Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos Review! [video]

February 28, 2013
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While they aren’t popular everywhere, dual-SIM phones are handy for some people and downright necessary for others. The problem is, most of them are very utilitarian.

When they’re not busy rolling in the piles of money they pull in from sales of their flagship devices, Samsung is one of the few big players cranking out Android-powered dual-SIM phones. Among the latest of these is the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos.

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

Specs

  • 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor
  • 5.0-inch Mobile WVGA display (480 x 800)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal storage (expandable via microSD)
  • 2,100 mAh battery
  • 8-megapixel rear camera, 1080p video recording
  • 2-megapixel front camera
  • Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean

First Impressions

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Why does that Galaxy Note 2 look so small? Why does that Galaxy S3 look so big? Yeah, that’s about it. It seems that Samsung has made a concerted effort lately to bring a unified design to most of their devices, and the Galaxy Grand Duos definitely fits into this category.

Build Quality & Design

The build quality of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos is sturdy, if a little flexy. This seems to be present in most Samsung phones currently on the market, and generally, that’s the price you pay for some of the lightest devices around. Still, the Grand Duos doesn’t feel in danger of breaking any time soon, and the few physical buttons on the phone feel solid.

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As mentioned above, the Grand Duos is very reminiscent of both the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, though it is both heavier and slightly thicker than both of the aforementioned devices. Generally, if you like the style of Samsung’s recent flagships, you’ll be pleased with the look of the Galaxy Grand Duos.

Display

While the size of the Galaxy Grand Duos is on the large side, this does allow room for the 5-inch screen. There’s only one problem. That isn’t a typo up in the specs section. The resolution of that screen really is 480 x 800.

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This is without a doubt the weakest aspect of this phone. Yes, you get used to it–after all, remember it wasn’t that long ago that screens with this resolution were the norm–but with a 5-inch display, it’s really hard not to think about what could have been. For the most part, things still look decent, but icons are on the large side, and there is most definitely noticeable pixelation.

Performance

There is one aspect where that low resolution comes in handy: performance. As the Broadcom chipset inside the Galaxy Grand Duos doesn’t have to push that many pixels, performance is definitely better than expected. This isn’t going to run circles among the phones currently being shown off at Mobile World Congress, but it is definitely quite usable.

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Apps launch very quickly, and no lag is usually noticeable when scrolling through homescreens or the app drawer. We tested a few games like Temple Run 2 and Shadowgun: Dead Zone and were impressed with how well they ran.

AnTuTu benchmarks were, well, unreliable. We saw scores ranging from the low 6,000 range to the mid 8,000 range, with no particular apparent rhyme or reason for the disparity in the scores. When averaged out and rounded, we ended up with an aggregate score of around 7,500.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean which is, of course, skinned with Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI. In a somewhat strange addition, the split-screen feature originally found on the Galaxy Note 2 is built into the Grand Duos. While this isn’t quite as useful with no S Pen, it’s sure to be a welcome addition for some, and if you don’t like it, it’s easy to never use it.

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Alongside Google apps, the usual suite of applicable “S” apps are included: S Memo, S Planner, S Suggest and S Voice. Among the other included apps are AllShare Play, ChatOn, GameHub and an FM Radio app. As usual, these can’t be uninstalled.

Camera

While it isn’t up to the standards set by the cameras in Samsung’s higher-end devices, the rear camera found in the Galaxy Grand Duos is still quite capable. Color reproduction was good, and photos looked sharp as long as care was taken when shooting them. The only area we found lacking was low-light performance, which is fairly common in smartphone cameras.

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Both the front and rear cameras are capable of video capture, though while the rear camera records 1080p video at 30fps, the front-facing camera only records 480p. The video was shot was fairly smooth, though the same low-light performance issue was present, resulting in some visible noise in darker areas of the video.

Battery

You might think that with fairly modest specs and a comparatively low resolution screen to drive that the 2,100 mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos would last quite a while, but we didn’t find this to be the case. Granted, the stresses put on a phone during testing are often greater than what it sees in daily use, but we were still disappointed with the roughly 6:30 of battery life that we got.

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With two SIMs inserts into their respective slots, you will have more battery drain just staying connected than usual, so even with light use, you might find yourself running low on battery faster than you would like. On the up side, the battery can be removed and replaced, which is always nice to see.


Video Review

Conclusion

Whether or not this phone is a good choice for you obviously rests on if you need dual SIMs or not. If you’re never going to use that second SIM slot, there are plenty of better choices available. If you travel frequently or live in an area where dual SIMs are necessary, the Galaxy Grand Duos is one of the best dual-SIM solutions on the market right now.

Are you a user of dual-SIM phones? What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos? Let us know in the comments below.

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