The Galaxy Star Duos (GT-S5282) is the cheapest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean handset available from Samsung. Its a great entry-level option for people who have never used a smartphone before and want to use one for the first time. With its good build quality and multimedia features, it could have been our recommendation for the best entry-level smartphone but something keeps us from giving it two thumbs up. Keep reading to find out the good, the bad and the ugly of the Samsung Galaxy Star Duos.
- Good Build Quality
- Good Performance
- Quality bundled accessories
- Loud and clear speakerphone
- Low-res Display
- No GPS
The Galaxy Star Duos (GT-S5282) features a single-core 1GHz ARMv7 based browser, with 512MB of RAM and 4GB internal storage. There's Mali 300 GPU which runs the graphics of the device and does the task well. There is a 3-inch QVGA display here, and at the base there are two capacitive buttons for Menu and Back, and the trademark Samsung Home button.
There is no notification LED, and neither a light nor a proximity sensor. The only sensor the device has is the accelerometer which is sufficiently sensitive. At the top you have the 3.5 mm headphone jack and a space to open the backcover. On the left there is the volume rocker and at the same place on the right we have the power lock/unlock key. At the back we have the 2MP primary camera and to its right the main speakerphone. At the base of the device there is the main microphone and the micro USB data-syncing/charging port.
If you remove the backcover you are greeted to the battery compartment which houses the 1200 mAh battery below which are the two micro SIM card slots, and above them the micro SD card slot.
The Galaxy Star Duos has an exceptional build quality, the device is very sturdy with no creaking of any kind. The volume rocker and power button too are very sturdy and provide good feedback. All around the device is a thin metallic rim which gives the device a premium feel. We reviewed the Ceramic White version of the Galaxy Star Duos, there is a Noble Black version also available. Even though the backcover is made of plastic, and has a shiny paint finish it does not feel inexpensive. The entire front of the device is covered with glass, our of which protrudes only the earpiece and the physical Home button.
In terms of ergonomics the buttons are located at the correct place, and one handed operation is no problem at all. Due to the small size, the phone fits perfectly in one hand. But the Galaxy Star Duos does seem a bit heavy, but that's probably due to the use of good materials and uncompromising build quality.
Network and Call Quality
We didn't have any dropped calls or any other network issues that we faced with the Samsung Galaxy Star Duos, and 2G internet performed as expected. While talking on the phone too we were able to hear the other person quite clearly and there was no echo or disturbance heard on the other side.
The earpiece is quite loud and clear, and if you want to talk using the speakerphone that too is quite loud.
The Galaxy Star Duos (GT-S5282) has a 3-inch QVGA display, that's 320x240 pixels. The paltry resolution of the display makes everything look pixelated and sometimes text too becomes illegible, especially in games. Samsung should have atleast used an HVGA (320x480 pixels) display on the device. QVGA just doesn't cut it anymore, even in an entry-level device. The low resolution causes compatibility issues with apps and it the only thing why we can't wholeheartedly recommend the Galaxy Star Duos.
Although there is something good about the display, it shows accurate colors without being over saturated and the touch response of the Galaxy Star Duos is quite acceptable as well.
There is a 2MP unit on the Galaxy Star Duos, although it takes okay shots in the day, the night shots are filled with noise and distortion. In good lighting the camera can take decent shots but the images still come out to be a bit under-saturated, faded even.
The camera interface is very easy to use on the Galaxy Star Duos, there aren't a multitude of settings, everything has been kept simple to allow novice users to use the smartphone. Its not just an entry-level device but a device for people who might have not used a smartphone ever.
As you can see in the image above its quite clear, however when you look at it in full resolution from our Flickr PhotoStream you will notice the lack of detail and the images do seem a bit over saturated. There is a general tendency to shift towards a more bluish hue in the camera of the Samsung Galaxy Star Duos.
A word about the speakerphone quality, it is quite loud and clear. Although there is no bass, but the clarity and distortion free sound even at the loudest volume, feels great. The placing of the speakerphone is quite adequate right next to the camera which allows for it be a bit above the rest of the device, although it would still sound a bit muffled when placed on it back, but not as much if the speakerphone would have been placed near the bottom edge of the device.
We played Temple Run 2, Subway Surfers, and even Dead Trigger, all of which played great on the device. There was no lag while plating these games, but some times the touch response did lag a bit behind our actual touch. Although there was no ghosting or dropped frames. We have a separate gaming review, which you can watch above.
Music and Bundled Earphones
First of all the bundled earphones with the Galaxy Star Duos are great, they are among the best bundled earphones I have heard in a long time, especially with manufacturers trying to cut corners in the accessories department. The earphones provide good bass and overall full sound without overdoing anything particular. Music and FM Radio playback over the speakerphone is loud and clear as well.
FM Radio reception is quite clear, and we sis not have any issue getting a signal while we were moving as well.
The Galaxy Star Duos can easily play 480p videos and therefore YouTube high quality as well. The phone does not stutter while playing high bitrate videos, but anything above 480p will be unplayable with the native player.
Samsung has included its custom browser in the Galaxy Star Duos, it has a more intuitive UI than the stock Android Browser. Pinch-to-Zoom and kinetic scrolling are smooth for most part after the website has loaded completely. But text and content reflow is a bit choppy and again text looks pixelated due to the low-res display.
Software & Apps
Samsung has covered stock Android 4.1.2 Jellybean with TouchWiz UI, there are almost no elements of stock Android. Samsung has customized the stock dialer, lockscreen, notification bar and everything in between. The keyboard is good to type on as well, but the small size of the display can be an issue with us fat-fingered people.
There is something called Motion, using which you can enable the phone to be muted when it is flipped over. Then there is also an Easy Mode which makes the phone seem like a dumb-phone and is useful for people who have not used a smartphone before.
Samsung has pre installed all the Google apps and a bunch of their own apps as well on the Galaxy Star Duos. You have the S Planner, a To Do list, and the Samsung Apps store installed on the device. Samsung Chat On app is available on the Galaxy Star Duos as well. Apart from that you have a custom music player which has a good UI as well a video player that comes pre-installed. The Gallery app too has been customized by Samsung. You also get notifications on the dock icons on the homescreen for unread messages and missed phone calls, quite like iOS.
When you first switch on the device you'll be told that an OTA update is available, we would recommend that you not install it. As soon as we installed it it started causing weird issues with the volume bar, it started appearing in its own separate activity which caused the background activity to stop. We'll notify you when the next update comes for the Galaxy Star Duos.
Now talking about WhatsApp, it does not directly install from the play store, most probably due to the display resolution. Therefore, you can download the apk, and then sideload it, after which it works great. Flipboard too works on the device, it can be directly installed from the Play Store and before doing any reading I would recommend turning on the Increase Legibility option in Display Settings.
Performance and Battery Life
The Galaxy Star Duos performed quite well in all our benchmarks, and came above current entry-level smartphones. In terms of battery life we were able to get more than a days worth with about 30 minutes of calls, 20 minutes of web surfing including YouTube on Wi-Fi, 2 hours or music and video playback, and all this time 2G internet services were on, alongwith the brightness at about 1/4th of full. We played music both using the speakerphone and earphones during the stipulated time. Therefore the Galaxy Star Duos can last for about an entire day with moderate usage, however we did have only one SIM card on at the time, using two SIM cards will not drastically change this number.
We have a separate benchmarking review of the Galaxy Star Duos which you can watch here.
The Samsung Galaxy Star Duos is a good entry-level handset with decent performance and great build quality but wrong price. If the price would have been a little lower or the display resolution atleast HVGA we would given it a two thumbs up. But there are better alternatives from other Indian manufacturers with far better displays and similar performance a the Galaxy Star Duos, available at the same price. But they don't offer the same build quality or accessories, but the Samsung branding.
This is what has us in a fix, we cannot recommend the Galaxy Star Duos wholeheartedly due to its paltry display, but its still the cheapest Android 4.1 handset and has great build quality. Although while using it we found that the TouchWiz UI comes more in the way and stock android would have been more intuitive, therefore we would recommend giving the Galaxy Star Duos a pass for the time being till Samsung atleast adds a better display to it or reduces its price considerably.