As we learned recently, the big trend now must be to take any regular ol’ phone lying around the house and add the word “Pro” to the end of it, thus magically turning it into a smartphone that happens to use the same form factor.
This is exactly what’s happened to the Samsung Propel Pro, the latest in the Propel series. Samsung essentially took upon the same type of slide-out QWERTY keyboard as the original Propel and gave it a new look by slapping some chrome on it.
Certainly the Propel Pro does feel a bit more sturdy and robust than its namesake because of the different materials used, which is a relief.
To be honest, it will be difficult to talk about new stuff with the Propel Pro, as it is a Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard smartphone with all the same trimmings as any other Windows smartphone. I will, however, express a few thoughts on what makes the Propel Pro a winner and what makes it a loser.
Design of the Samsung Propel Pro
The Pro’s design is the strength of the phone. Samsung came out with the original Propel with an innovative slider keyboard design, and took it to the next level with the Propel Pro. The keyboard is still different than the original — this one’s keys are smooth with no spaces in between, much like the Blackberry 8800 — but still quite familiar in the body overall. Not everyone enjoys having the keys together without spaces in between.
One other big difference is the addition of chrome to the Pro. Since it is a smartphone, Samsung made sure it was made of a better material that could withstand a bit more wear and tear. As such the Pro does feel a little heavier and bulkier than the original Propel, but I prefer this to the plastic feel of the Propel.
As shown on the above picture, the right side of the phone features the charger port and camera button.
The left side of the phone offers a MicroSD port and volume toggle.
On the front of the Propel Pro we find a joystick for navigating around the Windows menus. I found it easy to use and a welcome change to the Blackjack II’s scroll “iPod style” navigation method. The joystick also lights up when charging or receiving a message; you can choose green, red or blue as possible colors.
Since the Pro doesn’t use a touchscreen, it has Windows 6.1 Standard loaded instead of the Professional Edition (I find this a bit ironic, considering it’s the Propel “Pro”, yet doesn’t use Professional Edition). Samsung has added a theme called WizPro to give the Pro a different look; it features a rotating carosel of different shortcuts, similar to the popular TouchFLO interface on HTC devices.
Features of the Propel Pro
Let’s go over the basics first. The Propel Pro is the usual Windows Mobile 6.1 superstar, with 3G/HSDPA, WiFi, GPS, 3 MP camera, MicroSD capability, Stereo Bluetooth 2.0, Music player, and ActiveSync.
Now for some more of the juicy stuff. The Propel Pro also features a 528 MHz processor with 128 MB RAM/256 MB ROM, which makes it a decent quality smartphone in today’s standards. We always want to see extra internal storage space, but the MicroSD slot does handle up to 16 GB easily for watching videos and listening to music.
One new thing Samsung has thrown into this particular WinMo phone is something called Message Ticker. Essentially what this does is show you the full SMS or email on the Today screen when it arrives, on a customized background. Nothing terribly groundbreaking here, but it’s something to make the Pro a little unique at least.
I was rather impressed by the video player on the Propel Pro; I watched a high-res video clip of “I, Robot” which came as close to HD as you can get on a mid-range WinMo phone, thanks to the phone’s 320 x 320 pixel screen.
The Propel Pro also uses Internet Sharing, a neat feature that foregoes the old-fashioned method of using AT&T Communication Manager to tether your phone as a modem for your computer, and enables your computer to automatically detect the Pro’s modem and connect you to the net.
How is the Pro any different than the Blackjack 2 besides the slider? It has a nicer camera (3.0 MP), WiFi included, and joystick instead of scroll navigation. These should now be considered standard in any new smartphones.
Performance of the Samsung Propel Pro
Quite honestly, there wasn’t anything mind-blowing about the Propel Pro, other than the fact that it’s a well made Windows Mobile Standard phone. It has a fast enough processor along with all the essential bells and whistles you’ll need in a smartphone.
While it’s not a powerhouse that surpasses the industry leaders, the Propel Pro is quite sufficient to do the job for most consumers at a reasonable price.
Expect a battery life of 6.5 hours talk time and 12 days of standby time, thanks to a large 1440 mAh battery. For a 3G smartphone I find this rated battery life to be excellent compared to other similar devices.
Some may find the keyboard a little cramped without spaces in between, but for me it wasn’t terribly noticeable. Also, for web browsing I strongly recommend finding a third party browser to get the best surfing experience possible.
Please check out our gallery of pics below!
Do you have a Propel Pro, or thinking of getting one? Chime in with your thoughts in our comments section!
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