Samsung gave this new baby a very modest set of specs reminiscent of the high-end Android phones from 2010. In other words, it has a 4-inch LCD display with 800 x 480 pixels, a single-core processor clocked at 1 GHz and 768 MB of RAM. The 5 Mpx autofocus camera films in 640 x 480 resolution and the wireless connectivity is restricted to a bare minimum with 3G+, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and GPS. There are 4 GB of onboard storage, plus a microSD slot for an external memory card.
This all fits in a shell that measures 121.5 x 63.1 x 10.57 mm and weighs a total of 118 g. The Galaxy Trend runs on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface on top.
DESIGN & HANDLING
The Galaxy Trend follows the same aesthetic guidelines Samsung laid out last year when it released the Galaxy S3. It has the familiar rounded edges and high-quality imitation-aluminium plastic seen on the other Galaxies. It's all perfectly well-assembled and there's no noticeable play anywhere in the body. Of course, all this makes you wonder whether the more high-end Galaxies really have to cost so much, but it's nice to have such good manufacturing on a phone as inexpensive as the Galaxy Trend.
At 10.5 mm thick, this is not the thinnest smartphone of this year. Far from it. But its 121.5 mm height and 63.1 mm width keep the overall phone relatively compact. It's comfortable to hold and unless you have excessively small fingers, it's easy to use one-handed.
Usually with under-£200 smartphones, the first thing to get sacrificed is the display. But Samsung gave this low-cost model a surprisingly good screen. The basic specs (a 4-inch display with WVGA resolution) aren't going to make any gadget geeks salivate, but it nonetheless held up quite well to our litany of tests.
It has an excellent contrast ratio of 1,021:1 and a colour temperature of 7,657 K. It can go very bright (428 cd/m²), so the display is easy to see outdoors. The Delta E is a slightly steep 5.4, making the colours somewhat—but not too—exaggerated. The only real problems are the resolution and the high latency of 195 ms. But despite these shortcomings, the display does look great. We weren't expecting that.
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
Galaxy users will feel right at home, as Samsung slapped its homebrewed TouchWiz interface on top of Android 4.0.4. And TouchWiz stays true to TouchWiz, with a main menu for all your apps and home screens on which you can place widgets, shortcuts and folders. TouchWiz has already proved its efficacy time and again, and nothing fundamentally has changed here. It's fun and effective.
Samsung has kept mum about the components, but after a quick search online it appears the Galaxy Trend is run by a near-fossilised Qualcomm MSM7x27a—a single-core processor, clocked at 1 GHz. That's accompanied by the antiquated Adreno 200 graphics processor and just 660 MB of RAM. We decided to spare the Trend the embarrassment of running our usual benchmarks on it. Why kick a man when he's down?
Instead we focused on how well the phone keeps up with actual everyday use. And you guessed it, the Galaxy Trend does not travel at the speed of light. But it's better than what you might expect. The menus navigate pretty fluidly on the whole, even though it does "hang" here and there. Where you really see the processor's limitations is when you open certain apps. With bigger, more demanding apps, the phone can sit and think for several (long) seconds before opening it. That said, with the exception of Chrome, all of the pre-installed apps like Gmail, the calendar, the phone function, etc. do open quickly.
The Galaxy Trend's multimedia performance falls in line with the rest of its performance. Translation: it does the bare minimum. The default video player is light years away from the higher-end Galaxies and reads only the standard Android formats (MPEG4, H.263 and H.264). But you can always install a free third-party app (MX Player is good). However, even then you have to stay away from HD content. Even with 720p the Galaxy Trend has so much trouble you just want to put it out of its misery. And trying to watch 1080p is an exercise in masochism. But all is not lost: as long as it isn't HD, the Galaxy Trend plays it just right.
Fortunately, the sound quality is better. The audio through the headphone output is fine—not amazing, not cringe-worthy. The volume is reasonably high, the signal quality is in the upper average for smartphones, there's little distortion and the stereo image is well reproduced. The Trend is perfectly good for music.
With only a 1,500 mAh battery, this phone was never going to be a behemoth. This was confirmed through both our own subjective observations while using it and through the benchmarks we ran. With a score of 25,769 and just under 8 hours of fairly intensive use, the Galaxy Trend has one of the lowest battery lives we've seen in months.
Then again, you have to consider that within the context of how one uses the Galaxy Trend. Given the all-round limited performance, you ultimately end up playing games, watching movies and going online less often than you would if you had a faster phone. That, in turn, makes the Trend actually last longer than those 8 hours of intensive use. In real-life terms, we'd say you can easily get a full day out of the Trend. But if you do decide to venture into YouTube or Maps territory, keep an eye on the battery.
We weren't expecting much out of the camera function, and we were right. The 5-Megapixel sensor doesn't shoot anything higher than VGA movies (640 x 480 pixels). There's an autofocus in the lens unit; it isn't particularly fast, but at least you're guaranteed unblurry pictures for most of your shots.
At their native scale, the images look pretty detailed. The problem is more with the colours: they're faded, as though someone draped a thin white sheet over the lens. The picture isn't particularly sharp, but it isn't catastrophic either. All in all, the quality is fine considering the price.
Videos turn out a bit better, although with 640 x 480 resolution they pixelate whenever you watch them on a bigger screen. But for some reason the colours look more accurate in video mode, and the image is nice and fluid.