Knowing that high-end smartphones such as the Galaxy S6 cost more than 700 euros excluding subscription, it is always surprising to see what a small model can do for less than 200 euros like the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime. At this very affordable price, the smartphone offers a 5-inch screen, an 8-megapixel camera, a 5-megapixel front camera and full HD 1080p video recording. Samsung has compromised on the battery and less robust performance, less storage and a somewhat dated version of Android (4.4 KitKat). Although there are many alternatives in this price niche, the Grand Prime has arguments to stand out from the crowd.
Like more and more recent entry-level smartphones, Samsung’s Grand Prime manages to offer an attractive look and does not look like a first-rate product. Its glossy white front matches a pearlescent back shell with a silver ring around the edges, the camera lens and the welcome button. The power/lock button is on the right side, while the volume knob is on the left. The micro-USB socket is located on the bottom edge and the headset socket on the top edge of the smartphone. The photo sensor is located in the center with the LED flash on the left. The front camera is placed on the right side of the front panel, above the screen. Under the back shell is the slot for the micro-SIM card To insert the microSD memory card first remove the battery.
The screen displays an incredibly low resolution for its size (960×540 pixels) compared to the 1280x720p of the Moto G 2014. While this low pixel density does not hinder the reading of texts or exchanges on social networks photos and videos suffer. They appear less sharp and detailed. In addition, the screen is particularly dark in direct sunlight and brings out fingerprints.
With Android 4.4, the Grand Prime is not up to date when it comes to OS. But it is still fast and has the main features such as Google Now.
The version of the TouchWiz overlay found here is a little more basic than the one running on other Samsung models. For example, there is no support for gesture commands or automatic brightness calibration. On the other hand, it is possible to print from the mobile phone and activate an energy saving mode that extends Battery Life This Samsung Grand Prime also integrates an NFC chip.
The photo sensor of the Grand Prime appears to perform as well as the one of the Moto G (2014), but it outperforms it on videos with a better resolution. The 8 megapixel photos are the best possible at this price level, the autofocus is quite effective, even if the shots don’t always come out with a good focus. A margin of error can be tolerated, but some pictures remained surprisingly blurry even after cleaning the lens. On the screen these images looked clear, but it was quite the opposite when displayed on a computer screen.
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Pictures taken outdoors in natural light were the best, with quality deteriorating as the light becomes dimmer. By default, the maximum resolution is set to 6 megapixels and you have to go to the settings to switch to 8 megapixels. The Grand Prime has an HDR mode, a panorama, gust and night function as well as a function that allows self-portraits to be taken with the rear sensor. 1080p videos are smooth and the focus is smooth. If you wish to add effects or filters, you will need to download the Samsung editing application which is curiously not pre-installed. But a shortcut in the photo application allows you to download it quickly. Any third party application can also be used.
Samsung has worked a lot on the self-portrait function with the ability to trigger the front camera with a gesture or voice command. You can also set the angle for group photos or create animated GIFs. Three sliders allow you to have fun distorting the portraits by playing with the hairstyle, the size of the eyes and the face. The photo quality of the self-portraits is average with a tendency towards dullness and lack of detail.
Given its rather puny Hardware configuration the Grand Bonus is doing rather well. It takes 20 seconds to start up and is generally responsive. The camera also launches in a few seconds and the autofocus follows well.
On the other hand, with video games this Samsung Grand Prime is not at ease, probably a combination between the quality of its screen and the lack of power of its processor. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still correct. Given the thinness of the storage (8GB) and RAM (1GB), investing in a microSD memory card is almost indispensable to be comfortable with photos, videos and games.
The 2,600 mAh battery surpasses that of the Moto G in capacity and longevity. The latter lasts 9 hours while the Grand Bonus reaches 9.5 hours. In fact, it can last a day, but it will need to be recharged a little if you want to continue to use it in the evening. Unlike Samsung’s high-end models, the Grand Prime’s battery doesn’t recharge very quickly, so it’s best to take precautions, or invest in a second charger to leave it at work for example.
Regarding data, the Grand Prime only supports 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks (not 5 GHz). It is less efficient, but in practice, the pages load quickly and you don’t feel slow. For the 4G connection, whose performance is always dependent on location and operator, we found acceptable speeds for photo and video uploads and downloads. In the end, we were able to do all the online activities we wanted.
The Grand Prime is a smartphone that can hold its own in this niche for less than 200 euros. If you want to spend less, the Motorola Moto E 4G remains a very relevant machine.
If, on the other hand, you’re ready to spend a little more, another suggestion with Alcatel’s OneTouch Idol 3, which offers a more muscular configuration at the processor, screen and camera level.
Thanks to its 4G compatibility and above all the performance offered by its photo sensor, the Grand Prime stands above the lot of models under 200 euros, including its closest competitor the Moto G (2014 version).
Test by Jessica Dolcourt for CNET.com