The Samsung Galaxy S Duos S7562 was announced in July and is clearly a close sibling of the highly popular Samsung Galaxy S. But can it maintain the same level of interest?
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S Duos is strongly reminiscent of the much-loved Galaxy S3, but it’s significantly more compact – a fact made possible by its much inferior hardware. The phone is formed in a bar design, and weighs in at 120 grams, making it lightweight in your hand and in your pocket. It features a 4-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 480x800 pixels – a decent enough offering, but significantly smaller than what we’ve come to expect from Samsung. Overall, the phone’s design is clean and curvy, and the materials and build quality look good, but it’s a very unremarkable effort and the phone certainly won’t stand out from the competition.
Housing a 1 GHz Qualcomm Cortex A5 single-core processor, the Galaxy S Duos runs the Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) operating system with a Nature UX covering, offering the clean and smooth interface we’ve come to expect from ICS. On the whole, the user interface is clear and easy to navigate, with the seven (max) customizable home screens and widgets that users will recognise from other Android incarnations, with the typical four shortcuts at the foot of the screen. The home screen dock has been expanded to allow five custom folders, and you can pinch the screen to zoom out on the home screen panes, enabling fast add/delete/edit. There are quick options for Silent, GPS, Wi-Fi, Power saving, etc. and the Notifications pane has been cleaned up for a smarter appearance. In addition to the ICS widgets, there are plenty of Samsung widgets to play with, and a handy Task Manager app. While it’s good that the phone has upgraded to a newer Android platform, its slightly inferior processor does occasionally struggle with heavy-duty apps or demanding animations, and there is often some lag while flicking between apps. The lock screen has the standard tap-and-drag action.
For those who make use of multiple SIMs for home and work calls, the phone offers a nifty dual SIM capability, with both SIM cards always on, so you can take a call on one SIM while receiving text messages on another. Contact information is stored in a classic, minimalist app with limited social media integration. Call quality is acceptable, although the phone suffers in noisy environments, unable to filter out all of the background sound and causing some distortion of voices. It features a handy Smart Dialing option, displaying all relevant contact names and numbers when you tap a digit.
Samsung Galaxy S Duos supports the typical range of options: SMS, MMS, IM, Push Email and standard email, and setting up accounts is relatively quick and straightforward, although users are strongly pushed toward Gmail and its ilk. The on-screen keyboard is somewhat disappointing – in portrait, the phone’s screen is slightly too narrow for the keys to be used comfortably. Thankfully, the predictive text is smart enough to take up the slack.
Samsung Galaxy S Duos offers just 4GB of in-built storage out of the box, but the micro-SD card slot means that you can plug in an additional 32GB for extensive media storage. The phone uses the same photo viewing and video browsing options as the S3, which is a pleasant surprise, and the interface is easy to use. Images and videos look decent enough on the screen, but the lack of high-definition is certainly noticeable.
Samsung Galaxy S Duos features the strong music player found on the Galaxy SIII, an example of pleasing functionality on a cheaper phone. Music can be organized in a variety of ways, with the most interesting being Music Square, which assigns ratings to songs according to their mood (calm, exciting, joyful, etc.) and plots them on a “square”. When a tile is selected, the phone automatically builds a playlist according to that mood or setting. Sound quality is quite good, with equalizer presets to adapt output to the type of music you’re listening to. Audio notifications are accessible throughout the phone, so you can run the music player in the background. And while some modern smartphones have dispensed with the FM radio, the S Duos features a well-designed radio app with RDS for fast station discovery.
Samsung Galaxy S Duos S7562’s primary camera is a 5-megapixel offering with LED flash, capable of shooting stills at 2592x1944 resolution, which is impressive for that hardware. The photo interface is virtually the same as that of the Galaxy S3, with the shortcut bars on either side of its viewfinder, and easily accessible control options. The image quality is surprisingly good: a decent dynamic range and pleasingly sharp color, with low levels of noise, although a considerable amount of detail is lost. Even though the camera is not the focus of this device, it’s a strong effort.
Unfortunately, while the phone bears a strong resemblance to the Galaxy S3, it simply doesn’t have the powerful video capture capability of that phone. The A5 processor is only capable of VGA video, not HD. The video interface is very similar to the camera interface, with a similar customizable panel capable of holding five shortcuts. Video quality is average – as you’d expect from a VGA device – but should be adequate for most users.
In keeping with the new breed of smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S Duos features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS, and 3G as standard. Data speeds are good, with stable transfers over Wi-Fi, and it can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Samsung Galaxy S Duos is outfitted with the standard range of utilities: Clock, Alarm, Notes, Calendar, Torch, Voice Memos and more. It also offers decent support for a range of document and file formats, and users are encouraged to sync up their files with Google Drive cloud storage. The Calendar app is minimalist but clean and easy to use, offering sync options with Google and iCal.
Featuring the ICS incarnation of the Android web browser, the Galaxy S Duos can nevertheless play happily with third-party browsers, including Chrome. However, the native browser is perfectly fine, supporting double-tap and pinch zoom, as well as tilt-zoom. Multiple tabs, Search and text reflow are all present, as well as the handy Incognito browsing mode. On the whole, web surfing was quick and responsive, although the processor struggles with more than four tabs, and the phone’s Flash support is pretty dismal.
The A-GPS support provides lightning-fast auto-location in support of the Google Maps app, which runs well on the phone. Navigation options are good, with clear and quick instructions and plenty of customization options to make it user-friendly.
Some users may balk at the price tag for the Samsung Galaxy S Duos; given how much less powerful it is than the Galaxy S3. A capable phone, the S Duos is adequate for the needs of the non-demanding smartphone user, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of media capability.