The one constant in the Indian handset segment over the years has been Samsung. The last five years saw local manufacturers like Micromax, Intex, and Lava fade into obscurity as they failed to meet the challenge put forth by their Chinese rivals, but Samsung has weathered the storm unscathed.
Sure, the South Korean manufacturer is no longer India's top smartphone brand, but its market share is still holding steady at 31% — Xiaomi had to steal market share away from other players to get to 34%. Things haven't changed much for Samsung either; whereas everyone else is pushing the barrier for value in the budget segment, Samsung is content rolling out underwhelming devices in the Galaxy J series year in, year out.
Take for instance the latest entrant in the series, the Galaxy J6. The device shares a similar design aesthetic as its predecessors, and while there's a new 18.5:9 panel up front, the rest of the hardware seems derivative. That would automatically make any other device a flop in this highly competitive segment, but it looks like Samsung is the one manufacturer that can get away with launching lackluster devices and still manage to rake in millions of sales.
On the subject of sales, the Galaxy On6 is identical to the Galaxy J6, with the only difference being that the former is sold online while the latter is primarily targeted at the offline segment. It's baffling that Samsung felt the need to create a new name for an existing product just to list it online, but this isn't the first time the company has done so. As we'll see later on, it's not just the name that's being recycled here.
Price: ₹14,490 ($215)
Bottom line: The Galaxy J6 gets full marks for effort, but it falls behind its rivals in several key areas, making it a poor recommendation in 2018.
- Super AMOLED display
- Dedicated MicroSD slot
- All-day battery life
- No ambient light sensor
- Dated chipset
- Mediocre camera
- No fast charging
- No dual-band Wi-Fi
Samsung Galaxy J6 What I like
The one redeeming factor on the Galaxy J6 is the display: the device features a 5.45-inch 18.5:9 panel, and the reduced bezels at the front mean there's no home button anymore. The fingerprint sensor is now located at the back of the device, and you also get a face unlock feature. The feature is dicey as it had issues with authenticating my facial features in anything other than ideal lighting conditions, but it's a feature that actually made its way onto the device, unlike so many others.
The screen itself is noteworthy, as it is a Super AMOLED panel. But this being Samsung, it is an HD+ display (1440x720) and not a Full HD panel, but it is a step in the right direction. It isn't a curved panel like the Galaxy S9, and has larger bezels at the top and bottom, but it is better than the 16:9 panels Samsung used in the last generation. Colors are vibrant, and while the panel itself is great, it is let down by the omission of a few key sensors.
The Galaxy J6 brings the Infinity Display to the budget category.
You'll also get a full day's worth of usage out of the 3000mAh battery, as it's driving an HD+ panel and the Exynos 7870 is geared toward efficiency. But the downside on the battery front is that there's no fast charging.
Another point in favor of the Galaxy J6 is that it has two SIM card slots as well as a dedicated MicroSD card slot. There are two trays located at the bottom left corner of the device, with the first tray facilitating the primary SIM card and the second slotting in the secondary SIM card as well as the MicroSD card.
The phone comes with the latest version of Samsung Experience (9.0) — based on Android 8.0 Oreo — out of the box, along with the June 1, 2018 security patch. The user interface is similar to what you get on the much more premium Galaxy S9, and Bixby Home is also present on the device.
A new software addition to Samsung's budget phones is Samsung Mall, which is an aggregator that pulls in items from several sources like Amazon, Jabong, Flipkart, and the like. The idea is that instead of searching on each individual platform, you use a service like Samsung Mall to find the product you're looking for. There's also an image recognition feature that works astonishingly well — just take a photo of an item of clothing or any physical product, and Samsung will serve up suggestions.
Samsung Galaxy J6 What needs work
The Galaxy J6 is powered by the Exynos 7870 Octa, a chipset that first made its debut back in 2016. That's not a bad thing in and of itself — the Snapdragon 625 launched in Q2 2016, and it's still featured in Xiaomi phones today — but the main issue with the Exynos is that it wasn't great when it launched two years ago, and it hasn't aged well since. But Samsung is unwilling to change, and as such its 2018 budget series is powered by a chipset that wasn't good enough even in 2016.
How does a phone in 2018 not have an ambient light sensor or gyroscope?
Samsung continues to omit basic sensors in its Galaxy J series, with the J6 missing out on the ambient light sensor. So when you're using the phone outdoors, you'll have to adjust the brightness manually. There's no gyroscope either, so you won't be able to see your orientation in navigation apps like Google Maps.
Also, the Galaxy J6 doesn't have dual-band Wi-Fi, so Wi-Fi connectivity is limited to the 2.4GHz. I've used a few $100 phones that don't offer the feature, but at the J6's price point it is yet another omission.
Then there's the camera. Samsung's budget phones weren't really known for their camera prowess, but the 13MP primary camera isn't quite as good as the rest of the devices in this category. Images come out muddy and there's a lot of noise, and that's just for the daylight shots.
Samsung Galaxy J6 Review
Samsung made the right call to go with the 18.5:9 panel on the Galaxy J6, but the internal hardware itself is overdue a refresh. The camera doesn't hold up to other devices in this category, and while you'll get a day's worth of usage out of the 3000mAh battery, ASUS and Xiaomi are offering phones that consistently deliver two-day battery life in this segment.
There really is no reason to pick up the Galaxy J6 in lieu of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1, the Nokia 6.1, or the Moto G6. There's no shortage of great budget phones in India, and you're better off buying any of the aforementioned phones over the Galaxy J6.
The Galaxy J6 misses the mark in a lot of categories, and the fact that it's missing basic features like an ambient light sensor and gyroscope make it a poor recommendation. Thankfully, there are plenty of great alternatives available at the same price point. If you're unwilling to wait for a flash sale to pick up the Redmi Note 5 Pro or the ZenFone Max Pro M1, the Moto G6 is a great choice.
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