Samsung Galaxy R Review

Introduction and Design

That the Samsung GALAXY S II is the most attractive device in the company's stables is something that cannot be questioned. In terms of sales, Samsung's flagship has been passing milestone after milestone, and as of today, more than 10 million units have flown off the shelves.

But there is one device that combines a pretty similar set of features, yet comes a tad cheaper than the GALAXY S II. We are talking, of course, about the Samsung Galaxy R, which we have in our hands today.

The Samsung Galaxy R is more or less a downgraded version of the company's finest smartphone. It passes on the 1.2 GHz Exynos SoC in favor of NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chip, the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display has been replaced with a marginally smaller 4.2-inch Super Clear LCD screen, and the camera on its back has been taken from 8 down to 5 megapixels. Besides, the otherwise plastic back of the Galaxy R has been treated to a nice metallic finish, which we actually find to be an improvement over the plastic feel of the GALAXY S II.

So, without any further ado, let us now take the second best player in team Samsung for a spin and see what goodies it has to offer.

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • wall charger
  • in-ear earphones
  • rubber tips for the earphones
  • User guide and warranty card


The Samsung Galaxy R feels nice and solid, but it isn't quite as sexy as its bigger brother. For starters, is is noticeably heavier tipping the scales at 4.76 oz (135 g), which is 0.67 oz (19 g) more than what the S II weighs. The Galaxy R is also a hair thicker with a waistline of 0.37 inches (9.45 mm).

But despite the slight differences between the two devices, the Galaxy R is still a pleasure to look at. While the S II has an overall plastic feel, the back of the R sports a finish that resembles brushed metal  and serves as a reminder that you are holding a premium device in your hands.

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy R with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

All of the hardware buttons that the smartphone has are well exposed and provide plenty of tactile feedback. At the same time, they are hard enough to prevent any accidental presses while the device is resting in your pocket.

What dominates the front of the Samsung Galaxy R is a 4.2-inch Super Clear LCD display with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels. When put side to side to the screen of the Galaxy S II you hardly notice the difference in size, but you surely notice the difference in colors. The display on the R looks much brighter, with slightly more natural, less exaggerated colors, but those of you looking for punchy contrasts, vibrant colors and super deep blacks will prefer the Super AMOLED Plus screen on the S II. With good viewing angles and above average sunlight legibility, though, we were impressed with the screen of the Galaxy R as well.

Overall, The Samsung Galaxy R may not be as slim and lightweight as the S II, but it doesn't lag too far behind. It is still one stylish, attractive device, and the 4.2-inch display that it is equipped with is sufficiently bright and eye-pleasing.

Samsung Galaxy R 360-degrees View:


The Samsung Galaxy R is more or less identical to the Galaxy S II in terms of appearance. Out of the box you get Andorid 2.3.4 beautified by the TouchWis 4.0 user interface, which adds pretty icons and smooth transition animations to the set. As one would expect, seven home screens are at your disposal and pinching out gives you an overview of all of them. Plenty of handy widgets have been thrown in there, some of which can even be resized to your preference.

NVIDIA's 1GHz, dual-core Tegra 2 chip that powers the smartphone handles navigation perfectly, as long as you do not push it too much. Having a live wallpaper set up along with a ton of widgets results in slight choppiness when switching home screens. Under normal conditions, however, the chip zips through menus and applications with ease.


In terms of software, Samsung has done a great job at covering all the basics for you. File browser, photo editor, downloads manager, office application, even a mini diary – all of those goodies come pre-installed, along with Kies Air for syncing the smartphone wirelessly with a computer. However, these are not the apps that are likely to grab your interest the most. Samsung's Social Hub is probably one of the applications that you will end up using quite frequently as it provides quick access to multiple social networks simultaneously. Music Hub is also present and lets you browse and purchase music on the go. Whenever you are feeling bored, Game Hub can lend a hand with the selection of socially-oriented games that it offers, and Readers Hub has plenty of books, magazines, and newspapers for you to choose from.

Internet Browser:

The stock internet browser on the Samsung Galaxy R gets its job done flawlessly thanks to the power boost that dual-core Tegra 2 chip delivers. Even the heaviest of pages loaded quickly and having Adobe Flash animations running has no noticeable affect on the browser's performance. Pinch-to-zoom works without a hitch, and if you prefer, you can zoom in on paragraphs or columns by double-tapping on the screen.

Something cool that Samsung has added to the browser is the ability to have a side-by-side view of all your opened tabs when you pinch out. After doing so, you can also open new tabs or close the ones you do not need anymore. Another tweak that has been thrown in is zooming in an out by holding two fingers down on the display and tilting it back or forth. The feature is fancy and surely will impress your buddies, but we doubt that you will end up using it regularly.


The camera department is where the Samsung Galaxy R falls way behind its bigger brother – the S II. What we have on the smartphone's back is a 5-megapixel sensor, which seems to be not quite as potent in low light conditions than the 8-megapixel one found in Samsung's flagship.

Low light performance aside, the camera on the smartphone captures colors fairly accurately without making them overly saturated, and there is lots of detail in the shots. The camera's interface offers plenty of shooting modes, including smile shot, panorama, macro, and candlelight. Tap to focus is present as well, and the shutter delay is not something to complain about. If you are not too demanding of a photographer, the Samsung Galaxy R should do just fine whenever you need to take a casual photo.

When it comes to shooting videos, 720p is the maximum resolution they can be taken at despite the fact that it is a dual-core chip powering the smartphone. Footage shot in broad daylight looks satisfactory, with a good level of detail, but when taken under indoor lighting conditions, videos look pretty grainy.

Samsung Galaxy R Outdoor Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy R Indoor Sample Video:


The stock music player on the Samsung Galaxy R is pretty much identical to the one found on all of Samsung's latest Androids. It has all the features that you would expect from it, namely support for playlists, album art, grouping by albums, and it also offers a handful of equalizer presets. It can even handle the FLAC lossless audio format, which shrinks a song's size in megabytes while retaining its original quality. We should also mention that the Samsung Galaxy R comes with a pair of really nice earphones.

As far as video playback goes, the Galaxy R has no troubles running 1080p videos in either MPEG4 or DivX format, and the spacious 4.2-inch display makes watching them on the smartphone quite enjoyable. However, if you prefer, you can stream media to your HDTV or home entertainment system over DLNA by using the AllShare application, which comes pre-loaded on the smartphone.


Tapping to your carrier's 3G/4G airwaves is done using the smartphone's HSPA radio, which supports theoretical download speeds of up to 21Mbps. That should be plenty of throughput to satisfy all your web cravings while you are on the go. Other connectivity options that you get is Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi a/b/g/n with support for Wi-Fi direct. At first, the smartphone's GPS radio was a bit slow in determining our location, which took it a little over 2 minutes from a cold start, but after that, the same task took it only a couple of seconds.


The Samsung Galaxy R is equipped with a secondary microphone that is used for active noise cancellation during calls. With its help, the in-call sound performance of the smartphone is more than impressive. The other party could hear us loud and clear on the other side of the line, and our voice was natural and distinctive. The earpiece performed just as well, but we wish it could have been a bit louder.

Thanks to its its 1650 mAh battery, the smartphone can provide up to 9 hours of talk time, which is significantly above the average for smartphones nowadays. Its stand-by time is impressive as well – 620 hours (roughly 25 days) is what is going to take before the Galaxy R needs a recharge.


All in all, the Samsung Galaxy R is one impressive smartphone that offers plenty of processing power packed up in one pretty slim body. It stands out with its great 4.2-inch display, and the in-call sound quality that it delivers is way above the average.

But once you look at its price tag, you realize that the Samsung GALAXY S II is only a tad more expensive. At the same time, it is lighter, slimmer, and even more powerful in terms of raw computing skills. The S II packs a much better camera as well, while its 4.3-inch display can deliver deeper blacks and punchier colors.

So, is it worth it grabbing the R instead of the S II? Perhaps it is if your budget is strictly limited, but for $50 more or so, you can get the very best Samsung currently has to offer. Do not get us wrong, the Galaxy R is still one great smartphone, but the relatively small price difference between it and the company's flagship does not seem to be justified.

However, before rushing and getting any of these smartphones, you might want to check out some of the alternatives. The HTC Sensation is one of them packing a stunning qHD display and flaunting the beautiful HTC Sense interface, all of that topped off with a solid metal body. Another handset worth your attention is the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, which may not have the advantage of dual-core processing, but it has a unique curved design, packs a snappy 8-megapixel camera, yet comes slightly cheaper.

Samsung Galaxy R Video Review:


  • Beautiful display
  • Great in-call sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Dual-core processor


  • Priced too close to the Galaxy S II
  • Cannot shoot 1080p video

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User Rating:

3 Reviews

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