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Despite sounding such as a 1980s sci-fi series, Samsung’s Galaxy Express 2 is truly a midrange 4G-capable smartphone that attempts to appear to be phones from the somewhat more expensive S series while reducing the specs to obtain it below the £200 mark.

The Galaxy Express 2 is several steps below Samsung’s big gun, the S5, and spec-wise it’s made to sit somewhere within the older S4 and the S4 mini, though that it is somewhat cheaper than either.

Chassis and screen

In conditions of design, it is rather like the S5, but just a little shorter and thinner, though it’s bulked out somewhat to 10mm deep. The backlit Android buttons under the screen don’t disappear in to the black surround just like the S5’s and the thin plastic backing matches the smooth, glossy (but instead cheap-feeling) plastic of the S4, instead of the S5’s textured approach.

The 4.5in display offers a less-than-HD resolution of 960×540 pixels even though it’s okay for web browsing and video views, it really lacks the ‘pop’ of the better HD screens. It’s reasonably sensitive though, and we didn’t have any problems setting it up to simply accept our brushes and presses.

Software and processor

It’s running the 4.2.2 Jelly Bean version of Android, which is looking just a little aged nowadays, and there is no definite date for an update to KitKat. It has Samsung’s TouchWiz interface though, making a few tweaks to the essential Android and adds a good amount of extra including Smart Stay, which uses the front-facing camera to check on if you are still looking at the screen before switching off (not necessarily reliable), the S Planner calendar software and the Samsung Hub offering usage of Samsung’s apps, music, books and videos store. It includes 8GB of memory up to speed but luckily you can include another 64GB to the via microSD card.

The dual-core 1.7GHz processor is backed by 1.5GB RAM and became pretty nippy in practise. Apps opened quickly and there is no evident delay when browsing and working. It didn’t seem to be to have any trouble running HD video gaming like Real Racing 3 and our AnTuTu benchmark test gave it a score of 20,204, which puts it at the bigger end of other dual-core handsets we’ve tested, prior to the HTC One mini 2 and Motorola Moto G for example. The 2100mAh battery wasn’t exceptional but didn’t allow sound down either — you should be prepared to get yourself a day’s worth of regular use from it but not a lot more.

Photography

Samsung Galaxy Express 2 Test Photo

Dave Oliver

The 5-megapixel camera appears like the bog standard for midrange smartphones nowadays but it’s actually very good. It offers autofocus and an LED flash, but also includes a selection of modes including Auto, Night, Sports, Panorama, Sound & Shot, Continuous Shot and Best Shot. There’s an excellent degree of detail in the shots even though colours might not exactly be especially vibrant, they at least look accurate. Additionally, it may handle HD video recording at 1280×720-pixel resolution and there’s a simple VGA camera on leading for video calls.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Express 2 takes among the best bits from high-enders like Samsung’s S5 and S4 and reduces them enough to make a midrange handset that appears like something somewhat more expensive. The processor is surprisingly fast however the screen is merely so-so, and with budget handsets just like the Motorola Moto G delivering comparable specs for less, it generally does not really do enough to tell apart itself.

Specification
Software
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Processor
Dual-core 1.7GHz
Memory slot
Yes
Display
4.5in qHD TFT, 960×540 pixels
Connectivity
Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports
microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack
Camera
5 megapixel with autofocus, LED flash;
VGA front-facing camera
Video playback
AVI, WMV, ASF, FLV, MKV, MP4,
3GP, WebM
Audio playback
MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA,
WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTL, RTX,
OTA
Radio
Yes
Battery
2100mAh
Size
132x66x10mm

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