would be the Sony Ericsson Xperia active, which does not only have the ability to resist dust and water, but also packs a display capable of working even when wet.

Samsung GALAXY Xcover Video Preview:





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