AT&T has set up shop high above New York’s Lower East Side tonight with its upcoming holiday lineup, including the just-announced Galaxy Express from Samsung. It’s an entry-level device that still manages to pack a punch, and AT&T says that the Express is an ideal choice for first-time smartphone owners. If the carrier keeps the price point low, it might just be onto a winner.

The Express packs a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display, larger than what we’re used to seeing on “budget” devices, with a modest 480 x 800 resolution. Its quality is noticeably lower than the rest of Samsung’s portfolio, yet it manages to impress, with the same bold "pop" and high-contrast colors we've come to expect from AMOLED. Sacrifices must be made, and this one isn't as drastic as we feared.

Underneath the hood you’ve got a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor (AT&T hasn’t given specifics, but we’ll venture to guess we’re dealing with a Snapdragon S4 here), 1GB of RAM, and Touchwiz-skinned Ice Cream Sandwich. The Express’s performance is impressive, and not just in terms of budget devices -- everything here is snappy, smooth, and confident, a testament to the processor and a byproduct of the lower-res screen. The 2,000 mAh battery should be able to handle a solid day of usage, based on what we’ve seen from similarly-equipped Galaxy devices.

The Express feels great in the hand and lacks a certain bulk and girth that often accompany lower-end devices. It’s light and trim and retains the refinement and eye-catching style present on the GS3. In fact, calling it a mini-GS3 wouldn’t be too far off. If you simply can’t stomach forking over $200 for a shiny flagship device, the Express could be a viable alternative. We’ll keep our ears to the ground for pricing and release dates—for now, check out some hands-on after the break.