The Galaxy J2 (2016) has some fairly standard cameras, with an 8 megapixel shooter on the back and a 5 megapixel sensor on the front. There is an LED flash on the back but there isn't one on the front like some of Samsung's other budget phones.
The rear camera quality is passable. At first glance, the images look decent, good even. Upon closer inspection you realize there is not much detail in them, as it's mostly smeared by the noise reduction algorithm. This leaves the images looking very soft when you zoom right in. The dynamic range is also not impressive and there is no HDR mode available. Fortunately, the colors look alright and the autofocus also works reliably most of the time. The camera is also quick to start thanks to the universal double tap Home button gesture.
The video recording is similarly passable. It's limited to 720p but good enough to view on the phone's display or share to social media. There is no image stabilization, however, so handheld videos look shaky.
The 2016 Galaxy J2 has a 2600mAh removable battery. We didn't do a full battery life test but in our usage we got around one full day of use with 4-5 hours of onscreen time. The phone lacks fast charging and takes about three hours to charge completely.
The 2016 Galaxy J2 looks to be a product of some blatant cost cutting. The fact that it comes from a reputable brand that knows how to make an affordable phone likable doesn’t help much either.
The Smart Glow puts a novel spin on the smartphone notification system, yet the feature is underdeveloped with limited features and functionality. Having it on the back of the phone is a questionable decision, to begin with.
The AMOLED display is certainly a key selling point but it gets covered in smudges in no time due to the lack of an oleophobic coating and subjectively, it’s quite hard to keep clean.
The Spreadtrum chipset is disappointing in terms of performance and even the leaner software can’t help its case. The limited built-in storage on the phone also means downloading new apps from the Play Store will be a huge hassle even if you purchase an extra microSD card.
The lack of an ambient light sensor is a nuisance but the lack of a magnetometer (compass) and gyroscope would mean there is no chance you could get Google VR working on this one.
To sum up, the Samsung Galaxy J2 doesn’t strike us as a good deal. The industry has changed and Chinese smartphones are everywhere. They are aggressively priced and have a set of features, which can easily make the J2 2016 look outdated and outclassed. Owning the lower end would certainly take more budget and effort than what has gone into the making of the Galaxy J2 (2016) and we hope to see Samsung back to the drawing board and one-upping the competition.