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Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 Review – Grand Successor

on January 28, 2014 – 9:00 amNo Comment

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 is the successor of Samsung Galaxy Grand which was launched more than a year ago and was a huge hit. Despite having average specifications, Galaxy Grand managed to make a huge impact on the mid-range smartphone market and its successor – Galaxy Grand 2 improves upon most of the short comings of its predecessor.

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Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 is priced a little above the mid-range pricing and offers quite a lot for its price. Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 now comes with a bigger and better 5.25inch 720p HD display, quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5GB RAM and a bigger 2600mAh battery. It gives the other Indian manufacturers’ devices a run for their money as it combines performance with power.

So, is the new Galaxy Grand 2 worth buying? Lets check out.

Video Review

Design, Build Quality and Handling

One of the first things that you will notice about the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 is that how it looks more like the 2013 Samsung devices like Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 with thin bezels and longer body. The design language is trademark Samsung with an all plastic build with the same fake chrome metal plastic ring running across the length of the device.

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The most noticeable design change in the Galaxy Grand 2 is that Samsung have ditched the glossy shiny plastic back for a faux leather textured plastic back that debuted on the Galaxy Note 3. However, since the Galaxy Grand 2 is priced at less than half the price of Galaxy Note 3, it is unfair to expect the same premium almost leather like feel on the Galaxy Note 3. The faux leather back of the Galaxy Grand 2 looks like leather, but feels nothing like it. Each time you touch it, you realize that it is merely a textured plastic back.

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But that is not essentially a bad thing. The new textured plastic back is scratch/finger print proof and is way superior to the glossy shiny plastic back of the original Grand which is a scratch and finger print magnet. The Galaxy Grand 2 also incorporates more subtle changes like the textured surface on the front instead of a plain surface.

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The choice of material may have changed, but the location of buttons haven’t. On the front, above the display, we have the earpiece at the center below which there is a Samsung logo. To the right of the earpiece, we have the proximity and ambient light sensors and to the right of the sensor combination, we have the 1.9MP front facing camera. To the bottom right of the front camera, we have the “DUOS” branding indicating that the Galaxy Grand 2 is a dual SIM smartphone.

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Below the display, we have the typical Samsung layout with the physical home button at the center and flanked by two capacitive keys on either side. The home button is surrounded by a chrome metal material and the capacitive buttons remain hidden unless needed.

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On the right side of the device, we have just the power lock button.

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On the bottom, we have the microUSB port and the primary microphone.

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On the left side, we have just the volume rocker.

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On the top, we have the 3.5mm audio jack.

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Now moving to the back of the device, we find a 8MP camera on the top center with the single LED flash to the left of it and the speaker grill to the right of it. There is a Samsung logo right below the camera. As on most Samsung devices, the back cover is removable.

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On removing the back cover, we have the removable 2600mAh battery. Above the battery slot, we have the two microSIM slots. There is a microSD card slot right above one of the microSIM card slots.

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In terms of handling, the big display and the big form factor have a role to play. People with small hands may find it a little tough to handle the phone with one hand, but it is quite comfortable for two handed usage. And since 5inch phones are the norm today, pocketability shouldn’t be a problem.

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Overall, the Galaxy Grand 2 has a better than its class build quality and handles quite well.

Display

One of the biggest problems with the Samsung Galaxy Grand was its mediocre display. Samsung took that disadvantage of the Galaxy Grand and made it an advantage with the Galaxy Grand 2 with a 720p HD 5.25inch TFT display. Although the pixels have been pumped up, we would have appreciated it if Samsung had used the S-LCD display that you find on the Galaxy Mega 6.3. The new 5.25inch 720p HD display has a pixel density of 280ppi which is almost more than 100ppi greater than the Samsung Galaxy Grand.

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In terms of display quality, the 720p display is sharp and performs well most of the times. The color reproduction isn’t as vivid as the Super AMOLED and the contrast ratio isn’t the greatest, but is definitely above average. In terms of viewing angles, the display performs averagely – when the display is viewed from a different angle, the contrast falls sharply and the images on the display aren’t the way they are supposed to be. The display is also highly reflective and that becomes kind of a problem. The sunlight legibility isn’t great either.

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Overall, the display on the Galaxy Grand 2 is a huge improvement over the Galaxy Grand, but still it has a long way to go. But when you bring in the price factor, it is a well above average display.

Hardware and Performance

Another area where the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 has seen an improvement is the internal specifications. Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 SoC along with Adreno 305. There is also 1.5GB RAM to handle multi-tasking with ease. It is powered by the same chip that powers Motorola Moto G which is yet to release in India.

The internal storage 8GB out of which around 5.7GB is user-accessible. There is a microSD card slot for expanding your storage. When we tried moving the apps to the microSD card, the apps did move, but only a very small amount of data moved to the SD card and left most of the content on the phone storage. Out of the 1.5GB RAM, around 1380MB is usable and when the device is idle, around 700MB is free.

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In terms of performance, Galaxy Grand 2 is quite good. Being powered by a quad-core processor and sufficient RAM, the device handles most of the everyday tasks quite quickly. But smooth performance isn’t the case always – at times, the heavy and bloated TouchWiz UI drastically reduces the performance and you feel that you have wait for quite sometime for an app to open(but it happens only rarely).

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In benchmarks, the Galaxy Grand 2 performed quite well. You can check out the benchmark post right here or look at a few benchmark scores right below.

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 AnTuTu Benchmark 4

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 NenaMark 2

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 Quadrant Benchmark

You can check out the benchmarks video right below.

Overall, the performance of Galaxy Grand 2 is good, but with occasional lags and jitters mainly because of Samsung’s resource heavy TouchWiz.

Gaming Performance

In terms of gaming performance, the Galaxy Grand 2 performed reasonably well. It handled most of the games quite well. But when it came to HD games, it did handle them well, but there was some occasional lag. You can check out the gameplay videos right below and see for yourself how the games have out.

Overall, if you plan to use your Galaxy Grand 2 only for casual games and not so graphics intensive games, then definitely you won’t be disappointed. But if your main intention is for HD gaming on a smartphone, then the Galaxy Grand 2 may disappoint you a little. You can check out our gaming review video right below.

Camera

One of the things that hasn’t changed in Galaxy Grand 2 from its predecessor Galaxy Grand is the camera. The Galaxy Grand 2 comes with a 8MP camera on the back and a 1.9MP camera on the front. The Galaxy Grand 2 can record 1080p videos from the rear camera and 720p videos from the front camera.

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Though the camera specifications haven’t changed, the camera UI has changed a lot and that is because of the newer version of Android and TouchWiz. Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 has the same camera application from the 2013 Galaxy devices like Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Mega series and Galaxy Note 3. The camera UI has very little on the viewfinder. On the bottom left, we have the shortcut to gallery. On the top left, we have the front/back camera toggle and a settings icon to the right of it. Selecting the settings icon, opens a panel of setting options on the top of the viewfinder. On the top of the viewfinder, we have a arrow pointing up. Selecting the arrow opens a panel of basic effects for the photo. On the right side, we have the mode indicator text on the top right corner, below which we have the video recorder key. Below it, we have the camera shutter key and below that we have the mode selection key.

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The Galaxy Grand 2 comes with quite a few shooting modes that includes – Auto, Beauty Face, Best photo, Continuous shot, Best face, Sound and Shot, HDR mode, Panorama, Sports and Night mode. Each of the mode does the required job. The Panorama is quite good and the stitch is almost flawless.

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In terms of camera quality, the images are quite good. The colors are very nice, a little over-saturated on occasions though. The details are quite good as well. You can check out the samples right below and for more samples, you can check out our camera samples post here.

You can check out our camera review video right below.

Software

Being a Samsung Galaxy device, it has Samsung’s popular TouchWiz UI along with a few features from the high end flagship devices. Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 runs on Android 4.3 overlaid by latest TouchWiz UI. Among the many features and gimmicks of the Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, some of more notable ones are Multi-Window and Pop up video player.

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Since the device runs on Android 4.3 Jellybean, you can use multiple lock-screen widgets. Since the device is big and can be tough for one handed usage, Samsung has given the software feature where the screen scales itself for one handed usage. This is very noticeable especially in the Samsung keyboard that becomes smaller and towards one side for supposedly one handed usage. Though the choice for one handed usage is great, the apps and keyboard need a lift in usability rather than just becoming small.

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Samsung had improved the Multi-Window feature and introduced it in Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Grand 2 gets similar treatment. The Multi-Window mode can be either enabled via a toggle in the notification quick toggles panel or by long pressing the back button. Once enabled, there is a small arrow on the left side of the screen that lets you choose the apps that can be used side by side. You can use a lot of apps side by side and you can use Samsung’s own app twice. For example, you can browse two different websites on a single screen. You can also save the combination of apps as a single icon and on pressing the icon, both the apps open up. It is great if you want to check your twitter while browsing on the side or if you want to tweet while watching a video on the right side. You can check out the feature in motion in our video right below.

Another feature that was introduced in Galaxy Note 3 and now seen in Galaxy Grand 2 is the My Magazine feature that is more or less Flipboard with a different name. You can access My Magazine swiping up from bottom of the screen, this opens up a Flipboard like app that brings curated information from the Internet as well as from within the phone.

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Another notable feature that is some of Samsung’s apps like Internet(browser), Music Player and Video player all open up in full screen mode without the notification bar. You can access the notification bar by swiping down from the top, but it is hidden by default and the respective applications take up the full screen. This is pretty good especially when browsing when the notification bar doesn’t hinder with whatever you are viewing.

Audio

The quality of the headphones given along with the phone is quite good. The quality of the audio output through headphones is very good. However, the loudness of the loud speaker wasn’t the greatest. There is a FM Radio with RDS.

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Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 comes with sufficient connectivity options that include WiFi(Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth, GPS, microUSB port and dual SIM support. Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 comes with the Smart dual-SIM feature that allows incoming calls on the second SIM card even if you are on call through the first SIM. There is no NFC, but you do have the Samsung DLNA feature for connectivity. Despite running on Android 4.3 Jellybean, there is no Miracast support and hence you will not be able to use wireless displays.

Battery

Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 comes with a 2600mAh removable Li-ion battery.

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The battery life of the phone is quite good and for normal usage, it will definitely last a day even if you are using two SIMs. Even for above average – just below heavy usage, it will almost last you a day. While watching videos at full brightness, I was able to get nearly 7 hours of battery life.

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Conclusion

Despite its average performance and below average display, the original Samsung Galaxy Grand was a successful product for the South Korean giant and they have managed to correct most of the flaws of the original in the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 and made it almost affordable. The Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 is definitely the phone to get if you are looking for a higher mid-range Samsung smartphone.

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Pros

  • Good display
  • Quad-core Snapdragon 400 SoC ensures great performance
  • Very good camera
  • Excellent battery life
  • Dual SIM connectivity

Cons

  • Heavily bloated TouchWiz
  • All plastic build
  • Occasional lags
  • Isn’t great for HD gaming
  • A bit on the expensive side
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Monish is passionate about smartphones who is also interested in User Experience and Design. He is currently using Samsung Galaxy S3. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+