Samsung pioneered the trend of a new breed of devices, now more commonly known as ‘phablets’, smartphones that are (almost) nearing tablets in size. After the company’s successful Galaxy Note device, many followed suit including homegrown manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn who are offering devices in the under-15k, and even under 10K price point.

To compete with these, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Grand Duos, though it has been priced at Rs. 21,500. On first impressions, the Galaxy Grand Duos bears striking resemblance to the Note II mainly due to its huge display. But Samsung has managed to keep the Galaxy S III essence alive in the device. We reviewed the Elegant White unit, and the device is also available in Metallic Blue.

At 9.6mm, the Galaxy Grand Duos is pretty thick and feels quite bulky as well weighing 162 grams. Those blessed with little hands will find it tiring to carry the device around. But the overall build quality of the device is quite sturdy, though the back does feel cheap, just like the Galaxy S III. The back has a miniscule-chequered pattern that manages to cover your fingerprints very well. It is prone to attract scratches very fast and we’d suggest you to be careful while using it. A chromium strip runs along the device’s perimeter that is sure to wear off overtime.The 5-inch display takes up most of the space in the front with a thin bezel on either side and like the other Galaxy handsets, we have the sensors lined up on top alongside the earpiece and the front-facing 2-megapixel camera. The bottom has the physical home button in the centre with the capacitive menu and back buttons on either side. The rear of the device features an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash and the loudspeaker sitting adjacent to it.

Samsung has allocated a port/button on each side of the device. The right side houses the power/wake button, the left has the volume rocker, the bottom has the Micro-USB/charging port and the headphone jack is situated at the top.Some users may find it difficult to open the rear cover at first, since the trick is to open from the top left side, as opposed to most devices that need to be opened either from the top or the bottom, including the Galaxy S III.

The display of a smartphone is one of the key elements that users consider when making a purchase decision, and companies are setting higher benchmarks each year based on new innovations.The Galaxy Grand Duos has been criticised quite a bit for its poor resolution and we thought that this would be the biggest disadvantage for the device. We weren’t wrong. The 480 x 800 pixel resolution translating into 187 ppi, is way lower than the company’s Note devices and it is quite poor.

The Galaxy Grand Duos comes with an 8-megapixel auto focus rear camera with LED flash and has the same sensor as seen in the Galaxy S II. Outdoor stills produced are detailed and crisp with almost accurate colours. Pictures clicked indoors don’t disappoint either, though background noise does tend to creep in. The device also handles macro shots pretty well.

Software wise, the Galaxy Grand Duos offers an array of camera options as seen in the Galaxy S III or the Note II. Users can choose from a host of camera settings like Panorama, Face detection, Flash, Exposure value, Scene mode, ISO, White balance and so on. You can also GPS tag photos, set a timer ranging from 2-10 seconds or use grid lines to capture a well-balanced picture.The Galaxy Grand Duos ships with Android 4.1.2 on-board skinned with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI atop. The amalgamation of both, especially Jelly Bean’s Project Butter, offers a pleasant and smooth user experience.

The interface is pretty fluid that can be attributed to the ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore SoC powering the beast.Though many would like to see Samsung get rid of the TouchWiz UI from its devices, the skinned UI does offer deeper social integration and various options compared to the stock Android apps.There are seven customisable home screens that can be populated with apps and widgets as per your convenience and preferences. You can take screenshots by holding down the power and home buttons. The Gallery app quickly stores these and imports other pictures via your Facebook and Google accounts.Apart from the stock Android browser, the device also has the Chrome browser that offers a refreshing experience. You can choose from a variety of options when it comes to sharing, saving or just adjusting your reading preferences.

The device inherits most of the nifty Premium Suite features such as Multi Window, Facebook Lock Ticker, Contextual Menu and Tag, Page Buddy and Sound Balance amongst others. In order for these to work, you’ll need to head over to the Settings menu and accordingly change them for the features you wish to access.