Pros : Decent outdoor shots from snapper; Compact design; support for NFC.
Cons : Laggy performance; Low-res small screen; Keyboard gripes.
Verdict : Samsung’s Galaxy Fame doesn’t really offer enough for the price. The small display is low-res, and performance is disappointing. Battery life is mediocre – and there are better handsets out there for the money.
Samsung has brought out the Galaxy Fame, a mid-range Android handset that fails to impress. Despite the fact that the five-megapixel snapper performs well, especially outdoors, there are better handsets available for the same price. Mind you, if you don’t want one of those big five-inch handsets (such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4), you might like the neat, compact chassis, which fits nicely in smaller hands, and bags and pockets.
When it comes to design, the Galaxy Fame is pretty much what you’d expect from Samsung. It has a full glass front, and a shiny back panel, with a silver plastic rim separating the two. It is a tad chunky, but only weighs 121g – and feels like it’s solid enough to take a few knocks.
Small screen star
The screen measures a neat 3.5 inches – pretty small compared with the likes of the Sony Xperia 4 and Galaxy S 4, but it’s fine for playing with apps or surfing the net. But viewing angles disappoint and it has a low resolution, which means you’ll have to zoom right in if you want to read text. Nor is the touchscreen as responsive as we’d like. We much preferred the screen on the LG Optimus L5 II and surfing the net was a far more enjoyable experience on the Huawei Ascend G510. Mind you, the screen is really bright, and manages to counter the glare from harsh sunlight.
The small display is a problem with the virtual keyboard, which is really cramped, especially when in portrait mode. We found we mis-typed a lot, so ended up using the phone in landscape mode. Swype also made inputting easier. Swype allows the user to drag their digit from letter to letter and only lift the finger off the screen when the word is finished. Sometimes it doesn’t get it right though, and you have to go back and correct it.
It’s also rather a nuisance that the keyboard takes up much of the display, especially if you’re bashing out an email, so you have to go back out of it to look at earlier messages. Predictive text didn’t work too well – when we tapped a suggested word, it would appear in the middle of another sentence, so we stopped using it after that.
While we have already said that the phone is not great value in a lot of ways, one of its good points is that it offers support for NFC. This means it is possible to transfer media wirelessly, as well as contact details and other data between other NFC devices. Samsung has included its S Beam software to make sure that works easily.
The Fame is running Google’s Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, and Samsung hasn’t fiddled with it too much. There are seven pages on offer where you can include bookmarks, widgets and app shortcuts – and quite a few apps come preloaded. There’s ChatON, for example, which lets you send instant messages to other users; the personal organised S Planner will help you keep your life in order. There are some other nifty features too – stop your phone ringing by popping it facedown on the desk, for example.
While Jelly Bean runs well, the phone does suffer from quite a bit of slowdown because of the 1GHz chip under the hood. You’ll only be able to play basic games smoothly – we tried running Vector, which is a simple 2D running game, and experienced crashes and stuttering.
Battery life is also disappointing – while you’ll get a couple of days if you just do basic tasks, video streaming sees it die after four and a half hours.
You can navigate Android using the physical home button – and there are back and home touch-sensitive buttons sitting under the display. These two only light up once they’re pushed, so make sure you remember which is which. The notification bar appears when you drag your finger down from the top of the display. Here you’ll see any alerts, and can toggle Wi-Fi and so on, off and on.
The camera is a basic five-megapixel mode with LED flash. While shots taken indoors were blurry, outdoor shots were sharp and colourful when we looked at them on a monitor. There aren’t loads of features – you get smile modes, panorama mode and a few effects – and you can rotate and crop images before you share them. There is a front-facing lens for video chats and self-portraits.
The Samsung Galaxy Fame doesn’t offer enough for the price tag. Performance is rather slow, the small display is low-res and battery life is mediocre. However, you’ll get more for your money from the likes of the Huawei Ascend G510 and LG Optimus L5 II.
HSPA 7.2/5.76 900/2100
1 GHz processor
3.5” HVGA TFT
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Main(Rear): 5-megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash
Sub(Front): VGA Camera
Bluetooth® v 4.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity
4GB Storage ï¼‹ 512MB (RAM)
microSD (up to 64GB)
113.2 x 61.6 x 11.6 mm, 120.6 g
Standard battery, Li-ion 1,300mAh
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