Samsung Galaxy Young
10th Mar 2014 | 17:20
A super-budget smartphone which gives you all the basics
Introduction and design
When it comes to the modern smartphone, there are two manufacturers that manage to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Both Apple and Samsung have managed to take the mobile market by storm with their own takes on what should be in your pocket.
Unsurprisingly Samsung is the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world with its Android smartphones covering the high end with the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note 3, but also the low end with the Galaxy Fame and the Galaxy Young handsets.
With a pay as you go (PAYG) price as little as £69.99 (around $115, AU$130) and contract prices of only £7.25 per month in the UK, the Galaxy Young is pitched at the lowest end competing with the likes of the Nokia Asha 503, as well as the Lumia 520 and Huawei Ascend Y300.
This low price tag means that it's not only being pitched at a younger audience (there was a clue in the name), it also appears to make an ideal second phone for emergencies or even as a festival phone.
So what do you get for your money?
Given that Samsung has tied up a large section of the budget market, it stands to reason that there may not be a lot of difference between the Galaxy Young and the Galaxy Fame. That is very much the case.
One of the main areas to look at is the screen. Obviously the likes of the a HD screen have been overlooked, instead a 3.3-inch 320 x 480 screen giving around 176ppi is what you get on the Young.
This means that the Galaxy Young is slightly smaller than the Galaxy Fame but with a slightly higher ppi.
Elsewhere there are a lot more similarities. At measurements of 109.4 x 58.6 x 12.5mm and weighing 112g, the Galaxy Young sits around the same size as the Fame.
I found that the Young sits extremely comfortably in one hand, and I was able to hit the entire screen and the traditional Samsung buttons without issue.
There is little surprise in what Samsung has chosen to build its cheapest handset out of - the plastic construction that has been criticised on Samsung's flagships, but it's very fitting for such a cheap handset.
Storage wise the Galaxy Fame comes along with a rather measly 4GB of which less than 1.5GB is actually available for you to use.
Although you're unlikely to install any massive apps on the Galaxy Young, I still feel that this is pretty poor. Thankfully the addition of microSD support of up to 64GB does ease the pain.
Dropbox also comes preinstalled meaning you can store all your photos and files to the cloud further lessening the stress on the internal memory.
A 1GHz single-core CPU has been provided under the hood, tasked with running Android with the help of 768MB of RAM.
That's slightly more than the 512MB of RAM in the Galaxy Fame, but the larger RAM comes with the trade-off for a smaller 3.2MP camera rather than the 5MP of the Fame. A front facing camera is also missing here.
In all the Galaxy Young is an interesting proposition, with the low price tag giving an incentive to take another look at this lower powered handset, yet the specs won't blow you away.
Thanks to O2 for providing a Gaalxy Young for review
Key features and performance
Looking at the Samsung Galaxy Young it is clear what the key feature is; the price. There are some obvious trade-offs in terms of specs though in the form of a rather underpowered camera, smaller screen and diminutive processor.
As a second phone or a festival phone it is unlikely that these will prove to be a massive deal breaker as moving around the phone, navigating through text messages and making calls is both simple and fast.
As a first smartphone the remit is slightly different, but again those moving from feature phones will struggle to find fault with the way the Galaxy Young handles basic phone functions. Even moving around between home screens and the app drawer is handled well.
It is in some of the more advanced functions that the Galaxy Young tends to struggle. Even modern feature phones come equipped with higher powered cameras, and the likes of the Nokia Lumia 520 (which as a similar contract price) come with 5MP offerings rather than the 3.2MP of the Young.
This is an area that I can see holding the Young back, especially given that the naming suggests the Young will be pitched to those just starting high school.
Younger generations have a tendency to want to snap a lot of selfies, as well as then posting these images to Facebook or Instagram.
With the poor camera on offer this is something that I can't see ever appealing. The Galaxy Fame with its upgraded camera, and LED flash that is missing on the Young, is certainly beginning to seem a better investment.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is also vaguely disappointing, but there's some hope KitKat might make an appearance as it supports handsets sporting as little as 512MB RAM.
I would also suggest that the smaller storage would also start to be a bit of a bug bear on a two year contract.
This will be especially problematic for younger users that will likely want to download and remove apps freely; that 1.5GB will fill up very quickly with casual games .
The addition of the microSD card does take some of the strain, especially for the storing of photos and music, as does the inclusion of Dropbox for cloud storage of photos.
Still, the Galaxy Young manages to live up to its mantra of being a basic smartphone and for a rather reasonable price. It will never set the world alight but will never burn a hole in your pocket, and as a first smartphone or as a disposable/second phone its clear which one is more important.
In terms of performance you would be forgiven for thinking that the Samsung Galaxy Young would suffer given its lower powered insides.
To an extent this is true, throw any heavy lifting its way and the Young slows down although I didn't find any real hindrance.
This was in part because the whole nature of the Galaxy Young leaves you not wanting to throw an awful lot its way. Heavy gaming and video watching are certainly out of the picture as the smaller screen fails to provide any real experience.
Loading up the camera app, something that I have found can take a while on lower powered handsets, was rather smooth as too was snapping photos.
Having a shortcut on the lock screen was also a big help, although there was still a little lag. This meant that the moment had passed more often than not before I had the chance to capture it.
One key area that Samsung phones shine in their performance is thanks to Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Having been around since the earliest iterations of Android, Samsung has had the time to develop its UI to be one of the best around.
This means that the Galaxy Young comes in feeling a lot smarter than a fair amount of other lower priced handsets, especially ones that come with heavy network branding.
Anybody that has used a Samsung or Android smartphone will feel immediately at home; the app drawer and widgets are all available. Elsewhere Samsung has added an Easy home screen mode that makes it easier to move around if the Young is your first smartphone, or if you're hard of sight.
Unfortunately all of Samsung's additions do take up vital storage space, something that is in limited supply on the Galaxy Young.
An Amazon MP3 app and eBay app alongside the Game Hub and Samsung App Store will likely go unused, and the eBay mobile site is just as easy to use as the app.
The inclusion of two web browsers - Chrome as well as the native Internet browser - is also baffling. Sony has gotten it down to a tee on its Xperia devices by only leaving Chrome, Samsung should really take note here as ways to cut down and maximise space.
Geekbench scores of 228 for a single core is really rather disappointing, and puts it lower than nigh on every other handset on the Geekbench site, coming only marginally higher than the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2.
Overall though I doubt the performance of the Galaxy Young to ever be hindrance. It is ideal for browsing through social networking sites and casual web browsing, providing a cheap, satisfactory smartphone experience.
Battery life and connectivity
Any smartphone, regardless of price, will need a battery to power it with the expectation that it should be able to last you a whole day. This is an area that the Galaxy Young seems to struggle.
Using the TechRadar battery test of a 90 minute HD video (which actually failed to show the picture, just the sound) drained the battery by 24%.
Thankfully this is one area that the Galaxy Young is unlikely to be used thanks to the smaller screen.
I found that during day to day use the Galaxy Young managed to get through sending text messages and taking some snaps, but really struggled when it had a little more thrown its way. I wouldn't feel overly comfortable out and about without knowing I had access to a charger nearby.
Samsung's quick toggles in the notification bar do go some way to help you eke the last few drops of juice; turning off things like Wi-Fi, mobile data or NFC will help maximise the amount of time you can go before running out.
The lack of auto-brightness is an area that really harmed the Galaxy Young though. It requires active management to make sure that the brightness is optimised to the lighting conditions, as such I just left it on maximum brightness pretty much all day.
In terms of connectivity the Galaxy Young doesn't come with 4G, but for the price tag that was something that I can forgive.
This means sharing photos between friends is a lot easier, and super fast as it makes use of Wi-Fi Direct.
Samsung has also fitted the Galaxy Young with GPS and A-GPS support and Bluetooth 3.0.
The lack of inclusion of GLONASS was a little surprising given its inclusion in nigh on every handset that Samsung has produced, but given the accuracy of GPS satellites I'm not sad to see it excluded.
The essentials and camera
In terms of working as a phone there is little that the Samsung Galaxy Young can do wrong. It is able to make calls, send text messages as well as send emails and instant messages.
Video calling is notably missing, although the 3.3-inch screen doesn't lend itself to even the occasional Skype call.
Samsung's SMS app leaves a lot to be desired in terms of looks although there are a variety of different text bubbles and backgrounds to choose from, as well as being able to pop in a photo of your own.
As an app it is perfectly functional, able to perform every take that you would want from a standard SMS app. Photos can also be attached to be sent as an MMS.
In order to make use of this app you will need a decent keyboard, and thankfully Samsung has you covered there.
I thought that the keyboard on the Galaxy Fame was somehow a little fiddly and despite coming in on a smaller screen I didn't find the same problems on the Galaxy Young.
One handed typing was exceptionally easy, although not as accurate as on larger handsets.
Email is covered with the Gmail and Email apps depending on what accounts you plan on adding. Both apps come fully stocked, with the latter able to handle multiple accounts from multiple providers and aggregating them into one easy to use inbox.
Internet browsing is another area that is easy, although again I must bemoan Samsung's decision to include two browsers on one handset. I am all for choice but when you're only ever going to use one app, it seems more than a bit strange to include two almost identical apps, especially when space is limited.
There is understandably no 4G, although with a single core the Galaxy Young would struggle to keep up with the speeds that 4G offers; 3G speeds are more than sufficient. The smaller screen also lets the Galaxy Young down for web browsing too.
Whilst ideal for light usage, including browsing mobile sites, the screen isn't ideal for searching through full desktop sites.
One key aspect that the Galaxy Young is let down on is its lack of auto brightness feature.
This is something that I've found to be missing all too often on lower powered handsets but its lack of inclusion on the Young is still confusing and frustrating.
If you're looking at buying the Samsung Galaxy Young as a camera replacement, something cheap and simple to use then you will be more than disappointed.
Even some of the oldest feature phones came with a 3.2MP sensor and a LED flash, the latter of which is missing from the Galaxy Young.
This means that the Galaxy Young is immediately sat way behind its closest rivals, especially if you are looking at purchasing the Galaxy Young on a two year contract.
Thankfully the Galaxy Young is unlikely to be used for snapping some of the more precious moments, saved instead for snapping fun pictures in the playground or of your mates whilst at a festival.
A front facing lens is also missing and considering it's the selfie-loving, younger audience the Young is being aimed at it seems like a strange omission.
The camera app is also pretty poor, lacking in features that can be found on some of the more modern smaratphones. Having to manually switch between camera and video recording modes feels archaic and adds a level of frustration as it takes an extra second to record media.
There are as couple of modes to play around with, from panorama, smile shot, buddy photo share and share shot. Buddy photo share and share shot work in a similar fashion to each other, allowing the instant sharing of photos via Wi-Fi Direct.
Other modes that can be played with include adding a standard black and white, sepia or negative filter, changing the photo's brightness, adding guidelines, changing the scene mode to try and get the right setting for the moment or even changing the image quality.
Why you would change the resolution to 2MP or VGA seems a tad strange, although if you're looking to share a photo via MMS rather than through WhatsApp or Kik then it will help save data.
When looking around the smartphone market, the low-cost Samsung Galaxy Young is certainly an interesting proposition.
It aims to bring the smartphone market to those that might be unable to afford it, with a cut down feature list and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean available for a smaller price tag.
It's hard not to like the price, especially given that this is the sort of price tag that usually accompanies network branded handsets that all too often over promise and under deliver. With Samsung's nous behind it, it's a pleasure to see a handset of this price with these features on the market.
I am a fan of Samsung's TouchWiz UI. It delivers on a whole range of things and adds an extra level of smart to your smartphone, something that I really value. Android itself is a great OS but its these extra features that make a smartphone worth the money.
The camera is an area that Samsung really needs to work on with the Galaxy Young. There are definitely compromises that need to be made in order to keep the cost down, but many people now look to their mobile camera to share their daily lives via social media, especially in the target age group.
Space is another issue that needs to be addressed, especially with youngsters that tend to install and remove apps at the drop of a hat. For storing pictures and music a microSD card can be added, but this adds extra cost and doesn't allow total movement off apps over.
Finally the battery is an area that gave me concern. I can see it easily lasting a standard 9am-3pm school day, but for a full day's use you're starting to push the Galaxy Young.
The Samsung Galaxy Young was never going to be the best handset ever brought to market, but it manages to bring a lot of features that make Samsung handsets so successful whilst coming in at a reasonable price tag.
This means that it is ideal as a first time smartphone or second phone that will cover you in emergencies, or even as backup so you don't have to take your flagship handset away with you whilst travelling the world.
As a first foray into the smartphone market or as a cheap handset to offer kids to take to school I can think of few other phones at this price tag, although if you're thinking about a two year contract I'd advise looking at the Nokia Lumia 520.
Thanks to O2 for providing a Gaalxy Young for review
First reviewed: March 2014