Review: Samsung Galaxy Admire 2 for Cricket
The Admire 2 offers tons of media consumption apps. All of the standard Google Play apps are on board for purchasing, renting, and consuming content such as music, videos, and magazines/books. The device also has separate music and video player apps that are best used with side-loaded content. The stock YouTube app is of course installed.
The Admire 2 comes with Samsung's Media Hub. The Media Hub is an alternative place through which to purchase and/or rent movies, television shows, and music. It works fine, but requires a Samsung user account. Sharing is easy thanks to Samsung's AllShare Play app, which handles the act of pairing the Admire 2 with nearby DLNA television sets or other home theater equipment.
The Admire 2 has Cricket's Muve Music service, too. Muve Music is included with most data plans.
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The Admire 2 includes a 5-megapixel shooter. The phone does not have a dedicated camera button, but the camera can be launched via lock screen shortcut. The Admire 2 uses the same camera software that we've seen on Samsung's phones for ages, but it doesn't have the advanced functions as seen on the Galaxy S 4.
There's a control strip down each side of the screen. The settings strip on the left - which is fully customizable - offers access to features such as the flash, exposure controls, scenes, shooting modes, and so on. Those shooting modes include normal, panorama, smile shot, and cartoon. You can also choose from a number of different scenes, such as portrait, landscape, sports, and so on. You can use both a shooting mode and a scene together if you want to. The phone also provides access to the standard set of controls over ISO, exposure, metering, and so on. You can choose to use touch-to-focus if there is something in particular you want to be in focus.
Once you've spent a moment familiarizing yourself with the controls, the camera is a breeze to use. It performs most functions lickety-split, but takes a hair longer to focus than it should.
Images shot with the Admire 2 fall into the "acceptable" category. They're OK enough for everyday shooting, but not good enough for serious picture-taking. Let's put it this way: I'd say you're taking a chance if you skip taking your separate camera with you on vacation. The pictures I shot were generally in focus, exposed well enough, and showed accurate color, but grain was all over the place. Scenes with both bright/dark spots were always a bit of a mess, and bright colors tended to blow out the sensor. If you want to get that blackmail shot of your roommate at the party Saturday night, fine, but don't expect it to impress anyone.
If you want to branch out a bit and use the panorama or other modes, you'll find that they work well and produce results that are usable, but not great.
The video camera performs a bit better than the regular camera does. The Admire 2 records at a maximum resolution of 720p HD, and the results were often clean and pleasing. Focus, exposure, and white balance were almost always accurate, and the video was free of distortions or odd movement that I've seen in other phones. I did, however, see a bit of grain, especially in low-lit scenes.
The Admire 2's gallery application is the stock Android gallery app with the TouchWiz theme laid over top. The basic view includes a collection of all your photo albums, including the local one on the device as well as those from various accounts that may be synced with the device (Facebook, Flickr, Google+, etc.). You can drill down into these albums to see smaller collections of photos.
The Admire 2 has the same photo-editing features that most Android 4.1 smartphones do. Images can be cropped and rotated easily, as well as straightened, corrected for color/exposure problems, and red-eye. The gallery app lets users share images quickly and easily via dozens of avenues. You can also choose to download Samsung's own Photo Editor app, which offers a bit more control over the images you'd like to adjust. Samsung prompts you to download its app, which is free.
The Admire 2 comes with a typical mix of Google, Samsung, and Cricket apps. You can't delete most of the pre-installed apps, but you can at least hide those you don't use. The Samsung App Hub is available if you want to see which apps Samsung recommends for the Admire 2.
The Admire 2's Bluetooth radio worked flawlessly. It paired and connected with every device I have sitting on my desk. Phone calls sounded good when routed through a headset, as did music when played back through stereo headphones. Calls sent to my car's hands-free system sounded excellent.
The Admire 2 ships with the standard Android browser and Google's Chrome browser. Both browsers are highly capable of rendering attractive web sites. Chrome offers a few more features than the stock browser, but as far as how web pages look, they are on even footing. The Admire 2 was not the fastest when it came to loading web sites, especially on Cricket's 3G network. It's a shame Cricket's LTE 4G footprint is so limited.
There's a white digital clock on the lock screen. It is big enough to be seen at an arm's length, but the style of the lock screen clock cannot be adjusted. You can put a dual-clock (two time zones) on the home screen, but that actually makes it harder to tell the time quickly.
The Admire 2 has Google Maps and Cricket Navigation. The GPS radio worked really well. It pinpointed me quickly, and accuracy varied between 10 and about 25 feet. I didn't have any trouble routing directions between points with either application. Google Maps is a bit more feature rich for navigation.
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