Device Review: Samsung Galaxy Express

Featured Image Overview

The Samsung Galaxy Express is one of the smaller phones that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.  It’s designed to be a mid-range device and with that in mind I think it succeeded.  Let me start my giving a quick overview of my Pros and Cons for the Galaxy Express.

Pros

  • 4G LTE capability
  • Slim design
  • Text on display is crisp and easy to read
  • Overall very little lag when using the phone

Cons

  • Resolution is only 480×800
  • Camera is only 5 megapixels
  • Samsung Media Hub seemed to crash frequently
  • 8GB of internal storage

Hardware

The handset measures 5.22″ x 2.74″ x 0.37″ and weighs 4.5oz.  The design of the phone is nearly identical to one of Samsung’s premier devices, the Galaxy S III.  You will find the same raised home button and capacitive menu and back buttons on either side.   The Galaxy Express has rounded corners common on other Samsung devices. The left side of the phone contains your volume rocker and one thing I thought was a little confusing is that there is no distinguishing between volume up and volume down.  I found myself changing the volume in the wrong direction many times.  The top of the Galaxy Express is where you will find the headset port making it easy to attach headphones if you are the type of individual, such as myself, that puts their phone in their pocket with the top closest to the pocket opening.  The bottom of the device is where you will find the microUSB port.  Finally, the your lock button is found over on the right side as you would expect to see on a Samsung device.

Underneath the hood of the Galaxy Express, you can expect to find a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Krait processor, Adreno 225 graphics processor, 8GB internal storage and 1GB of RAM.  The display on the Galaxy Express is a 4.5″ 480×800 Super AMOLED Plus screen capable of 207 pixels per inch.  Given that this device is not a high-end smartphone, the lower resolution is to be expected, but even then it seems a little low.  The HTC One VX is a similar phone, but boasts a resolution of 540×960.  Despite the low resolution, I felt the text on the screen was sharp easy to read.  One other thing that I was impressed with was the ability to see the device in bright daylight.  I’ve had a few phones that were almost impossible to view outside on a sunny day, but I never had the same issue using the Galaxy Express.

Running out if space on your device can easily occur with only 8GB of internal storage available, 5GB of which is usable.  Samsung rectifies this by providing a microSD slot capable of reading SDHC cards up to 32GB. The downside to this is that to access the microSD slot, you will need remove the back battery cover.  The SIM card slot is also available once the back cover is removed, but battery removal is required to insert a new SIM card.

Build Quality

When developing a device, one of the hardest things to do is find that balance between durability and weight.  I felt fairly comfortable using the Galaxy Express as my daily device.  Holding the device was comfortable and the light weight on long conversations.  One thing I found troublesome at times was the plastic battery cover.  I appreciate the fact that its plastic, but there is no texture on the back.  I found a few times where I set the phone down on the passenger’s seat in my car and the phone slide around on the smallest curve or slow turn.  Of course this is easily remedied by placing the phone somewhere else, but it still would be nice to have a little more weight to the phone to minimize that from happening again.  Overall, I was quite satisfied with the build quality of the phone.  It didn’t feel too plastic, nor did I feel like I was carrying a small brick around with me.

Software

The Galaxy Express ships with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box and carries the familiar Samsung Touchwiz Nature interface.  The Touchwiz interface is new to me and I found it pretty easy to use.  Using  a pinch motion on the screen brought up the homescreens and using the ‘Home’ icon, I could easily select the default screen.  Sliding down the notification window you will find a horizontal set of toggles to turn on/off various functions to include Wireless, GPS, and Bluetooth. The App drawer contains three tabs for your applications, widgets, and applications you have downloaded.  Bringing up the menu option, you can choose to view your applications alphabetically in either a grid or list as well as in a customizable grid.  If you are like me and don’t want to see rarely-used applications, the ability to hide applications is available inside the app drawer.

Many smartphones no are loaded with pre-installed applications from both the carrier and the manufacturer.  While these apps may be quite useful to many, others consider them “bloatware.”  The Touchwiz interface doesn’t allow you to remove these pre-installed applications, but you are able to disable them.  There are a total of 14 AT&T apps pre-installed on the Galaxy Express.

Sometimes learning a new interface on your phone can seem like a daunting task,  but Samsung aims to help you feel more at ease with the numerous software tutorials included.  These were great initially, but I quickly found myself looking for the option not to show again as they started to become cumbersome.

Performance

The Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz processor, Adreno 225 GPU, and 1GB of RAM combine to provide very solid performance and is confirmed by the following benchmarks:
AnTuTu - 10688
Quadrant Standard – 5136
NenaMark2 - 61.1 frames per second

These results are in line with similar mid-range devices such as the HTC One VX and the LG Escape.  I found very little lag when switching between applications and none of the applications seemed to be sluggish during use.  However, I did find one instance where the Media Hub did not want to open.  Every time I attempted to open the application, the device appeared to freeze and the Media Hub would force close.  I rebooted the phone and the issue resolved itself.  The Media Hub would open and run without a hitch.  The overall performance of the Samsung Galaxy Express was good, but not amazing.

Battery Life

We all know how important a long-lasting battery is when choosing a new smartphone.  If you choose one that is not removable, you want to make sure that it is big enough to last several hours before needing to charge it again. The flip-side is choosing a device with a smaller battery that may not last as long, but is removable.  The Galaxy Express 2000mAh removable battery is rated for 14 hours talk time and 13 days of stand-by time.

My experience with the battery life on the Galaxy Express was pleasantly surprising. First off though, I do need to admit that I’m not the biggest talker in the world and I lean more toward the light phone use side.  My typical daily use of the phone consists of a few calls, light internet browsing and a fair amount of playing games.  Based on these behaviors, I found that I was able to go a little over a day before needing to charge my phone.  While my phone usage may be atypical of the average user, the time between charges for most users should be enough to satisfy most individuals.

Camera

Samsung decided to go with a slightly lower resolution camera with 720p video recording on the Galaxy Express.  The rear camera is 5 megapixels capable of producing a  2592х1944 pixel image, while the front-facing camera is 1.3 megapixels producing an image of 1280×1024 pixels.  Inside the camera application, you will find various filters such as Negative, Sepia, and Black & White.  The camera app also includes numerous scenes such as Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Indoor.  Images taken indoor appeared to be somewhat grainy, but given the small aperture of the lens, I’m not totally surprised.   Outdoor images were better, but lacked the sharpness I would like to have seen.

 

When taking 720p HD videos, I noticed that the colors seemed to be slightly inaccurate.  The colors appeared washed out and didn’t fully capture the richness of the colors that I hoped to see.  The videos created with the Galaxy Express should be good enough to share with your family and friends on Facebook, YouTube, or any other social sharing platform.

Network

The Galaxy Express is a quad-band 4G LTE device.  Call quality was excellent on this device providing clear calls with no buzzing or static.  Hearing the person on the other end of the line was never an issue as call volume was also quite sufficient. I was really impressed by the 4G LTE download and upload speeds on this device.  Downloads speeds hovered around 34MB while uploads were around 14MB on average. The LTE speeds really add to the value of this phone.

Final Thoughts

Overall I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Samsung Galaxy Express.  The device performed well throughout my testing and after small learning curve, I was quickly breezing through the  Touchwiz interface.  The camera was a little lack for my taste in that it was only 5 megapixels, but video produced was satisfactory enough for me to share with family and friends.  If you are looking for an inexpensive quality device, I would advise picking up this device from AT&T or Amazon

Tags: , ,