For its price, the first Samsung Galaxy Grand was a disappointment given its low-resolution screen without scratch-resistant glass, an underwhelming processor, and poor battery life. Can its successor bring some success?
Quick Tech Specs: 5.2-inch display (1280×720 pixels, 280 ppi) | 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor | 1.5GB RAM | 8GB storage + microSD slot (up to 64GB) | 8MP rear camera (1080p FullHD video), 1.9MP front camera (1080p FullHD video) | 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Di, Bluetooth 4.0 | GPS with A-GPS | 2600mAh battery | Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI
Design: Samsung has managed to fit a slightly larger screen in the Galaxy Grand 2 while maintaining the same overall profile as the original Galaxy Grand. That extra screen space isn’t immediately noticeable, but the smaller bezels do look good. The disappointment is that it’s gone back to the “plastic-y” roots. With the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung introduced a new faux leather finish on the back that makes the phones feel a bit premium. And while the Grand 2 looks the same from a distance, it doesn’t feel like leather at all—it’s just textured plastic. The only thing in it’s favour is that it’s matte and not glossy plastic.
Screen: The 5.2-inch screen of the Grand 2 sports 1280×720 pixels or HD resolution. Now, there are plenty of screens at this size and price which boast FullHD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution, but in my opinion, HD is good enough. While there is an easily noticeable difference between the 800×480 px resolution of Grand and the HD screen of the Grand 2, that’s not the case when it comes to the Grand 2 and other screens with a FullHD display. That said, there is one disappointing aspect of the Grand 2—extremely poor sunlight legibility. Also, Corning does not list the Grand 2 among the devices with a Gorilla Glass surface. However, there is definitely some sort of scratch-resistant glass on the device (perhaps the less common Dragontail) and it did a good job of protecting the screen in our tests, which included a drop and carrying it in pockets with keys and open pen drives.
Performance: In a significant step up from its predecessor, the Galaxy Grand 2’s processor and RAM have been boosted for performance that won’t leave you wanting in any aspect. The device received an update in the middle of our review process. Before the update, it would lag at times and be sluggish when multi-tasking between heavy apps. After the update, it’s been buttery smooth and will serve any power user well.
Memory: The 8GB of internal memory takes up about 2.4GB for preloaded apps and the TouchWiz UI, but the rest is still available to you. And you can pop in a microSD card as well. The end result is enough memory to keep you happy for a long, long time.
Connectivity: The Galaxy Grand 2 has a better-than-average antenna, picking up signals where most phones struggle to. The voice on both ends was also crystal clear.
Software: Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is brilliant on the likes of the Galaxy Note series, where the S-Pen stylus and the large screen size can combine to really take advantage of the various preloaded feature. In the Grand 2, that’s not the case. You can still make use of the Multi-Window feature to an extent, but I didn’t find myself availing of that option. Apart from that, it’s the same TouchWiz that has always been—pick up any Samsung device and you’ll know what you’re in for.
Camera: The Grand 2 has a good camera for its price, taking photos that are clear in broad daylight and decent at night. While noise is an issue that plagues it like most handsets, this device does a better job of capturing colours, with just the right amount of hue and saturation. Video recording is also what you’d expect, with no major complaints on that front—again, like with all handsets, recording audio from sources not directly in line with the microphone is a problem.
Battery: The biggest improvement in the Galaxy Grand 2 is the new 2600mAh battery. The original Grand didn’t have good battery life but the Grand 2 easily lasts for over 15 hours on a single charge. On pure video playback, it ran for just about 5 hours.
Verdict: At Rs. 22,990, the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 gets most things right with the poor sunlight legibility and plastic build being the only things that mars the experience. Those aside, this is a wonderful smartphone. I wouldn’t worry too much about HD vs. FullHD, especially given the great camera, battery life and performance that the Grand 2 offers. And if the price seems a bit high, remember, you get a reputable brand with proven after-sales support.