*This device is a loaned review unit from Samsung Malaysia*
I’m sure you’ve heard of Dual SIM smartphones. Yeah – phones where you can maintain 2 active SIM cards simultaneously. Some of you might wonder – why would anyone want a dual SIM phone?
- You maintain 1 SIM card for work and 1 SIM card for personal use. Double life or just icky about work/personal split?!
- You have 2 different SIM for different telco plans (one with better call / SMS rates, another with better data plan). Carry 1 phone for both numbers!
- Traveling or roaming for business / vacations – 1 SIM for local calls/data and another for your primary number so you’re still reachable back home. Bye bye, expensive roaming bills!
Whatever your reasons, dual SIM smartphones are really popular in this some countries in this region like India, China, Vietnam, Thailand and more. Mostly among people who are conscious about using 2 different SIM with different telco plans for calls, SMS or data use.
After reviewing an entry level dual SIM samrtphone, CSL Switch Pluto in the past, I was happy to receive another dual SIM phone to review. This time, I got hold of a dual SIM phone from a more renowned phone manufacturer. Introducing the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Samsung’s Galaxy series are their Android smartphone series. The Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos (also the same as Samsung Galaxy Grand) is their mid range devices, second to their Galaxy S4 series and Galaxy Note 2 phablet series.
Here’s a quick specifications overview of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos:-
- 5″ TFT WVGA display (480 X 800)
- 1.2 GHz dual core Cortex A9 processor
- 8 GB internal storage (no expandable microSD) + 1 GB RAM
- Powered by latest Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS <–upgrading to 4.2 soon
- 8 megapixel rear camera (with LED flash & autofocus), 2 megapixel front facing camera
- 9.6 mm thin, weighing only 162 grams
- 2,100 mAH non-removable battery
- Connectivity : HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, DLNA
- Available in Metallic Blue and Elegant White colours
For more information, tech specs and features, please check out the official Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos Product Page HERE
Unboxing Galaxy Grand Duos
Inside the box, you’ll find your standard affair – the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos device, 2 piece adapter charger, USB to micro USB sync and charge cable, Samsung headphones with extra earbuds and user manuals.
The unit I have is a “sample” review unit, as you can see from the picture.
The Galaxy Grand Duos in my hand
The phone fits nicely in my hands, with its 5″ screen not being too big, personally. The device looks just like any Samsung devices you see in the market today, with the hardware “Home” button at the centre in the bottom, and capacitive soft buttons for “Menu” and “Back” keys. The back houses the 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and autofocus lens, while the front facing 22 megapixel camera up top in the front, with the signage reminding you that the phone is the “Duos” aka dual SIM version.
Note : There’s another version of Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro here as well. But that doesn’t mean that that phone supports 4 SIMs, it means that the phone has 1.2 GHz quad core processor. Unlike this Grand Duos with only 1.2 GHz dual core.
Although the phone does have a large 5″ screen, the display quality is not spectacular though, with the resolution being only 480 X 800. This is a mid range device, anyway, and Samsung’s display have always been bright and crisp with contrast and colours that pops. Unless you’re a photographer or one with an eye for super high resolution pictures on a smartphone screen, this is well sufficient for an average user.
The build quality of the Galaxy Grand Duos is the same old
plastic polycarbonate like all Samsung devices today. This one has a nice shiny finish at the sides, that looks like aluminium / metal but is actually just the finishing.
You have your headphone jack at the top, with the Power On/Off button at the top on the right side. MicroUSB port for charging and syncing is, as usual, at the bottom and the volume rocker is on the left. No dedicated “Camera” button as with the Windows Phone 8 devices like Samsung ATIV S.
Overall, build quality is rather “meh”. Nothing extraordinary here, the same same Samsung hardware that looks like every other Samsung phone. So similar are one Samsung device from another, you almost always can’t tell one from another. The only identifying mark here is that “Duos” sign at the top of the front on this one.
Menu, Navigation, Browser, Keyboard
Inside the Galaxy Grand Duos, it runs on Android 4.1 “Jellybean” OS with the usual Samsung TouchWiz skin. TouchWiz UI is easy to use and navigate, even if you’re a first time Samsung user, or first time Android user. There’s “Easy Mode” and quick guides to walk you through setting up and navigating your phone.
The Galaxy Grand Duos is due for an Android OS upgrade, to Android 4.2 “Jellybean” OS though, which should be rolling out about now.
The whole “Nature” inspired user experience carries through to the Galaxy Grand Duos as with all Samsung Android smartphones. From the ripple effect when you unlock your phone, to the water sound effects, it’s all unmistakably Samsung.
As mentioned, navigation is easy for first timers, you have quick guides to go through setting up your phone and how to navigate and customise it to your liking. Same gestures apply – from swiping down from the top to access your quick shortcut toggles (WiFi, GPS, Sound, Screen Rotation, Bluetooth, etc) and your notification messages to pressing and holding on an empty space in any of your 7 homescreens to add widgets, shortcut apps and more.
The Phone keypad dialer is nice and big, and features the standard (well, to me anyways) Smart Dialing where you just type the name of your contact and it will automatically show you the person you’re trying to search for. The default on screen keyboard is not too bad as well. Over the years, Samsung has slowly improved the prediction and auto correct that I no longer hate default on-screen keyboards. Although I do prefer to download 3rd party keyboard like SwiftKey for better screen typing.
The latest Samsung features and functions are on board like Multi Window. This is the multi-tasking function where you press and hold the “Back” button and it launches a side panel of apps you can use for the function. Basically, it splits the display screen for 2 apps opened simultaneously. One of the bigger selling points for Samsung Android phones.
You’ll also find some pre-installed Samsung apps like S Planner (Calendar) and S Memo (note taking) apps. There’s also Samsung’s own apps tore and S Voice (voice activated commands) on board.
Dual SIM Menu
Of course, Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos is a dual SIM phone after all. Naturally, there’s the function within the “Settings” menu that allows you to manage both your SIM cards. You can name your SIM cards accordingly (eg, SIM 1/SIM2, Home/Work etc).
The Galaxy Grand Duos works on both dual SIM dual standby mode, where both SIM cards are active at the same time. For example, if you’re on the line on 1 SIM and another call comes in the 2nd SIM, it works like “Call Waiting” and you get to answer / ignore that call accordingly. You can receive calls and SMS on both phones at the same time. You can select which SIM to use when you want to make a call or send an SMS.
With so much advancement to dual SIM phones today, this is truly ideal for someone like me who gets a local SIM for cheaper calls and data when I travel.
Note : Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos supports a regular SIM card and not micro SIM like most flagship smartphones today.
The rear camera is an 8 megapixel shooter with LED flash and autofocus. Not too shabby for a mid range device, to be honest. Here are some sample pictures taken with the camera, unedited and unresized, so click to enlarge:-
Images are nice and clear and performs not too badly in low light condition. Even the night shots were not too bad. The Camera app launches just a second too late for my liking, though. Snapping pictures are fast with the on screen “Camera’ shutter, with autofocus performing rather well.
When it comes to battery life, I didn’t get a chance to snap any screenshots of my use of the phone. But it does perform generally well lasting me anywhere between 17 – 18 hours of light to moderate usage.
Bear in mind that with any dual SIM phones, when you have both SIMs active, especially if they’re from different telco networks, you tend to drain the battery much faster than a normal phone. That’s mostly due to both SIMs searching for signal / connection separately. I’m not talking about crazy battery hog here, just a little more than your if the phone only supports a single SIM.
The handiest use for this phone, in my opinion, other than 1 original SIM and 1 local SIM for travelers, you can use this locally with 1 SIM for calls/SMS and another 1 SIM purely for data (since some telcos clearly have cheaper data plans).
Pricing and Availability
Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos is on sale now at the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 1,299 and then quickly dropped to RM 1,099.
A quick online price check showed me that you can get the slightly newer, quad core brother, Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro which also comes with dual SIM function but better quad core processor, for only RM 999.
Unfortunately though, there’s no telco plans for this device from Maxis, Celcom, DiGi or U Mobile.
Dual SIM phones used to be cheap, entry level Nokias for developing countries. Now, it’s no longer the case. Bigger manufacturers like Samsung and HTC are developing dual SIM versions of their flagship phones in some countries. The market is clearly there for people who uses 2 separate SIM cards but don’t want to hold 2 phones. And this is where the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos comes in.
The phone, although only mid range, is actually a good deal if you’re on the lookout for a good dual SIM smartphone.
If you want to have an Android smartphone experience, don’t want to spring for the full RM2000+ price tag for a flagship phone + a cheaper 2nd phone, Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos could be your winner with an attractive price tag!
You no longer should be the idiot with 2 phones these days. With phones like this Galaxy Grand Duos, you can enjoy the Android smartphone efficiency to carry 2 active SIMs and not break your bank. Worth checking out as a dual SIM capable phone at an inexpensive price.