Samsung Galaxy Grand Review
Samsung arguably kickstarted the phablet scene with the first Galaxy Note, and kept the momentum going with their Galaxy Note II, but since then there’s been a whole bunch of other manufacturers trying to get in on the scene, from the likes of the LG Optimus Vu, right down to the budget-friendly Micromax Canvas HD. As such Samsung needed something new to compete in the mid-range segment, and that’s where the Samsung Galaxy Grand comes in.
It’s the new phablet in town, and features Dual-SIM support with Android 4.1.2 on a dual-core processor, and a huge 5 inch display to boot, all at a more affordable price tag than the Galaxy Note II.
Worth checking out? Read on to find out.
The Retail Package:-
Here’s a quick unboxing of the Samsung Galaxy Grand.
Just to give you an idea of what you get in the retail package:
Measuring 143.5 x 76.9 x 9.6 mm and weighing in at 162 grams, the Samsung Galaxy Grand seems much like a smaller Galaxy Note II (or a larger Galaxy S III if you prefer) with the same distinct rounded corner design that they’ve used on the aforementioned smartphones. Which can be a little dated now that we’ve seen it on so many of Samsung’s phones before.
There’s the same faux metal rim along the sides, and the tapered back as well. This all means it is fairly comfortable to operate and hold in one hand, but is a bit heavy and thick compared to the last 5 inch smartphones we’ve played with recently, like the HTC Butterfly or Sony Xperia Z.
Ofcourse the 5 inch screen is probably going to be the main reason why you buy this phone, but it has it’s pros and cons. Cons being, it’s WVGA 480 x 800 resolution on a 5 inch display which is a measly 187 ppi.
If you’re used to 720p displays or 1080p Full HD screens, you’re going to immediately hate the screen resolution on the Galaxy Grand. I’m not sure why Samsung decided to go with WVGA here at all, since it for the same price you could get a Nexus 4 which manages to have 318 ppi on it’s 4.7 inch screen, or the much cheaper Micromax Canvas HD which has a 720p 5 inch display.
If you’re not used to those kinds of screens though, the resolution isnt too bad. It’s not unusable by any means. Samsung has also chosen to use an LCD here instead of their popular AMOLED screen tech that they usually use which boasts deeper blacks and more saturated colors. As a result the LCD is pretty okay, and viewing angles are decent. It’s bright enough to be usable outdoors under sunlight as well, so really the only issue is the low resolution.
Above the screen, you have the centrally located earpiece, with the front facing 2 Megapixel camera, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor next to it.
Below the screen, you have the usual Samsung hardware home button, with capacitive touch keys for menu and back on either side.
On the left side, you have the volume rocker key.
While on the right side you have the lone screenlock/power button.
At the top, you have just the 3.5 mm audio jack to plug in a pair of headphones.
And at the bottom, you have the microUSB port for charging and connectivity, with a tiny pinhole for the microphone.
Coming to the back, you have a glossy-textured finish on the removable back panel, with the usual Samsung logo and above it, an 8 Megapixel camera between a single LED flash and a loudspeaker.
The plastic back panel is better quality than the one on the Galaxy S III suprisingly. Underneath, you’ll find space for two regular SIM cards, and a microSD card slot as well next to the 2100 mAh battery.
All in all, build quality of the Galaxy Grand actually does feel more solid than the SGS3, though not as nice as the Galaxy Note II. Surprised me to be honest, since I’ve been very critical of Samsung’s build quality so far, heh.
It’s still a lot of plastic, mind you, but it feels a lot more solid.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand boasts a dual-core 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 broadcom processor, instead of one of their Exynos chips, with a VideoCore IV GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of memory with the microSD card slot available as well.
Now normally this would be more than good enough to run Android, but Samsung has their custom UI on top, which slows things down a bit. As a result, performance can get a little choppy, and there is the occasional bit of lag, but nothing out of the ordinary for most Android phones in this price bracket.
In terms of connectivity, you have Wifi, Wifi-Hotspot, Bluetooth v4 with A2DP, Stereo FM radio with RDS, GPS and HSDPA, 21 Mbps & HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps. The only thing missing, is NFC.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung’s Nature UX UI on top.
We’ve detailed it all out in our Samsung Galaxy Note II review, so I wont repeat it all again here. There’s Smart Stay, Multi-Window, S Voice, PopUp Play, and all the usual features of TouchWiz, with the Dual-SIM capabilities thrown in.
The Dual Subscriber Identification Modules, means that you can switch from one card to the other with the SIM Card Manager app in Settings. The phone supports dual standby mode as well.
The SIM settings also lets you manage various options for each SIM card, like you can tell the Galaxy Grand to allow an incoming call from the first SIM card, but use data from the second SIM card which is set as default. Or you can receive incoming calls from the second SIM card on your main SIM.
Coming to internet browsing, the default Samsung WebKit browser also lets you save the page for offline viewing, and adjust brightness right from the browser UI as well. There’s no Adobe flash support since this is Android 4.1.x but you can sideload it if necessary. There’s also Google’s chrome browser pre-installed as well.
That all being said, viewing websites can WVGA resolution isnt a great experience because you really start to notice the 187ppi pixel density screen and text appears rather jagged.
On that note, coming to text input, typing on the Galaxy Grand is easy enough thanks to that large 5 inch screen. There’s even haptic feedback as you type, and the portrait keyboard is very comfortable to type on.
Typing in landscape can be a bit of a challenge though, because of the large screen requiring both your thumbs.
Coming to media, you have the usual Android image gallery that we’ve seen for years now, but the music player has all the bells and whistles of Samsung’s Nature UX with equalizer presets and even the video player has the same PopUp Play functionality as the Galaxy Note II, so that you can watch a video in a smaller window pinned somewhere on the screen. There’s also support for DivX/Xvid file formats as well.
Music Quality was pretty good thanks to the sound-enhancing SoundAlive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization which Samsung also uses in some of their MP3 players.
All in all, your usual Samsung TouchWiz UI, nothing less, nothing more.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand has an 8 Megapixel Camera that can capture pictures at up to 3264 x 2448 pixels resolution. There’s an LED flash and ‘zero’ shutter lag with the usual camera interface.
You have access to tons of scene modes and presets, and various color effects as well. There’s touch focus, smile shot, continuous shot, panorama mode and can you can take photos during video recording but at only 720p resolution, which is basically just a frame from the video. There’s no HDR mode though, strangely.
Image quality is good, but dynamic range is bit poor. Color reproduction is decent though, as well as a good amount of details.
Here’s a couple camera results from the Samsung Galaxy Grand to give you a better idea:
Coming to video, you can record at up to 1080p resolution video at 30 frames per second. Results are basically the same as in photo mode.
Here’s a couple video camera samples from the Samsung Galaxy Grand to give you a better idea:
The Call Quality:-
Call quality was average on the Galaxy Grand, and we had no issues with reception or dropped calls.
Voices come in loud and clear, though folks on the other end of the call did have some issues hearing us clearly.
The loudspeaker is loud enough that you can use it for conference calls without straining to make out what folks on the other end of the call were saying.
The Battery Life:-
The Samsung Galaxy Grand has a 2100 mAh battery just like the one in the Galaxy S III.
It’s enough that you can comfortably get through a work day’s worth of moderate usage. Since it’s a low resolution screen the dual-core processor isnt pushing as many pixels, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to reach home at the end of the day, with some battery left to spair.
The Video Overview:-
Here’s a quick video overview of the Samsung Galaxy Grand. Just to give you a better idea:
To be honest, as soon as I saw the WVGA resolution on that 5 inch screen, I thought it’d really bug me. Turns out though it’s actually not too bad for every day tasks. It’s not as great as a 720p or 1080p display ofcourse, but then again this is supposed to be an affordable-budget-yet-mid-range phone. The rest of the specs are pretty okay, from the dual-core processor to the 8 Megapixel camera. Heck even build quality wasnt too bad at all.
At the end of the day, if you must have a huge screen on a dual SIM phone, but are on a budget, get the Micromax Canvas HD. If brand name bugs you, then the Galaxy Grand is perfectly suitable. Or if you’re just looking for a decent Dual-SIM device, and dont mind a slightly smaller screen, the HTC Desire SV is also worth checking out. If you arnt looking for a Dual-SIM though, there’s plenty of better alternatives, including the Galaxy S II, and Galaxy S III Mini.
That all being said, the Samsung Galaxy Grand is still one of few recommendable Dual-SIM phones out there, which thanks to the pull of the Galaxy branding, I assume will be more than enough for Samsung.