Samsung Galaxy J2 Core review

The J2 Core treads a fine line against the competition, but is it able to balance it?

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

The J2 Core is a cool new affordable smartphone that will surely attract first-time smartphone buyers but for everyone else, there are better options available in the market at this price range.

For

  • Highly optimised Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)
  • Refreshing design
  • Snappy performer

Against

  • Display and camera could have been better
  • Samsung's own interface over Android Go

Samsung’s first Android Go smartphone, the Galaxy J2 Core is strictly entry-level. It wouldn't be wrong to say that this phone caters to an audience who wants to have their first encounter with smartphones. The Galaxy J2 Core is Samsung’s own take on Android Go and hence comes with some of its own distinct features. Priced at ₹6,190, the J2 Core treads a fine line against the competition, but is it able to balance it? We find out. 

Samsung Galaxy J2 Core release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy J2 Core is already available in brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-tailers, Flipkart, Amazon India and Samsung India Shop. The phone is priced at ₹6,190.

Design

Right of the box, the J2 Core feels good in the hand. The chassis is plastic but it is the slight shimmer that gives it a different look altogether. Although, over time this shimmer will lose its charm and being a plastic back, scratches and scuff marks would eventually get on that back panel.

The phone is sturdy to hold and feels like could take a beating or two. More so than playing safe, Samsung has done a good job with the design of the J2 Core because it is different. Of course, the plastic is there but then let’s also look at the price.

During the course of our review, we think that nearly every feature set of the J2 Core boils down to the price it is being offered at. 

The rear panel of the phone is removable for placing in a 2,600mAh battery, dual SIM cards and a microSD card. Going with a dedicated memory card slot earns Samsung some points. The back also houses a cleverly crafted camera module, which at first gives off an impression of being a dual camera setup but of course, you forgot the pricing, did you?

Instead, the camera module is placed in a way that it also contains the LED flash. A speaker unit is housed right adjacent to the camera.

The edges of the J2 Core have a matte finishing giving the phone a grip to be held in hands. The right edge houses the volume up/down buttons while the left side is home to the power button. There’s a micro-USB port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom edge of the phone.

Overall, there are no downsides to the design of the phone as it does the basics right. We believe users will increasingly like the built of the J2 Core.

Display

Samsung Galaxy J2 Core features a 5-inch LCD panel which has a quad-HD (960x540 pixels) resolution and a pixel density of 220 ppi. Being an entry-level smartphone, the display is fine for normal usage but we were expecting an HD panel, at the very least. Then again, the display is one of the areas where the price of the phone comes into play which is why it loses some points.

Consuming content on the J2 Core is a breeze, first due to the YouTube Go app being specifically optimized for Android Go phones. Second, the display has a good color reproduction but has low sunlight legibility.

So, as Samsung is targeting first-time smartphone buyers, experience must be a priority. The display is good in day to day usage, it’s not the best one but does the job just fine.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy J2 Core comes sporting an 8-megapixel camera on the back assisted by a LED flash along with a 5-megapixel selfie snapper on the front. Both the cameras offer a f/2.2 aperture and have features like Beauty Mode for enhancing your selfies.

The camera is another department where the phone loses points. We expected a better camera performance from the J2 Core. Having said that, the camera is above average and can take those occasional pictures and selfies.

Pictures created by the camera on the J2 Core have a bluish tint to them. It does manage to capture details but only in bright light. In low light, the camera’s performance is not good at all and a lot of noise creeps into the frame. 

Again, for its asking price, the J2 Core does an average job with its cameras. Anyone particularly looking for a camera-phone under budget will be disappointed with the J2 Core.

Image 1 of 4

Image 2 of 4

Image 3 of 4

Image 4 of 4

Performance

The J2 Core is powered by Exynos 7570, Samsung's homegrown chipset which is supported by a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 1.4GHz along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The storage can be extended further by using a microSD card up to 256GB.

On the communications front, the phone supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.2 and comes with an accelerometer, a proximity sensor and location services support.

The J2 Core runs on Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition) which should ideally have a stock interface. Samsung's phone, however, has a neat trick up its sleeve and instead of going with the stock Android interface, it comes with a highly optimized version of Samsung Experience UX.

In our usage of the J2 Core, we didn't find any lags and neither did we run into any errors as such. Our use consisted of various activities throughout the day, including browsing the internet and social media feeds watching videos in high quality on YouTube among other things.

Now, of course, this isn't a phone for power users and as such, we didn't fill it up to the brim with excessive apps and games. Speaking of games, the phone will be able to run titles that have fewer graphics requirement, easily. Also, we'd like to mention here that users might have a hard time if they want to play intensive titles like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9, even on low settings.

The audio on the J2 Core is a tad bit on the lower end of the spectrum, so don’t expect good sound quality from the speaker, it’s above average on its best days.

As far as the performance of the phone goes, we weren't too impressed due to Samsung's implementation of their own skin. However, the company did it so as to create consistency across its smartphone range which in turn lets it stand out from the crowd. Then there was a case of people who love Samsung’s UI.

Battery

The 2,600mAh battery aboard the J2 Core was easily able to last for a day on a single charge, that is when used moderately. Our usage pattern consists of browsing the web, endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feed along with a combined hour of video viewing. Although in some similar cases of usage, the J2 Core did die down on us before the end of the day.

In our 15-minute battery tests that consisted of browsing, watching video and playing games, the J2 Core's battery dipped down only 1-2% which is a good score.

Verdict

With the J2 Core, Samsung has tried to focus on getting the basics right with some added functionalities. Display and cameras are the two areas where Samsung needs to work, for phones launching in this segment. 

Though, the full picture isn't all grim looking and due to the system level optimization that comes with Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition) along with the refreshing design and the snappy performance, the J2 Core is a cool new option for first-time smartphone buyers. 

While the J2 Core wouldn’t please a user who has used a smartphone before, it will surely attract first-time smartphone buyers. For everyone else, you may want to look at some of the offerings by competition, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 6A which retails at ₹5,999 and looks like a better composition of hardware specifications on paper. Still, Samsung should be your choice if after sales support and service is a major concern.