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Samsung Galaxy A51 review: great screen and price, but the rest is just okay



Final yr, 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 reside within the US, if you consider Samsung, you in all probability consider the Galaxy S or Be aware — however the Samsung telephones that bought so nicely have been midrange Galaxy A-series telephones.

Samsung is making a giant push to promote extra of those telephones within the US with the $399 Galaxy A51. That worth places it in direct competitors with the iPhone SE, however there are many different Android telephones that are available in below $500. What makes the A51 totally different is Samsung’s advertising and marketing finances and partnerships. It’s accessible unlocked on Amazon and Samsung’s web site, which is important for a midrange Samsung system, and it’s additionally on AT&T, Verizon, Dash, and Xfinity Cellular.

In comparison with the iPhone SE, the A51’s predominant draw is its display, a giant 6.5-inch OLED. Samsung is saying the cellphone is “superior” throughout three specs: display, digital camera, and battery life. It even made a bonkers meme-filled advert to drive these factors house. (You must watch it as a result of the advert actually is superior.) The Galaxy A51, sadly, is just not fairly that good.

The Galaxy A51 doesn’t look or really feel like an inexpensive cellphone 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 means chintzier than it feels. It feels practically like glass, nevertheless it has only a little bit of that hole really feel you may get from plastic.

It ships with 128GB of inner storage, which borders on very beneficiant at $399. Plus, you may develop it with microSD storage. There’s additionally a headphone jack, which is a welcome inclusion at any worth level however considerably extra necessary than typical at this one.

My favourite a part of the Galaxy A51 is the display. It’s merely a well-done 6.5-inch OLED, shiny even in daylight. Should you’re in search of superior display tech — like colours that modify 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 measurement. I’ve seen loads of low-rent huge screens on Android telephones, and this isn’t considered one of them.

Each cellphone has trade-offs, and $399 telephones have greater than $1,000 ones. So cellphone makers want to select their priorities, and Samsung clearly picked the display. On condition that it’s the factor folks have a look at and work together with a whole lot of instances per day, it’s a superb factor to select.

However I can nitpick — not concerning the display however about what’s beneath it — particularly, the hole-punch selfie digital camera. I’ve no drawback with hole-punch cameras. In truth, I usually want them to notches of any measurement. However for causes surpassing understanding, Samsung put a small chrome ring across the digital camera. It catches at sure angles when the sunshine hits it simply so, after which it’s laborious to unsee it. It’s weird.

The opposite factor below the display is an optical fingerprint sensor. I’m unsure if Samsung simply doesn’t have sufficient reps in with these sensors or what, nevertheless it’s terribly sluggish. It might probably take as a lot as a second for the inexperienced animation to jitter its means via to let the cellphone is unlocked. It’s not essentially the most correct sensor both, particularly in direct daylight.

So the display is… superior. The issues below the display aren’t.

Sadly, that evaluation extends to the processor and RAM as nicely. 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 constructing this cellphone really feel snappy. Apps take a very long time to load — particularly in the event that they haven’t been opened just lately and so aren’t already energetic 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 or load up the subsequent factor in your feed.

As I stated, totally different cellphone makers have to select their priorities on these less-expensive telephones. Apple, for instance, saved the same-old iPhone eight physique with its smaller display and large bezels for the iPhone SE, nevertheless it put within the quickest cellular processor accessible: the A13 Bionic. Samsung selected otherwise.

Battery life is okay, nevertheless 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 positive. However with a 4,000mAh cell and a 1080p display, I used to be a little bit shocked I didn’t get a lot better. In principle, these specs ought to have added as much as one thing way more spectacular, and I ponder if maybe that Exynos processor is partly guilty.

Lastly, there’s the digital camera system, which consists of extra lenses than essential. The primary lens has a 48-megapixel sensor that kicks out 12-megapixel photographs by default. These photographs are, like nearly any digital camera as of late, respectable sufficient in good lighting. I used to be pleasantly shocked to see good white steadiness, one thing that Samsung typically misses on. However Samsung’s different dangerous tendency of unnaturally lifting shadows continues to be sticking round.

You in all probability know what’s coming: it falls down laborious in low mild — worse than the iPhone SE, in truth. 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 digital camera, 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 digital camera that didn’t seem to do something helpful, no less than so far as portrait mode is anxious. Lastly, the selfie digital camera is 32 megapixels, and it produces pictures that always look over-processed.

Lastly, the software program. Samsung’s One UI customizations on high of Android proceed to make utilizing a big-screened cellphone nicer. However Samsung’s willingness to let carriers junk their telephones with crapware additionally continues: my Verizon-based evaluation unit was completely affected by video games and companies no one would need. I additionally want I may say that I belief this cellphone 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 is superior, the battery life is fairly good, and the digital camera doesn’t impress. The Pixel 3A (and, presumably, the upcoming 4A) and the iPhone SE shocked at how good their cameras are for $399. However the A51’s pictures undoubtedly appear like they arrive out of a midtier cellphone.

Making a superb $400 cellphone is tough, and none of them may be superior throughout each attainable metric. However you need no less than a couple of elements of the cellphone to really feel like they got here from one thing a lot pricier. Aside from the display, not sufficient of the Galaxy A51 is superior.

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