“The On series duo look like a strong attempt from Samsung to get budget buyers on its side”
Top-tier smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Sony have been facing the music in the budget segment thanks to contenders from Indian and Chinese brands that offer better value for money in terms of the specs and the asking price. The J series from Samsung was an attempt to counter and face those rivals with affordable smartphones, but the brand is tightening the screws further with the new On range. The new Galaxy On5 and the Galaxy On7 target the so-called internet generation, and accordingly, will be sold exclusively online. The Galaxy On5 has been priced at an affordable Rs 8,990, while the On7 costs a marginally higher Rs 10,990. Samsung figures the millennial generation is always on the move and wants to stay connected at all times, and the On range tries to match up by offering reasonable specs , stylish designs, capable cameras, ample battery life and 4G connectivity, all at digestible prices. Let’s try and figure out to what extent has the Korean major succeeded.
The Galaxy On5 and On7 share quite a few things, including the basic design ethos, most hardware specs and the software platform. Therefore, our first impressions should be applicable to both, unless otherwise specified, and just to make things clear, we’ll start by highlighting the key differences between the two. First, the On5 sports a 5-inch display, while the On7 is bigger with a 5.5-inch screen. Accordingly, the latter has a bigger battery too – 3,000mAh in comparison to the On5’s 2,600mAh pack. The next key difference is in the camera resolution – both phones sport 5MP front shooters, but the rear camera on the On5 is 8-megapixels, while the On7 boasts a 13MP primary snapper. Lastly, the devices come powered by different processors – there’s a 1.3GHz quad-core Exynos 3475 CPU inside the On5, while the On7 is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 chip. The specs shared by both devices include 720p resolution for the displays, 1.5GB RAM, 8GB internal storage (expandable by 128 gigs) and dual-SIM 4G connectivity, apart from the bare essentials like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS.
The Galaxy On5 and On7 rock typical Samsung design, and the fascia bears the signature oval home key below the screen, flanked by capacitive navigation keys. Unfortunately, these keys aren’t backlit, so it’s going to be a hit-and-miss affair trying to find them in dark locations like movie theatres at least for the first few days. Above the display, you’ll see Samsung branding, the earpiece, sensors and the 5MP front cam.
The right spine holds the power key, and the volume rocker is placed on the left. Both the micro-USB port and the headset socket are located at the bottom.
Chrome-finished metallic bands runs around the sides and make the phones look reasonably premium. Adding to that is the faux leather rear panel. This is removable, and gives you access to the user-replaceable batteries, dual micro-SIM slots and the microSD card slot.
At the rear, you’ll find the primary camera, along with the LED flash, a speaker, and Samsung branding.
On the software side, the choice of platform is Android Lollipop 5.1 with the usual Touchwiz skin from Samsung on top. Since the Galaxy On5 and On7 and affordable devices, they only come with basic features, but the overall look and feel of the UI is still very familiar – there are the usual homescreens with a dedicated app drawer, the standard Touchwiz app icons and preloaded Samsung apps like S Planner. Samsung has also preloaded the MixRadio music streaming app (which is exclusive to the brand on the Android side), along with the My Galaxy app. Both phones also boast Ultra Data Saving (UDS) modes that promise to conserve data usage by using compressions and managing the use of cellular data by installed apps intelligently.
The camera app looks familiar as well, and offers modes like Pro, panorama, burst, and beauty, along with a range of colour filters and HDR. We’ll blame bad lighting at the launch event, but a couple of test shots looked fine in terms of image quality. Some extensive testing will only reveal how good they really are, so we’d urge you to wait till we can do that.
The specs on both the Galaxy On5 and On7 look decent on paper, and we didn’t notice any lags or stutters in our brief play time with the pair. The screen on the On5 should technically be sharper because of the higher pixel density, but that said, both looked reasonably good. Out of the 8GB storage, both models displayed a little over 4GB free, so unless Samsung crammed those demo units with lots of content on its own, we’d say the microSD slots would need to be utilised for sure.
Considering you can get a smartphone boasting a fingerprint scanner and 3GB of RAM for under Rs 10,000 these days (we’re referring to the Coolpad Note 3 of course), we’re not going to present a list of phones the new On5 and On7 would end up competing with in their respective price brackets. Instead, we’ll let our upcoming reviews figure how the new duo stack up. Till then, keep calm and rock on.