Somehow, the year of 2018 has seen the release of a smartphone that is somehow entirely modern without the inclusion of internet access. It’s not because Samsung has suddenly lost touch with how we put our devices to use but rather a very specific response to a very specific problem. South Korea is the only market with wide access to this phone without importing it from overseas, so it’s worth taking a moment to look into the circumstances around its creation to get a better grasp on Samsung’s marketing angle for the Galaxy J2 Pro.
South Korean education revolves around suneung, also known as the CSAT, a battery of tests that test students across a wide swath of knowledge learnt from the moment they enter the education system. It may be fair to say students have their entire lives focused on a single test that effectively sets expectations for future employment prospects and even romantic options. While many Western countries have end-of-education exams used for university placement, they pale in comparison to the CSAT.
In a way it seems outlandish that Samsung would create a phone specifically targeting students who undergo a gruelling test before stepping into adulthood, but the CSAT is something of a major cultural event that could draw parallels to a holiday. Family members and younger students cheer on test-takers while streets are cleared to ensure students arrive on time to begin their tests. During spoken portions of the exams, air traffic is grounded for the majority of the nation. Tell a teenager from another country that traffic will be stopped just so they can make it to their last year exams and they’ll probably laugh at you.
Some outlets reported on its announcement with a confused tone that is fairly understandable if you aren’t deeply intimate with the social structure of certain countries. At the same time it does bring up questions about phone addiction and how the initial reaction to a phone of this type outside of its intended country is met with a chorus of “Who would possibly want this?” Reports on phone addiction and its effects aren’t exactly kind.
The phone itself reflects the kind of power that you might expect to be put into a mobile device that runs a grand total of four apps. With a quad-core processor clocking in at 1.4GHz, 1.5GB of RAM and both front and rear cameras, nothing about the Galaxy J2 Pro really oversteps what it sets out to be. In fact, it’s almost free for South Korean students, depending on how you look at trade-up plans and other attached strings.
Chances are the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro isn’t going to be an immediate hit for every country or even a leader in sales for its target demographic. It’s an answer for a problem that shows Samsung is willing to listen to its market and produce something that meets a need to foster future goodwill towards the company even well after stepping up to a mobile giant that doesn’t strictly need publicity to sell its phones. On the off chance you’re starting to suffer from withdrawals when your 4G goes down, you might benefit from a sabbatical and a glance towards a phone that absolutely will not coddle an addiction. It’s an extreme answer, but it was born to meet an extreme need.