When you think about Samsung phones, you probably think about this one right here. This is the Galaxy S20, or maybe you think of the Note line, if you like styluses. Those are Samsung’s Halo phones, but they’re not actually the Samsung phones that most people buy. You see the top two selling android phones worldwide last year, were not Samsung’s S phones or Notes or Huawei or anything else.
They were Galaxy A series phones. That is what people buy, and now Samsung’s making a big push to get Americans in on buying those kinds of phones with this thing right here, the Galaxy A51. In the U.S., it’s available on AT& T, and Xfinity Mobile, Amazon.com and Samsung.com, but the big deal here is that is costs 399 dollars. So, how does Samsungdo a 400 dollar phone? Every phone has compromises, and 400 dollar phones have more compromises than most. You have to pick what you care about, so just for an example of those trade-offs, here is the iPhone SE from Apple, and Apple picked caring about the processor and the camera, instead of caring about having a big screen and getting rid of these big dopey bezels. So, what are Samsung’spriorities for the Galaxy A51?
Well, Samsung will tell you that there are three things – Screen, camera, battery life those are the priorities for the A51, and all three are good for a 400 dollar phone, but none of them are awesome. Let’s just start with the screen. It is 6.5 inches at 1080pand it’s OLED, and it’s good. It is a big screen, it gets pretty bright, and I’m not gonna pixel peep it. I just like it. I thin having a big screen is awesome, and I do not think there are going to be a lot of other 400 dollar phones this year, with screens that are this good. Except, there’s a hole-punch selfie camera, and that’s fine.
I have no problem with hole-punch selfie cameras, but Samsung puts a shiny chrome ring around the selfie camera right in the middle of the screen, and you see it all the time, and it is super distracting. Why? why Samsung? Why? The other thing about the screen is that there’s a fingerprint sensor underneath it which also should be fine, but y’all it’s super slow. It’s an optical sensor which whatever, but you stare at it, and there’s this little green circle thing, and you kind of just hope it unlocks in under a second, and it never does.
So, screen, good. Parts underneath the screen, not so much. Second thing, let’s talk camera, well cameras. There is a 48-megapixel main sensor that kicks out 12-megapixel images by default. There’s a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, a five-megapixel microsensor, and a depth camera, and then the selfie camera inside that stupid chrome ring is 32 megapixels. And the photos are, well, you can tell it is a 400dollar Samsung phone. White balances okay, but Samsung really, really, really hates shadows, so in light photos, it tries to brighten them up too much, and in the dark, it just freaks out and takes kind of terrible pictures.
The details when zooming in on anything are just kinda messy. The ultra-wide and the macro lenses, they’re super fun. I actually love using them, but this like full-resolution 48-megapixel mode that you can do, it really doesn’t add much. And the selfies they’re hit and miss, and portrait mode is, well it’s almost all this. I think that Samsung software for imaging processing is really starting to fall behind in 2020, so when it doesn’thave great camera hardware to fall back on like it does with the Galaxy S20, you can really tell. Look, the Pixel 3a and the iPhone SE, they have cameras that are like whoa, I didn’t think an inexpensive camera could do that. This camera system is like yep that’s a cheap phone all right.
Alright, the third thing is battery life, and I have to be honest and say that testing battery life when you’re stuck at home all day isn’t the easiest thing, but, I’ve been using it for a little bit less than a week, and my takeaway is that you’ll probably get more than a day, but you’re not gonna get two, so battery life is good, but I expected awesome because it has a 4000 milliamp battery, so I’m trying to figure out what the disconnect is there, and I think it might be the processor. This has Samsung’s Exynos 9611 which is an overclocked version of the last one, and so it should be fast, but it’s not. You can definitely tell when it’s trying hard, and this only has four gigs of RAM on it, and you can definitely tell that, too. It’s just kind of slow.
When you’re inside an app, it’s okay, but sometimes it just makes you wait. Alright, what else? Well, I still like Samsung’s One UI software. I think it’s really good for big-screened phones, but I don’t like that I can’t trust Samsung to give me software updates for this thing after two or three years, and I’ve got the Verizon version here, and I hate, I mean I super hate, how much crap they letVerizon put on this thing. There’s nowhere else charging, but there are 128 gigs of storage, and you can expand it with microSD, and there’s a headphone jack. The overall design and build quality of this phone is really nice. Samsung calls this material glasstic. And yeah, that’s sort of like plasticky glass, but it’s better than that sounds. It’s actually alright. I really like the design of this phone. So, that is the Galaxy A51.
Basically, it’s not an overachiever. It performs exactly as well as you’d expect a 400 dollar Samsung phone to perform in 2020 which is better than it would’ve been a couple of years ago, but it’s still not awesome. You do get this really solid, really big 6.5-inch screen, and it is the best thing about this phone, and screens are really important on any phone, but look, there are gonna be a bunch of sub 500 dollar phones with big screens this year, and I think at least one of them is going to be awesome. It’s just that this Galaxy A51, it doesn’t quite get there. Hey, thank you so much for reading.