Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime Review

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Pros:
  • Good general performance
  • Bright display
  • Benefits from Samsung’s custom UI
Cons:
  • Low internal storage
  • Underwhelming front camera

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Samsung’s latest budget smartphone, the Galaxy J2 Prime, was initially offered exclusively online through Lazada back in 2016 and it was brought to retail stores last February. It has the ‘Prime’ moniker we initially heard from the Galaxy J7 Prime but priced lower for budget consumers. A lower price tag also means less so here’s our review to find out if the handset is worthy of your hard-earned money.

Design and Construction

The Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime boasts a 5-inch TFT display. Along with the display is the inclusion of a front LED flash along with its selfie camera. The face of the J2 Prime resembles the Galaxy J5 (2016) and Galaxy J7 (2016).

The frame of the handset is polycarbonate and also the buttons. The power/lock button is on the right while the volume rocker is on the left.

The top side is where the 3.5mm headphone jack sits leaving the bottom end to house the micro-USB port and microphone.

The rear sports the main shooter with an LED flash and the loudspeaker. The rear is a removable textured back cover giving access to the 2600mAh user-replaceable battery, dual SIM card slot, and dedicated microSD card slot.

The J2 Prime is like a dreg of an old Samsung design folio. It’s familiar looking but also quite outdated. The plastic construction is solid though plus the textured back is a plus. We do miss the cold metal touch of similarly priced handsets from other manufacturers.

Display

Like the Galaxy J7 Prime, Samsung opted to use a cheaper display panel. Instead of a beautiful Super AMOLED, the Galaxy J2 Prime has a TFT LCD on board with a qHD resolution or 540 x 960 pixels. While the display is not that sharp at just 220ppi, it surprisingly has wide-viewing angles. It’s not as vibrant as an AMOLED but it gets really bright especially when you turn on the ‘outdoor’ mode.

Samsung placed the loudspeaker in its favorite spot — beside the rear camera. It fires sound at the back and we know that it’s not the best setup. Good thing that driver is loud enough for media playback, alarms, and ringtones. The slight hump of the camera helps amplify the sound when placed on a hard surface.

OS, Apps, and UI

Running on the handset is Android 6.0 Marshmallow skinned with TouchWiz. Despite not having (and most likely never will) Android 7.0 Nougat, the Galaxy J2 Prime benefits from Samsung’s customization. The skin is the latest update Samsung can push to its budget devices and from what we can tell, it’s very similar to flagship devices sans some features that needed more space and processing power.

The customization of icons and overall experience of TouchWiz is a great welcome to have. Gone are the days when it clogs the memory causing the phone to slow down. With my almost two weeks of use, I never saw a sign of lag or hang.

The internal storage space is lacking though at 8GB with just 3.4GB available upon first boot. You can’t uninstall the pre-loaded applications including key Google apps, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote), Skype, and OneDrive. It’s nice to have a built-in Secure Folder app and free VPN by Opera Max.

Camera

The handset is equipped with an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera with an LED flash and a 5-megapixel fixed focus camera with its own LED flash as well. There’s a number of shooting modes available thanks to TouchWiz’s camera launcher. If you’re familiar with Samsung’s camera launcher, you’ll feel at home and it’s easy and intuitive to use.

The rear camera, as expected, is pretty basic and works well under bright light. The details get a bit mushy when shooting in the dark. Overall, it’s an okay camera but we’ve seen better in this price range. Here are some samples:

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With the inclusion of a front LED flash, one would think that the J2 Prime is a selfie-centric device.

Well, not really but it gets the job done. Details are soft for a 5MP shooter and just not up to par with others. Here are a couple of samples:

Front

w/ beauty mode ON

With video, you get max recording resolution of just 720p. Quality is below average with no support for stabilization. Surprisingly, it’s saved with a .mp4 format and not .3gp like other budget phones. Check it out:

Performance and Benchmarks

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6737T chipset with the Mali-T720 MP2 to handle graphics. And since this is a budget offering from Samsung, it only has 1.5GB RAM but that’s still better than having just 1GB.

General performance of the phone is commendable and to be honest, we’re expecting the phone to slow down after a week of use but it didn’t. Multi-tasking is okay thanks to the enough RAM. As for gaming, it’s hard to put in big titles due to the limited storage available out of the box and not all apps are allowed to be stored on the SD card. Casual titles are perfectly fine but expect lower graphic settings for intensive titles.

We were able to run benchmark tests and here are the results.

  • AnTuTu v6.2 — 34,473
  • Geekbench 4 — 582 (Single), 1608(Multi)
  • PCMark — 3060 (Work 2.0), 4250(Work 1.0), 2927 (Storage)
  • Vellamo — 2264 (Browser), 1837 (Chrome), 915 (Metal), 1476 (Multicore)
  • 3DMark — 173 (SlingShot Extreme)

Call Quality and Connectivity

We didn’t encounter any problem with voice calls and the earpiece is loud and clear. There’s no dedicated secondary microphone to filter out noise but no big complaints so far.

The exact J2 Prime variant we have locally is the SM-G532G which has a different set of LTE bands more suited for Philippine telcos. It has support for both Smart and Globe frequencies including the prized Band 28 (700MHz) spectrum.

Battery Life

What’s great about lower tier Samsung phones is that they still feature removable batteries but they have lower capacities. This one has a 2600mAh user-replaceable cell and surprisingly, it lasted longer than expected. It was able to last for almost 12 hours with 3 hours and 20 mins screen on time. That’s with casual use including mobile apps with data, texts, and calling.

With PCMark (Work 1.0) battery test, it scored a modest 8 hours and 27 minutes. Not shabby for its size and whenever a problem arises, replacing the battery is very easy.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime will not win any design awards as it basically inherits the old language of its forefathers but it’s what inside that matters, right? If there’s one thing this phone has other devices in its range doesn’t, it’s the user experience of TouchWiz. It’s nice to have a similar UI and small set of extra features done by the manufacturer rather than a lifeless interface.

The phone retails for Php7,990 which is quite pricey compared to other offerings from Cherry Mobile and even ASUS but you get the Samsung name and its promises with the Galaxy J2 Prime.

Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime (SM-G532G) specs:
  • 5-inch qHD (540 x 960) TFT display, 220ppi1.5GHz MediaTek MT6737T quad-core CPU
  • Mali-T720MP2 GPU
  • 1.5GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 8MP autofocus rear camera w/ LED flash
  • 5MP front camera w/ LED Flash
  • Dual-SIM
  • 4G LTE Cat.4 w/ Band 28 (700MHz)
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 2,600mAh removable battery
  • 144.8 x 72.1 x 8.9 mm
  • 160 g

(yugatech.com, https://goo.gl/HO7QWa)

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