Samsung Galaxy Fame Review

May 17, 2013
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When think of Samsung phones, what do you think of? The Galaxy S4? The Note 2? Maybe the upcoming Note 3? Yeah, that makes sense. The Samsung Galaxy Fame, on the other hand, probably isn’t going to be the first thing that comes to mind.

It’s easy to forget, especially for people like us, that budget phones make up a sizable portion of the market. Samsung most definitely has not forgotten that portion of the market, and for proof you need look no further than the Galaxy Fame. It’s small and it’s cheap, but is it worth the money? Read on to find out.

In a hurry? Check out our video review or jump to the conclusion at the end of the article.

Specs

  • 3.5-inch display (320 x 480, 165 ppi)
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4 GB internal storage (expandable via microSD)
  • 5 MP rear facing camera
  • 0.3 MP front facing camera
  • 1300 mAh battery

Build Quality & Design

The Galaxy Fame seems to take its design cues from, well, most any Samsung phone currently on the market. It’s a little curvier, but this is probably necessary due to its thickness. Still this makes the Fame a perfect fit for smaller hands. For me, it felt a little on the small-ish side, but it should be fairly usable for most people. One touch that seemed out of the ordinary was the gold-tinted faux metal surrounding the bezel. For some it might seem a little too ornate, but others may find it to be a nice change of pace.

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Like most other Samsung phones, the Galaxy Fame is built from plastic. Unlike most of those phones, however, the Fame feels a little heavy for its size. This is understandable: the components don’t get any lighter after a certain point, and neither does the plastic. If anything, it actually gives the Fame a sturdier feel than some of Samsung’s larger phones.

Display

We’ve seen time and time again that one of the main areas where the cuts are made for budget considerations is the screen. Still, for the most part, the main sacrifice is screen resolution. The 3.5-inch screen features a resolution of 480 x 320 and a pixel density of around 165 pixels per inch. If that was the only issue with the Samsung Galaxy Fame’s display, it wouldn’t be too bad, but unfortunately this isn’t the case.

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The last time we reviewed a device with a display this size and resolution (the Sony Xperia E Dual) we noticed some pretty big issues with the screen, and we’re seeing a lot of the same problems here. No matter where you set the brightness, the screen looks washed out. Viewing angles generally aren’t too bad, but viewing the screen from the right side results in a not-so-fun viewing experience pretty quickly.

Performance

With a single-core 1 GHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM, we weren’t expecting a whole lot in the performance department, but we still ran our usual suite of tests.

Starting with AnTuTu, we ran the benchmark 10 times and calculated the average. In this case, it showed exactly why we run these benchmarks so many times, as the low score was 3,182 and the high score was a somewhat inexplicable 8,412. In the end, the average score was 5,075.

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Next up we tried to run Epic Citadel, but the key word in that sentence is “tried.” Unfortunately, while the app launched, it consistently crashed before we got the chance to run the benchmark.

In real world testing, it was clear that TouchWiz bogged down the hardware a bit, as stuttering was present scrolling through home screens. Light gaming was possible, but heavier apps presented too much difficulty for the hardware. If you’re looking for a quick round of Angry Birds, you’ll be fine, but don’t expect too much more.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Fame runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and, of course, Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI. While striving for a single feel across all devices makes sense from a marketing and design standpoint, we would have preferred to see a less hardware-intensive overlay, or even better, stock Android.

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Looking at other software, many of Samsung’s usual apps make an appearance. S Planner, Game Hub, S Memo (simply called “Memo” here) and ChatON are present, but no S Voice. Along with an FM Radio app and the file manager My Files, Quickoffice is the major bundled app. This app allows you to view and presumably edit common office documents, though they can’t be created within the app. As with most phones Samsung currently ships, Dropbox is also included.

Camera

Given the specs and price point, we didn’t have the highest of hopes for the Samsung Galaxy Fame’s camera, and as a result, we were somewhat surprised by the quality of the photos it produced. That said, image quality is directly proportionate to the amount of light present when the photo is taken. Outdoors with sunlight or in well lit rooms, you’ll get a fairly accurate representation of whatever it may be that you’re pointing the camera at. In a poorly lit room, however, results that you’re happy with will be much harder to find.

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The Galaxy Fame’s rear-facing camera is capable of capturing video, though you’ll probably only ever want to rely on it in a pinch. The resolution tops out at VGA quality (640 x 480), and has the same issues with low light capture as still photos do.

Battery

The Galaxy Fame’s battery capacity of 1,300 mAh may have you shaking your head, but keep in mind that it isn’t powering the most demanding hardware or pushing a particularly large amount of pixels. We have found in the past that the manufacturers claims of talk time often link up with general moderate to heavy use. In this case, Samsung claims around 6 to 8.5 hours of talk time depending on the network you’re connected to.

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During testing and benchmarking, we found that the numbers did seem to line up. After around 5 hours of fairly heavy testing and benchmarking, the battery was down to around 50 percent. This might seem unusually good in this case, but it’s necessary to keep in mind that we had no SIM inserted and therefore no connectivity other than WiFi. Still, depending on your use, it seems that a full day without a charge should be no problem at all.

Video

Conclusion

So, does the Samsung Galaxy Fame hold up? Well, yes and no. It certainly gets points for style, and anyone pining for the halcyon days of flip phones might like the form factor. On the other hand, its relatively poor performance and less-than-beautiful screen aren’t going to help win the Galaxy Fame any fans.

What do you think? Have you tried the Galaxy Fame, or do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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