Pros: Fast UI, Affordable, Vivid Screen, Great build quality, 3mp camera is surprisingly good.
Cons: Limited internal storage, no Gorilla Glass, somewhat weak GPU (Adreno 200 Graphics). Low video resolution
A problem with buying a smartphone on a budget is that you often need to sacrifice one thing for another. The Samsung Galaxy Gio does well to bring a complete smartphone experience to the masses, given its pricetag.
First we'll look at the screen - it is a 3.2-inch unit of HVGA resolution - that is 320x480 pixels. To put things in perspective, it is the same resolution as the screens used in the iPhone 3G and 3GS. The unit delivers rather well. Colours look vivid while text looks sufficiently sharp. It may not be of retina-display-standard sharpness, but it does the job well enough. Viewing angles are also decent. Colours remain accurate when the display is viewed at an angle from the left and right sides. However, when viewed from the bottom at an angle, colours noticeably wash out. At full brightness, sunlight legibility is good, however, as this LCD unit relies completely on LED backlight for illumination, the display is barely readable to say the least, when viewed in the sun at low brightness levels.
UI: The Samsung Galaxy Gio runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung Touchwiz user interface. Thanks to the 800 megahertz processor and superb optimization, navigating round the interface feels quick and snappy, though there may be hints of choppiness when scrolling between homescreens if you load them with many widgets (like I did). My launcher-of-choice, Go Launcher EX, runs flawlessly on the Galaxy Gio, and the experience is almost buttery-smooth.
Camera: The 3.2 megapixel camera might not sound like much on paper. Contrary to popular belief, the number of megapixels is neither the sole, nor the most important factor for good images and in turn a good camera. The Galaxy Gio delivers pretty decent images, capturing a decent amount of detail, acceptably low levels of noise and natural colours. One pleasant surprise was how well the camera handled macro shots. It was able to focus on close-up objects well most of the time, even once managing to focus on an object when my relative's iPhone 4 couldn't.
Audio: Sound from the speaker is loud and clear while the earphones bundled in the package deliver a really good music listening experience.
Gaming: Most games run pretty smoothly on the Galaxy Gio, including some Gameloft games for Android (e.g. Nova and Asphalt 5). However, the Adreno 200 GPU, which is showing its age now, may not suffice to run new HD games with lifelike graphics, but given the price tag of this phone, I feel that this may be asking for more than what I paid for. I think Samsung has done a really good job at optimizing the GPU drivers - The Gio scores up to 70+ FPS in Neocore on stock Gingerbread, as compared to other phones equipped with the Adreno 200 and loaded with stock firmware, which score anywhere between 30-50 FPS.
Build Quality: The Galaxy Gio feels solidly put together. There are no creaks and wobbles whatsoever, and the textured nature of the home button make it less prone to scratches (as opposed to glossy home buttons). Over the period of time I have used this phone, I have dropped it once from about five feet - and the fact that it came out without so much as a tiny scuff bears testament to the great build quality.