Samsung Galaxy Exhibit review (video)

July 2, 2013
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Enter, the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit — one of the latest devices to enter the Galaxy family. While it’s a new device, the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit is intended for the low-end budget market, so it definitely isn’t going to “wow” anyone who has some of the higher end, and even mid-end, stuff.

So, let’s see how this device holds up, shall we? If you’re in a rush, jump straight to the video, otherwise, stick with us as we take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Exhibit has more than a little in common with the Galaxy S3 Mini. It’s apparent in the specs, which are close to identical, and it’s even noticeable in the design, too! So what does this mean? Well, it means it looks like a Galaxy, though it’s small profile causes it to look a little more rounded than most Galaxy devices.

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The standard Galaxy layout is mostly here — power button on the right, volume rocker on the left, headphone jack up top, and the USB port is on the bottom. The only slight difference here is that the microSD slot is on the left side, rather than tucked on the battery cover.

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Due in part to the smaller profile of this device, it feels weightier for its size, much more than the higher end Galaxy devices. On the positive side, it give it a more solid feel. Whether or not this is actually any tougher than a standard Galaxy, it’s not really something I want to test.

Display

Resolution ratings isn’t everything when ti comes to displays, but it does count for quite a bit. With the Exhibit’s 3.8-inch screen and resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, that leaves us with a 245ppi rating. It’s not eye-destroyingly low, but it’s nothing to rave about either.

The lack of sharpness is definitely noticeable, especially when viewing text, but the small size of the display makes it easier to deal with than it would be on a larger device.

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The display is a TFT LCD, so colors are more natural and less saturated than they on the Super AMOLED displays used on Samsung’s higher end phones. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s good or bad, as it’s a matter of taste and opinion. Personally, I prefer the slightly muted colors, but there are also a ton of fans who enjoy the saturated colors of the Super AMOLED displays.

Viewing angles are decent, right in line with what we’d expect from a TFT display. Brightness levels could definitely use a boost, as the screen in direct sunlight isn’t great, at all. Black levels on the other hand, are fairly good, but isn’t anything to write home about either.

Performance

The Galaxy Exhibit runs a NovaThor STE U8420 chipset, with a 1GHz dual-core processor and a Mali 400 GPU. This is a configuration that we don’t see a whole lot, so we were curious as to how well it performed.

As per the norm, we started things up with AnTuTu Benchmark, and ran it 10 different times in differing conditions. The scores seemed to be fairly consistent, ranging from the 6,300 mark on the low end to upwards of the 6,800 mark on the high end. Our final average score came out to 6,629.

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Next, we turned to Epic Citadel. Considering the Galaxy Exhibit is using a Cortex A9 processor, the Ultra High Quality setting wasn’t available to us. That my have turned out for the better, too, as the Exhibit struggled quite a bit even on the High Quality setting, reaching an average of just 34.9 FPS. The High Performance setting was better, but not by much. It reached an average of 37.4 FPS.

Despite the unsurprisingly low benchmarks, the Galaxy Exhibit doesn’t usually feel sluggish under normal use. While you might notice the occasional stuttering when scrolling through screens, apps launch quickly enough, and it never feels like you’re waiting for a task or process to complete. If you’re a gamer, you might be disappointed, as the most hardware intensive gaming isn’t really possibly here, but light gaming should do very well.

Call quality is good, but I wasn’t able to test data speeds very well — both T-Mobile and AT&T have spotty service in my area. At times, I was able to connect to HSPA+ and achieve marginally decent speeds, while at other times, I was limited to EDGE. However, I imagine that data speeds will do just fine.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Exhibit has a 3.7-inch WVGA TFT display, and runs a 1GHz dual-core CPU, backed by a Mali 400 GPU and 1GB of RAM. It features 4GB of internal storage, which is expandable through a microSD card. The microSD card is a godsend, considering that there’s only a mere 1.3GB of storage available to the user.

When it comes to the camera, we have a 5-megapixel rear shooter, capable of 720p video recording. On the front we have a VGA secondary camera, and finally, the device features a modest 1,500 mAh battery.

Software

The Galaxy Exhibit runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which is overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Initially, I was worried that this would affect the performance of the device, but luckily, it didn’t seem to do such a thing. T-Mobile branding is very present, from the home screen to the preloaded apps.

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As per the norm, you’ll find some of the usual suspects from Samsung, like its app store, S Memo, and S Voice. While this is indeed a Samsung device, there are a whole lot more T-Mobile apps included — 411 & More, CallerTunes, Mobile Hotspot, T-Mobile NameID, T-Mobile TV, and Visual Voicemail. Other than that, you get the usual apps like Yelp and Lookout Security.

Some of these apps can be useful to certain people, but on a smartphone with so little internal storage, I’m sure that a lot of people would prefer to have fewer installed apps.

Battery and camera

With a 1,500 mAh battery, you’re right to worry about short battery life, especially with the advertised talk time being a mere 9 hours. While the Exhibit isn’t going to last you the weekend, it should be just enough to get most people through even a long day, but don’t expect much more than that.

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During testing, the Exhibit went through quite a bit. Between benchmarking and shooting, while leaving the screen on quite a bit, the Galaxy Exhibit had roughly 35% battery life left after about 15 hours of use. Not to mention that the device was actively using HSPA+, 2G, and Wi-Fi.

When it comes down to it, and if you’re careful with how you use it, the Galaxy Exhibit should last you throughout the day. However, it’d be wise to keep a charger or even a spare battery on hand.

As for the camera, you have to keep in mind that the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit is a budget phone. So as you might expect, you get a budget camera with that. That’s pretty much what we were expecting, but it was surprising to see that the camera performed better than we thought it would.

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The camera app is very similar to higher end Galaxy models, though it has less features and shooting modes. Still, it does have some of the more helpful modes, including Continuous Shot, Smile Shot, and Panorama modes. It also has some of the more gimmicky, yet fun modes, such as Cartoon. Other than that, you can adjust exposure, ISO, white balance, and metering if you want to get into deeper editing with your photos.

The 5-megapixel camera produces sharp, and fairly neutral looking photos. In single-shot mode with everything set to auto, the photos we took didnt appear over- or even under-exposed. Colors were well-balanced and reproduced nicely, too.

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720p video capturing produces similar results when it comes to color reproduction and sharpness, and motion was fairly smooth as well. All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit’s camera was pleasant surprise with it being a budget smartphone and all.

Video review

Price and final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy Exhibit comes in at $19.99 on a new two-year contract. If you’d rather purchase the device outright, you’re looking at $216. Either way you choose to go, the Galaxy Exhibit is a perfect match for someone who wants to take the Android experience for a spin, but doesn’t want to risk too much cash, or simply doesn’t want to pay too much for a smartphone.

Of course, there are phones with similar performance to the Exhibit at similar price points, but if you’re looking for a decent low-cost Galaxy device, the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit is easy to recommend.

Brad Ward contributed to this review

Comments

  • D’Ander McSullivan

    Run, bitch*s. They’re everywhere!