[Smartphones] | Samsung Galaxy J2 2018 : Have Low-end Phones Gotten Any Better?

Samsung galaxy j2 review

We all have our personal preferences when it comes to smartphones. Some of us like high end flagships while most others prefer affordable mid range devices. As time goes on and phones get cheaper, the population who want to go for a low end device gets thinner. But that doesn't mean some low end devices do not exist in the market anymore.

Technically, the low end devices are now the new mid rangers and current mid rangers are called upper-mid ranges for some reason. It could be because the budget CPUs are getting so good that the gap between the two is getting narrower.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

I have checked out a lot of mid rangers during my time and a good number of flagships too. But this time, I decided to look at one of the popular low end (low-budget) phones in the market. The Samsung Galaxy J2 of 2018 happens to be one such phone.

I came across this device while searching for an affordable phone for my dad, who totally refuses to go for anything higher than 8000 Rs (about 120 USD). After getting it, I thought, it's been a long time since I tried a device of this caliber. Let's spend some time with this. So here are my thoughts on the Galaxy J2 2018.
Samsung galaxy j2 review

I've tried my best to suppress my premium-phone-lover senses throughout this article as much as possible. Let's get straight to it then.

Build and Design:

Usually, the budget phones make a lot of compromises on their build quality. But surprisingly, the Galaxy J2 (2018) is a very well built phone for its price. I'm actually embarrassed to admit this, but I thought the back was actually made of a thin layer of metal, until I discovered that it's actually plastic, and is removable.
Samsung galaxy j2 review

I kid you not, the outer finish is very well made and does not feel plasticky to the touch at all. Even the buttons feel relatively tactile for plastic ones.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the way this phone is built, even though it's not metal like some of its competitors. But even they use an ultra thin layer of it which feels more or less the same anyway.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

There's nothing much going on around the phone. Just a headphone jack up top and a micro USB port on the bottom.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

I really didn't expect anything else, so there was no room for either disappointment or excitement here. Everything's cool.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

The phone feels relatively lightweight since it only packs a 2600 mAh battery inside it. That supposedly measly battery far exceeded my expectations by the way. More on that later.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

The speaker is on the top right side next to the camera, where it used to be on traditional Samsung devices of old. It gets decently loud and does not show signs of distortion at Max volume, which is great to see on a budget device.

Because of the light weight and compact form factor alone, my dad ended up buying it.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

The store owner was nice enough to include a tempered glass screen protector and pretty good quality silicone case with it at no extra cost. Upsides of being the only physician in town, I suppose.


Samsung galaxy j2 review

The display is a mixed bag to me. It's AMOLED and is has all the perks of it, but at the same time, it's a relatively low resolution panel. If you were to hold this display close your eyes, which would be totally weird, you can see the pixels in it.

This might be considered as nitpicking, but it has been a very long time since I held a phone where I could literally see the pixels of the display with my bare eyes. It is perfectly fine for an average consumer though.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

Another thing that slightly annoyed me is the absence of an automatic brightness sensor. You have to manually set the brightness depending on the place you're in.

It has that outdoor mode which cranks up the display brightness higher than the max value for about 15 minutes. I'm okay with other things, but Samsung, this (still) sucks!

My dad is someone who doesn't use Auto Brightness all that much and he usually maintains the display at 50% at all times. So, it didn't bother him too much. This phone with this kind of a display is undoubtedly geared towards a similar consumer base.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

When you do enable that outdoor mode, the display is very bright and is easily visible even on these sunny Mangaluru afternoons.

Resolution wise, the display is a major let down. It comes in only at 540x690. So, YouTube videos can only play at 480p max.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

But, before you close this article, let it be known, it is NOT a bad display by any means. Even though the resolution of the videos is only 480p, this display is also significantly smaller than most other giant phones.

What happens when you squeeze an image into a small-than-average space? Exactly! It looks sharper.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

My point is, a 480p video looks better on a 5 inch display than it does on a 6 inch one. So, it doesn't really matter. I compared it against my Note 8 and played the same 1080p HDR video at 60 FPS (totally overkill, by the way). The J2 held its own surprisingly well.

In short, the display is a solid "good enough" from a visual stand point. That low resolution also guarantees stellar battery life without sacrificing too much clarity, so that's a win right there.

Software and Usability:

Samsung galaxy j2 review

The slim and light body with big ol' display bezels makes this a comfortable one handed device. You can easily reach both the edges of the display with your thumb, so, those of you with that 'Steve Jobs mentality' would be very pleased.

The software running on this is based on Android nougat 7.0 but has Samsung experience UI 9.0 on top. Even though it's a full version below the OS version running on my Note 8, the UI is more or less exactly the same.

That means you won't be losing out on most of the smart features that Samsung offers. You do lose some functionality because of the hardware limitations, such as Samsung pay.

There is a 'Samsung pay Lite' installed on the phone which allows you to perform wallet based and UPI transactions, but you cannot add your credit card and use it near a payment machine.

But there's one interesting Samsung feature that caught my attention, and its called Samsung Max.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

It ensures security and privacy by setting up a VPN, for free. It also recommends some apps for you to download and improve the performance of your phone.

Hardware and Performance:

Speaking of performance, let's get into the hardware specifications real quick.

  • A Quad Core 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 Processor,
  • 2 GB RAM,
  • 16 GB expandable storage,
  • User replaceable 2600 mAh battery,
  • An 8 mp rear camera + 5 mp front camera,
  • No fingerprint sensor

Samsung galaxy j2 review

I know. These numbers seem really disappointing. But you may have noticed that I have stopped paying a lot of attention to specs and instead focus more on real-world usage now. Apple taught me that approach, and it makes sense. After all, the number of CPU cores on your phone may not make you happy, but a buttery smooth interface will!

That's exactly what you get here. Samsung's experience UI is nicely optimized and runs very well on the phone. Apps open up relatively quickly and there is no lag in everyday tasks.

I didn't bother playing any games on this, but I think y'all can expect the kind of performance that you would get from this hardware. Games are the only area where you would find the device's performance to be underwhelming.

This phone is not meant to handle those kind of activities anyway. As long as you stick to the basic things that a phone should be doing, you will be absolutely fine with this as your daily driver.


Samsung galaxy j2 review

Cameras are the Achilles heel of this phone, and you might have called it as soon as you heard about the price tag. Even though this is a Samsung device, the cameras are, sadly, a major let down.

In extremely well lit conditions, the camera manages to capture some decent shots. But it either over exposed the scene or over sharpened it, sometimes both.
Samsung galaxy j2 review
This one's pretty accurate.

Samsung galaxy j2 review
Had to try a dozen times to get this.

I can't believe Samsung is back to its 2014 self and is over sharpening images to make them look like they're of a higher resolution.

Of course, sharpness doesn't work like that and ends up looking like trash. Not cool, Sammy!

The front camera is pretty bad too. It's the same resolution as the one that I had on my earlier phone, the Galaxy S7, but is nowhere near that in terms of image quality.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

Obviously, the sensor used is a lot less capable one, but this, once again, goes to show that specs don't tell the whole story. That includes benchmarks.

Images look washed out with little to no color accuracy.

Samsung galaxy j2 review
Washed out the bright color of our car!

Details are over sharpened to help and the dynamic range is... chaotic!

Samsung galaxy j2 review
This one's alright. The Shot I mean!

I am not even gonna bother commenting on the night shots. Take a look for yourself and keep scrolling.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

Samsung galaxy j2 review

Battery life:

Samsung galaxy j2 review

This phone, with its resolution display and mediocre hardware, is an unsurprising battery champ. I heavily used the phone for a while and got over 2 hours screen on time with over 65% to spare.

I couldn't measure it correctly during my time using it, but I can easily guarantee a screen on time of 6+ hours.

There is obviously no fast charging of any sort, but you won't be looking for a recharge any time during even a heavy usage day. That's for sure.

Final Verdict:

Alright, now that we have gone through all this, let's try to answer the question in the title. Have low-end phones gotten better? Answer is, obviously, Yes!

Samsung galaxy j2 review

I could never have imagined recommending a phone in this price range 2 years ago, but I don't feel as hesitant right now.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

If you are looking for a simple phone that doesn't lag, and doesn't break the bank for your elderly family members or for a youngster as their first phone, definitely consider checking this one out.

Samsung galaxy j2 review

But make sure that camera is not the target person's field of interest, or else, they won't talk to you anymore!

If you liked this article, be sure to drop a comment down below mentioning some other good options in this price range.

Hit me me up on any of my social media handles at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you have any other queries or phones that you want me to check out.

Have a wonderful day, cheers!


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