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Full Review

Samsung Galaxy J1 Review

Samsung might be most well-known for its flagship Galaxy S line but you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to get a smartphone from the South Korean company.

In fact it’s just launched a new handset dubbed the Samsung Galaxy J1, which at around £80 SIM-free is about as cheap as a smartphone gets.

But can you really get much for under £100 or are you better off spending a little more? Read on to find out.


While the Samsung Galaxy J1 doesn’t have a premium design it’s actually a pretty nice looking phone for the money. It’s compact for one, at 129 x 68.2 x 8.9mm and light too at 122g, so you can easily fit it into the smallest of bags and pockets and use it for hours on end with getting wrist ache.

The phone has a plastic build, but with an unmistakeably Samsung style, including a physical home button and slightly curved edges which make it comfortable to hold. There’s no metal or glass here (other than the screen) but it looks like a phone which could have easily cost twice as much, which is pretty impressive.


The Samsung Galaxy J1 has a 4.3-inch 480 x 800 display with a pixel density of 217 pixels per inch. That’s a fairly small size, making this a distinctly compact phone. As such it’s not the best canvas for watching movies, but it does make it all the more portable and it’s not exactly tiny, topping the 4.0-inch iPhone 5S for example.

While its fairly low resolution the small size also means that’s not such an issue, with its pixel density almost matching the slightly more expensive Moto E (2nd gen).

Put it side by side with a higher resolution phone and you’ll notice the relative lack of clarity, but taken on its own it’s not bad at all, especially for the money.


There’s a 1.2GHz dual-core processor humming away inside the Samsung Galaxy J1 and it’s paired with 512MB of RAM.

Those are some fairly low end specs. The processor is a match for the original Moto E, which is likely to be one of its main competitors, but it has half the RAM of that phone.

Still, there’s enough power here to run Android comfortably and while it’s not up to demanding games you can smoothly use it for apps, media, calls and web browsing, so it has the smartphone basics covered, which is all you can really hope for at this price.

One slight disappointment is that it runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat, rather than Android Lollipop. That’s only one major release behind, but it’s still a shame that a new phone isn’t running the latest software.


The Samsung Galaxy J1 has a pretty good camera for the money with a 5 megapixel snapper on the back and a 2 megapixel one on the front. They’re fairly basic offerings sure and video is capped at 720p and 30fps, but there’s a flash so you can shoot in darker environments and some low cost phones don’t even have front-facing cameras. The original Moto E for example doesn’t and even the Moto E (2nd gen) only has a VGA one.

Pictures won’t impress if blown up to anything much bigger than the J1’s screen, but if that’s where you plan to show your photos off that won’t be a problem.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy J1 has an 1850 mAh battery, which might sound on the small side, but then this is a small, low power phone, so that’s all it really needs.

Indeed battery life is actually pretty good, lasting for up to 10 hours of talk time or 40 hours of music playback, while if you run low you can always enable Ultra Power Saving mode to eke out even more life.

There’s only 4GB of built in storage which is an absolutely tiny amount, but again it matches the original Moto E so it’s competitive for the price and it also has a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 128GB, so you can easily expand it to the point where you’ll have more storage than you know what to do with.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth 4.0. There’s no 4G here but it does support HSPA+, for the fastest 3G speeds around.


The Samsung Galaxy J1’s main selling point is its price. At around £80 SIM-free, even less on pay as you and for nothing upfront on very low cost contracts it’s cheaper than a smartphone has any right to be.

Yet it is a smartphone, with full access to apps from Google Play, as well as a reasonable camera, a decent design, good battery life and a respectable screen.

It’s a little lacking in RAM even for the money and the fact that it’s on an older version of Android is disappointing too, though it’s only slightly outdated, but those are the only major marks against it, so if you can live with that then the Samsung Galaxy J1 is a great value purchase.



Dimensions : 129 x 68.2 x 8.9mm

Weight: 122 grams

Screen size: 4.3” TFT (480 x 800)

Screen Resolution: 480 x 800 display resolution

Pixels Per Inch (PPI): 217

Processor: 1.2GHz Dual core application processor

RAM: 512MB

On-board Memory: 4GB (microSD card support)

Camera: 5MP (rear), 720p at 30fps (2 megapixel front-facing)

Operating system: Android 4.4.4

Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ No

Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ No

Battery capacity: 1850mAh

Colours: White, Black, Blue

Launch Date: Out now
Price: Around £80

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