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Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime Review - Decent Speed Meets Affordability!

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A little bit of back story, the Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime isn't a new phone. It was first available at exclusively online Lazada Philippines last November of 2016. It's an attractive offering from the South Korean electronics giant which aims to target the masses who wants a taste of "Samsung quality" at an affordable price tag.
Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime full review!
Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime full review!

Fast forward mid February of 2017, Samsung has finally made the Galaxy J2 Prime official in the stores.

Anyway, since we weren't able to finish the review last year (we only had it for 3 days for unboxing and first impressions), we revisited the above-mentioned phone to fully test what it has in store Samsung patrons on a tight budget. Here's our full review!

For our review part 1: Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime First Impressions


Display Quality

5 inch screen!
5 inch screen!

The Galaxy J2 Prime has a not too small yet not too big 5 inch LCD. However, its only equipped with a qHD resolution at 220 pixels per inch. It's decent in sharpness, but its a little bit of a let down as most phones we tested in this price range already packed with the sharper HD or even full HD panels.


Screen quality lags behind the competition

Since its only a TFT panel, picture quality also lags behind Samsung's world-famous Super AMOLED screens and even the standard IPS panels. Colors looks paler, white-washed, and not that accurate. Viewing angles are okay-ish though.

Lastly, this screen only has 2 points of touch and doesn't have light sensor for auto brightness on different lighting situations.


Audio Quality

Single speaker behind
Single speaker behind

Speaker placement at the back is a little bit odd, but fortunately, the quality is just fine. Clarity is decent, details are generally okay, and it doesn't distort that bad on max loudness level. Checking its loudness, its average at best. Good enough to make your favorite tunes, call alerts, and alarm even on few meters away.

The headphone audio output is mostly flat. Its good for purist as its responds to EQ-ing properly. Presentation is a bit on the bassy side, but mids are still clean. Separation of details (and micro-details) won't be that present and hissing and peaky parts would be audible. Its capability to drive your favorite earphones or low powered headphones is enough too.

For calls, the microphone did well even with background noise. For video recordings with audio or plain voice recordings, quality is acceptable.

Battery Life

Over 9 hours of score!
Over 9 hours of score!

The J2 Prime comes with 2,600 mAh of juice. On paper, it doesn't look that big, but when you consider the smalls screen size on a lower type of resolution, you'll feel that it is just enough.

We were right, the J2 Prime was able to last for 9 hours and 5 mins on our PC Mark work battery life test. For actual use, it lasted for two days on one full charge as a secondary phone. As a primary phone, you'll need to charge 2x in a single day on heavy usage.

Note: This device has a "Maximum Power Saving Mode" turns off all background running apps to drastically minimize battery consumption.

Charging time is under 2 hours and 30 mins using the included 1A charger.


Camera

The main camera at the back
The main camera at the back

The J2 Prome has an 8 MP f/2.2 lens w/ AF and single LED flash behind. On paper, that's the usual setup we see from mainstream international handset makers at this price point. 
The camera modes available
The camera modes available

It has HDR, panorama, night, sports, continuous shot, sound & shot, and pro mode to choose from. The pro-mode is limited (no shutter speed and manual focus adjustments) though.

Speed of focus is quite good, shooting close-up images around 3 to 4 inches near is possible (can even produce background blur), and image saving time is quicker than what we expected at less than a second.

Image quality-wise, it can produce okayish details, but mostly white-washed and far from impressive. Fortunately, Samsung seeded a software fix that unleashed the true potential of its camera. It isn't still as sharp or refined compared to what we wanted, but there is definitely more color punch and better dynamic range now. (HDR is still soft, grainy, and mostly washed though)

Quality of image improved after the software update!

Lowlight performance also improved by a bit. Using it on that condition even w/ flash isn't still advisable though.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Auto mode
Auto mode
Close-up shot
Close-up shot
Night shot test (struggles are obvious)
Night shot test (struggles are obvious)
Flash test
Flash test

For selfies, this handset packs a 5 MP f/2.2 wide angle lens. It has several beautify levels and filters to choose from. One of the features this phone is proud of is its inclusion of an LED flash to make you look better and visible even in lowlight.

For the quality, daylight selfies are close to excellent. We also like that it has wide-angle lens where you can fit up to 4 people easily on a single frame. However, you'll be stuck in beautify forever mode. There's no normal mode for your no filter selfies. In lowlight, the use of flash is a must.

Selfie Camera Samples

Great daylight selfie
Great daylight selfie
Blurry indoor selfie
Blurry indoor selfie
No flash vs flash (A bit yellowish though)
No flash vs flash (A bit yellowish though)

For videos, the phone can record up to 720p in both front and back cameras. Quality is acceptable as long as you don't have any other 1080p capable cameras beside you. Then due to lack of optical image stabilization (OIS), videos are very shaky as well.

Performance

Good benchmarks scores
Good benchmarks scores

The Galaxy J2 Prime has a 64 bit MT6737T quad core processor clocked at 1.3 GHz paired with Mali T720 graphics to power the phone. Then it has 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of expandable internal storage.

It's equipped with a 64 bit quad core chip that's on par or even faster than most of the older gen octa core processors!

Our benchmark scores revealed that the chipset that Samsung used is better than most of the 32 bit MediaTek octa core chip in the past despite being a quad core chip only. It's also on par with some 64 bit octa chip like the MT6753 on paper.

In our actual use, loading light to moderate apps is swift. Multitasking is also decent due to its 1.5 GB of RAM. We wished it has more RAM, but anything higher than 1 GB is serviceable enough nowadays.  Like what we said previously, light 3D gaming is possible here. It doesn't heat up much too.

The only major problem we encountered so far is its lack of at least 16 GB of base internal storage. Why? 8 GB isn't enough nowadays considering that the OS eats half of the space. You won't be able to install many heavy files or games on this thing. Using a micro SD card is a must.
Samsung's improved and cleaner UI
Samsung's improved and cleaner UI

In terms of software, this phone has Samsung's improve UI on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system. There are less bloats and more function. In particular, we liked that it has a Device maintenance mode to ensure speedy or optimal performance all the time.

The rest of the telephony experience is fine too. Signal reception is strong like most Samsung phones, LTE connectivity is fast, Bluetooth is quite stable, GPS is accurate (enjoyable to use), and it has USB OTG support for easy file transfers.

Pros - Capable speed, good battery life, speedy (for the price) performance, decent daylight main camera, fine daylight selfie camera w/ wide angle lens, LTE connectivity, USB OTG support, accurate GPS
Cons - Plastic build, no glass protection, sharpness of screen lags behind the competition, 2 points of touch only, no light sensor, small base storage, 
no-filter selfie mode isn't possible, no 1080p video recording

Verdict

Coming from all the other Samsung devices in the sub PHP 6K range, this is the best that the company offered in a long while. Like what we said previously, it has a close to entry-midrange speed which can run some 3D games. It even has LTE connectivity, decent daylight cameras, and a clean type of Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS.

However, we noticed that Samsung sacrificed some of the features in order to create a device as affordable as this. For example, it doesn't even have a light sensor for auto screen brightness.


Nonetheless, we are sure that if you are looking for Samsung phone on a limited budget, the Samsung Galaxy J2 Prime is your best bet under PHP 6K.

Build / Design - 3.5
Display - 3.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 3.75
Average - 3.75 / 5
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