Phablets have emerged as big and popular smartphone category and consumers want them in every price-segment. We have seen in the recent few months how attractively priced Micromax Canvas phones were an immediate hit, and the creator of this segment Samsung realised how they were losing out on this front and thus the Korean manufacturer came out with Galaxy Grand. It might not be in the category of Canvas series smartphones, but is it a worthy investment for the consumer looking to grab a super-sized Android smartphone without spending their whole month’s salary, we will find out in this review.
But, first take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Grand duos key specifications
1.2 GHz Dual Core processor
5.0” WVGA TFT LCD
Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
8 Megapixel Auto Focus Rear Camera with Flash
2 Megapixel Front HD Camera
Bluetooth v 4.0 ? LE, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz), DLNA
Accelerometer, Light, Digital Compass, Proximity, Gyro
8GB User memory ?microSD (up to 64GB)
77 x 143.7 x 9.6 mm, 162 g
Li-ion battery 2,100mAh
When Samsung announced Galaxy S III last year, it came out with something that it dubbed as a nature inspired design. Company has been following the same designing principle in many of its succeeding phones like Note II, Galaxy S III Mini. Samsung Galaxy Grand also follows the same design principle.
If you let go of the thickness and width of the smartphone, Grand looks a lot like Galaxy S III or Note II, which is not at all a bad thing. Samsung Galaxy S3’s design is a tried and test one. You might not get an original looking phone in Grand but you certainly get a tested one.
I must point out here that given the size of the smartphone, people will normal sized hands like me will surely struggle in day-to-day handling the phone. This is a phone for people, who really want a big screen smartphone aka phablet and not a normal smartphone.
Coming to the specifics, the front of the Galaxy Grand packs the 5-inch WVGA display along with the usual home button and capacitive keys. The Samsung logo, front camera, earpiece and couple of sensors are also present on the front. The chrome ring on the sides is pretty much clean apart from the usual volume rocker on the left, power button on the right, 3.5mm audio jack on the top and micro-USB 2.0 port on the bottom with microphone.
Samsung Galaxy Grand duos features a removable battery cover, which is made of usual Samsung plastic. There is also 8MP camera, LED flash and speaker on the back. Behind the battery cover, you will find the 2100 mah battery, two SIM card slots, and microSD card slot.
Overall, the S3 inspired design and looks of Galaxy Grand and pretty decent, and you will not be disappointed.
Software/ User Interface
Samsung has loaded Android 4.1 Jelly Bean along with Nature UX on the Galaxy Grand. The interface is same as other Samsung smartphones like Galaxy S III, S III Mini, and Note II. The big screen specific customisations like multi-window are present here and by default 11 apps on the Galaxy Grand can now make use of multi-window. We would love to see more apps supporting multi-window, but still, there is a decent support.
Basic Jelly Bean features like Google Now, enhanced notifications and improved widget support are all present here. Rest of the Jelly Bean features get lost in Samsung’s own customisations.
Thanks to all the refining over the last few months, the interface of the Grand is more than decent, normal Android users will find it easier to use.
Samsung is introducing something called myServices with Galaxy Grand in India. It is like a destination for most of your content needs – music, movies, Educational content, TV and Concerts. The first time you use the app, it installs separate apps for all the content types mentioned above, which is really a pain as it taken a lot of time. Samsung should have ideally pre-loaded these apps out of the box on the phone. Parts of myServices are ultra-slow to use and taken a lot of steps to do simple tasks.
Suppose, if you want to download a song, you will have to open myServices app, then choose myMusic, then choose the song, select download, the download link will open in a browser window, enter your password and then again click download. Clearly, Samsung India was least worried about the user experience, while designing the app.
Samsung Galaxy Grand comes with a 5-inch 800x480p resolution display, which really isn’t that bad as it sounds, although we would have certainly preferred a better resolution. If you have ever used a better resolution smartphone, you will be disappointed with Galaxy Grand display, however if this is maximum display resolution phone you have ever handled, chances are you won’t have any issues.
Resolution aside, the display on Galaxy Grand is decent and sufficiently bright. The viewing angles are good; however the under-sun visibility is average.
The smartphones comes with 8MP rear camera and 2MP front camera. The image quality of the rear camera is good; however the detail is missing from images, opposed to cameras in high-end phones like One X, S III or Note II. Low-light shots are decent, but quite some noise creeps in the photographs.
The camera also supports full HD 1080p video recording and the quality is average. The front 2MP also works nicely and you won’t any issues with your normal video chatting needs or self-portraits.
You can see a few sample shots taken from the Galaxy Grand camera below, use the links given below the images to download the images in full resolution.
On the camera app front, there are almost the same options present in S III or Note II in Grand camera app. You can edit camera settings like Exposure value, Scene mode, ISO, White balance and more.
Performance/ Battery Life
Samsung has included a 1.2GHz dual-core processor in the phone along with 1GB RAM, which is enough for normal smartphone needs. During the course of this review, I did not find the phone laggy and there were no issues with the interface.
Casual games run perfectly, and you can also play high-graphic games like Dead Trigger, Shadowgun etc. Voice-calling, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS also work as expected and so does the dual-SIM performance. Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos packs two GSM SIM card slot, which support dual-standby, however thanks to Samsung’s smart Dual-SIM technology, if you are on call on one SIM and there is a call on the other SIM, the phone will forward the call to the first SIM, this you will not miss any calls, however for the forwarded call, your second SIM provider will charge you with the normal local call rates.
The phone also supports 3G video-calling, so you can make use of that. I won’t go in to the benchmarks and all as it is the real world performance that matters and Grand does not disappoint in that department.
The Korean manufacturer has packed 2100 mAh battery on the phone, which a little less powerful considering the huge 5-inch display on-board and the dual-SIM connectivity. If you are an average smartphone user, the battery will be sufficient for the full day usage, but for the advanced users, you better keep a charger nearby.
Samsung realised the importance of big-screen smartphones also known as phablets at the right time and is now reaping the profits. In the same bid, company came out with Galaxy Grand, knowing the consumer expectations to see a phablet in mid-range price segment and does it have a winner?
Yes, apart from display resolution, Galaxy Grand Duos performs in every other department. We would have liked a lot of other things in Galaxy Grand Duos, but after reviewing the phone, none of them seems a deal-breaker. However, it is still a phone for only who explicitly want a phablet, because for me it is just too big and bulky and if you too are looking for a normal smartphone, there are several other choices available. But, if you want a mid-range phablet, Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos is worthy of consideration.
If you have no issues with Micromax phones, you can also look at A116 Canvas HD, which is priced less and should become available in the next few days after the initial sell-out.