Review: Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime for Cricket Wireless
Five inch screens deserve better than 540 x 960 resolution. Seriously. You might be able to get away with that pixel count with 4.7 inches and lower, but 5 inches really demands 720p and up to look good. The Grand Prime's screen is adequate, but not great. I was easily able to see pixels along the edges of text and graphics. Samsung often uses AMOLED tech for its screen, but switched to LCD for the Grand Prime. It's plenty bright, and viewing angles are good, but the screen is prone to collecting nasty finger oils that make it unpleasant to look at. This also impacts outdoor viewability, which is pretty poor. I found the Grand Prime almost impossible to use as a camera on sunny days. The screen is often the most expensive component of any phone, and it's clear this is where Samsung cut its corners here.
Cricket's network is technically AT&T's network. The Grand Prime can hop onto AT&T's LTE 4G signal with no problem. I was able to make calls everywhere I took the phone, even in areas with poor coverage. In this respect, it performed on par with other Cricket devices.
Data speeds were a bit of a problem. The phone may support LTE, but it's important to know that Cricket gimps maximum download speeds to 8 Mbps. (AT&T's LTE network supports speeds five or six times that number.) The Grand Prime reached the maximum allowable speed a few times, but often maintained a connection at 4 Mbps or less. No matter the actual speed available to the phone from Cricket, I found the Grand Prime wasn't fast enough when it came time to download apps or upload photos to social media. These activities were slow going. It was fine for updating a weather app and browsing the web. The Grand Prime did as well as it could given the constraints of the network.
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Phone calls via the Grand Prime were surprisingly good. I was pleased with the quality and the volume. Voices were clear in the earpiece, which offered plenty of punch. The earpiece easily cut through background noise and I was able to maintain conversations in crowded spaces with no problem. I didn't notice any distortion in the speaker, even when set all the way up.
The speakerphone is also quite good for conversations when holding the phone to your ear is inconvenient. Those I spoke with through the Grand Prime said I sounded "just OK." The ringers and alerts can be set to jarring levels, and the vibrate offers enough zing to wake you up from an afternoon nap.
The Grand Prime's 2,600 mAh power cell provided just enough juice to get through a day. I found the phone lasted from breakfast to bedtime consistently, though it was often at 15% around 11PM. On days that I tested the phone heavily, it gave up the ghost maybe an hour earlier than that.
Samsung tossed in its Ultra Power Saver mode, but not the regular Power Saver tool. The Ultra Power Saver tool takes drastic steps to conserve energy by ramping down the CPU, crimping the UI down to essentials (calls, messaging), and swapping colors on the screen for a monochrome look. It would have been nice to see the in-between battery saver tool on board as an option, too.
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