Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 Review

My tita asked me if there is a phone that I could get for her that fits her budget of just ₱5,000. She wants something with more than 4-inch display and somehow a decent camera, that’s it. I can’t really think of one, even with a fairly large count of ₱4k-ranged phones; I can’t really recommend something that in turn, will make me a resident customer service rep if ever something happens to that budget phone that is too technical for my non-techie tita. Let me first share you a story that recently happened.

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It was a challenge for me, as the better phones comes in mid-range price tag of ₱7k and up. At first I advised her to get the Redmi 2. With active community, she’ll never have a problem in terms of OS support and updates. Also, the camera is decent enough, I guess. Being only available conveniently from Lazada, I initiated a cash on delivery order for one. After the long wait, she finally received and paid for the package but to her horror, it wasn’t a phone that is inside the package. We managed to get a refund after another longer wait, and when we are still in faith of reordering one, the product went out of stock.

That’s why I now have a Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 in my desk. Well, instead of waiting for a restock of the Redmi 2 (which I doubt she can wait) and her being patient for the longest time, I decided to pay a visit to a Samsung store. The J1 isn’t new, but the 2016 version is. It is the cheapest you can get that I think fits just perfect on what I am looking for even though it is a little bit more on the budget she have, the Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 has a price of ₱5,495.

Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 Unboxing

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The J1 2016 comes in a simpler box, white, not orange like the other J-series from Samsung. Pop open the box and the device welcomes you along with the accessories and stuff. Here’s a look at what’s printed on the box:

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The other stuff included in the box are:

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  • USB data/charging cable
  • AC charger with 5V and 700mA output
  • free Globe prepaid LTE SIM card
  • nice-looking earbuds
  • a quick start guide leaflet

Design and Build Quality

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The J1 2016 looks, well, obviously the same as Samsung’s other Galaxy phones. The shape and ergonomic curves to the body is really a pleasure in the palm, even of one with small hands. The housing gives off a metallic feel and the nice clean finish spells the premium look. The side is really metal so you can count on it for being sturdy, while the back cover is made of a nice looking poly that certainly doesn’t make it look cheap.

On the front, you’ll see the usual Samsung lay-out, with the physical home button at the bottom, recent key, and back key. The bezels arent really big, giving a nice compact real-estate for the display. On top is the Samsung logo, front facing camera, sensor and call speaker.

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Peeking at the back, you’ll notice more of its curves. The rear camera lens on the middle, side by side with the led flash and speaker. Samsung logo on the mid section is present as well as the Duos logo on the bottom.

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At the bottom side, you’ll see the micro USB port for charging and data transfer as well as the mic hole.

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On the left side is where the volume rocker located, nothing else.

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On the other side, the power button sits conveniently for a single hand operation.
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On the top side, there goes the 3.5mm port for earphone jack.

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I’d give a thumbs up for the build quality and feel of this J1 2016. Taking into consideration its lightness (at just 131g), it just sits perfectly at my palm, definitely a sweet spot for a device’s one-hand operation. Not slippery even with my sweaty hands, the brushed metal finish matched with the device’s ergonomic shape is to be thanked here. This device comes with variety of colors such as black, white and gold. This one on this review is gold.

Screen

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This phone has a 4.5 inches of display with 480×800 pixels in resolution. For the keen eyes who are very used to at least HD displays, this might look a little less pleasing but I think it’s one way for Samsung to release this handset at such lower price point. It is not bad at all, I had it compared side by side with the J1 mini (₱3,999 version) at the store, the mini’s screen is horrible even at same pixel count yet smaller display. The Super AMOLED display by Samsung on the J1 2016 definitely did the trick so as why it does have better looking display.

I’ve tested to look all angles on its screen, it doesnt have an angle with washed out display.

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It is not that bad at all.

Camera

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The Galaxy J1 has a 5 megapixels rear camera with flash and a 2MP front-facing camera. Nothing stellar with the camera specs, but it is still able to give fairly decent snaps. The camera software in the J1 2016 has some pretty nice features and wide array of settings you can tweak. The front-camera even have “beauty mode”, if you are into those kind of stuff.

Here are some samples, just click the image to view the full size.

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outdoor shot, auto

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indor shot, auto

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close object shot

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front cam, selfie

OS and User interface

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The Galaxy J1 2016 runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box and had received a software update prompt upon the first time I connected it to the internet. After the update, it is still at 5.1.1, it might be just some patches/fixes. Of course, the interface is Samsung’s signature TouchWiz UI. There isn’t much bloatware apps (apps that you don’t really need and just hogs your system resources), and Google apps comes preinstalled.

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Specifications

GENERAL
Release date March 2016
Form factor Touchscreen
Dimensions (mm) 132.60 x 69.30 x 8.90
Weight (g) 131.00
Battery capacity (mAh) 2050
Removable battery Yes
Colours Gold, Black, White
SAR value NA
DISPLAY
Screen size (inches) 4.50
Touchscreen Yes
Resolution 480×800 pixels
HARDWARE
Processor 1.3GHz  quad-core
RAM 1GB
Internal storage 8GB
Expandable storage Yes
Expandable storage type microSD
Expandable storage up to (GB) 128
CAMERA
Rear camera 5-megapixel
Flash Yes
Front camera 2-megapixel
SOFTWARE
Operating System Android
CONNECTIVITY
Wi-Fi Yes
Wi-Fi standards supported 802.11 b/ g/ n
GPS Yes
Bluetooth Yes
NFC No
Infrared No
USB OTG No
Headphones 3.5mm
FM Yes
Number of SIMs 2
SIM 1
SIM Type Micro-SIM
GSM/ CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) No
SIM 2
SIM Type Micro-SIM
GSM/ CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) No
SENSORS
Compass/ Magnetometer No
Proximity sensor Yes
Accelerometer Yes
Ambient light sensor No
Gyroscope No
Barometer No
Temperature sensor No

Other stuff

The Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 is equipped with a 1.3GHz Exynos 3475 quad-core processor, paired with a Mali-T720 GPU. I didn’t even bother to test the limits of these hardware specs as it is more than enough to carry on everyday stuff, even gaming and other processing chores for the device.

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At fresh boot, the 1GB RAM is down to 500MB free RAM out of the box considering no other apps are installed, yet. The device also has micro SD card slot, to accompany the 8GB ROM for internal storage that is out of the box, a 4.5GB usable space for storage capacity.

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The removable battery at 2050mAh is more than enough to deliver one’s usage needs. It is on the usual capacity for most phones in the mid-range market right now, also balances the form factor of the device. Get this, when I took the phone from the store, it sits at 51% battery. I didn’t realize I forgot to turn it off. 22hrs later, its at 48%. That is surprising for me, as the wifi and gps module isn’t toggled off as well, there isn’t anything unnecessary on the system that drains it battery big time without our concern.

Conclusion

For someone with a tight budget and isn’t really comfortable at taking chances with other lesser known brands, the Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 might be the best choice for you from Samsung’s low to mid-range market lineup. Also, it is a nice choice to welcome someone at using an Android smartphone where you do not have the need to shell out that much money. With this new iteration of the J1, comparing it to its previous model (J1 2015 model), at their same price point, it would be unwise not picking this one over the older model. Lastly, skip the J1 mini, just don’t, please, don’t say I did not warned you.

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy J1 2016 on Samsung stores and outlet, even at any phone shops in malls.

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