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Samsung Galaxy Core Prime

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Past its prime

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £99
inc VAT (Pre-pay, as of 20th May)

It's surprisingly quick for a budget phone, but its poor screen and mediocre camera can't keep up with the competition


Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Marvell PXA 1908, Screen Size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 800×480, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage (free): 8GB (4.95GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 131x64x8.8mm, Weight: 131g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime now from Carphone Warehouse

It’s always buying a budget smartphone when another is just around the corner. Even till this day, the 3rd Gen Moto and the newer Moto G4 provide touch competition to all budget smartphone manufacturers – as they both provide excellent value for money.

The Samsung Galaxy Core Prime feels reasonably well-made, and it’s certainly no less attractive than the Samsung’s Galaxy J5, but it disappoints almost from the moment you turn it on.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Display

With a resolution of just 800×480, its 4.5in display pales in comparison to the 3rd Gen Moto G’s 5in, 1,280×720 screen, and you’ll see noticeably jagged edges around text and app icons on the main home screen. This kind of resolution might have been acceptable a year ago, but when so many budget phones now have screens with 1,280×720 resolutions, anything less really starts to show its age. Even the £80 2nd Gen Moto E has a 960×540 resolution, so to specify something lower just seems mean.

The screen itself is also one of the worst I’ve tested in recent months, as it’s only able to display 58.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. That’s even less than the rather mediocre Galaxy J1, and it leaves a lot to be desired when looking at photos and images. Admittedly, a contrast ratio of 1,021:1 provides a decent amount of detail, but its viewing angles are pretty poor, as darker areas of the screen will immediately start turning a different colour as soon as you rotate the handset to either side.

This makes it quite difficult to see what you’re looking at, as even the slightest hand movement can throw it off. Likewise, with a max brightness of 378.59cd/m2, you may struggle to see the screen clearly in bright sunshine unless you’re looking at it in the shade, which only makes it even more of a pain to use day-to-day.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Performance

This is a shame, as it’s actually one of the faster budget handsets I’ve tested recently. Instead of using one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for the Core Prime, Samsung’s decided to use a quad-core 1.2GHz Marvell PXA 1908 chip instead, which actually beat the 3rd Gen Moto G in our Geekbench 3 tests.

In the single core test, for instance, the Core Prime scored 574, just edging in front of the Moto G’s 532, and its 1,704 result in the multicore test was even further out in front, beating the Moto G’s score of 1,598 by more than 100 points. As a result, Samsung Android 5.1.1 TouchWiz interface zipped along at a pretty decent pace, and I didn’t feel like I was left waiting too long when opening apps and navigating the menu settings.

However, the Core Prime is rather less capable when it comes to playing games. It can still play simple games like Threes! without much trouble, but even more action orientated 2D games like Bushido Bear were a bit juddery in practice, so you’ll probably want to look elsewhere if you want a phone for playing games on. More complex games like Hearthstone are also completely out of the question, as the Core Prime managed just 44 frames (or 0.7fps) in the offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test in GFX Bench GL. This is admittedly a very demanding test, but even the Moto G managed 105 frames (1.8fps), which leaves the Core Prime feeling distinctly underpowered by comparison.

The Core Prime was also rather jerky when browsing the web, particularly when it had to deal with loading multiple images and adverts on a single page. This isn’t surprising given its rather low Peacekeeper score of 507, but scrolling was naturally much smoother once pages had loaded properly.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Battery Life

One thing you don’t have to worry about with the Core Prime is its overall stamina, as it lasted an impressive 12h 00m in our continuous video playback test with the screen brightness set to our usual measurement of 170cd/m2. This is a brilliant result for a phone that only has a rather small 2,000mAh battery, so you should definitely get a decent day’s use out of the Core Prime before you have to return it to the mains.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Storage

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the Core Prime only has 8GB of storage, of which just 5GB is actually available to the user, so you’ll probably need to buy a microSD card if you like storing lots of files or apps locally.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Camera

Another pleasant surprise is its 5-megapixel rear camera. While its resolution isn’t as high as other budget smartphones – the 3rd Gen Moto G has a 13-megapixel camera, for instance – it produced some remarkably decent shots when I took it outdoors, as colours were rich and vibrant with very little noise on show. Darker areas were a little lacking in detail, but this isn’t surprising at this price. Just bear in mind that there’s no HDR mode on the Core Prime, so you’ll be stuck using its Auto mode for the vast majority of your shots.

^ There’s not a wealth of fine detail on show, but the Core Prime’s camera proved surprisingly capable outdoors

However, it clearly struggled with our indoor tests, as colours here were much flatter and grainier than they were outside. A lot of our still life objects had very hazy outlines as well, and its colour temperature had a rather strange tinge of pink, making everything seem a bit off and unnatural overall.

^ Unlike our outdoor shots, there was a lot of noise in our low light shots, and colours didn’t look nearly as vibrant

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review:: Verdict

The main problem with the Core Prime, though, is its age. When it first came out in 2014, it had fewer handsets to compete with, but ever since Motorola completely rewrote the rulebook on what we should expect from cut-price smartphones with its Moto G and Moto E handsets, the Core Prime just can’t cut it against its modern rivals. It’s reasonably quick and has a decent battery life, but its display, gaming performance, lack of storage and, to some extent, its camera, all fall short of both the 3rd Gen Moto G and even the 2nd Gen Moto E.

It is reasonably cheap, as you’re not only getting a vastly superior phone with the Moto G, but you’re also getting one with the very latest version of Android. This gives you access to more features than the Core Prime’s Android 5.1 interface, and it’s also more likely that the Moto G will be updated to Android N 7.0 as well, which, given Samsung’s rather lethargic approach to new software updates thus far, is unlikely to ever come to the Core Prime. As a result, the Moto G continues its reign as our go-to budget smartphone of choice, leaving Samsung’s handset feeling decidedly past its prime.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime now from Carphone Warehouse

ProcessorQuad-core 1.2GHz Marvell PXA 1908
Screen size4.5in
Screen resolution800×480
Screen typeLCD
Front camera2 megapixels
Rear camera5 megapixels
Storage (free)8GB (4.95GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.1.1
Battery size2,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Part codeSM-G361F

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Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review
Mobile phones

It's surprisingly quick for a budget phone, but its poor screen and mediocre camera can't keep up with the competition

£99 inc VAT (Pre-pay, as of 20th May)