25 June 2013

Samsung Galaxy Young review

What is the Samsung Galaxy Young?

The Samsung Galaxy Young is a compact 3.27-inch Android phone that, at a smidge less than £90 on a SIM-free basis, is a true budget phone. It's the smaller sibling to the Samsung Galaxy Fame and the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2.

As its name suggests, it is aimed at the pre-teen, first-time smartphone user who has few demands that will trouble the 1GHz single-core processor. The Young is a very basic phone with a 3-megapixel camera and just 4GB of internal storage.

Having risen to dominate the high-end smartphone sector with the Samsung Galaxy S4, the question now is can Samsung hit similar heights on a budget front? Read on to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Design

The Samsung Galaxy Young has a design similar to a scaled down Samsung Galaxy S3. It is a squat, bulbous little phone that felt dwarfed by our hand compared to huge smartphones that are so common now.

While its 3.27-inch size is small by modern standards, at 12.5mm thick the Young is a bit of a chunker. Weighing in at 112g, it weighs the same as the far superior iPhone 5 but confines this heft to a much smaller space, giving the impression of being considerably heavier than the Apple offering as a result.

The Young’s slightly curved rear makes it fit marginally more comfortably within the hand than the boxy form of the similarly priced LG Optimus L3, with its rounded edges easier and less invasive to hold. Pleasingly, the Samsung Galaxy Young’s plastic build does not make the phone feel particularly fragile either.

Although the considerable thickness can make the handset feel a little clunky and dense, it also ensures the Young does not bend or flex when put under considerable amounts of pressure. This cannot be said about all budget phones. Still, we wouldn’t fancy its chances against a couple of drops to the pavement.

The design of the Samsung Galaxy Young is by no means the most stylish to on a smartphone, but neither is it particularly abrasive on the eye. Its faux metal band, which is actually silver plastic and encompasses the outer edge of the phone, brings an air of elegance and higher-end appeal to the phone.

The Samsung Galaxy Young is available in white, blue, grey and ‘wine red’ colour schemes, which gives it a bit more character than certain budget phones, including the bland, lifeless black slab that is the Huawei Ascend G510.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Screen Quality

The Samsung Galaxy Young’s screen is far from the handset’s standout feature. Indeed, it’s the same disappointing 480 x 320 pixel LCD screen found on the Samsung Galaxy Fame. Unlike most smartphone screens, which can display 16.7million colours or more, the Young’s screen is limited to just 256,000 colours. That means photos and videos look dull in comparison to even mid-range smartphones – even web pages don’t look good.

The Young’s screen has a slightly improved sharpness (176 pixels-per-inch to 165) than the Fame, thanks to being marginally smaller (3.27-inches to 3.5-inches). But this minor improvement is barely noticeable to the naked eye and, like its more expensive sibling, the Young provides far from defined and sharp content. App icons and text have blocky, pixelated edges and word heavy web pages have a smeared effect.

For the price, however, the Samsung Galaxy Young’s screen is passable. Where the same screen on the £150 Samsung Galaxy Fame felt like a pitiful offering, on a £90 phone it is just about acceptable. It is a fairly middling offering for the budget smartphone market – it’s a small improvement over the LG Optimus L3’s display, but it’s considerably weaker than the 800 x 480 pixel WVGA screen found on the £90 Vodafone Smart 3.

Brightness is a little lacking and viewing angles are pretty poor but, for the large part, responsiveness to touch is satisfactory. The Young’s screen does, however, feature one touch-based irritation. Its antireflective coating makes the screen feel almost greasy. This is a fairly common issue with budget phones and a sign of cheaper components. Not a total deal breaker, it simply creates a sluggish swipe motion on occasion.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Software

The Samsung Galaxy Young runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is overlaid with the ever-present TouchWiz UI, Samsung’s trademark skin that’s included on every Galaxy phone from the lowly Ace to the premium Galaxy S4. It’s a simple and intuitive interface that allows up to seven homescreens to be adorned with all manner of widgets and app shortcuts.

Both Samsung’s base browser and Google’s Chrome app are present, but neither offers a particularly speedy browsing experience - whether accessing the web via 3G or using Wi-Fi  pages load unexpectedly slowly. It’s a reminder, were one needed, that this is budget phone in every respect – it simply lacks the processing power to render web pages quickly.

The Young’s software keyboard is cramped and hard to type on, too. The Touchwiz keyboard that works so well on the larger Samsung Galaxy S4 is ill-suited to the smaller, 3.27-inch Samsung Galaxy Young screen. This means each key has an extremely small contact zone, making accidental presses and errors an all too frequent, and unavoidable, occurrence.

What’s more, the Young’s predictive text options leave a lot to be desired. Accidental presses on the cramped keyboard are not amended, leaving you with a considerable amount of editing to do before sending a text or email. You can activate Swype-style input (dragging your finger from one letter to the next to spell out a word) to help fight against this, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Young shows its entry-level nature with a 1GHz single-core processor and 768MB of RAM, struggling at times to create a smooth flow between applications.

The Young has the same CPU as its big brother and, strangely, more memory than the pricier Samsung Galaxy Fame (512MB). More memory should help provide faster app load times and multitasking strengths but, in practice, this is not the case. A noticeable amount of lag follows you wherever you go on the Young. From a slight pause before unlocking the handset to the stutter that precedes ever app launch, it’s far from prompt or speedy.

Forget about heavy-duty gaming, too. The likes of Real Racing 3 are firmly off-limits, and not just because they take up the handset’s full 4GB of internal storage, less than 1.4GB of which is user available. Fortunately, this storage issue can be overcome via microSD, but the phone’s sluggishness and limited gaming cannot.

The Young’s inbuilt speaker is average for such a moderately priced handset. Volume is quieter than we would have like, as it needs to be turned near to the top of its range in order to be of an amenable level. The trouble, though, is that moving to these higher volumes introduces significant distortion and rattle.

No boxed headphones keeps the costs low but highlights the Young’s lack of multimedia credentials.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Young camera is a true budget offering. A 3-megapixel stills camera with a fixed focus and no flash, the snapper is an acceptable but less than impressive addition. There is no forward-facing camera either, so those video calls that the youths do love so much are out of the question...

For a budget smartphone it is a moderate performer. The Young’s camera is on par with the 3-megapixel LG Optimus L3, and even holds its own against the 5-megapixel snapper on the Vodafone Smart 3, although the lack of a flash does restrict it. Lighting is not the camera's forte either; anything but bright sunlight means lifeless, murky photos. It’s slow to adjust to changing light conditions, too.

Video can be captured at VGA (640 x 480) quality but this is better avoided. Although the Young keeps motion blur to a respectable level, there is no escaping the low quality results that, at just 24 frames-per-second, are still quite jerky.

Like the phone's screen, colour and detail is where the Young's camera trips up. Colours themselves are ok, but detail in low contrast areas is poor, with lots of blocky ‘noise’. Photos are better viewed on a PC than the phone's screen too, to avoid further dilution of detail.

The lack of a flash and poor low contrast performance means this isn’t a camera for indoor shots, which is a shame considering its target market. The shutter speed is acceptable and there are a few photo camera effects on offer (black & white, sepia and negative) to play with, but the low-resolution and poor detail make this a forgettable camera phone.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Call Quality

Call quality on the Samsung Galaxy Young is what you would expect. Calls are mostly clear, although clarity can be a little off with a small amount of distortion creeping in from time to time. Like the built-in speaker, the earpiece could be louder, while calls taken on the speaker phone sound hollow with an unwanted element of echo and tininess to conversations.

Samsung Galaxy Young - Battery Life and Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy Young’s battery life is as middle of the road as the rest of the phone. It clears the one day hump with ease, and steady use of the Young will see you push into a second day but little further.

With a 1,300mAh Lithium-Ion battery under the plastic hood, the claimed six and a half hour talk time rings true. The Young's small, slightly dull screen is a benefit here, requiring less juice to power it along. With not quite the staying power of the Galaxy Fame, the Young is by no means overshadowed by its closest rivals.

Connectivity options on the Samsung Galaxy Young are limited to the barebones basics. No NFC, no HDMI, no 4G, but that is not an issue. What the Young has all works well and with little fuss.

Wi-Fi signals are strong and easy to set up, more than can be said about some more expensive phones.

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Young?

With the Young, Samsung is hoping its brand appeal will help it squeeze a few extra quid out of parents' pockets.

There are phones at the same price with improved specs and features but a less tantalising name stamped across the back. This might not matter to some but in the image conscious pre-teen market the phone is targeting, it could be a deal breaker and one which Samsung is willing to push its luck on.

The Samsung Galaxy Young, as value for money, is the clear choice over the Fame. It's hard to understand why the Fame exists.

Compared with comparatively priced rivals, it falls somewhere in the middle. It's better than the LG Optimus L3, but not quite as pleasing or impressive as the Vodafone Smart 3 or even some Huawei handsets. It's just an adequate, but far from ground-breaking, entrant to the sub £100 scene.


If your needs are basic, you could do worse than the Samsung Galaxy Young. It is £50 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Fame with a performance and spec that better matches its price tag. The Young might not set the smartphone world alight, but for a penny shy of £90 you will feel like you are getting good value.

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