Samsung J2 Review: Just a pretty face?
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).
|Specs||Samsung J1||Samsung J2|
|Processor||Exynos 3475 Quad, Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7||Exynos 3475 Quad, Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7|
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.
|Handset||Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration||Geekbench 3 Battery Score|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||11:55:00||7150|
|Samsung Galaxy J2||10:05:20||2689|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||10:01:20||6013|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 5||9:18:00||5580|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+||8:24:10||5041|
|Apple iPhone 6S Plus||7:48:10||4681|
|Alcatel Go Play||7:21:10||2941|
|Google Nexus 5X||7:14:20||4062|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||6:51:30||4115|
|Google Nexus 6P||6:39:20||3754|
|Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3||5:42:00||2276|
|Sony Xperia Z5||5:41:30||3414|
|Huawei P8 Lite||4:39:40||2768|
|Apple iPhone SE||4:27:10||2671|
|Apple iPhone 6s||3:52:10||2321|
|iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case||7:21:10||4407|
|LG Stylus DAB+||8:11:40||3278|
|Huawei Mate 8||11:14:40||6659|
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.
|Handset||Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)||Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||2169||6446|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||2156||6240|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+||1492||4893|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge||1324||4626|
|Google Nexus 6P||1251||4597|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||1347||4569|
|Apple iPhone SE||2538||4455|
|Apple iPhone 6S||2540||4410|
|Apple iPhone 6S Plus||2491||4391|
|Sony Xperia Z5||1358||4134|
|Google Nexus 5X||1188||3198|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 5||1111||3686|
|Alcatel Go Play||453||1368|
|Huawei Mate 8||1738||6092|
|LG Stylus DAB+||470||1418|
|Samsung Galaxy J2||315||1044|
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 boost.com.au, JB HiFi, Big W, Target, Australia Post, Allphones and other selected retailers at $199.00.