With a 6in HD+ display, you should expect Samsung to have cut corners to bring a phone in at £194, but are the cuts in all the right places?
Key specifications, price and release date
- 6in 1,480 x 720 HD+ display
- Quad-core 1.4GHz CPU
- 161.4mm x 76.9mm x 7.9mm
- Android Oreo
- 3,300mAh battery
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- 8MP front camera
- 13MP and 5MP rear camera
- UK price: £209
- UK release date: Out now
£194.00 Buy now at Amazon
Design, key features and first impressions
When I said the Galaxy J6 Plus could pass for phones that retail for over three times as much at a glance, the emphasis was on the glancing part. Look a little closer, and it becomes apparent this isn’t a flagship phone, but it’s still not bad looking by any means. The curves that have been a calling card of the Galaxy series since the S6 Edge are nowhere to be seen, for a start.
But nor is it a straight redux of the S6, despite it’s flat, angular screen. There’s no home button and the fingerprint reader takes up a new residence on the side of the phone. I’ve seen this before with Sony devices and found it a very comfortable way to unlock phones – though it does mean that using the phone on top of a table is a bit more of a faff than it has to be.
It’s also bright and colourful – or it can be if you pick the bright red version we got our hands on, anyway. There are also grey and black variants if you find Samsung’s more traditional austere colouring more your speed.
The screen itself is impressive, as ever with Samsung handsets. True, at this price you’re not getting the perfect inky blacks and infinite contrast you get with its more expensive panels, but it’s not a bad TFT effort. At 720p and six inches across, it’s not the sharpest either, but the colours look punchy and vibrant, at least.
The large screen also allows for split-screening apps, with Samsung making a big deal of its multitasking abilities. Of course, you can’t convincingly multitask without a solid chip running the show, and on this point Samsung hasn’t been entirely clear in the UK, revealing only that it’s a quad-core 1.4GHz chipset.
That probably means it’s Samsung’s own Exynos chip, which makes comparing it to other phones tricky without full benchmarks – which of course we weren’t able to sneakily do at the press preview. In the US, it’s a Snapdragon 425 – the same chip used in the recent Moto E5 – and if performance is roughly on par between regions, you can’t expect great things. The E5 is a fine phone, but there’s a reason it retails for £120. That said, simply navigating the menus and playing around with apps felt smooth enough – though you’re unlikely to be running the best-looking games at their top graphical level.
Then, of course, there’s the dual-camera array. It wasn’t so long ago that this was the sole preserve of handsets at least three times’ the price of this, so it’s nice to see the feature coming down to handsets in the budget to mid-range space. The main 13-megapixel snapper is supported by a 5-megapixel depth sensor, which should be good for adding artistic bokeh effects to your shots.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much as you’d expect. Android Oreo runs the show, but Samsung seems pretty pleased with the Dual Messenger feature. Here you can add multiple accounts to “your favourite messenger apps” so that your professional and personal life is kept apart. Doesn’t seem as safe a precaution as keeping a separate work phone, mind, so don’t come crying to me if you accidentally send an aubergine emoji-punctuated message to your boss at 3am on a Saturday night.
Early impressions are pretty positive then. You’re getting a good-looking phone with a dual camera array and an imposing 6in screen for £194. Not bad at all.
The only sticking point could be that processor. It’s pretty obvious that’s where Samsung has cut its corners, and if it’s only a performance match for the £120 Moto E5 with its excellent camera, then that’s likely to be a problem, especially with the far superior Moto G6 coming in at just £16 more than the J6 Plus.