The Galaxy Core Prime is clearly Samsung’s most accessible 4G smartphone. Based on the modest Snapdragon 410, this compact model is no less functional. However, it suffers from rather tough competition in its market segment.
There are now dozens of 4G smartphones for less than 200 euros. They even exist for less than 100 euros. That’s how much mobile broadband has been democratized in two years. All equipment manufacturers now offer them, even among the “AAA” brands, i.e. international manufacturers such as Sony, LG, Motorola, HTC or Samsung.
The world leader in telephony currently offers three smartphones under the 200 euro mark: the Galaxy Ace 4, the Galaxy Grand Prime and the Galaxy Core Prime. Since the first two have been thoroughly tested in our columns, it was logical that the third should be tested as well.
The Core Prime is certainly the happy medium between the Ace 4 and the Grand Prime. From the former, it takes up the compactness and weight, although it is clear that Ace 4 is part of a less recent product policy. From the Grand Prime, it takes over the general design and the technical platform almost identical except for a few details, especially in photography. Here is the complete technical data sheet to give you a better idea:
- dimensions: 130.8 x 67.9 x 8.8 mm
- weight: 130 grams
- 4.5-inch WVGA (480 x 800) IPS display with 207 pixels per inch resolution
- screen to mobile size ratio : 64,9 %
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset, quad-core Cortex-A53 1.2GHz with Adreno 306 GPU
- 1 GB RAM
- 8 GB internal storage (expandable via microSD)
- removable battery 2000 mAh
- 5-megapixel photo sensor compatible with 720p in video
- 2 megapixel webcam
- compatible LTE category 4, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi n, GPS (Glonass and Beidou), NFC, FM Radio
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz overlay
Some small black dots obviously to be noted even in these conditions: low screen resolution, low power of the photo sensor and a chipset that is not free of small defects. A fairly brief technical data sheet, but remember that this is a smartphone at about 150 euros excluding operator subsidy.
The Galaxy Grand Bonus in smaller
Visually, the smartphone looks a lot like a Galaxy. The relationship to many previous motives is obvious. We’re not just talking about the position of the logos on the front and back. We are also not talking about the marking of the touch buttons surrounding a physical button under the screen. But more generally of curves, shapes and materials. From the silver plastic, to create the phone earpiece grid, to the removable polycarbonate back shell (with a pretty little iridescent tone), to the position of the multimedia elements (webcam, speaker, APN, flash) and of course the silver outline. It’s definitely a Samsung.
The Galaxy Grand Prime, not really the most ambitious model in terms of design, is its closest relative. It is therefore logical to find a large number of physical similarities. We might even be tempted to say that the Core Prime is simply a smaller version of the Grand Prime, although the change in dimensions also means that the features (screen resolution, photo sensor definition, battery size) are lighter. If for some points it makes sense, for others we disagree…
The positioning of the elements around the frame is fairly standard. Whether for a 6-inch phonebook or a small 4-inch smartphone, Samsung places the standby on the right at thumb level and the volume on the left towards the index or middle finger (depending on the position of the hand). The microUSB port at the bottom with the earphone, the 3.5 mm jack port at the top. While studying the chassis, we couldn’t find a secondary microphone for noise reduction.
A good construction, but a bad screen
The handling of the smartphone is good, maybe better than with the Galaxy Ace 4, which is visually quite unique in the Korean entry-level catalogue. The more square shape of the chassis fits well in the hand, the buttons fall naturally under the fingers and the mobile benefits from a rather solid construction. No unpleasant play, even on the removable back. With this feature, Samsung has clearly become a master in the field. The only downside is that the loudspeaker is regularly found under the index finger and the sound is totally muffled. It’s a shame.
His screen is clearly his biggest flaw. And it’s not a question of size. It’s not even a question of definition, even if WVGA does not improve the image rendering at all. No, the main problem is the display technology. If you enjoyed the Amoled of Galaxy Ace 4, you will be disappointed with the traditional TFT of Galaxy Core Prime. Indoors, the luminosity is very correct, for a colorimetry rather respected without being overloaded (like the Amoled). On the other hand, as soon as you go out, you can’t see anything. In addition, the pixels are visible to the naked eye and the polycarbonate material that protects the tile does not slide as well as mineral glass. It doesn’t look good.
A very light version of Touchwiz
Like all Galaxy smartphones, the Core Prime runs on Android, here in version 4.4.4 KitKat dressed with Touchwiz. This is the same interface as on the Grand Prime. A majority of blue tones therefore, with a particularly refined interface at the beginning. The proof is in the pudding: out of the box, the mobile offers only one home screen. No UX Magazine on the left side. No promotional widget on the right side. I guess Samsung believes that Core Prime users will not be tempted by a few premium products on the Samsung Apps. And it’s not bad for readability.
A clearly more streamlined interface therefore, both ergonomically and visually. The parameter menu no longer has a tab. The effects of multitasking are removed. Marketing applications are absent. The notification area offers only a small space for quick setup (where you have to drag the sides to display other options). And the whole thing’s only getting better.
Samsung Apps, Voice Memo and Gallery
Of course, you will find here the essential Google and Samsung applications. The latter offers some home-made software, as always, including a mail client, a photo gallery, a voice recorder, a calendar, a media player, an address book, a file explorer and of course an application shop. It’s a funny choice that Samsung has made to decorate the home screen of the Galaxy Core Prime : Camera, Play Store, a Google folder (with the entire application suite, in response to the requirements of the Mountain View firm) and “Email”, the standard email client. Why did you choose to include the latter, and not the Touchwiz web browser or its Galaxy Apps store, two applications that would have a more logical place there? Mystery.
A fluid interface despite an obvious lack of power
This lighter overlay offers a considerable advantage: despite a limited technical platform, the whole thing remains quite fluid, as long as you don’t ask too much of the operating system. Because the Snapdragon 410 is far from being a “racehorse”. The scores obtained by the Core Prime are quite similar to those of the Grand Prime, Galaxy Ace 4 and Galaxy A5, i.e. passable, despite a screen that should not require a lot of resources.
AnTuTu, 3DMark and Basemark OS II
On AnTuTu, 3DMark and Basemark, the Galaxy Core Prime reaches 21,186 points, 2,638 points and 524 points respectively. Scores within the average of the results offered by the competition with one difference: Alcatel OneTouch’s Pop 2, Motorola’s Moto E 4G and bq’s Aquaris E5 do better in terms of graphics. While the Iberian smartphone is sold at a higher price, the other two models mentioned are cheaper by 30 to 40 euros. Which will obviously have an effect on our final verdict. At the level of AnTuTu Video, no surprises here either: 262 points, like the Galaxy Grand Prime. This translates into a good video player, but not enough power to display them.
Not really a multimedia mobile…
In use, Galaxy Core Prime is similar to Grand Prime and Ace 4. In play, a few slowdowns here and there, loading times a bit long, but that’s not the most annoying thing. The real problem with the smartphone is the polycarbonate protective layer that doesn’t slip under your fingers. Hence a certain lack of precision and reactivity during Dead Trigger 2’s games. If you want to play with this mobile phone, just play with a Candy Crush Saga.
On video, the picture is better. First, because Samsung’s video player is capable of reading and decoding files that are unreadable on most competitors’ mobiles. Secondly, the screen is far from being bad for this use. Beware of videos with a too good definition: Core Prime is able to decode Full HD in MP4, but not Blu-Ray movies. The position of the loudspeaker here is still far from optimal.
… or the replacement for yourcompact APN
The photography on the Core Prime is also a disappointment to the Grand Prime. Samsung has removed the 8-megapixel photo sensor from the Ace 4 to integrate the 5-megapixel model into the Ace 4. The result is therefore similar, i.e. not really good. There’s no contrast, no sharpness, even for a 5 megapixel. The management of the luminosity is better here, however, as the Parisian spring sky stands out well enough for adjacent streets that are not plunged in darkness, but the shots are a little faded.
Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
However, the associated application offers some options that are not without interest. They give you your hands on ISO sensitivity, white balance, exposure compensation, autofocus metering mode and some special effects. Significantly different from the Ace 4, the photo application is identical to that of the Grand Prime. It’s a pity once again that Samsung has played the hardware economy card here.
Too light on the components, not enough on the price
All in all, the Galaxy Core Prime is a mobile that may look good on paper (quad-core chipset, NFC sensor and 4G connection for 150 euros), but a few flaws tarnish this beautiful promise. First, the TFT panel, whose resolution is too low and which no longer benefits from the Amoled. Then the protection of the screen, which reflects the sun and does not slip under the fingers. Not to mention the photo sensor, reduced to a tasteless 5 megapixel. And finally the technical platform, which all too often shows its limits, especially in multimedia.
Smartphone, certainly, economical and rather elegant, despite the far from noble exterior materials, the Galaxy Core Prime is clearly a model designed before the strategic changes in Samsung’s management. The difference in photo sensor between Core Prime and Grand Prime is proof of this.
The Samsung Galaxy Core Prime faces fierce competition in the 4G smartphone segment for less than €150. Thus, the Motorola Moto E 4G, which has broadly similar performance (with better results on the graphics tests) does better and offers more for a lower price.