Though the Samsung Galaxy Express looks uncannily like a junior-size GS3, the handset is actually a midlevel phone with a bargain price.
At just $100, the Express is equipped with a dual-core processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE speeds from AT&T.
And while these specs aren't comparable with other top-tier Galaxy devices, nor is its camera the most powerful at this price range, the Express hits all the midrange notes well and has that swift and reliable performance you come to expect from the Galaxy family.
In short, the Samsung Galaxy Express looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3 but smaller. Though it's not as premium feeling, it has the same long rectangular shape, curved corners, and oval home button.
The device measures 5.22 inches tall, 2.73 inches wide, and its thin profile is 0.36 inch. At 4.8 ounces, it's also lightweight. Though it's too tall to fit entirely in small front pockets on jeans, it's comfortable when held in the hand or pinned between the ear and shoulder, and it easily slips into small clutches and bags.
On the left is a volume rocker and up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right houses a sleep/power button and the Micro-USB port for charging is on the bottom. On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and below that in the right corner are two small slits for the audio speaker. The plastic back plate has a glossy smooth finish, which makes it vulnerable to accumulating fingerprints. Using an indentation up top, you can remove the plate to access the 2,000mAh battery and expandable microSD card slot.
The 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus WVGA touch screen displays 16 million colors and has an 800x480-pixel resolution. It's sensitive to the touch; I had no problems pinch zooming, tapping on apps, and playing swipe-heavy games like Temple Run. Though icons looked crisp, I could see some slight aliasing with texts and the display had a subtle blue hue to it that was especially apparent when viewed at slight angles (as opposed to straight-on). Color gradients, like the ones on default wallpaper, also looked streaky.
Above the display are an in-ear speaker and a 1.3-megapixel camera. Below are a physical home button and two hot keys (menu and back) that light up white when in use.
Software features and OS
The handset runs on Android 4.0.4 and packs numerous Google apps like Gmail, Plus, Local, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, portals to Play Books, Magazines, Movies and TV, Music, and Store, Google Talk, Search, and YouTube.
Basic task management apps include a native browser and e-mail client, a calculator, a calendar, a clock with alarm functions, a memo pad, music and video players, and a voice recorder.
AT&T loaded some of its own apps as well. These consist of Code Scanner, which allows your phone to read UPC, QR, and Data Matrix bar codes; FamilyMap, which helps you physically locate family members on your AT&T account; a cloud storage app; an app that lets you share content between your Galaxy Express and computer; a map and a messaging application that's of the carrier's own brand; a Wi-Fi- and data-managing app; Live TV; and MyAT&T, which lets you manage your home phone and Internet accounts.
Other apps, some from Samsung, include Amazon Kindle and the Yellow Pages, a chat client called ChatOn, a content manager known as Kies Air, a media portal, an apps-and-games curator called S Suggest, and Samsung's personal voice assistant, S Voice.
Though I appreciate a few choice apps as much as the next person, the phone simply came with a lot of distracting bloatware. Out of the box, it was already loaded with three different message clients and two different navigators.
Additional features include NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, mobile hot-spotting, 8GB of internal memory, and 1GB of RAM.
Camera and video
Camera features include a flash; a 4x digital zoom; four shooting modes, which include panorama and cartoon; four photo effects; 14 scene modes; an exposure meter; touch, auto, and macro focus; a timer; six photo sizes (640x480 pixels to 2,560x1,920 pixels); five white balances; four ISO options; three metering choices; compositional lines; three image qualities; and geotagging.