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Samsung Galaxy On Max review: The dark knight of photography

The Samsung Galaxy On Max excels in low-light photography in its price segment. But does it make for a good purchase? Read the review to find out.

samsung galaxy on max review lead
3.5 5
BGR Rating :
3.5/5

Smartphone cameras are increasingly becoming an important part of our lives. Today, customers want a smartphone that will allow them to capture good photos in any lighting conditions, considering that a growing number of people now rely purely on their phone cameras. While high-end smartphones such as the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 are known for better low-light photography, mid-range smartphones are often left behind in the camera department. But things are slowly changing, and even mid-range smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy On Max now come with capable cameras.

Priced at Rs 16,900 and available exclusively via Flipkart, the key highlight of the Galaxy On Max is the 13-megapixel rear camera with aperture f/1.7. Samsung claims it help users to capture better photos in low-light. The camera app also includes live stickers to add fun element to your photos, and an instant sharing mode to quickly share your photos on social media. With competition such as the Moto G5S Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1, does the Galaxy On Max have enough to make for a worthwhile purchase? After spending a week with the Galaxy On Max, here is my review.

Samsung Galaxy On Max – Specifications and Features

The Galaxy On Max features a 5.7-inch full HD (1080p) display with 2.5D curved glass on top. The smartphone is powered by a MediaTek octa-core SoC paired with 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage. And besides the 13-megapixel rear camera, the smartphone also houses a 13-megapixel front camera with aperture f/1.9.

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Armed with a 3,300mAh battery, the Galaxy On Max comes with connectivity options such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 4G LTE with VoLTE HD voice calling support. A great aspect of the smartphone is that it comes with a dual-SIM card slot, and a separate microSD card slot, which means that you don’t have to compromise on having to choose between a second SIM and microSD card. ALSO READ: Samsung Pay Mini brings digital payments to low-end phones, but misses out on its key feature

samsung galaxy on max review front camera

The Galaxy On Max also comes with Samsung Pay Mini for cashless payments, with support for UPI and mobile wallets such as Paytm. Unlike Samsung Pay, which leverages NFC technology for contact less payments using the proprietary Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology, Pay Mini is the toned-down version for mid-range smartphones. It does not support tap-and-pay using credit and debit cards.

Samsung Galaxy On Max – Design and Build

Design wise, the front is dominated by the display with 2.5D curved glass on top. You have the front-facing camera with LED flash and a proximity sensor above the display, whereas the capacitive android navigation buttons and physical home buttons are placed below the display.

samsung galaxy on max review back

The home button also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor, which is pretty quick in scanning your finger, and unlocking your smartphone. The top and bottom half of the back is made of plastic, whereas the rest is the metal. In the upper half, you have the camera sensor and the LED flash module. ALSO READ: Samsung Pay Mini vs Samsung Pay: What is the difference?

Talking about port placement, the right edge has the speaker grille and power / sleep button. The volume buttons, a dedicated microSD card tray, and a dual SIM card tray are placed on the left. The microUSB port and the 3.5mm audio jack are placed at the bottom. Overall, the Galaxy On Max comes with a neat design, something that you would expect from a mid-range smartphone, and there’s nothing to complain about.

Samsung Galaxy On Max – Cameras

With the photography being one of the key USPs of the phone, let’s begin with the camera performance first. The camera app is pretty simple and easy to use. There are different modes such as Panorama, Sports, Night and HDR. There is also a Pro mode which lets you control the exposure, ISO and white balance.

Daylight photos shot on the smartphone are bright, detailed and there is nothing to complain about. The photos definitely turn out better than what I’ve seen on most mid-range smartphones. Even close-ups and indoor shots look good, and the camera sensor is able to capture good amount of colors and details. Below are some samples.

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With the Galaxy On Max, the real fun starts at night. Of course, the highlight is the f/1.7 aperture which lets more light reach the sensor giving you a brighter picture, with less noise. I was able to click some amazing photos in Rajasthan, and I was left impressed with the low-light camera capabilities of the Galaxy On Max. I have seen flagship smartphones above Rs 50,000 offer that kind of quality, but the fact that a mid-range smartphone is also equally capable is commendable on Samsung’s part. Check some camera samples below.

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The front facing 13-megapixel camera of aperture f/1.9 is pretty good too. It captures good selfies in daylight with accurate skin tones and enough details. The app also has augmented reality based stickers to spice up your selfies. However, the only problem is that the resolution drops down, so you must ensure that you have enough light to capture good photos. For low-light selfies, there’s also an LED flash and it does the job pretty well.

Samsung Galaxy On Max – Software, Performance and Battery Life

Coming to software, the smartphone runs Android 7.0 Nougat (with the July 2017 security patch) with a layer of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top. There are a lot of bloatware apps that come pre-installed such as S-Health, Galaxy Apps, Samsung Members, Email, Samsung Internet and Voice Recorder, Opera Max browser, none of which can be uninstalled.

You also get Microsoft apps such as Skype, OneDrive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint pre-installed, but thankfully, you can uninstall them. Besides these, there are Google apps too, such as Chrome, Maps, YouTube, Duo and Photos, and you can’t uninstall them either.

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There are some interesting additions too, such as Secure Folder, where you can move your photos, apps and important documents to keep away from prying eyes. Samsung has also added S Clean app that can be scheduled to clean unwanted cache files every night, or do it manually, and it sure is a helpful tool. There is also a face unlock feature, where you can scan your face to unlock the smartphone. It works as expected in well-lit conditions, but struggles in low light, where you either have to depend on the fingerprint scanner or PIN / passcode.

In terms of performance, I did not find any issues during my day-to-day usage. Even with few apps in the background and switching between apps, the phone runs very smoothly. Casual games such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers work smoothly without any issues, however, slight stuttering and frame drops are noticeable when playing graphics intense games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne. Clearing the background apps helps in making things a little smoother.

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Battery life on the Galaxy On Max is decent. With my usage, which includes web surfing, chatting with friends on social media sites, clicking a few photos, two email accounts in sync and watching videos on YouTube and Hotstar, the phone could easily sail through the day. However, with a heavier usage, I would need to charge it around the evening. Considering the smartphone has a 3,300mAh battery, I would have expected it to perform a little better. It comes with a 1.5A charger, which is not quick, and takes about two-and-a-half hours to fully charge. ALSO READ: Moto G5S, Moto G5S Plus first impressions: The special edition really is here

Verdict

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy On Max is a good smartphone in its price range. With camera being its key highlight, the smartphone does not disappoint at all. The 13-megapixel rear camera of aperture f/1.7 is a capable shooter and offers good results in daylight and also in low-light scenarios. Overall performance of the smartphone is also good, with my only complaint being its battery life, which could have been slightly better. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A1 hands-on and first impressions: Pure and simple

If you’re looking for a smartphone with good low-light and overall camera capabilities under Rs 20,000, I’d recommend the Galaxy On Max. And if you prefer stock Android OS and still want a dual-camera setup, the Xiaomi Mi A1 or the Moto G5S Plus could both be good options.