Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G (MetroPCS) review:

Reliable, but held back by outdated Android OS

Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G (outdoor)
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In this outdoor shot, the white hues in the petals are true-to-form, and the orchids are sharp. Lynn La/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G (indoor)
This shot, taken in dimmer indoor lighting, is noticeably blurrier and duller in color. Lynn La/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G (SSI)
In our standard studio shot, the flash caused a tinge of blue to appear on the white background. Lynn La/CNET

In addition, the camera itself is slow. After you press the shutter, you have to wait a few seconds for the photo to actually be captured and saved, and autofocusing took a few moments to adjust.

On par with photo quality, the video quality was also adequate. Nearby audio picked up well, moving images remained in focus, and objects looked sharp. Colors were also true-to-life, though dark colors tended to blend together.

I tested the Admire 4G in CNET's San Francisco offices, and call quality was good. Audio didn't cut in and out, none of my calls dropped, and during times of absolute silence, I didn't hear any static. However, voices did come off a bit fuzzy during conversation. I could hear a subtle tinge of static every time someone spoke, and both in-ear and audio speaker volume could have been louder.

In that same vein, my friends told me I sounded muffled as well, and that it was obvious I was calling from a cell phone. They did say, though, that for the most part it was easy to hear me and that the static they heard was not distracting.

Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G call quality sample

Listen now:

MetroPCS' 4G LTE network isn't the most robust, but data speeds were respectable. Loading both the CNET mobile and desktop sites, for example, took an average of 12 seconds. The New York Times' full site clocked in at 23 seconds, and its mobile site also took 11 seconds to load. Altogether, ESPN took a shorter time to load, with its mobile site taking 7 seconds on average, and its full site loading in 15 seconds. The 32.41MB game Temple Run 2 downloaded and installed in an average of 1 minute and 55 seconds, and Ookla showed me an average of 4.15Mbps down and 3.87Mbps up.

Samsung Galaxy Admire 4G Performance testing
Average 4G LTE download speed 4.15Mpbs
Average 4G LTE upload speed 3.87Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 32.41MB in 1 minute and 55 seconds
CNET mobile site load 12 seconds
CNET desktop site load 12 seconds
Restart time 39 seconds
Camera boot time 3.69 seconds

Powered by a 1GHz processor, the handset manages simple tasks smoothly enough, like swiping through the app drawer or the seven home screen pages. But there were times when it was noticeably sluggish. I mentioned before that the camera was slow, but there were also delays when it came to unlocking the screen, switching from landscape to portrait view, and calling up the keyboard. On average, the camera took about 3.69 seconds to launch and it took about 4.15 seconds to restart the phone entirely.

While playing Riptide GP, a graphics-intensive game, I didn't experience any stutter or unexpected app crashes. On the other hand, there was a low frame rate, images looked very jagged, and motion graphics weren't smooth.

The device has 1.38GB of internal memory and a 2,100mAh battery, which contributes to a reported talk time of just 3 hours, and 200 hours of standby time. Yet, during our battery drain test for talk time, it lasted 8.27 hours. Anecdotally, it has solid battery life. The reserves had barely drained after I held a 30-minute conversation, and with normal usage, it can last through a workday. According to FCC radiation standards, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.27W/kg.

The Galaxy Admire 4G is the best Android 2.3 handset in MetroPCS' $100 lineup. That is saying something, since the carrier has several of these devices. It's even better than some Android 4.0 phones too; for example, it beats the ZTE Avid 4G because the display is much more responsive and the processor makes it run more smoothly.

However, what will trump all these choices is the upcoming LG Motion 4G (and you can consider the LG Optimus M+ for its better camera, though it costs $30 more than the Admire 4G). Don't let the Motion 4G's summer release date put you off -- not only does it run Android 4.0, it also has a 5-megapixel camera and a dual-core processor, and it's $50 cheaper.

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