It's been quite a while since Samsung has released a truly budget smartphone. The days of affordable Gingerbread devices running on single-core processors seemed like a distant memory until picking up the Galaxy Fame made us feel as though we're back in 2012.
But after spending some more time with the smartphone we found that the picture is completely different, despite what the specs sheet suggests. Samsung has done a great job of the Galaxy Fame's Jelly Bean build, and has ended up with s a surprisingly well-performing mobile OS with functionality much better than is usually available in this class. Throw in the optional dual-SIM and NFC variants, the capable 5MP camera complete with VGA front-facer, and you have a very compelling offering.
Samsung has released an even cheaper smartphone alongside the Galaxy Fame. The Galaxy Young looks quite similar to its sibling, but it's slightly smaller, has no front-facing camera, and only a 3MP rear shooter. Otherwise, you'll find the same Broadcom SoC inside, the same HVGA resolution of the display and Jelly Bean build, while saving yourself about €20. The choice between those two is down to your camera needs and whether or not you do video-calls.
Sony offers an alternative to the Galaxy Fame with its Sony Xperia E smartphone. Like the Fame, it has a dual-SIM counterpart, and also comes with Jelly Bean out of box. The 3.5-inch HVGA is the same, as is the internal storage and RAM. Although it's available for less than the Fame, you will have to give up the 5MP camera and front-facing shooter.
Nokia has an arguably more attractive alternative in the Nokia Lumia 520. The Windows Phone-running device features a larger, higher-resolution screen, double the internal storage, a way more capable dual-core processor, and a higher capacity 1430 mAh battery. Although you'll have to sacrifice the front-facing camera, its 5MP camera is capable of 720p video recording, and you won't need to pay any premium price of course. Unless you are very deeply invested in the Android ecosystem (and, if you are shopping entry-level smartphones, chances are you aren't), you should consider the WP Lumia very seriously.
Finally, the Galaxy Fame faces one of the most popular mid-rangers of yesteryear which has undergone several major price cuts and fallen down the ranks. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 was released exactly one year ago, but has since received the Jelly Bean update, so it's definitely a capable device. It offers a larger, higher resolution screen, a 5MP camera capable of 720p video recording, a dual-core 800 MHz processor, and a 1500 mAh batter - all for the same price as the Galaxy Fame. It even offers optional NFC support, but there is unfortunately no dual-SIM version.
The Samsung Galaxy Fame's software package and commendable performance from a single-core processor make it a an interesting device, but it's currently at a price point where more capable competition can be found. It's stripped-down Young sibling will nab the most frugal of shoppers, while more powerful competitors from Nokia - as well as last year's midrange Android offerings - mean that the Galaxy Fame has to undergo a price readjustment if it has any hopes of doing well this summer.