Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 review: Gone fishing
Stock gallery with a pinch of TouchWiz
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 comes with the default Jelly Bean Gallery which, as you'd imagine, has been treated to some TouchWiz flavor. It opens up in Album view, which is what we're used to seeing. Rather than the familiar stacks, the app uses a grid of photos, two on a line.
Besides Album view, photos can also be sorted by Location, Time, Person (photos with tagged faces) and Group.
Getting inside an album displays all the photos in a rectangular grid, which is horizontally scrollable. When you try to scroll past the end, the photo thumbnails will tilt to remind you you're at the bottom of the list.
When viewing a single photo, you'll find several sharing shortcuts and a delete button above the photo, while below is a line of small thumbnails of all other photos in the album. You can tap those small thumbnails to move to other images or you can just swipe sideways.
The Gallery also supports highly customizable slideshows with several effects to choose from, as well as customizable music and speed. You can also highlight specific images to be included in the slideshow.
When viewing a photo with people's faces in it, the Galaxy Xcover 2 will try to detect them automatically (and you can manually highlight faces where it fails). Buddy photo share will use your contacts' profiles to try and recognize people automatically.
Social tag makes sure that whenever a face is recognized in the photo, their status message appears and you can easily call or message that contact.
Music player with SoundAlive
The Galaxy Xcover 2 employs the same TouchWiz-ed music player as the Galaxy S III. Samsung has enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one) along with the sound-enhancing SoundAlive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization. The company also uses SoundAlive in some of their MP3 and Android-powered media players.
The music is sorted into various categories and one of the options, called Music square, is quite similar to the SensMe feature of Sony Ericsson phones. It automatically rates a song as exciting or calm, passionate or joyful and places those tracks on a square (hence the name).
From here, you can highlight an area of the square and the phone will automatically build a playlist of songs that matches your selection.
You can swipe the album art left and right to skip songs. You can also put the phone face down to mute the sound or place your palm over the screen to pause playback.
The Galaxy Xcover 2 player is DLNA-enabled, so you're not limited to tracks on your handset - songs on devices connected to your Wi-Fi network are as easy to get to as locally stored songs.
If you've enabled the Motion gestures, you can mute and pause a track by placing the phone face down.
Okay video player
The video player offers several view modes - grid, list, folders and nearby devices (which lists DLNA devices).
The video player on the Xcover 2 features Pop up play - it moves the video in a small floating window and you can use other apps on the phone with the video on. You can pinch-zoom the video window to adjust its size.
The video player lets you choose between three view modes for how the video fits the screen (fit to screen, fill screen, 100% resolution). The SoundAlive audio-enhancing technology is available here too.
Samsung droids usually have excellent video players, but this one wasn't quite up to par. It can't play 1080p videos, but more importantly, it lacks support for MKV files. It sticks to MP4 and AVI (and some XviD files didn't play smoothly).
The video player lets you tweak the viewing experience out of the screen by adjusting video brightness, Auto play next, play speed, SoundAlive and enable subtitles.
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 did win some points for its subtitles support. It scans for all available subtitles, so the file doesn't have to have the same name as the video file.
FM Radio with RDS, broadcast recording
The Galaxy Xcover 2 is equipped with an FM radio with RDS too. The interface is simple - there's a tuning dial and you can save as many as 12 stations as favorites. You can also play on the loudspeaker, but the headset is still needed as it acts as the antenna. You can record radio broadcasts as well.
Very good audio quality
The Samsung Galaxy Express did quite well in our audio quality test. The smartphone couldn't impress us with its volume levels in either of the test scenarios, but it had a nicely clean output, which is still a good achievement.
When connected to an active external amplifier the Xcover 2 managed very good scores all over the field, with the average volume levels the only thing that might make you frown.
There was next to no drop in quality when we plugged in a pair of headphones either. Stereo crosstalk increased and an undetectable amount of distortion crept in, but the rest of the readings remained quite good. The volume levels remained low though, though, which is the only thing about the Xcover 2 output that might make you frown.
Here are the results so you can see for yourselves.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2||+0.17, -0.11||-80.7||80.8||0.019||0.032||-81.6|
|Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 (headphones attached)||+0.15, -0.13||-81.7||81.6||0.022||0.120||-54.9|
|Samsung Galaxy Express||+0.37, -0.27||-82.5||82.3||0.0094||0.023||-82.0|
|Samsung Galaxy Express (headphones attached)||+0.49, -0.35||-81.6||81.5||0.028||0.089||-44.3|
|Samsung I9105 Galaxy S II Plus||+0.08, -0.03||-83.3||84.0||0.011||0.026||-82.7|
|Samsung I9105 Galaxy S II Plus (headphones attached)||+0.36, -0.09||-81.0||82.1||0.025||0.220||-59.3|
|Samsung Galaxy S III mini||+0.03, -0.04||-82.1||82.0||0.012||0.024||-80.7|
|Samsung Galaxy S III mini (headphones attached)||+0.19, -0.13||-82.5||82.4||0.444||0.305||-53.4|
|LG Optimus L9||+0.06, -0.32||-82.6||82.5||0.0063||0.019||-81.5|
|LG Optimus L9 (headphones attached)||+0.44, -0.12||-82.3||82.3||0.018||0.293||-54.5|
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.