Final 12 months, three of the highest 5 bestselling telephones worldwide have been Samsung telephones, in keeping with Counterpoint Analysis, holding the quantity three, 4, and 5 spots after the iPhone XR and 11. Should you dwell within the US, if you consider Samsung, you in all probability consider the Galaxy S or Observe — however the Samsung telephones that bought so properly have been midrange Galaxy A-series telephones.
Samsung is making an enormous push to promote extra of those telephones within the US with the $399 Galaxy A51. That value places it in direct competitors with the iPhone SE, however there are many different Android telephones that are available underneath $500. What makes the A51 totally different is Samsung’s advertising price range and partnerships. It’s accessible unlocked on Amazon and Samsung’s web site, which is critical for a midrange Samsung gadget, and it’s additionally on AT&T, Verizon, Dash, and Xfinity Cell.
In comparison with the iPhone SE, the A51’s major draw is its display screen, an enormous 6.5-inch OLED. Samsung is saying the telephone is “superior” throughout three specs: display screen, digicam, and battery life. It even made a bonkers meme-filled advert to drive these factors residence. (You need to watch it as a result of the advert actually is superior.) The Galaxy A51, sadly, isn’t fairly that good.
The Galaxy A51 doesn’t look or really feel like an inexpensive telephone in any respect. It’s huge and well-put-together. Samsung says that the fabric it’s made out of is known as “Glasstic,” which sounds method chintzier than it feels. It feels almost like glass, however it has only a little bit of that hole really feel you will get from plastic.
It ships with 128GB of inside storage, which borders on very beneficiant at $399. Plus, you possibly can broaden it with microSD storage. There’s additionally a headphone jack, which is a welcome inclusion at any value level however considerably extra necessary than normal at this one.
My favourite a part of the Galaxy A51 is the display screen. It’s merely a well-done 6.5-inch OLED, vivid even in daylight. Should you’re on the lookout for superior display screen tech — like colours that alter to the ambient mild, excessive refresh charges, and even tremendous excessive decision — look elsewhere. However at 1080 x 2400, there are greater than sufficient pixels, even at this display screen dimension. I’ve seen loads of low-rent huge screens on Android telephones, and this isn’t one among them.
Each telephone has trade-offs, and $399 telephones have greater than $1,000 ones. So telephone makers want to choose their priorities, and Samsung clearly picked the display screen. Provided that it’s the factor individuals take a look at and work together with lots of of occasions per day, it’s an excellent factor to choose.
However I can nitpick — not concerning the display screen however about what’s beneath it — particularly, the hole-punch selfie digicam. I’ve no downside with hole-punch cameras. In truth, I usually favor them to notches of any dimension. However for causes surpassing understanding, Samsung put a small chrome ring across the digicam. It catches at sure angles when the sunshine hits it simply so, after which it’s exhausting to unsee it. It’s weird.
The opposite factor underneath the display screen is an optical fingerprint sensor. I’m unsure if Samsung simply doesn’t have sufficient reps in with these sensors or what, however it’s terribly sluggish. It will probably take as a lot as a second for the inexperienced animation to jitter its method by way of to let you realize the telephone is unlocked. It’s not probably the most correct sensor both, particularly in direct daylight.
So the display screen is… superior. The issues underneath the display screen should not.
Sadly, that evaluation extends to the processor and RAM as properly. Within the US, most acquainted Samsung telephones use Qualcomm processors, however this A51 makes use of a Samsung Exynos 9611, a midrange chip that isn’t fairly as much as the duty of creating this telephone really feel snappy. Apps take a very long time to load — particularly in the event that they haven’t been opened not too long ago and so aren’t already lively within the 4GB of RAM.
When you’re in a browser or an app, issues transfer alongside at an honest sufficient clip. However from time to time, it struggles to render a display screen or load up the following factor in your feed.
As I stated, totally different telephone makers have to choose their priorities on these less-expensive telephones. Apple, for instance, saved the same-old iPhone eight physique with its smaller display screen and large bezels for the iPhone SE, however it put within the quickest cellular processor accessible: the A13 Bionic. Samsung selected in a different way.
Battery life is okay, however it doesn’t fairly hit Samsung’s declare that it’s “long-lasting.” I’m getting simply over a day — higher than I may on the iPhone SE for certain. However with a 4,000mAh cell and a 1080p display screen, I used to be a little bit stunned I didn’t get significantly better. In idea, these specs ought to have added as much as one thing far more spectacular, and I’m wondering if maybe that Exynos processor is partly guilty.
Lastly, there’s the digicam system, which consists of extra lenses than mandatory. The primary lens has a 48-megapixel sensor that kicks out 12-megapixel photos by default. These photos are, like just about any digicam nowadays, first rate sufficient in good lighting. I used to be pleasantly stunned to see good white stability, one thing that Samsung generally misses on. However Samsung’s different unhealthy tendency of unnaturally lifting shadows continues to be sticking round.
You in all probability know what’s coming: it falls down exhausting in low mild — worse than the iPhone SE, in actual fact. And if you actually zoom in on particulars on the A51, there’s much more mess than you’d get on different smartphone cameras — together with at 48 megapixels.
There’s a 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 5-megapixel macro digicam, every of which is extra about having enjoyable than getting nice photographs. Enjoyable is sweet! I loved utilizing these cameras. There’s additionally a “5-megapixel” depth digicam that didn’t seem to do something helpful, not less than so far as portrait mode is anxious. Lastly, the selfie digicam is 32 megapixels, and it produces images that usually look over-processed.
Lastly, the software program. Samsung’s One UI customizations on prime of Android proceed to make utilizing a big-screened telephone nicer. However Samsung’s willingness to let carriers junk their telephones with crapware additionally continues: my Verizon-based evaluate unit was completely plagued by video games and companies no one would need. I additionally want I may say that I belief this telephone will get software program updates for greater than two or three years.
Of the three “superior” issues Samsung promised, I feel the Galaxy A51 solely hits one and a half of them. The display screen is superior, the battery life is fairly good, and the digicam doesn’t impress. The Pixel 3A (and, presumably, the approaching 4A) and the iPhone SE shocked at how good their cameras are for $399. However the A51’s images positively appear to be they arrive out of a midtier telephone.
Making an excellent $400 telephone is tough, and none of them will be superior throughout each potential metric. However you need not less than just a few components of the telephone to really feel like they got here from one thing a lot pricier. Apart from the display screen, not sufficient of the Galaxy A51 is superior.