Samsung Galaxy Discover review: Low-cost Android humbled by poor performance

Muve Music
One stellar feature of the Samsung Galaxy Discover is Cricket's Muve music service. Included in the cost of your wireless plan, Muve offers up a large selection of full albums, artists, and tracks you can download directly to the phone.

Even better, you can listen to everything without having an Internet connection since everything is stored locally. For a daily subway rider like myself (where cellular signals are virtually nonexistent) it's an excellent solution and sure beats the pants off of streaming-audio services.

Performance
Supplied with ancient mobile components, it came as no surprise to me that the Samsung Galaxy Discover is a slow performer. That said, I was taken aback at precisely how anemic this handset turned out to be.

The device failed to run the Quadrant benchmark outright and its Linpack multithread result of 18.3 MFLOPs is abysmally low. The Discover's single-thread Linpack score of 19.3 MFLOPs wasn't any better. By comparison, the muscular HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 notched 697 MFLOPs and 708.7MFLOPs, respectively. Even the watered-down HTC One Mini (257.5 MFLOPs) fared much better.

In everyday use I also experienced the Discover's sluggishness. Often there was a noticeable delay when the phone struggled to open apps, and menu screens took their sweet time appearing after I tapped the screen.

Camera
Equipped with a low-resolution 3-megapixel sensor and bare-bones camera app, there's not much special about the Galaxy Discover's camera, either. For instance, the phone doesn't have any of the helpful features, such as HDR and panorama mode, now working their way to advanced handset cameras. There's no flash, either, so snapping pictures under dark conditions isn't very practical.

Samsung Galaxy Discover
Shots indoors were dark and had soft detail. Brian Bennett/CNET

The device's imaging system is by no means nimble. Shot-to-shot time was consistently over a second, even in ideal lighting. That doesn't mean you can't rely on the Discover's camera in a pinch. While indoor photos were on the dark side and details not very sharp, colors had a pleasing amount of richness.

Samsung Galaxy Discover
Outside colors improved but detail was still blocky. Brian Bennett/CNET

Outside under the bright fall sun, colors had more impact, though details of brick buildings, faces, and foliage were blocky and pixelated.

Samsung Galaxy Discover
An HDR mode would have been handy here. Brian Bennett/CNET

Data speeds
I tested the Samsung Galaxy Discover on Cricket's CDMA network in New York. Since the device doesn't support 4G, data throughput was stuck in the 3G slow lane. Average downloads clocked in at just under 1Mbps. The same goes for average upload speeds, which were a hair over 1Mbps.

Samsung Galaxy Discover
The Discover is stuck in slow 3G data world. Brian Bennett/CNET

Call quality
Sadly the people I chatted with using the Galaxy Discover were not thrilled by the quality of our calls. They described my voice as sounding warbly and muffled which, though they could comprehend my words, made communication an enjoyable experience.

On my end I found that audio through the earpiece was too quiet, even with the handset's volume dialed up to the maximum. Callers also said sound degraded further when I engaged the speakerphone, making spoken words difficult to understand even when I placed the phone close to my face.

Samsung Galaxy Discover call quality sample Listen now:

Battery life
Samsung claims that the Galaxy Discover's 1,500 mAh battery provides up to 8.5 hours of talk time and 11 days of standby time. This boast didn't jibe with my tests, though; I managed to squeeze only 6 hours and 8 minutes of call time out of the handset.

That's much shorter than how the Kyocera Hydro fared (9.95 hours) too, the Discover's chief rival on Cricket. One positive is that the Discover's battery is removable, so you do have the option of swapping in a freshly charged power source if you have one handy.

Conclusion
On the surface the Samsung Galaxy Discover looks like a pretty good smartphone deal with no strings attached. Factor in its slow performance, fuzzy call quality, and short battery life though and the Discover loses its luster quickly. Sure it does offer all the power of Android, admittedly from an outdated version, at your fingertips for a low $129.99 unsubsidized price.

That said, for $10 more the Kyocera Hydro trumps the Discover in terms of both battery performance and call quality, making it the better buy. Of course if you're willing to splurge, the $249.99 Samsung Admire 2 has faster dual-core processing, a sharper 5MP camera, plus a bigger 4-inch screen.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Samsung Galaxy Discover (Cricket Wireless)

Part Number: SGH-S730M
MSRP: $129.99 Low Price: $99.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Service Provider Cricket Wireless
  • Weight 4.3 oz