Nowadays, you can buy a really good smartphone for $ 400 – sometimes even less. You can get one that takes spectacular night photos, one that is easy to fix, or one that is unmatched in speed. Unfortunately, you won’t get any of these subtleties if you give your $ 400 to the world’s leading smartphone maker Samsung.
The Galaxy A51 is part of Samsung’s drive to dominate the low-end smartphone market. On paper, it has all the prerequisites for a great mid-range phone: a modern display with narrow bezels, a large battery, versatile cameras, a headphone jack, and expandable memory ̵
If Apple’s new iPhone SE and Google’s Pixel 3A (as well as the upcoming Pixel 4A) are the competition, it’s disappointing that Samsung couldn’t bring anything to the table.
The wrong chip
My problem with this phone is the Samsung processor of choice: the company’s Exynos 9611. This is a chip that did a good job running my usual apps and games, but the performance stutter is not as uncommon as it should be today $ 400 phones. Instead, small problems regularly occur in daily use, especially when switching between apps, when using the camera, and when using heavier apps such as Google Maps.
It is not a pleasant experience. I’ve had fewer problems with phones like the Moto G Stylus and Motorola G Power (phones that cost $ 100 to $ 150 less). I also haven’t seen that many stutters on the TCL 10L, a $ 250 phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 chip.
In benchmark tests (with Geekbench 5), the Galaxy A51 only scored in single-core performance and not much more points than the phones mentioned above. It fell behind with its multicore score. In fact, the results are consistent last years Google Pixel 3A. My goodness.
This processor may also be to blame for the Galaxy A51’s average battery life. Usually a mid-range phone with low specifications and a 4,000 mAh battery should lasts until a second day (see: Moto G Stylus with the same battery capacity). Mind you, the A51 can last more than a day, but not under heavy use. I usually had to join at the end of the day.
To say all of this, this phone will Games like limbo and call of Duty without much effort. You can watch any TikTok videos you want. However, when you scroll through Twitter, switch back and forth between the camera and a messaging app, or search for the closest restaurant that performs contactless takeaway orders on Google Maps, the A51 feels like the sputtering motor of a car by one Disney on film. Not good.
Where it excels
Once you’ve overcome that sluggish performance, the rest of the A51 is solid. The highlight is the 6.5-inch OLED screen, which is vivid and sharp (a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels) and bright enough to be read in sunny conditions. The slim bezels and punched selfie camera also make it look modern. And I like the software interface, which is just as Samsung-oriented as the high-end phones, but it still looks and it looks good very customizable.
Better still, Samsung promises to keep the software updates on the A51 with recurring security updates for two years. This longer update window is unfortunately not as common on cheaper phones (as on Moto devices that only get Android updates for a year), but it is important because it keeps the phones safe and free from many bugs and helps them to run past their heyday smoothly. Two years are the yardstick for Android phones, but I should point out that the new iPhone SE is expected to be updated for four to five years.
You get 128 GB of storage space on this phone, as well as an option to expand with a micro SD card. It was helpful to have a real headphone jack, especially when I needed to connect earphones for a call at short notice. NFC, the technology that enables most contactless payment options, is there, and I’ve used it to pay for my groceries – a great feature for the Covid-19 world we are in.
This cell phone feels nice too. It is not too cumbersome to work with one hand and it is easy. I just wish it wouldn’t look so nondescript.
Quantity over quality
There is five Cameras in total on the A51, including the 32 megapixel selfie snapper on the front. It’s a little over the top, especially since none of them are holding something remarkable. The main shooter has 48 megapixels. There is also a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 5-megapixel macro camera for ultra-close-ups and a 5-megapixel depth detection camera that supports the bokeh effect in portrait mode.
Too often, the photos that come out of this phone look too sharp and overexposed, and there is a lack of shadow and contrast. Details in the photos are not as sharp as I would like. The Ultrawide camera also shows considerable distortion at the edges. I recommend using the 48 megapixel mode in good lighting as you get more natural photos. Macro camera mode is also a lot of fun.
At night, you should use Samsung’s special night mode, which takes and merges multiple images with different exposures to get a clear, well-lit image. The result is solid if you can stay calm especially (slight movements can blur things). But it’s nowhere near as sharp as Google’s night vision device on Pixel 3A, which does a fantastic job in low light.
I compared the $ 400 A51 to the $ 300 Moto-G stylus and usually preferred the daytime photos from the cheaper Moto phone. The A51 made a slight gain in low light, which was a little more detailed. Because the A51’s performance and camera output are so close to phones that are $ 100 cheaper, the phone still feels overpriced.
Don’t pay the full price
You can have this phone unlocked or from a variety of vendors like Verizon and AT&T. Samsung has a promotion that offers a pair of its original Galaxy Buds for free. Or you can buy it for $ 230 if you exchange an older phone in good condition.
These are decent offers. However, I think buying last year’s Google Pixel 3A (at a discount of $ 350 or less) is a better move to get better performance, longer battery life, great camera, and smarter software. and a headphone jack.
If you’re not against Apple’s iOS, the iPhone SE for $ 400 is an unbeatable value. It’s waterproof to IP67, has wireless charging, includes the same processor in Apple’s flagship iPhone 11 for superior performance, and has a solid camera. TCL’s 10 Pro, which will be released on May 19, is also a better buy, although it will cost $ 50 more.
The Galaxy A51 is fine. But well, it’s just not good these days, especially if you’re Samsung.