Oh look, Consumers have access to yet another device in the oh-so crowded sub Rs. 10,000 segment. Yes, we’re talking about the new kid on the block, the Samsung J2 (2016). Samsung has taken a step away from competing on specs and this time it is focusing on offering interesting new usability tweaks that could potentially be a big deal for a lot of users.
Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) specifications
- 5-inch (1280 x 720 Pixels) HD Super AMOLED display
- 1.5 GHz quad-core Spreadtrum SC8830 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
- 1.5GB RAM, 8GB internal memory, expandable up to 32GB with microSD
- Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) OS
- Dual SIM
- 8MP auto focus rear camera with LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture
- 5MP front-facing camera, f/2.2 aperture
- Smart Glow
- 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
- Dimensions: 142.4 X 71.1 X 8.0 mm
- 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
- 2600mAh battery
The Samsung J2 (6) takes a lot of cues from the company’s previous generation flagships. The Galaxy S6 in particular comes to mind when you first spot the phone. Now, you’d be remiss to imagine that the phone is absolutely extraordinary in terms of design language but we like the attention to detail. The curves are all in the right places and the phone feels extremely comfortable and astonishingly light when held in the hand. It’s a small mystery how Samsung manages that with their phones.
The front has a 5 inch 720p display flanked by a not-insignificant bezel on both the sides. Up top and at the bottom, you have large bezels that incorporate the proximity sensor and 5MP camera above the display. Below the display is the centered home key, a standard feature of most Samsung devices. On either side are capacitive keys that correspond to back and multitasking features. Do note that the phone lacks an ambient light sensor so it won’t adjust brightness levels on its own. There’s scratch resistant glass on the front but of a generic variety.
The entire device is made of polycarbonate but there’s a metal finish band running along the edges. The very small bezel helps keep the screen off a flat surface and should ideally prevent some scratches too. Over on the right side is the power button while the left sports volume keys. While the power key is well-defined, we wish that the volume button was better segmented, as such the mushy feedback leaves a bit to be desired. There’s an audio jack at the top and a microUSB port at the bottom.
Flip the handset over and you’ll straight away spot the highlight feature of the phone. Surrounding the top and centered 8MP camera is a Smart Glow unit. Effectively, these are RGB LEDs surrounding the camera module. We’ll talk more about that below. There’s also a single LED flash and speaker grille that can be found on either side of the camera module.
The Smart Glow feature is one of the most unique aspects of the Galaxy J2 (2016). A very different take on a notifications LED, the ring can be configured to glow in practically any color of your choice. You can also set different colors for individual apps that can make it very easy to know exactly what notification you have. The LED ring also lets you know when your battery drops below a certain level. Perhaps a bit gimmicky but a cool function built into the phone is that when taking a selfie with the rear camera, the phone uses facial recognition to track your face. The LEDs glow a solid color once the face is perfectly in the frame and automatically takes the photograph.
While somewhat derivative, it is clear that Samsung hasn’t really taken a back seat on the design end. Textured lines run al around the sides of the phone and seamlessly merge into each other around the center of the rear cover. The Samsung logo sits below this phantasmagoria of lines. The Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) measures 142.4 X 71.1 X 8.0 mm.
Android 6.0.1 powers the show on the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) with Samsung’s typical heavily customized ROM onboard. There’s not many surprises here since most have already seen the many avatars of Touch Wiz over the years.
The lockscreen displays the time, notifications and has shortcuts for the dialer and camera. Swipe across the lockscreen and you get access to a homescreen that lists out all apps. Unlike many other Chinese devices, the Galaxy J2 retains Android’s two level hierarchy thereby allowing you to declutter the interface on the phone.
Beyond interface tweaks, the Galaxy J2 (2016) has a lot of features baked into the ROM itself. This also includes the newly launched S-Bike mode which is meant as a safety feature for bikers. So yes, the phone isn’t all that different from a software perspective but there’s a lot of changes under the hood. Turbo Speed Technology or TST as Samsung calls it, is for all practical purposes a deep system level software optimization. The core apps are now 40% lighter and have been rewritten. There’s much more aggressive and intelligent memory control as well. All this means that the phone, at least on paper, is said to outperform others from the category. Does it do so though? We find out in the performance section.
First things first, the Galaxy J2 (2016) is anything but a performance beast. The 1.5 GHz quad-core Spreadtrum SC8830 processor paired with a Mali-400MP2 GPU as well as the 1.5GB of RAM pale in front of the Snapdragon and MediaTek Helio processors doing the rounds. The key takeaway that Samsung wants to advertise here is balance and experience. Yes, there’s a lot of software tricks involved but we observed that in day-to-day usage, the experience was serviceable.
No, in no way was it ultra fast but Samsung claims to have sped up core applications by over 40% by rewriting them and we really have no reason to think that is false. For someone who needs a phone for everyday use, a reliable device that does all the essentials flawlessly, we feel that the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) could be a possible choice for them. For hardcore users though, the experience will feel wanting as on occasion we felt that the phone was just managing to keep up with our usage.
In the 3D Mark benchmark, the phone scores 2379 points placing it at the bottom of the spectrum.
Geekbench 3 Single – Core performance is rather average at 367 points.
In the popular AnTuTu benchmark that everyone swears by, the phone scores 25170 points.
For a 5 inch device, a resolution of 1280 x 720 is starting to seem quite antiquated on paper but in usage, the difference between a 720p and 1080p screen can be smaller than you’d expect. Look closely and you’ll observe some softness around the icons and text but its not something that really stands out as a negative in every day use.
The Super AMOLED panel true to its nature is extremely vibrant and can go quite bright. While sunlight visibility is satisfactory, the media viewing experience is quite good. Viewing angles are rather fantastic and while mildly over saturated, most users will like the high contrast ratio.
The Galaxy J2 (2016) has an 8MP auto focus capable rear camera with an LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture. Budget Android devices leave much to be desired when it comes to camera capabilities so our expectations were rather tempered. The Galaxy J2 manages to be a reasonably good performer in brightly lit conditions.
As long as we were out and about in Delhi’s summer sun, we got nicely detailed shots that look particularly good on the phone’s AMOLED display. Low light photos are absolutely unusable though with extremely mushy details and lots of noise.
What also particularly stood out was how fast the camera was. Unlike many others where there’s a modicum of lab between multiple shots, J2 (2016) simply keeps shooting.
Connectivity & Battery Life
The J2 (2016) comes reasonably well equipped in terms of connectivity options. The phone has onboard 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS. There’s also FM support which can be a big deal for many users. This is a Dual SIM device that thankfully does not use a hybrid slot and affords you the opportunity to use multiple SIM cards as well as the microSD card slot. In built storage is 8GB of which about 3.26 GB is available at first boot. We do wish that the phone shipped with at least 16GB of storage or offered adoptable storage as an option.
Battery life on the phone is rated at 2600 mAh which in combination with the lower resolution screen and frugal processor delivers significant autonomy. On an average, we easily got a full day of use. Screen on time hovered around 4 – 5 hours, certainly good enough for a regular work day.
The Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016) brings something new and fresh to the table. A fresh take on notifications and how to display them better. Samsung has also done a lot of optimizations to create a smooth everyday usage experience without compromising battery life and performance. Of course, the Super AMOLED display is good to look at as well.
The camera on the other hand proves to be a bit disappointing and the phone isn’t going to be the first choice for hardcore gamers. If you’re looking for a well-balanced device in the sub Rs. 10,000 price range, the Galaxy J2 (2016) could potentially be a good choice for you.
- Well built
- Smart Glow is genuinely useful
- Decent battery life
- Average performance
- Average camera