We're not exactly sure why anyone would be interested in a smartphone with a built-in projector but that's exactly what Samsung has created. The Galaxy Beam is a run of the mill Android phone that boasts a built-in HD projector as its key feature, but with a brightness of just 15 lumens, we can't see this feature being used for any serious entertainment or business. See also Samsung Galaxy S3 release date, specs and rumour round-up.
On first glance the Samsung Galaxy Beam appears to look like just another Android phone. Look on top though and you'll find a projector lens that allows the phone to beam content onto surfaces up to 50in wide. The projector itself has a resolution of 640x360 but a brightness of just 15 lumens. Visit Group test: what's the best smartphone?
Samsung will tell you that this is brighter than many dedicated, portable pico projectors, but this simply isn't true. A good example is BenQ's latest Joybee GP2 portable projector. It has a brightness of 200 lumens yet in our review we found that its lack of brightness means you need to use it at full brightness unless you're in a dim or dark environment. As such, we can't imagine the Galaxy Beam being very useful at all. See also Samsung Galaxy Note review and Samsung Galaxy Ace review.
Samsung says the Galaxy Beam will come with a "projector-dedicated application" that will enable projection of specific content, so the phone won't simply just project whatever is on the screen. Photos, videos, games, maps and "business information" has been identified by Samsung as the multimedia content that can be beamed from the phone. The company says the 2000mAh battery powering the Galaxy Beam will enable up to three hours of projection time.
Samsung deserves a lot of credit for its implementation of the projector on the Galaxy Beam. The phone is just 12.5mm thick and the company is therefore calling it the world's thinnest projector phone. Though 12.5mm is thicker than many other smartphones on the market, the Galaxy Beam is certainly not as bulky as we imagined a projector phone to be. Further, the phone manages to look as inconspicuous as possible. Aside from the slight bump on the back, you'd be hard pressed to immediately notice the Galaxy Beam has a built-in projector. See also Group test: what's the best Android phone.
Once you get past the projector feature, however, the Galaxy Beam's specifications are not overly impressive. It has a reasonably large 4in, super AMOLED display with a standard resolution of 800x480, while a 1GHz dual-core processor, 768MB of RAM and 8GB are serviceable, but don't compete with most flagship phones of 2012. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera plus a microSD card slot for extra storage.
Disappointingly, the Galaxy Beam will initially ship with the now outdated Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. Samsung hasn't advised whether it will update the phone to the latest 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android but considering this is a niche device, we wouldn't be surprised if the answer was no.
The Samsung Galaxy Beam will launch in various markets in the coming months but there has been no word on Australian availability just yet.