Review: Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime for Cricket Wireless
The Grand Prime relies on Google's media apps for the most part. The most recent versions of Play Music, Books, Movies, and Magazines are all included and do a fairly good job. There's a simple video player on board for any content you might have side-loaded onto the phone yourself. The standard YouTube app is available, too.
The one extra app is Samsung's Milk Music service. This uses Slacker's back-end but has a user interface created by Samsung. It's actually pretty cool and the selection of music is solid. You have to pay to get an ad-free experience.
Music sounded OK coming through the speaker, but I was not impressed with how video looked on the qHD screen.
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The Grand Prime includes an 8-megapixel camera. It doesn't have a dedicated camera button, but you can launch the camera via the lock screen shortcut. It launches quickly.
The camera app on the Grand Prime is the same that Samsung has used on its phones for about a year now. Along the left edge of the viewfinder you'll see a strip of icons. You can customize two of the four icons with specific options such as the flash, effects, resolution, ISO, metering, and so on. The other two icons are for the full settings menu and the front camera. There are separate buttons for the camcorder and camera on the right side of the screen, as well as buttons for accessing the different shooting modes and the gallery.
The Grand Prime offers a handful of Samsung's shooting modes, such as Beauty Face, Panorama, HDR, Rear-cam Selfie, Continuous Shot, Night, and Animated GIF. These modes function just as they do on all Samsung phones.
The Animated GIF mode is worth talking about for a second. Using it effectively takes practice. In order to record a GIF, you have to press the shutter button and camcorder button at the same time. The phone then takes 24 shots. Once the shots are all taken, the software stitches them together. I like that you can control how many frames play per second, as this helps create smoother GIFs. It took few a few tries to get the technique right, and the results are mediocre at best.
Beyond the shooting modes, you still have plenty of options for customizing your shots with the different effects, as well as typical tools like white balance, ISO, metering, and more.
In all, the camera performs decently.
I was reasonably impressed with the Grand Prime's photos. The 8-megapixel sensor does a fine job, especially considering the phone's price point. Focus was nearly always accurate, but exposure and white balance were uneven. Sometimes both were great, sometimes one was great while the other stunk, and sometimes both were junk. The ratio of good-to-bad is favorable, however, and most people should be happy with what they get. You will notice some grain in low-light shots, but that's pretty typical.
I wouldn't rely on the Grand Prime to snag my vacation shots, but it's a fine everyday camera.
The Grand Prime can record video up to 1080p full HD resolution. I was happy with the results for the most part, which were a bit more consistent when compared to the camera. Focus was good and exposure and white balance were somewhat improved. I noticed some grain here and there, but it's not awful by any stretch.
I would shoot important life events with something better than the Grand Prime, but the camcorder gets the job done well enough for day-to-day video capture needs.
The Grand Prime offers some choice when it comes to the gallery app, as the older stock app and Google Photos app are both on board. I've come to prefer the newer Photos app for its automatic backup feature and wider array of editing tools.
The older app is somewhat limited. Out of the box all it can do is help organize photos; it cannot perform edits. If you want to make edits, the app prompts you to download Samsung's Photo Editor app. This is silly and redundant considering Google's Photos app is already installed and does the same thing in better fashion.
Pre-installed apps are at a bare minimum. Extras include Samsung's Galaxy Apps and Milk Music apps, as well as Cricket's account management, WiFi hotspot, and visual voicemail apps. Everything else is from Google.
The Grand Prime's Bluetooth radio handily covers the basics. I used it to make several calls through my car's hands-free system and the quality was quite good. I had no trouble connecting to other devices, such as PCs or accessories. Without the aptX profile, however, music didn't have as much punch as I would like.
Choice is a good thing, so you'll be happy to learn the Grand Prime has the generic Android browser in addition to Google Chrome. Whichever browser you pick, you can count on the Grand Prime to deliver web sites in reasonably quick order. The browsers are capable of rendering web sites cleanly on the screen. Browsing via the Cricket (AT&T) network provided decent speeds, but not blazing fast ones.
The Grand Prime includes the standard white digital clock on the lock screen. It's big enough to be seen at an arm's length, but the style of the lock screen clock cannot be adjusted. I found it hard to read outdoors, but didn't have any trouble checking the time when inside.
Google Maps is the only navigation app preloaded on the Grand Prime, and that's just fine. It interacts well with the Grand Prime's GPS radio and pinpointed me swiftly. When exploring, I found the Grand Prime was rather slow to build maps. I often had to wait for details to fill in. The app worked well for navigating between points.
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