The phonebook packs an incredibly wide range of features and virtually unlimited storage capacity. There are four tabs on top accommodating the Phone app, Groups, Favorites and Contacts.
As usual, there are various options to filter contacts by phone numbers, groups and multiple sorting. You can import/export contacts to/from the SIM card but you can't display them alongside the phone memory entries.
Samsung has kept the swipes in the phonebook, enabling quick dialing (right swipe) or sending a text (left swipe). The Quick contacts feature is there too, displaying, upon a tap of the contact picture, a pop up menu with shortcuts to call, text, email or Google Talk.
Tapping on a contact reveals all available details, across two tabs. The first one is the About tab, with the person's photo on top. If configured, the right tab displays their latest updates from social networks or Google Talk.
All the information is perfectly organized into different sections for phone, email, etc. If the phonebook finds duplicate contact entries, it'll prompt joining them. Furthermore, there're a plethora of options once you hit the Menu button. You can view the call history, as well as join, unjoin and share contacts.
Samsung has even added a built-in reject list. You choose a specific vibration pattern too as an incoming call alert, just like you would a ringtone. A set of predefined patterns is offered, but you can make your own too.
There's plenty of contact information you can assign to each contact and it still remains neatly organized. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc.) and, just like in the previous version of TouchWiz UI 4.0, there's a plus sign on the right - tapping it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes any unneeded field.
Of course, the real flexibility of the phonebook becomes apparent when you sign into your social networks. After syncing, the phonebook will automatically merge contacts (you can do it manually too), so that the contact details are pulled from those sources as well.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand has a dedicated SIM Manager to configure how calls and data are handled on both cards. As we said, SIM cards on the Grand are not hot-swappable, so a reboot is always required when changing cards.
Whenever you add a new SIM card and power the device on, an interface pops up allowing you to rename and even change the icon to easily identify different SIMs. This interface can be accessed at any time from the settings menu.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand remembers the settings for any SIM you customize, which is great if you've got more than two SIM cards.
The Galaxy Grand allows for both SIM cards to be active simultaneously, meaning that you can receive a call on one SIM even while you are on a call with the other. What happens is that calls from your other SIM are forwarded to your currently active SIM's network, which you can put on hold to answer (this might incur additional network charges). You can put the two calls on and off hold as you please.
You can toggle the Dual SIM Always On option on or off for either SIM card. Effectively, this enables call waiting and call forwarding so you can switch each SIM card on and off individually (which can help save battery).
You can also pick which SIM is to be used for mobile data - only one can be used at a time. Another option is whether or not the phone should be able to receive calls on the other SIM while using mobile data on one SIM.
The notification area is involved in SIM management too. Underneath the quick system toggles, there are big buttons labeled SIM 1 and SIM 2, for quick switching between cards before dialing a number. During a call, the active SIM gets displayed at the top of the call interface.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand had no issues with reception even in areas with poor coverage. Sound in the earpiece was crisp and reasonably loud.
Smart Dialing is available and whenever you tap a digit and both contact numbers and names containing it are displayed. The catch is that name searching works with only the initial letter. On the other hand, number searching looks up recent calls too. If more than one contact is found, a button with a number and an arrow will display the rest of the matches.
With the proximity sensor onboard, the Grand turns its screen off once you lift it up and turns it back on when you finish a call. The available options during a call include using the keypad, muting the call, or adding another call to the conversation.
The Call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It displays all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list. A tiny icon identifies the SIM that made or received the call.
We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Galaxy Grand. It managed a Good mark, so it should be loud enough for most situations. The vibration could have been stronger though. More about our loudspeaker test as well as other results can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overal score|
|Apple iPhone 5||66.8||66.1||67.7||Below Average|
|HTC Desire X||63.6||61.6||69.6|
|Samsung Galaxy S II Plus||65.7||61.5||66.6|
|Samsung Galaxy S III mini||66.5||63.0||76.0|
|Sony Xperia V||65.5||61.1||66.2|
|Sony Xperia go||66.5||66.1||77.9|
|Samsung Galaxy Express||67.7||66.6||75.7|
|Samsung Galaxy Grand||74.1||66.2||76.0|
|LG Optimus L7||66.7||66.6||75.6|
|Motorola RAZR XT910||74.7||66.6||82.1||Very Good|
The messaging department is quite straightforward: there are no folders here, just a new message button. Under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads.
Swiping on a message header will do exactly the same as in the phonebook - a left swipe starts a new message, while swiping to the right will start a call. There's application-specific search that lets you quickly find a given message among all your stored SMS and MMS.
One thing we really appreciate is that the tap to compose box grows as much as it needs to - it can fill the entire screen (above the on-screen keyboard that is), growing to 10 lines.
Adding multimedia content to the message automatically turns into an MMS. You can either quickly add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or compose an MMS using all the available features (like multiple slides, slide timing, layout, etc.). The multiple slides are all shown inside the compose box.
You can schedule a message to be sent automatically at a later point in time. There's a list of all scheduled messages in case you need to cancel or send a message ahead of time manually. You can also mark certain numbers as "spam", in case some automatic promo texts get pushy, and lock messages to prevent their deletion.
Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The default app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there's no unified inbox. Another cool feature in Gmail is that you can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online and messages are displayed as usual, or you can switch to a Gmail-like conversation view.
The Galaxy Grand also features a combined inbox, which brings together all your mail in a single folder. This can be quite handy if you have lots of accounts and you just want to check if there is a new message needing your attention.
For each email account, the app gives you security options (e.g. encrypting outgoing email and signing it with a private key) and a sync schedule, which can be set to check for new mail more often during "peak schedule" (you can pick the days of the week and start and end times when "peak schedule" is active).
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The G-Talk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts. There's also Samsung's own ChatOn service.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand comes with several text input options. You have the traditional QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode (which is a little cramped) and landscape mode.
There are a handful of clever tricks that this keyboard can offer. You can swipe left and right to switch between letters and symbols or you can enable "Continuous input", which lets you input words by swiping over the keyboard (yes, like Swype).
If you like swiping your finger around but Continuous input isn't your thing, you can try using the handwriting recognition. It's quite accurate too.
The Samsung Galaxy Grand has very advanced text prediction features to minimize typos. If you allow it, it will scan through your emails, Facebook posts and Twitter posts and learn how you write (which words you use more often and so on).
Another option shows you a list of all recent items in the clipboard (both text and images) that you can quickly paste. This is great as it lets you juggle multiple copied items.
You can, of course, use voice input and, since the Grand is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, this will work even if the phone is offline as long as you have downloaded the required language package.