The Samsung Galaxy A series has turned the company’s fortunes around in the mid-range and budget market. The smartphones feel just like flagships with just some missing details that most daily users wouldn’t even notice. And, while the rest of the smartphone industry has gone off for vacation in anticipation of 2020 smartphones with the new Qualcomm chipsets, Samsung is continuing is consistent onslaught of mobile phone releases.
The Samsung Galaxy A51 is a testament to how good the A series has become over the couple of years. With its full-screen bezelless display, that Note 10 camera hole, and its exquisite build quality you would be forgiven if you thought that the A51 was actually a lite version of the Galaxy Note 10 or the upcoming Galaxy S11.
However, in a day and age where companies like Xiaomi are providing better specifications and similar build quality on a smartphone at a much lesser price, would it be wise to buy the Samsung Galaxy A51? Let’s find out.
Design & Build Quality
The design is where the Galaxy A51 shines the brightest. With its uniform bezel-less front and a very uniform body the A51 takes the Samsung mid-range design language into a new direction. Unlike the A50, the Galaxy A51 gets rid of the notch at the top in favor of a camera cutout in the middle similar to the Galaxy Note 10.
While this change is probably not going to turn many heads, the design language of all Samsung phones being coherent and congruent makes a ton of difference. In addition to that, the camera cutout also improves the media viewing experience on the smartphone as the camera doesn’t obstruct as much of the display. The phone also retains the microSD card slot and the headphone jack, which has become a feature now for some reason.
The story is different at the back though. For the Galaxy A51, Samsung has gone for a rather strange arrangement of cameras at the back forming an L shape on the top left. However, the entire camera block being black does help with hiding some of that asymmetry. The rest of the phone is very plain with the classic Samsung logo shining at the back.
However, one area where Samsung could have done better is the choice of material. While the Galaxy A51 feels good to hold in the hands, its plastic body still leaves much to be desired in comparison with its rivals. The A51 is still a massive step in the right direction for the company and it looks like next year’s flagship Samsung smartphones are going to borrow a lot of ideas from this phone as well.
The display on the Samsung Galaxy A51 is a pretty standard but massive 6.5 inches AMOLED display. Although the size of the display is on the larger side, the resolution isn’t coming in at 2400 x 1080 with a 20:9 aspect ratio. However, thanks to almost no bezels at the front, the phone is still fairly easy to hold but don’t expect to use it with one hand without any software assistance.
Samsung is the king of displays and has been at the top for quite a while. The Samsung Galaxy A51 reflects some of that DNA but fails to capture the magic of a flagship Samsung display. Despite the display not being the brightest or the most colour accurate in the industry, it still manages to be better than most of its peers at this price point. The viewing angles are stellar and the contrast levels are good.
Whether it is watching something on Netflix or playing games, the media viewing experience that the Galaxy A51 delivers is absolutely top notch so, zero complaints there. Keeping up with the trend, the A51 also has a fingerprint sensor under the display and much like other Samsung phones, it works like an absolute charm.
Performance and Software
Samsung ‘s recent run of mid-range and budget smartphones has been really good with the A series taking things to a whole new level for the company. However, despite the flagship build and some great cameras, Samsung’s mid-range phones fall behind on performance due to lower-powered chipsets. It makes sense for the manufacturer though as including a flagship chip on a mid-range phone would blur the lines too much for someone to justify buying a flagship.
The Samsung Galaxy A51, however, improves upon that with a good performance to price ratio. While it isn’t a flagship processor, Samsung’s own Exynos 9611 is still a very capable processor with 4 high powered A73 and 4 efficiency A53 cores. However, it is still based on the 10nm process and Qualcomm’s newer 7nm chipsets like the Snapdragon 730 take the win in terms of offering newer features.
However, technical specifications don’t matter much these days as modern processors are very good regardless. Likewise, the Galaxy A51 performs magnificently and manages to breeze through anything you throw at it. The whole software experience with the new One UI 2.0 over Android 10 is also very fluid and overall results in a pleasant experience.
One detail where Samsung did miss the mark is the RAM. With only 4 GB of RAM on its base model, the Galaxy A51 can sometimes struggle to keep apps open in the background. So, for a better and smoother experience, we recommend getting the 6 GB RAM variant. One UI is also Samsung’s best Android iteration yet with some fluid animations, amazing reach-ability and a wide variety of customization options, especially with Good Lock.
The Samsung Galaxy A51 has been marketed by Samsung as the best camera phone in its price range and they’re not entirely wrong. With its quad camera setup, the A51 probably offers one of the most diverse camera experiences at this price point. Furthermore, Samsung’s camera software has come a long way during the past few years and is in a very good place right now.
The 48 MP main camera with an f/2.0 aperture takes some sharp and vibrant images but still manages to maintain color accuracy. Paired with the 5 MP depth sensor, the main sensor on the A51 produces some crisp portrait shots with reasonable bokeh in the background while maintaining some decent edge detection.
If you want to switch it up though, the 13 megapixel ultra-wide lens can really take some breathtaking shots. It is actually quite refreshing to see ultra-wide cameras finally becoming standard on budget smartphones. And finally, the fourth camera has a telephoto lens and Samsung has dubbed it as a ‘dedicated macro camera’ for those super close up shots.
The Galaxy A51 is also capable of recording 4K footage. However, it is only limited to 30 fps. Additionally, there is no Optical Image Stabilization on board either so the night shots and 4K video can be a bit more shaky. The electronic stabilization does a good enough job of making you forget about OIS though. Overall, the camera is probably the strongest part of the Galaxy A51 with a wide variety of features for both video and photos.
While Samsung’s flagships aren’t the best when it comes to battery life, especially the Galaxy S line, the company’s mid-range and budget devices have excelled at endurance tests. Likewise, the Galaxy A51 comes with a pretty sizable 4000 mAh battery that can easily last you for over a day with medium to heavy usage.
During our testing, we consistently managed to get over 5 hours of screen on time easily with the Galaxy A51. Most of the battery life during our testing was spent on heavy social media usage and some light gaming. However, the Galaxy A51 falls behind when it comes to topping up the battery though. The phone is only capable of 15W fast charging which is still fairly fast but definitely not fast enough for today’s standards.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is a very versatile and well-rounded phone. It has a great camera, great battery life, great software experience and decent performance. However, at around $350, you have to look at the competition around. For instance, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro does almost everything the Galaxy A51 does but with even better specs and design.
However, the software experience on One UI 2.0 is still arguably better than what Xiaomi has to offer. Furthermore, the support and the after sales services offered by Samsung are still better than most other companies. So, if you need a well-balanced phone with great camera, great display and great battery life but don’t care much about top of the line specifications, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is the phone one for you.