Samsung Galaxy J6 Review: Impressive but lacks few things

The Galaxy J6 is an interesting offering in the mid-range segment, but does it have enough to strongly compete with the competition? Read our review to find out. Samsung was once the budget king in the affordable and mid-range smartphone segments. But ever since Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo have entered India and gone aggressive with their offering, Samsung has been facing a tough time. In fact, Xiaomi also managed to topple Samsung from being the top smartphone vendor in India. With the refreshed budget smartphone line-up, Samsung is aiming to take its crown back. The South Korean giant recently launched the Galaxy J6, Galaxy J8, Galaxy A6 and Galaxy A6+ smartphones in India, with prices starting at Rs 13,990, and going all the way up to Rs 25,990. The Samsung Galaxy J6 is offered in two storage variants – 3GB RAM with 32GB storage for Rs 13,990, and 4GB RAM with 64GB storage for Rs 16,490. It competes with the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Oppo Realme 1, and Honor 9 Lite among others. But does the Galaxy J6 have enough to make for a worthwhile purchase? Let’s find out.

Design and display . The Galaxy J6 is a compact smartphone with a 5.6-inch HD+ display that runs at a resolution of 1480×720 pixels, and an aspect ratio of 18:9. It features a metal frame, the back is made from sturdy plastic, and has a metallic coating too. The frame has smooth curved edges, making it easier to hold. The speaker grille and power/sleep button are on the right, whereas the volume buttons are on the left, along with a one SIM 1 slot, and another slot for SIM 2 and a microSD card.  Coming to display, you get a Super AMOLED screen, which offers punchy color reproduction, making it good for watching videos and movies. The screen is capable of producing deep blacks and bright whites, something that other smartphones in the same price range lack. Smooth Performance . The Galaxy J6 is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7870 octa-core SoC, which is a 64-bit SoC built on 14nm FinFET process. It has eight Cortex A53 cores with maximum clock speed of 1.6GHz. The chipset is paired with 3GB or 4GB of RAM, depending on the variant you choose. We had the 3GB RAM variant for review, and performance was smooth during most of the usage, even when there were a few apps running in the background. Even the gaming performance while playing casual games such as Subway Surfers and Temple Run 2 was smooth. Slightly graphic-intense games such as Dead Trigger 2 also run smoothly, but some frame drops were noticed when playing PUBG. In fact, the graphics settings were scaled down to low by default, but it did not affect the gameplay in anyway. Even after playing for 20 minutes, the back of the device was only slightly warm, and battery didn’t drop more than five percent, which is good. Surprisingly good battery life. Talking about the overall battery life, the Galaxy J6 comes with a 3,000mAh battery, which is less than Redmi Note 5’s 4,000mAh or Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1’s 5,000mAh battery. However, the Galaxy J6 took me by surprise with a good standby time. My usage included couple hours of streaming on Netflix, casual gaming while commuting, an hour worth music listening via Bluetooth, and a couple of hours web surfing along with three email accounts in sync. The usage also included social networking on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and chatting on WhatsApp. With all of this, I managed to get a screen on time of an impressive four hours and 45 minutes, with the battery lasting through the day. Android Oreo. In the software department, the Galaxy J6 runs Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience UI 9 on top. Samsung has pre-installed some apps such as Voice Recorder, Email, internet, Samsung Health and Samsung Members, all of which can be uninstalled. And of course, you do get Google Apps preinstalled too. Samsung has also included Max app, which brings data saving mode for Wi-Fi and mobile data. It also brings privacy tracking to block trackers, and will connect you using a VPN server, thus ensuring safe browsing. With cashless payments increasing in India, Samsung has also included Samsung Pay Mini feature on the smartphone. It is not like Samsung Pay which uses NFC and MST tech to pay using your credit and debit cards. But the Mini version allows you to add UPI ID and mobile wallets like Paytm, Freecharge and Mobikwik to make payments. And for every usage, you get rewards too, which can then be redeemed. It is an interesting addition, as it does away with the need of installing separate mobile wallet apps. Chat Over Video. How many times have you come across a situation where you were watching a video on YouTube or on the native video app and an SMS or WhatsApp message pops up? You either have to minimize the video or split screen to reply. Chat Over Video is a nifty feature developed by Samsung which brings a translucent overlay of keyboard and messaging window, allowing you to continue watching the video, while you reply. Sadly, only WhatsApp and messaging apps are supported when watching videos on native or YouTube app. If you are watching videos on any other app like Netflix or Amazon Prime video, and chatting on Facebook Messenger, Telegram or any other app, you’re out of luck. Samsung says, majority of users watch videos on YouTube and use WhatsApp for messaging, so the feature is developed keeping that audience in mind. Dolby Atmos. This isn’t a new addition, as we have already seen the Dolby Atmos audio enhancement on affordable Lenovo smartphones for over three years now. However, Samsung’s implementation seems a little different. Listening to music is a pleasure on the Galaxy J6, and you can instantly notice the difference by turning off Dolby Atmos. Audio experience is closer to what you get on the Galaxy S9 series. Decent cameras. While on a recent trip, I used the Galaxy J6 to click some photos, and the results were decent. You get 13-megapixel rear camera of aperture f/1.9, and an 8-megapixel front camera of the same aperture. Yes, the camera struggles in low-light and the app needs a bit of fine tuning to make it work smoother, but the quality was on par, at least considering its price tag. The rear camera is able to capture decent colors in day-light, and dynamic range is decent, however, low-light photos struggle a bit. The front camera captures good selfies, while retaining skin tones. It is also able to click selfies with bokeh effects, without needing dual camera setup, and the results were good. Take a look at the sample photos below. You also get AR stickers, which is an interesting addition. Face Unlock. Now, let’s talk about things that are disappointing in the Galaxy J6. The smartphone comes with a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication, and it works as expected, nothing to complain there. But, like its competitors, Samsung has also included Face Unlock feature, where you can unlock the phone by just looking at it. Yes, your face is the password, but I found it to be painfully slow, and 70 percent times, it didn’t recognize my face. I had to finally unlock using fingerprint sensor. In comparison, the Oppo Realme 1 and Redmi Note 5 offer faster face unlock. Bixby. Samsung introduced its personal assistant with the Galaxy S8, and since then it has improved a lot. Bixby is present on the Galaxy J6, but it only offers the cards interface, where you can see your appointments and reminders, notifications, weather alerts, latest news from Briefing app, and book an Uber cab. Sadly the voice interface is restricted to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series smartphones. It doesn’t event include translate feature, which is disappointing. In my opinion, Samsung would have been better served skipping Bixby on this smartphone, as Google Assistant is already available. Wi-Fi 2.4GHz band, lack of sensors. At my house, I have a Wi-Fi network with 5GHz modem and I was surprised to see the phone wasn’t able to detect the network. After a couple of days, I figured the problem, and switched the home Wi-Fi to 2.4GHz band, which was when the phone finally connected. Clearly, I wasn’t expecting this. What’s more, the phone even lacks basic sensors. First off, there is no ambient light sensor, so the auto brightness trigger simply doesn’t work. I ended up manually adjusting the brightness every time. Secondly, there is no digital compass or gyroscope, and I had a difficult time when using Google Maps as it was unable to show the direction I was facing. With the competitors offering the same features for less, the Galaxy J6 surely falls short. Verdict: Should you buy the Galaxy J6? Overall, the Galaxy J6 brings the much-needed refresh to the J-series with features like an Infinity Display, super AMOLED screen, Dolby Atmos Audio, Samsung Pay Mini, and Chat Over Video feature. The well optimized Android Oreo OS and surprisingly good battery life are other things that go in favor of the Galaxy J6. The cameras are decent too. However, when you look at the competition, the Galaxy J6 leaves a few things to be desired. The lack of ambient light sensor and gyroscope is a bummer. Also, Samsung could have used a better chipset like the Snapdragon 625 or Snapdragon 636, both of which make for an excellent choice on the competitor smartphones. Face Unlock feature fails most of the times, and is something Samsung needs to fix. If you are looking for a reliable smartphone in the mid-range segment, and if these shortcomings don’t bother you, the Galaxy J6 could be a good option. The offline availability compared to the competition is something that does work in Samsung’s favor.