We were ready to throw the Samsung Galaxy Gio on to the giant pile of merely affordable Samsung smart phones, but in person it managed to impress us with its glossy case and sharp screen.

That's not to say we're dissing the cut-price charms of the Samsung Galaxy mini, but the Gio is the first contender we've seen that looks as snazzy as the Samsung Galaxy S 2 with a smaller, pocket-friendly size. The Gio rocks a 3.2-inch screen with 320x480-pixel resolution that looks stunningly sharp in the flesh.

Also, despite its 800MHz processor being much slower on paper than the 1GHz dual-core speed of the Galaxy S 2, it felt smooth and speedy to use.

The Gio is also well connected. It has 7.2Mbps HSDPA for fast downloads over 3G, and it supports the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi standard.

But all this is just icing on the Gio's Android cake. With version 2.2 Froyo of Google mobile OS on board, the Gio is packed to the rafters with smart phone features. These include excellent email support, handy Google Maps, and access to the app-packed shelves of the Android Market.

We think the Gio's press pictures didn't quite do this little phone justice, so we took a shot at capturing its glossy curves in our hands-on photos. Let's ignore the fact that it looks a bit like the iPhone 4, for the moment, and enjoy it by clicking on the gallery above.

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