Samsung J2 Review: Just a pretty face?

Brodie Fogg 22 June 2016

Boost's exclusive Galaxy J2 is an affordable phone for Samsung enthusiasts, but a rather superficial update to the already disappointing J1.

From Ace to Prime to the J series, I've never been a fan of Samsung's cheaper outings and went into this review with a cautious mind. Silently hoping that Samsung could pull off a mid-range handset, but realistically figuring that it was likely to be disappointing. Unfortunately, the J2 didn't do a whole lot to swing that view either way. The J2 is not an unbearable handset, it just does nothing to separate itself in the growing market of quality mid-range handsets and it really is, it seems, for a lack of trying.

When it launched at the beginning of the year, 2016's J1 was a disappointment. A $229 handset that would have made for a decent deal had it been released two years earlier. Aside from its premium sheen (the J2 looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S5), the same can be said for the J2, because it's a nearly identical handset to the J1, with its two defining factors being its higher resolution display and its cheaper price tag (thanks to Boost's contribution).

SpecsSamsung J1Samsung J2
Screen size4.5"4.7"
ProcessorExynos 3475 Quad, Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7Exynos 3475 Quad, Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7
Rear camera5MP5MP
Front camera2MP2MP
Display density245ppi234ppi

Upsides: Why you'd want the Samsung Galaxy J2

  • Cheap, uncluttered Samsung experience: Picking up a cheap, prepaid handset from Optus or Telstra usually comes with lots of unwanted junkware (apps provided by your carrier that can't be removed). Luckily, the J2 is mostly free of this. There is the Boost Mobile app, which isn't a complete waste of your time as a Boost customer as it can be used to check your balance and recharge, but otherwise the J2 comes out of the box looking like any other Samsung handset.
  • Surprisingly sound battery life: The Samsung Galaxy J2 gains points for its surprising battery life. It lasted a solid 10 hours and 5 minutes when we ran it through Geekbench's battery test.
HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge11:55:007150
Samsung Galaxy J210:05:202689
Samsung Galaxy S710:01:206013
Samsung Galaxy Note 59:18:005580
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
LG G57:36:104561
Alcatel Go Play7:21:102941
Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
HTC 106:54:304145
Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
Alcatel OneTouch Idol 35:42:002276
Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
LG G45:27:503224
BlackBerry PRIV5:25:403256
Huawei P8 Lite4:39:402768
Apple iPhone SE4:27:102671
Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321
iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case7:21:104407
Oppo R7s7:002800
Oppo R96:41:504018
LG Stylus DAB+8:11:403278
Huawei Mate 811:14:406659

While 10 hours is a respectable score for any handset, it is worth pointing out that its battery score is also comparable to handsets that lasted nowhere near as long. Essentially, Galaxy J2 did roughly the same amount of heavy lifting during the test as other mid-range phones, like the Huawei P8 Lite and the Alcatel One Touch, but managed to last nearly twice as long.

  • Vivid display: The J2's display is easily the most immediately attractive feature of the handset. Although the 540x960 resolution is fairly standard at that price tag, the eye-popping Super AMOLED is not. Even the Huawei P8 Lite's 720x1080 LCD display looks somewhat dull in comparison, which is more of testament to the inherent edge AMOLED displays have over LCD screens.

Downsides: Why you might not want a Samsung Galaxy J2

  • Locked to the Telstra network: Considering the Galaxy J2 is sold exclusively through Boost Mobile, this handset is locked to the Telstra network. This is not unusual for a prepaid mobile sold through a telco, but it's worth knowing if you're attached to another carrier. You do have the option to unlock a prepaid handset from Boost but that comes at a cost.
  • Processor lacks punch: You would expect a mid-range handset to have some inferior hardware under the hood, but the Galaxy J2's processor takes the bigger hit than we'd like. Out of all the handsets reviewed by finder (including the similarly priced Huawei P8 Lite and Oppo F1), the Galaxy J2 performed the worst in the Geekbench 3's single and multi core tests.
HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge21696446
Samsung Galaxy S721566240
LG G523055243
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
Google Nexus 6P12514597
Samsung Galaxy S613474569
Apple iPhone SE25384455
Apple iPhone 6S25404410
Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
HTC 1019424191
Sony Xperia Z513584134
LG G411903313
Google Nexus 5X11883198
BlackBerry PRIV11963396
Samsung Galaxy Note 511113686
Oppo R7s6962980
Alcatel Go Play4531368
Oppo R98673303
Oppo F16923083
Huawei Mate 817386092
LG Stylus DAB+4701418
Samsung Galaxy J23151044

While benchmark tests are decent general indicator of a phone's performance, it's always best to take these numbers with a grain of salt. During our time with the J2, it performed all its basic functions smoothly fresh out of the box. However, it did slow noticeably when the internal memory became clogged with photos and apps. The subpar processor could also have something to do with the enduring battery.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

If you're a Samsung fan maxing your budget out at $200, the Galaxy J2 is not the worst decision you could make. Its bright and colourful display and prolonged battery life make for a clean day-to-day experience. However, it seems Samsung are relying on brand recognition to sell this one because there just isn't enough to make it the preferential choice over similar priced handsets. There are handsets that blow the J2 out of the water for less than $100 more and even if you are on the Telstra network, you can pick up the more impressive HTC 610 for the exact same price as the J2.

As the benchmark test and specs above prove, the Galaxy J2 simply doesn't compare to other mid-tier handsets. While the $199 price tag is desirable for a smartphone with decent battery life, it's hard to ignore the fact that an extra $100 can get you 13MP camera, a much better processor and a HD screen.

It's also worth noting that die-hard Samsung fans can now get their hands on the Galaxy J3 for an additional $130.

Where can I get it?

Currently, the Samsung Galaxy J2 is sold through, JB HiFi, Big W, Target, Australia Post, Allphones and other selected retailers at $199.00.

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4 Responses to Samsung J2 Review: Just a pretty face?

  1. Default Gravatar
    Bridget | August 10, 2016

    Have just been given a Samsung J2 without a SIM card. Am a current Telstra customer but SIM card from old mobile will not fit into J2. Can I purchase just a SIM card from Telstra for my new phone, as I would like to keep my current phone number.

    • Staff
      Chester | August 10, 2016

      Hello Bridget,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes you may purchase a new Micro sim from Telstra and have them activated to fit your new phone. When activating your new sim card they will be asking some information about you as well as the new sim card number. Once the activation is completed you are all set to use your new handset.

      I hope this helps.


    • Default Gravatar
      Bridget | August 10, 2016

      Very helpful, thank you Chester. Saved me a lot of chasing around.

  2. Default Gravatar
    John | July 26, 2016

    I have a Galaxy SII4G and looking at a J2 but unsure about the sim.
    Can I purchase a boost phone and use my current Telstra account with the micro sim attached to the phone I purchase, retaining my number, My phone is self owned and not linked to my current plan

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