Samsung Galaxy Beam review

The Samsung Galaxy Beam boasts a built-in projector. No, really.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Cool projection effect

  • +

    Cute design

  • +

    Decent performance

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Projector needs dark setting

  • -

    Chunkier than rivals

  • -

    Screen is average

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The Samsung Galaxy Beam is an Android handset that features its very own built-in projector and a distinctive bright yellow shell.

Ever thought, “The thing this lovely smartphone could really use is a projector”? No, okay, but this is a cute phone with a surprisingly fun extra.

The Samsung Galaxy Beam is certainly different from everything else around it: none of the other handsets in our Best Smartphones list have their own projector. Look at the front and it's a decently styled Android phone with a bright, colourful screen and fetching yellow coloured edge band.

But take a gander from the top edge and you'll see a small housing for a projector. Press the dedicated shoulder button and a bright, bright light is blinding you (and don't forget to turn it off after you've done).

Sure, the projection feature is just a gimmick, and compared to a dedicated projector, it's very weak. But the software Samsung's included means it's very easy to use. It shows whatever's on the screen, so if you're playing a movie you've just downloaded from Google Play, that's what's on the wall. It's clever: place the phone flat and it knows which way up to show the image.

You need a darkened room for this, and to place the phone exactly perpendicular to the wall to get a square-edged image. And you'll be glad that Samsung thoughtfully included an extra battery – a bright light is a sure-fire way to burn through your energy. It even comes with a stand that doubles as a battery recharger.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Build

Given the extra bulk and weight required by the built-in projector, this phone isn't especially heavy or thick – though there are certainly slimmer and lighter handsets around.

The mottled-finish back and glossy front don't look high-end, but this is a decently constructed, fun handset. It feels reasonably rugged – though dropping something as delicate as a projector on a regular basis ain't a good idea – and it fits the hand well.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Features

Of course, there's that projector. But beyond that, this is a highly usable smartphone, with all the joys of Android's software. Note, though, that the phone comes with Gingerbread, not Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. In other words, it's far from the latest OS software.

An Ice Cream Sandwich updage has been promised, though there's no date for this. For now, it's still a capable version of Android, with Samsung's usual extra apps, like Music Hub for buying songs. Of course it has a camera.

Using it requires a slightly different hand orientation than normal because the lens is positioned further down the back of the phone, to allow for the projector unit up top. It's a 5MP model with flash, but decent rather than outstanding.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Screen

Samsung is known for super-bright, richly detailed displays, but this 4in one lacks the Super AMOLED tech the company's known for on its standout phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3.

This one is sharp and attractive, but no match for really super-high resolution displays like the iPhone 4S. Still, it's more than passable, though the ambient light sensor can make it look dim while it adjusts to light in the room.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Performance

Although it doesn't have the latest software or the fastest processor, the performance on the Galaxy Beam is good: its dual-core chip is fast enough and rarely drags, even when the projector software is working overtime to shine the screen's contents on the wall. You'll find faster, more powerful smarties for your money, and certainly slimmer ones, but this is more than adequate.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Battery

This is two phones in one: a gimmicky projector phone that's a fun way of playing YouTube videos on a bedroom wall in a dark room. And a regular smartphone with a slightly bulky top to it. If you use the projector sparingly, this phone has decent battery life. And if you want to watch Lord of the Rings on your wall, expect to swap the battery out.

Samsung Galaxy Beam: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Beam is a gimmicky but decidedly cool phone. It works well as a decent but not ground-breaking smartphone, and its magic trick, showing the screen's content on a wall is fun and pleasing.

But, please note before showing off down the pub, you need a darkened room for a good projection effect and the displayed image is not high resolution. Beyond that, this is a decent, competent phone with good battery life when you're not shining stuff on walls.

A fun phone with a unique feature. Do you need a projector in your phone? Of course not, but it's kinda cool.

Samsung Galaxy Beam availability: Available now

Samsung Galaxy Beam price: £400