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Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018) Review - Affordable Samsung Mid-ranger?

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The Galaxy J6 (2018) is Samsung's attempt to provide a media focused smartphone experience for less. Did it succeed though? Let's see!
Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018) Review - Affordable Samsung Mid-ranger?
Samsung Galaxy J6 (2018) review!

In our initial impressions and unboxing, we noted that the phone is marketed heavily as a media focused smartphone. There were video commercials of the latest endorse, Nadine Lustre, playing video games and/or watching/streaming video content.

The Infinity Display from the Samsung flagships were brought down to the J6 but with a 1480 x 720 resolution. It is running an Exynos 7870 64-bit processor with Mali-T830 MP1 for its GPU.

If judging by specs alone, the J6 looks underwhelming given that it is marketed for media consumption and gaming.


How's the performance? Let's find out!

Display Quality

Super AMOLED goodness!
Super AMOLED goodness!

Front and center is the 5.6-inch 1480 x 720p resolution Infinity display with 2.5D curved glass that is protected by Gorilla Glass.

It may just have 294 ppi but being a super AMOLED, the colors, contrast and deep blacks are the best for its price range. It would have been better if Samsung made it 1080p. 

Like the S9/S9+ it has mode where you can push/boost the brightness for 15 minutes if you needed it.

There is no light sensor so there is no auto-brightness mode. There is a blue light filter but it is set manually or set to user defined schedule.

It has several color modes. The adaptive is on by default. This detects the content being viewed and adjust accordingly. I switched to basic for color accuracy.

It has full 10 point multi-touch display that is perfect for multimedia consumption and gaming that needs multiple simultaneous inputs.

Audio Quality

The single firing speaker is at right side
The single firing speaker is at right side

The single firing speaker is at right side. It is above the power button. The placement is similar to the A8. It is great because when holding the phone normally in portrait or landscape orientation, you almost never cover the speaker unlike if it was on the bottom.

The volume gets loud but at maximum volume, it gets distorted. It is at its best at 80 percent volume where the sound is decently separated and the details are heard to an acceptable extent. It is a bummer that it isn't stereo speakers given that it is a multimedia focused device. The Dolby Atmos helps but stereo would have been the better option.

It comes with the economical Samsung earphone with one earpiece having a shorter cord than the other side. Depending on your preference, it can be an annoying. The sound quality on the other hand is somewhat good.

It can get so loud that you could break someone's eardrums at maximum volume. We placed it at 50 percent volume and the sound stage is surprisingly large and the range is wide. The separation and definition of details could be better. The mids and highs are okay while the bass needs to be improved. It isn't the best but I find the sound signature appealing. This is a personal preference. You may think otherwise.

Microphone quality for calls is good. The microphone records sound clearly and is detailed. It does pick up strong winds and/or loud noises as well. The noise cancellation could be improved. It is noisy in some of our videos. Otherwise, it is good for both telephony. Just alright for audio/videography.

Battery Life

At least 7 hours
At least 7 hours

Our usual PC Mark Battery benchmark clocked in at 7 hours and 15 minutes. While our real world consumption with LTE, calling, texting, messaging, social media, e-mail, web surfing, YouTube streaming and the like was giving us under 7 hours of real world use.

Battery life could be better!

We would pull the plug from the wall charger at 8AM and with LTE turned on, the phone would get to 55 percent by 1PM. By the time we get home at 8PM our battery was usually 10 percent or lower.

Because it only has a 5V to 1A power plug, the charging time from 0 to 100 percent takes a little more than 2 hours to fully charge the 3,000mAh battery.

Camera

13MP f/1.9 Main camera!
13MP f/1.9 Main camera!

The Galaxy J6 has a 13MP f/1.9 with AF and LED flash. It runs the Samsung camera app that has HDR, Night, Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Auto, Stickers and Continuous shot modes.
Pro mode is limited
Pro mode is limited

Most modes are self explanatory. The new stickers mode was inherited from the flagship models that allows you to take pictures with the main and selfie camera with Snapchat like filters that has gained recent popularity.

The Pro mode allows for manually setting the ISO 100 to 800, White balance and exposure compensation. 

The Beauty mode allows for 8 levels of beautification of the eyes, skin and face. We recommend using up to level 4 only as any more will be too cartoonish.

The tap to focus is responsive, quick and accurate. 

The images from the J6's main camera in daylight has high resolution (sharpness) and low noise even when zoomed in.

Colors lacked the punch Samsung has been known for!

The colors however are muted. They lack that saturated punch Samsung has been known for. 

The camera's auto tends to under expose the daylight images that forced us to keep using the exposure compensation. The result is a high contrast images that have muted colors. It is a good look but we personally wanted punchier colors.

In dim and lowlight situations, the noise/grain shows itself and the noise reduction kicks in and softens the image. The colors remain muted and lack the saturation Samsung has been known for.

There are times where in the images have a hard time controlling light sources or bright areas but like the daylight images, the auto tends to under expose the images that make use use the exposure compensation a lot.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight
Close-up 1
Close-up 1
Close-up 2
Close-up 2
Indoor
Indoor
Lowlight
Lowlight

The selfie camera is an 8MP f/1.9 camera with LED flash. The camera app has unique modes like the Selfie Focus (Bokeh Mode), Selfie, Stickers, Wide Selfie.

The Selfie Focus (Bokeh Mode) is a similar version found in the flagship models but it struggles with hard areas like hair and textured clothing. The Bokeh itself isn't too pleasing  and it looks a little off.

The Selfie mode is the standard Selfie auto mode while the Stickers is the same as the main camera. The Wide selfie is a selfie panorama to allow for a wider field of view.

The daylight images from the selfie camera have high resolution as well but there is more grain than the main camera. The colors and contrast are a better on the selfie camera with better color reproduction but it still could use a little more of the punchy colors from Samsung.

The lowlight selfies have a ton of grain and a lot of the resolution is lost but the images are somehow usable. It has difficulty controlling the bright areas.

The AF in lowlight struggles when there is very little light illuminating the subject.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie no flash
Daylight selfie no flash
Daylight selfie with flash corrects white balance
Daylight selfie with flash corrects white balance
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

Both the main camera and selfie camera shoots up to FHD 1920 x 1080p at 30 fps but with no stabilization.

The video footage from both cameras  are shaky when handheld but the colors are surprisingly saturated compared to the stills. The resolution/sharpness is decent while the contrast is good. The grain is present but it doesn't ruin the footage in good lighting.

In low light, the contrast, sharpness and colors are lost because of the grain but it is usable except for situations where there is almost no light source.

Video Samples


Performance

Underwhelming performance
Underwhelming performance

Under the hood is a 1.6GHz 64-bit Exynos 7870 octa-core processor with Mali-T830 MP1 and 3GB of RAM. Though it is marketed as multimedia focused phone graphically intensive games like PUBG can only be played in low settings with decent frame rates.

Far from the fastest phone for the price!

Videos in 1080p at 30 fps play without a hitch, higher resolution and frame rates are a mixed bag. We recommend just playing videos up to 1080p only.
PUBG at low graphics
PUBG at low graphics

In normal tasks like telephony, texting, messaging, web surfing, audio and video streaming, it performs snappy and smoothly without a hitch.
Some of the added features
Some of the added features

It is running on Android 8.0 with Samsung Experience 9.0. It is a heavily customised skin of Samsung for Android. There are A LOT of added features. Most of them we've tackled in our review of the Galaxy S9+ flagship smartphone.

It remains the same, it is the lightest and fastest version of Samsung Experience, it is also the best looking one. Our one gripe is that the settings menu has so much items in it that it is so hard to find the setting you want to find. The search button helps but UI design should make this easier.

You also get One-handed mode, Finger gestures, Quick Launch Camera, Multi-window support and the like!

What we love about Samsung Experience is that if you registered and logged-in to your Samsung Account, you can save all your settings, contacts, messages and etc in the cloud. This means you can retrieve all of it if you reset your phone or if you get a new Samsung Phone. (This is convenient for us because we get to try a lot of Samsung Phones.)

The Fingerprint scanner is at the back and is under the camera. It is not as fast as the Samsung flagship but it is as accurate and as responsive as them. There is no Face Unlock with this phone.

The telephony experience is good. WiFi, 4G LTE, GPS are stable, responsive and fast. Calling, texting and data usage is good in most conditions. 

There is no LED notification, light sensor, and gyroscope though. OTG is supported.

Pros - Good build, AMOLED Infinity Display, 2.5D glass, decent back camera, Dolby Atmos audio, OTG supported
Cons - 1080p display resolution would have been great, dated Exynos 7870 processor, noisy audio recordings, no light sensor, no LED notification, no gyroscope

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy J6 is good looking phone with a sturdy metal frame, polycarbonate back plate and 2.5D glass on top of the Samsung AMOLED Infinity Display. It has decent camera performance as well.

But, hardware output is underwhelming for a "multimedia-focused" handset. It uses the two year old Exynos 7870 which struggles in gaming unlike what the marketing commercials featured.

So if you want a beautiful phone with a great display, the J6 maybe for you.

Sale Alert: Samsung J6 (2018) and Galaxy A6 (2018) are now even cheaper

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.5
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 3.5
Average - 3.8/5
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