4G is a thing here in Kenya, now that we are just near fresh from the announcement by one telco Safaricom of their 4G roll-out. In fact they have a promise of rolling out 4G in the whole of Nairobi and Mombasa by end of March (story for another day). Now if you have been a human for most of your life you would know that humans are mostly aspirational. They want to be ahead of the times, be the ones with the new technologies and fashions. That’s what the Galaxy J1 4G represents.
Samsung launched Galaxy J1 sometime back to represent their budget phones, the 3G model costs Kshs 11,000 ($120) and it really is a decent phone. The 4G version I am about to review will sell at Kshs 14,000 ($150). As Safaricom goes live with 4G, phones that can do 4G speeds will of course be in demand. Doesn’t matter if we’ll ever get to exploit the max that is 3G speeds. So what happens if you want options?
There are indeed options at the top, many of them going to the mid range, but at the bottom the options are limited so far. That’s where Galaxy J1 4G comes in. What does it feel like?
Galaxy J1 (4G) Specifications
- 4.3 inch TFT Display, 480 x 800 pixels (217 ppi)
- 4G support of LTE Band 3 (1800) and band 40 (2300)
- Downspeeds of 150Mbps/50 up on LTE and 21.1/5.76 on 3G
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat
- 1.2 GHz Quad Core Processor
- ARM Cortex -A53 Chipset
- 768MB RAM
- 4GB Internal storage
- 5MP rear camera, autofocus with LED Flash
- 2MP front camera
- Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0
- 1850 Li-Ion battery
Design and Aesthetics.
This is a phone that was built with an idea of rethinking the budget proposition, and compared to the other devices built by Samsung, this is really an upgrade. It’s all metal, but the way it’s finished, it gives a slight premium feel with the matte finish. The curved edges feel quite good in the hands. I’d give it a 5/5 for design considering which price point it is for. The camera, speaker and flash are aligned at the top side by side, and the back cover is removable as it the case of Galaxy devices from before the Galaxy A Series.
The front though still has that faux metal edge that pops on top of the display. Functionally it looks good but this is one thing I feel should have been left out to complete the nice look.
Everything else is in place as expected; bottom with the microUSB slot and mouthpiece, left with the volume rocker and the power button on the right, top with the lone 3.5mm sound jack slot. The front has the usual home button and capacitive menu keys flanking it, the front camera and sensors are all on the right of the earpiece.
Features and Performance
This is made for getting good design and 4G to the budget line, so we dwell more on those. Nairobi isn’t really the best place to test 4G as the speeds you will get are not 4G speeds. I did catch 4G when I was in 4G areas like Westlands all the way to Ngong road. These are the places that Safaricom tech guys confirm to have 4G rolled out.In Westlands I’d do 21Mbps down local traffic and 16Mbps international traffic, of course these are speeds within 3G threshold. But this is not about the mobile provider but the phone. I believe when we finally get true 4G speeds like the ones we saw at Village Market during launch, this phone will be ready.
The phone does everything an Android phone with 768 MB RAM would do. It will play games well, I played GT Racing 2 with no complaints at all. You get a very slight lag while playing but that’s manageable. Same applies to the graphics and image refresh. The phone is still pretty new, so things may change as the phone gets full in storage but so far we’re good.
Call quality is quite on point and the sound is also good. Not really loud though but clear and something you will enjoy, when doing music. The device I got here came as-is with no box, so I cannot talk about earphones or other accessories. But using it with other good earphones you do get good sound output depending on what earphones you have
Smartphones have evolved so much that very little is about the primary purpose of the phone, calling and texting. Mobile data takes the fore, then performance of apps and cameras make a strong third when making a case for what phone to buy. The camera here lives up to a 5 MP camera standards, the sensor works fine and the autofocus too. Colour reproduction is also great. Basically here have vale for bucks. See photos below to see how both close-ups and long shots do on this phone. Here are the full resolution photos.
Battery is a very long conversation and however well a phone does, if it’s not supported by a good battery then things won’t end up well. The Galaxy J1 holds up well in this department and will take you through most of the day. This is the dual SIM phone but I rarely use one phone, so my review will be for a single SIM, I will have a day when I test it with two SIM cards before I give it back and update this. So far you have a full day of charge with a single SIM, moderate gaming, internet browsing, WiFi on full-time and music once in a while. The battery is removable so should you be a heavy user (I don’t consider myself a heavy user as I call less, browse apps more) you could charge both in the morning and switch. Mostly we are good here.
This is a proper entry level device that compliments the 3G version which is a few thousands shillings cheaper. And it does stand on its own among devices I’d recommend a brother to buy when they really are on a budget. It’s a phone that does most of the basics properly. That includes internet browsing, gaming, app experience, video and music. It’s worth the dime you will put across the counter. Samsung needed to get Galaxy J1 much earlier. Some devices they released a few months back were quite a compromise. Getting a 4.3 inch smartphone at that price point with a decent display is also something.
Friends and frienemies, don’t buy a smartphone that has a display below 4 inch in 2015. You will hit someone with it. Unless of course it’s a Blackberry which has physical qwerty keys. But who buys those anyway. So what we have here looks decent enough for a budget phone.