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Samsung Galaxy E5 Duos Review: Mid-range contender

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Samsung recently launched the Galaxy E5 and E7 in India, the new mid-range devices from the company. The two E-series devices are important if Samsung is to maintain its market share, considering the likes of Xiaomi and others are eating away its share in the low and mid-end. We had the opportunity to play with the Galaxy E5 for quite some time, so here’s our review of the Samsung Galaxy E5 Duos.

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Samsung Galaxy E5 Specs:

  • 141.6 x 70.2 x 7.3 mm
  • 120 grams
  • 5-inch Super AMOLED display
  • HD (1280x720p) resolution
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • 1.5 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal storage
  • microSD expansion up to 128 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera with LED flash
  • 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 2400 mAh battery
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Dual SIM, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Glonass, Beiduo

The Samsung Galaxy E5 is available in India for around Rs. 17,000 and it comes with some decent specs for the price. So, let’s go into the details of the device, shall we?

What’s in the Box

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  • The Samsung Galaxy E5 (SM-E500H)
  • 1.55A charger
  • microUSB cable
  • in-ear headset
  • ear buds
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Booklets

Design and Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy E5 comes with the tradition Samsung design language we’ve been used to. The device comes in Black, White and Brown colour variants and we received the Black version to review. From the pictures, we like the White version of the E5 better but the Black version doesn’t look too bad either.

The Galaxy E5 features a faux metal frame and the usual plastic rear and Samsung-ish looks. The device is pretty light at 120 grams and it measures 141.6 x 70.2 x 7.3 mm, which makes it a pleasure to hold. We quite like the soft rear back and the silver frame, which makes the device look attractive. The device features a unibody design and the battery is non-removable.

The front features the 5-inch Super AMOLED display with the usual sensors and the 5 MP front-facing camera on the topic. The bottom features the usual trio of buttons, the capacitive recents/multitasking, back and the physical home button. The capacitive buttons offer haptic feedback and are pretty well lit.

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The back of the Galaxy E5 features the 8 MP camera with LED flash to its side along with the loudspeaker. There’s the Samsung logo along with the Duos branding suggesting the Dual SIM functionality. The camera unit is slightly protruded and we’ll suggest you to handle it with care.

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The right side of the device features the power/lock button along with the dual SIM slots. One of the slots doubles up as the microSD slot, although you can only use it as a SIM slot or a microSD slot, not both!

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The left side of the E5 is pretty vacant but for the volume rocker buttons. The top features a noise cancellation mic, while the bottom packs in a 3.5 mm jack, microUSB port and the mouthpiece.

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The Samsung Galaxy E5 is pretty well designed for a mid-range smartphone. If you do not dislike Samsung’s usual design language, you won’t be disappointed. While the device does not feature an outstanding design, the device feels great in the hands with the size being just right. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy E5

Display

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy E5 with a 5-inch Super AMOLED display of HD (1280x720p) resolution. The inclusion of a Super AMOLED display is certainly a pleasant surprise, considering Samsung hasn’t offered an AMOLED display in its mid-range devices in the past.

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The 5-inch display isn’t really a beast when it comes to pixel density, which is at a respectable 294 ppi. As it’s expected from Super AMOLED displays, the contrast are amazing with popping colors and deep blacks. Although the whites in the display tend to have a blue tint, when viewed sideways but it’s not a deal breaker.

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If you are into the artificial eye popping colors the AMOLED displays offer, Samsung offers a way to customize it. Samsung lets you use the Adaptive Display feature or choose from other modes. You can also increase touch sensitivity to use the display with gloves.

The display also impressed us when it comes to sunlight visibility. While it’s not as good as the Galaxy A7, it’s good enough for a mid-ranger. The brightness, as with AMOLED displays isn’t very great but it’s good enough. Overall, we are glad Samsung has used a decent display on the Galaxy E5 and people won’t be disappointed by the device’s display.

User Interface

The Samsung Galaxy E5 comes with the same old TouchWiz we know on top of Android 4.4 KitKat. While not much has changed at TouchWiz, Samsung has surely cut down on the bloat and the gimmick features.

The homescreen is the same TouchWiz we’ve known for a while. The right most pane houses the Flipboard briefing updates and there are a number of cool widgets Samsung offers. The new TouchWiz also brings a new Themes feature, which includes five themes and we can Samsung to add more later on. All the themes bring their own icons and interface elements.

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The app drawer features the apps in alphabetical order and there’s ability choose a custom order too. You can disable some apps and even hide them if you don’t need. There’s also ability create folders.

The TouchWiz lockscreen brings some features that are part of stock Android Lollipop, like notifications. To go to an app from the lockscreen from the notifications, you can tap on the notification and then unlock to enter the app.

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The notification panel features the wide array of toggles and you also have an option to edit or remove toggles. The S Finder, Quick connect along with SIM toggles for the Dual SIM variant and the brightness slider are always present.

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The Settings screen is well sorted with Quick Settings bringing you your most used and the rest of the screen is sorted depending on categories. You can either have a list or tab based Settings screen and you can edit the settings you want in Quick Settings. Samsung also offers a search button, which is pretty nice, considering the plethora of features TouchWiz offers.

The recent or the multitasking screen is similar to Lollipop. It shows four apps at a time and there’s a kill all button along with the Task Manager. We did not find the TouchWiz recents screen as smooth as the stock Lollipop one and we hope Samsung fixes it in the next update.

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There are various Samsung specific features like the cool Ultra Power Saving mode, which turns your interface into a black and white screen and offers you a few important apps to use. There’s also a sweet private mode, which lets you save files that other users and apps can’t access. The private mode can be secured with PIN, pattern or a password.

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Samsung also offers a wide array of features to make sure you use all that screen estate. There’s a side key panel feature, which brings a panel on the screen that brings the home, back and the recents button right from your screen, so that you don’t have to use the keys. Then there’s the fan favourite multi-window, which is super useful if you want to attend to more tasks at the same time. You can open apps in split screen directly from the recents screen or you can have apps as pop ups.

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TouchWiz also features One handed operation, which well, lets you use the interface one handed. There’s an option to reduce the screen size, which offers you virtual buttons for home, back, recents along with volume rockers. There’s also one-handed input, which tilts your keyboard sideways for better one-handed operation.

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The Samsung apps are well developed and pack in all the features you would need and there are also a number of Google apps on-board. Either ways, there are a number of alternatives for everything on the Google Play Store.

There are various other Samsung features that we might have missed out on and while some of them are useful, some are just gimmicks. Overall, if you don’t hate TouchWiz, you will love the Galaxy A7. It’s packed with lots of features and you’re going to love it.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy E5 is powered by a 1.2 GHz Quad-core processor and curiously, Samsung does not reveal the name of the chipset but we believe it’s the Snapdragon 410 processor with Adreno 306 GPU. The multitasking needs are handled by 1.5 gigs of RAM. We have been underwhelmed by the performance of premium Samsung devices in the past, so let’s check out how the Galaxy E5 fares.

We conducted a benchmark test for your viewing pleasure, although we are not really into it. The device performed modestly in the test, which was expected.

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Talking about the real world performance, the Galaxy E5 performs admirably for a mid-ranger. The device performed pretty well when it comes to the daily tasks although it stutters a bit when using performance intensive apps. The gaming performance is also on the average side.

Overall, we are quite pleased with the Galaxy E5’s performance and we are glad Samsung has optimised TouchWiz to play well with modest hardware.

Telephony and Audio Performance

The ‘phone’ in the smartphone works as you would expect from a modern day smartphone. The device comes with dual SIM functionality and both slots use nano SIM cards.

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We tested the Galaxy E5 for a few days and we are pleased with the call performance of the device. The sound was pretty audible in the calls and the noise cancellation works pretty well too. Samsung has added a number of features to TouchWiz including the ability to block numbers, personalization and more.

The audio performance is pretty ordinary on the Galaxy E5. We did not find the loudspeaker too loud although the audio quality was pretty clear. The audio quality on headsets is pretty good and bundled headsets are good but not great.

Battery Performance

The Samsung Galaxy E5 Duos comes with a modest 2400 mAh battery. While we were pretty sceptic about how it would perform, considering the HD display and Quad-core processor, it performed pretty well.

With heavy usage, the Galaxy E5 offered a good 9-hour battery life and under moderate to heavy usage, the device should easily last you a day. Samsung also offers the power saving mode and the cool Ultra power saving mode, so the battery should perform well using Samsung’s power saving features.

Camera

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy E5 with some decent camera units, both on the front and the rear. The back features an 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and a 5 MP camera on the front.

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Talking about the camera interface first, Samsung has kept things pretty simple but it has packed in some great features. The camera interface features capture buttons on the right along with the ‘mode’ button, which lets you check out the various modes like selfie, panorama, HDR, night, animated gif and you can download more from the Samsung store. The left features various shortcuts like flash, white balance, ISO and more. The left pane houses only four shortcuts that can be customised according to your need.

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There are some cool modes for the 5 MP selfie snapper as well. Samsung understands the selfie craze and has packed the interface with a cool wide selfie mode, which lets you fit more people in a selfie by stitching photos like Panorama.

Check out some of the pictures we took from the Samsung Galaxy E5’s rear camera:

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And here’s a selfie of yours truly from the E5’s front camera:

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The performance of the rear 8 MP camera is good but nothing extra ordinary, which is expected from a mid-range smartphone. The camera performs admirably in well lit conditions, with pictures having good color reproduction and detail. While the noise in the pictures are minimal, we wish the pictures were sharper. The dynamic range also isn’t up to the mark. The low light shots leave a lot to be desired, although the dedicated night mode makes it better.

The 5 MP selfie camera on the front works pretty well and we were pretty impressed by it. The pictures from the front-facing camera come out pretty good for the social media needs. There’s an option to digitally beautify your pictures, which slims your face, brightens it up and more.

Overall, we are satisfied with the Galaxy E5’s camera performance. For a mid-range device, the camera units perform pretty well.

Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy E5 comes with a connectivity suite we’ve come to expect from modern day smartphones. Unfortunately, there’s no 4G LTE connectivity and you’ll have to make do with 3G. There’s dual SIM with the first SIM slot packing 3G connectivity and the second SIM slot featuring 2G connectivity.

There’s dual standby, which means if you’re talking on one SIM, you’ll still be able to receive calls on the other SIM.

The device comes with dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+. There’s also NFC support, USB 2.0 with support for USB on the go. There’s GPS, GLONASS and Beidou for positioning. The Galaxy A7 also has some usual sensors in tow.

Conclusion

For a price of around Rs. 17,000, the Galaxy E5 Duos is a decent device but the competition is severe these days. There are a lot of capable phones in this price range with the likes of the Lenovo Vibe X2, Lumia 730, Honor 6, Zenfone 6 and more.

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The Galaxy E5 brings a lovely display, good performance, capable cameras along with a solid build. There are not a lot of things to dislike in the Galaxy E5, which suggests Samsung has done pretty well but we would have liked it to be priced a little lower to become a more value for money offering.

If you want a Samsung device at around Rs. 15,000-20,000, the Galaxy E5 should be a good buy although if you want a bigger display, you should be looking at the E7.

Pros:

  • Good build
  • Super AMOLED display
  • Smooth performance

Cons:

  • Soft loudspeaker
  • The SIM2 slot can be used either as a SIM slot or microSD slot not both
  • Ordinary rear camera
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