The Fame comes running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which is the most recent version but one of Google's operating system for phones and tablets. The layout and operation is much the same as any other Android device so existing 'droiders will be immediately at home. It's simple to get to grips with too -- if you're nervous about taking your first steps into the smart phone world, the Fame's interface shouldn't be something to put you off.
You'll have a total of three homescreens to fill up with apps and widgets. That's not very many, so you'll have to be quite selective about what you want to give pride of place on the front. Anything that doesn't make the cut gets put into a grid in the app list. Along the bottom are three customisable app icons to give quick access to essential tools.
The swipe-down notifications bar lets you change crucial settings like brightness, Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth. It makes it very easy to turn functions on or off without having to dive into settings menus.
The interface might look neat and simple, but it's let down by a weedy 1GHz processor that seems to struggle with even basic tasks. Swiping around the homescreens was often juddery, particularly when I'd dropped down various widgets. Pulling down the notification bar and loading menus was stuttery and bringing up the multi-tasking list was subject to an inexcusable delay of several seconds.
It achieved 476 on the Geekbench benchmark test, which is far from impressive. LG's Optimus L5 II -- a similarly priced mobile -- achieved 564 on the same test, and that didn't give a smooth ride either. It will cope adequately with the essential texting, tweeting and stalking your ex on Facebook, but it's far from swift, which could quickly become an annoyance.
It will just about manage basic mobile games like Angry Birds, Cut The Rope or Temple Run, but it struggled with the more graphically demanding Beach Buggy Blitz. If you're looking for a mobile gaming device, you'll have to splash more cash on a more powerful phone.
Samsung has slapped a 1,300mAh battery into the Fame. That's not very big, but the small, low-res screen and single-core processor don't demand much juice to run.
Samsung quotes up to 6 hours of 3G talktime, which I'd say is about right. In my own use, I found the Fame to be pretty much the same as most phones. The battery quickly started to trickle away when streaming YouTube videos, but it held its charge fairly well on standby.
Keep the brightness down and avoid doing anything too demanding and you shouldn't struggle too much to eke out a day of use. Like all smart phones though, you'll need to give it a charge at night.
You'll find a 5-megapixel camera on the back of the Fame, which is fairly decent for a budget phone. Results aren't bad either. On my first test shot of our pool table (yes, we have a pool table), The Fame was able to achieve a good overall exposure, and noise levels were kept to a minimum, even in the shadowy areas.
Exposure: decent. Image noise: minimal (click image to enlarge).
On my second test, the Fame proved to have a good handle on colour reproduction too. The bright reds and yellows appear very vivid, but there is a reduction in quality towards the right of the image.
Colours seemed bold too. I've definitely had worse results from similarly priced phones (click image to enlarge).
The Fame isn't going to be your ticket to photography stardom, but it's perfectly good enough for some quick snaps of your friends in the park. There's a rubbish 640x480-pixel front-facing camera on the device too for video calling your mates.
With its familiar Galaxy S3-style looks, decent camera and affordable price tag, the Fame is a pretty good budget Samsung. It's let down by its poor performance and unimpressive screen, though -- two things that will have a big impact on your time with the phone.
Unless you're absolutely set on getting a new Samsung Galaxy phone, your money might be more sensibly spent elsewhere.