When it comes to Samsung's collection of large-screened phones, the Galaxy Note II (as well as the Galaxy S III) takes the bulk of the mindshare. And while that particular handset is the flagship, the company is still interested in branching out to a market segment that wants a large screen but needs to keep within a limited budget. Welcome the Galaxy Grand Duos (and Grand, a single-SIM version), a 5-inch WVGA device that will likely see most of its time in emerging markets. We had an opportunity to sit down with the Grand Duos for a few minutes, so keep your eyes peeled below for our impressions, as well as a photo gallery and video.
To the quick or casual observer, you might mistake the Grand Duos for the Galaxy Note II or Galaxy S III, since Samsung opted to craft it using the same overall design language as its flagships. It offers a very similar set of curved corners and smooth white back, though you'll notice a straighter chrome-faced edge on each side of the chassis. Upon (much) closer inspection, we discovered a very light pattern on the back cover, giving it a little extra personality not seen in Samsung's other handsets.
Underneath the back cover sits a pair of micro-SIM slots -- one on each side of the 2,100mAh removable battery -- and a microSD that's capable of up to 64GB external storage. For anyone who needs more than the included 8GB memory, this will come in handy. Near the top you'll see the 8MP rear-facing camera, LED flash and external speaker.
When it came to the size, our overall experience was exactly as we expected: as it was slightly larger and thicker than the GS3, it was also a little harder to hold comfortably. This is certainly a relative statement, of course; it's still a little easier to grasp than a Note II. Aficionados of stellar displays will be disappointed with Samsung's decision to go WVGA on a 5-inch panel -- and yes, it was every bit as pixelated as you'd suspect -- but again, we also understand that the Grands are geared toward the lower-end market, and isn't intended to be among the best of the best.
The unit we saw was pre-production, which means it's subject to change between now and its official availability. Firmware was much the same way, as a nagging test menu kept popping up from time to time, so it was difficult to get a solid idea of its overall performance. We were happy to see, at least, that it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and even includes the Multi-Window feature commonly used on the Note II.
To wrap up the specs, the phone also has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor (though the exact SoC hasn't been disclosed), 1GB RAM, 2MP front-facing camera, HSPA+ 21Mbps, DLNA, Bluetooth and GPS. As we mentioned earlier, this likely won't be a top grab for gadget fans, but the Grand will be great for those not looking to spend a grand.
Joseph Volpe contributed to this report.