Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini : User Review

by Raff Sharon


Today's user review is on the Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini, a cheaper, smaller version of other Samsung phones on the market. Yet, surprisingly well functioning for the price. I purchased this mobile phone several months ago on my travels after my older, Samsung Core LTE ended up on the wrong side of a late night on the town. The J1 mini was prepaid, cheap, and small – all things that were important to me during my travels. The lightweight, curved design fit easily in the pocket of my jeans (something that most of my friend's phones couldn't do) and the price really couldn't be beat for a Samsung phone. I've harbored a sense of brand loyalty for Samsung for several years as I've been happy with the value and performance of their hardware – the J1 Mini is no different. If you enter into the relationship with this phone understanding that it isn't meant to be a high performance, beautiful display, top class machine that competes with top end models – you won't be disappointed in what you receive.

Battery Life & Charging

The J1's battery life was one of the first things I noticed when I started using it. Generally, I would plug the phone in overnight for a charge, and have it last the entire day with no fear of my battery running low. The apps that I would be using included various social media platforms, maps, email, and web searches. On the occasional days where I would use the phone for youtube or other video streaming services, the battery held up well. Charge time is generally fairly quick with the phone going from nil battery to 100% in less than a couple of hours. If there ever is a time when I am low on battery, the J1 has an 'Ultra Power Saving” feature that extends the battery life by turning off all nonessential apps and changing the display settings. Another great feature is the fact that the battery is removable. As a traveler, there are times where I will spend a few days without access to a power outlet. Having a spare, fully charged battery in hand has allowed me to keep my phone functional for these types of moments.

Performance & Design

In terms of design, the J1 mini doesn't stand out from any of the other phones in Samsung's line. In fact, the J1 is very similar to the Core LTE in terms of size and design. As someone with small hands, I find the trend in larger and larger phones unsettling and thus, the size of the J1 was a major draw for me. At just 4in, its screen is small enough to handle easily with one hand; and, as I mentioned above, it comfortably fits in the pockets of my lady jeans with ease. Performance wise, the phone functions much as you would expect a cheap, less than 200 dollar phone to function. It is slow at times and laggy when opening certain apps. Video streaming takes some time to load. When using the front facing camera, there is occasional processing time after each photo. At times, when typing a message, the keyboard has had trouble keeping up. When this has been the case, I shut down some apps I had running at the same time and things sped up. However, I've found these to be minimal issues, and in fact, have been rather impressed by the performance of such a budget phone.
4'' Screen

4'' Screen

Sleek curved design

Sleek curved design

Rear Facing Camera and Speaker

Rear Facing Camera and Speaker

Strength & Durability

To preface this section, I will say that I am not a gentle person. My travels have led me to crawling down abandoned mine shafts and up sheer cliff faces. In terms of durability, the J1 holds up to what I have experienced from most of my other Samsung phones. I've dropped it several times over, and while the fact that the phone still functions is likely due to the durable case I have it in, I also have to attest to the fact that the screen has held up to sand, rain, and the occasional spilled beer. 5+ months of abuse and the J1, hardware wise, is seemingly as good as new.

Best Features

  • The J1's best feature is its price. You aren't going to find the features of a high budget phone here, but what you will find is affordability and reliability.
  • Video recording at 720p is a surprise for such a low budget phone.
  • Space: One of my favourite features on Samsung phones is the expandable storage. 8gb internal storage on the J1, plus the ability to expand this with a micro SD card is a special bonus that you won't find on many other expensive brands.
  • Removable battery, and Ultra Power Saving mode for extended battery life
  • Android platform and google connectivity for ease of across platform use.

Worst Features

  • The J1 camera is non-functioning in low light conditions, with pictures coming out grainy and focus nearly nonexistent.
  • Multitasking, having numerous apps open in the background, or trying to move between apps quickly is not what this phone excels at.
  • I have had occasional issues with the microphone dropping out or the recipients of my calls having difficulty hearing me. I didn't find this a deal breaker as I generally use a pair of headphones with a built in mic anyways.

Overall Review

For the price, I believe anyone would be hard pressed to find a more reliable, versatile phone than the Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini. For under $200, its size, durability, and reliable support from the Android platform is, in my opinion, unsurpassed in the market of budget phones. If you can look past the camera, the occasional issues with speed, and some microphone noise, you will undoubtedly be thrilled with the performance of the J1. I've used this phone as my sole mobile for nearly half a year and have found little issue with it. It has never failed me when I am lost in a strange city and need the maps to load, or have had a long day of travel and am praying to see that battery with a few bars left when I pull it from my pocket. If you are looking for a good, prepaid phone for international use, the J1 is for you.

Overall Rating 8/10