It’s not easy finding a high-end dual-SIM phone from a top-tier manufacturer. The only one available in the market until recently was the HTC Desire SV, which is a well-designed and built handset with an impressive spec sheet but is heavily crippled in the multimedia department due to its chipset. This leaves the playground wide open for the just launched Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos, which has been making a lot of noise in the market. We quite liked it when we first saw it, and now it’s time to put it through our gruelling tests to see if it manages to come through unscathed.
Design and build
The Grand Duos looks like a clone of the Note II, but with the finish and build of the S III. The phone seems a bit chunkier than the Note II and that chrome trim around the edge will wear off with time, so it’s better if you use a cover with it. The finish of the plastics is more akin to the Galaxy S III. The rear cover has a fine mosaic-like pattern which actually manages to mask most of your fingerprints. However, it does scratch easily if you’re not careful with your usage. The same goes for the chrome trim.
The Grand Duos feels strong and durable but is on the thicker side at 9.6 mm and quite heavy as well at 162 g. Just like the other Galaxy handsets, we have all the sensors lined up along with the front facing 2MP camera. The 5-inch display takes up most of the space in the front with a thin bezel on either side.
Underneath the rear cover, we have the two GSM SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. Samsung also bundles along a separate rear cover with a flip-style screen protector. Other than the fact that it’s a bit on the thicker side, the Grand Duos has a very good build quality and even looks very striking.
When Samsung first announced the Grand Duos, there was a lot of cry about the low resolution display. Even we thought back then that this would be the Achilles’ Heel of the handset. As it turns out, the 480 x 800 resolution is not completely terrible and other than a slightly larger set of icons, it’s not bad at all. The display is a standard TFT LCD, but a good one, so the viewing angles and colour reproduction is very good. The phone runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean along with TouchWiz and the two seem to get along just fine. The UI is fluid just like it is on the Note II, all the new features introduced in it and the S III – Multi-window, Pop-up play, Smart Stay, S Voice and a whole fleet of motion based gestures – are present here.
The fluidity of the interface can be attributed to the spiffy ARM Coretex-A9 MPCore SoC under the hood. This consists of a dual-core CPU running at 1.2GHz each along with 1GB of RAM. The SoC also has support for NEON video decoding extensions and ARM TrustZone technology, amongst others. The GPU is not the typical Adreno or Mali chipset but is a Broadcom Video Core IV. Thanks to the low resolution screen, this GPU manages to pump out very similar performance to the GPU in the Note II. NenaMark 2 benchmark recorded a similar 58FPS and this is also reflected in actual games. For instance, Temple Run 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted run smoothly without any issues.
The Grand may lack the famed Wolfson audio chip, but this hasn’t stopped Samsung from delivering a really good media experience. We’ve talked about the new media player at length in our Galaxy Note II review, so we won’t go too much into detail about it here. Audio quality is pretty good through the headphones as well as the rear speaker. The volume level is good and movies and music are enjoyable on the big screen.
The video player is very functional and supports most formats including AVI and MKV. Full HD 1080p playback is also flawless. You even get a screenshot feature along with the option to tag your friends in the video, edit it or even set a timer to switch it off automatically.
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