Samsung A51 ReviewMobile Shop & Services
The Galaxy A51 has big shoes to fill. It takes the baton from the Galaxy A50, one of the most successful smartphones that Samsung released in 2019. Samsung revamped the entire Galaxy A series last year to become more competitive in the mid-range segment of the market. To that end, it launched a plethora of new devices, including multiple variants several months apart.
That strategy appears to have worked for Samsung and the company is planning to continue it in 2020. It’s kicking things off with the Galaxy A51, one of its most highly anticipated budget handsets of the year. The new handset also carries the Galaxy A50’s tradition of being the first to introduce new features to the budget lineup. The Galaxy A50 brought the optical fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy A51 introduces the macro camera to Samsung’s smartphones.
The Galaxy A51 doesn’t look or feel like a cheap phone at all. It is big and well-put-together. Samsung says that the material it’s made out of is called “Glasstic,” which sounds way chintzier than it feels. It feels nearly like glass, but it has just a bit of that hollow feel you can get from plastic.
It ships with 128GB of internal storage, Plus you can expand it with micro SD storage. There’s also a headphone jack, which is a welcome inclusion at any price point but somewhat more important than usual at this one.
Favorite part of the Galaxy A51 is the screen. It is simply a well-done 6.5-inch AMOLED, bright even in sunlight. If you’re looking for advanced screen tech — like colors that adjust to the ambient light, high refresh rates, or even super high resolution — look elsewhere. But at 1080 x 2400, there are more than enough pixels, even at this screen size. I’ve seen plenty of low-rent big screens on Android phones, and this isn’t one of them.
Phone makers need to pick their priorities, and Samsung clearly picked the screen. Given that it’s the thing people look at and interact with hundreds of times per day, it’s a good thing to pick.
But I can nitpick — not about the screen but about what’s underneath it — specifically, the hole-punch selfie camera. I have no problem with hole-punch cameras. In fact, I generally prefer them to notches of any size. But for reasons surpassing understanding, Samsung put a small chrome ring around the camera. It catches at certain angles when the light hits it just so, and then it’s hard to unseen it. It’s bizarre.
The other thing under the screen is an optical fingerprint sensor. I’m not sure if Samsung just doesn’t have enough reps in with these sensors or what, but it’s terribly slow. It can take as much as a second for the green animation to jitters its way through to let you know the phone is unlocked. It’s not the most accurate sensor either, especially in direct sunlight.
Finally, there’s the camera system, which consists of more lenses than necessary. The main lens has a 48-megapixel sensor that kicks out 12-megapixel images by default. Those images are, like virtually any camera these days, decent enough in good lighting. I was pleasantly surprised to see good white balance, something that Samsung sometimes misses on. But Samsung’s other bad tendency of unnaturally lifting shadows is still sticking around.
You probably know what’s coming: it falls down hard in low light — worse than the iPhone SE, in fact. And when you really zoom in on details on the A51, there’s a lot more mess than you’d get on other smartphone cameras — including at 48 megapixels.
There’s a 12-megapixel ultra wide and a 5-megapixel macro camera, each of which is more about having fun than getting great shots. Fun is good! I enjoyed using these cameras. There’s also a “5-megapixel” depth camera that didn’t appear to do anything useful, at least as far as portrait mode is concerned. Finally, the selfie camera is 32 megapixels, and it produces photos that often look over-processed.
Lastly, the software. Samsung’s One UI customization’s on top of Android continue to make using a big-screened phone nicer. But Samsung’s willingness to let carriers junk their phones with crap ware also continues: my Verizon-based review unit was absolutely littered with games and services nobody would want. I also wish I could say that I trust this phone will get software updates for more than two or three years.
It’s the speed of its Samsung-made Expose 9611 processor that’s the Galaxy A51’s Achilles’ heel. Performance feels sluggish handling day-to-day activities such as waiting for a website to load or for apps to refresh. Bench marking tests support that real-world observation.
It’s quite easy to tell the Galaxy A51 apart from its predecessor. Unlike the Galaxy A50 which had an Infinity-U notched display, the Galaxy A51 has an Infinity-O display. The centered punch hole for the front camera allows for a slimmer top bezel. It’s made from the same “glasstic” material as previous Galaxy A devices. It doesn’t feel cheap or obviously plasticity and it’s not slippery either. The subtle curves at the back allow for a comfortable grip during prolonged use.
The new L-shaped camera setup dominates the back, which is adorned by a prism-like crisscross pattern. It’s much more subtle than a gradient finish and the light plays off of it beautifully. Full marks to Samsung for making it so easy on the eyes. The 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port and speaker are all positioned at the bottom. Given its position, you’ll often find yourself inadvertently covering the speaker grille with your finger when playing a game or watching a video in landscape mode. It’s a slight inconvenience at first but you’ll get used to placing your finger appropriately in time.
All of the physical buttons – and there are only three of them – are placed on the right side of the frame, like they were on its predecessor. By default, if you press and hold the power button when the phone is on, it will launch Bixby. You can change it to bring up the power off menu in the Advanced features area in the Settings app. That’s also where you can configure which app you want to launch by double-pressing the power key.
Overall, the Galaxy A51 feels really well built, like it can withstand being your daily driver for a couple of years without breaking a sweat. We’ve seen all of the four colors that it’s offered in and you’ll definitely be spoiled for choice because they all look gorgeous.Last Updated On: July 31, 2020 5:05 pm
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