Three weeks ago, I picked up the Galaxy J4 from U Mobile, which is offered as a free device on the telco’s P99 postpaid plan. While I have absolutely had no intentions of using it as my daily driver, I intend to have it as a spare device whenever I need one. Despite of that, I have been using the Galaxy J4 as my secondary work device and reviewing it at the same time, which I still use rather heavily for social media and content consumption.

The Galaxy J4 has a removable battery
The Galaxy J4 has a removable battery

No matter how you consider the Galaxy J4’s build and design dated, the phone still turns a couple of heads when I’m using it in front of my friends, some thought the phone is a RM1,000 mid-range device and made of metal, which in fact it is entirely made with plastic materials and has a very robust construction that doesn’t have an emptiness like some other devices. Furthermore, the Galaxy J4 comes with a removable cover that lets you swap its removable battery, insert two micro SIM cards and expand memory with a MicroSD card. Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t build a fingerprint scanner on the physical home button, which could be a deal breaker as it is a standard offering on entry-level devices.

The Galaxy J4's display has great visibility
The Galaxy J4’s display has great visibility

What the Galaxy J4 will definitely impress anyone is its 5.5-inch Super AMOLED panel, which produces vibrant colors and excellent contrast with a HD resolution, though most might argue why Samsung isn’t moving forward with the more modern 18:9 aspect ratio, I won’t be bothered with that as there are still many apps and content still work best on the Galaxy J4’s display aspect ratio. For those who are always on the move, I’m happy to report that the display has excellent visibility at bright outdoors.

The Galaxy J4 uses a slimmed down version of Samsung Experience based on Android 8.0, though you might not notice any difference when it comes to usability and system transitions, you don’t get things such as Bixby Assistant and Always On Display. Bixby Home is still present, which shows you a dashboard of your social media feeds, calendar appointments and news headlines.

Bixby Home is present on the Galaxy J4's software experience
Bixby Home is present on the Galaxy J4’s software experience

The Exynos 7570 Quad processor has no issues keeping up with my daily dose of Facebook and Instagram browsing, there is however a slight but tolerable delay when switching between apps, memory management is decent despite only having 2GB of RAM to spare for applications, with apps such as Facebook and Chrome not being able to maintain its last used state after launching several apps.

Samsung Galaxy J4 (2018) Review: The free smartphone you will want to own 4

One of the things that Samsung didn’t advertise about the phone is having Dolby Atmos sound enhancement, a feature that is currently present on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, but only works with headphones on the Galaxy J4, though there isn’t any high end audio chip used on the Galaxy J4, headphone sound quality is impressive.

Samsung Galaxy J4 (2018) Review: The free smartphone you will want to own 5

On recent Galaxy J series releases, I’ve noticed that Samsung has given them really good cameras. The Galaxy J4 for instance, features a 13MP main camera with a f/1.9 aperture, it is considerably powerful for an entry-level device and there’s barely any smartphone that comes with such a camera sensor.

In my tests, I find the camera to be perfectly capable of taking detailed and colorful photos given in good lighting conditions at both outdoors and indoors, in fact it is the most impressive camera I have ever seen on an entry-level device, where the camera falls short is when taking night sceneries and a poorly lit wine bar, which is totally unforgiveable for its category. The front camera takes selfies at 5MP and comes with an LED flash, it works fine for casual selfies, but don’t expect that flash to work well for you in low light.

The Galaxy J4 was surprisingly able to hold up more than a day of charge with around 3.5 hours of screen on time, that’s impressive considering it only has 3000mAh of battery capacity, the phone will take around 2 hours to charge if you fully exhaust the battery. I haven’t been making voice calls on the phone, but I’m glad to report that it has consistent 4G connectivity and excellent GPS performance.

Samsung Galaxy J4 (2018) Review: The free smartphone you will want to own 6

For RM559, the Galaxy J4 is a very affordable entry-level smartphone that offers a beautiful display, an workable main camera and reliable battery life. However, Samsung is definitely challenged by the Galaxy J4’s selling price and position, devices like the Xiaomi Redmi 5 offers much better performance and build quality for around the same price, making it a much compelling choice than when it comes to value. Nonetheless, I highly recommend the Galaxy J4 if you are not spending more than RM600 on a phone, and best of all you could get it free on U Mobile’s Unlimited Hero Postpaid P99 and Maxis NeXT starter postpaid plan.

The Good

  • Super AMOLED display
  • Usable main camera for good lighting conditions
  • Great headphone sound quality
  • Removable battery
  • Decent system performance

The Not so Good

  • Choice of performance internals could be better
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • No notification LED
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