Notwithstanding the latest fiasco surrounding the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung's flagship smartphones have, over the years, generally earned plaudits for being the standard bearers for the industry. However, the company's mid-range smartphones have often been criticized by users, industry watchers and tech enthusiasts for not offering enough bang for buck, especially when compared to the lucrative offerings from Chinese brands, such as Xiaomi, LeEco, Coolpad, Meizu, etc. While anything and everything branded as a ‘Galaxy’ still continues to sell by the boatload, the South Korean company has often omitted some of the most basic (and inexpensive) hardware elements in its affordable devices, if only to artificially differentiate them from its flagship devices. However, there are now signs that Samsung may be finally willing to step up to the plate and compete on even terms with some of its more aggressive rivals, who are throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at their mid-range handsets.
One such important, yet inexpensive piece of hardware that has been conspicuous by its absence in Samsung mid-rangers, is the notification LED. The feature is available in most sub-$100 devices in the market today, but it is only now that the world’s largest smartphone maker is bringing it to some of its lower-priced handsets. The honor of being the first non-flagship Samsung smartphones to come with the notification LED goes to the Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime, both of which were launched last month in India at prices ranging from $220 for the former to around $280 for the latter. The devices have also been launched in China as the Galaxy On5 2016 and the Galaxy On7 2016, as Samsung hopes to reclaim some of its lost market share in the country.
Meanwhile, even as that particular feature finally makes an appearance on any non-flagship Samsung smartphone, the two devices in question are still missing out on a number of other hardware features that are basically taken for granted these days by most users at this price point. A case in point would be the ambient light sensor for auto brightness adjustment, something that can be found on devices costing less than half as much as either of the two Samsung smartphones in question. While it is certainly a welcome step that Samsung is looking to offer full-metal smartphones with better hardware specs at affordable prices, the company will still have to try harder if it wants to have a fighting chance in critical emerging markets such as China and India, going forward.