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Gadgets Smartphones Samsung Galaxy A51 review – A good upgrade of the popular series

Samsung Galaxy A51 review – A good upgrade of the popular series

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Samsung’s Galaxy A line of smartphones managed to surprise us with an unusual (for the company) approach. Many devices of the series are balanced both in terms of hardware and the price. The predecessor of the device, Galaxy A50, was in fairly high demand in year 2019. Today we look at its heir – Samsung Galaxy A51.

Samsung Galaxy A51
Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 specs

NETWORK Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
LAUNCH Announced 2019, December
Status Available. Released 2019, December
BODY Dimensions 158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9 mm (6.24 x 2.90 x 0.31 in)
Weight 172 g (6.07 oz)
Build Glass front (Gorilla Glass 3), plastic back, plastic frame
SIM Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
DISPLAY Type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 6.5 inches, 102.0 cm2 (~87.4% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~405 ppi density)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
PLATFORM OS Android 10.0; One UI 2
Chipset Exynos 9611 (10nm)
CPU Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
GPU Mali-G72 MP3
MEMORY Card slot microSDXC (dedicated slot)
Internal 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM
UFS 2.0
MAIN CAMERA Quad 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
12 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide)
5 MP, f/2.4, 25mm (wide), dedicated macro camera
5 MP, f/2.2, 1/5.0″, 1.12µm, depth sensor
Features LED flash, panorama, HDR
Video 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps; gyro-EIS
SELFIE CAMERA Single 32 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.8µm
Features HDR
Video 1080p@30fps
SOUND Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
NFC Yes
Radio FM radio
USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
FEATURES Sensors Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
ANT+
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery
Charging Fast battery charging 15W
MISC Colors Prism Crush Black, White, Blue, Pink
Models SM-A515F, SM-A515F/DSN, SM-A515F/DS, SM-A515F/DST, SM-A515F/DSM, SM-A515F/N
SAR 0.80 W/kg (head)     0.67 W/kg (body)
Price $ 284.45 / € 327.86

Price and positioning

Samsung Galaxy A51 smartphone is available for purchase in two versions: 4/64 GB and 6/128 GB. The cost of the first is about $339, and the second will cost a bit more – $379.

Interestingly, the price of the predecessor (A50) at the start was approximately the same. And speaking of the senior version, it’s even a little more expensive than A51 with the same amount of memory. So Samsung managed not only to maintain the previous price, but even to reduce it a little.

Design, materials and build quality

Compared to Samsung Galaxy A50, 51 looks more modern and neat in almost every way. The front panel looks concise. Instead of a drop-shaped notch we got the round hole in the center.

The hole is similar to that of Samsung Galaxy Note10/Note10 Plus. But I have the feeling that Samsung tried to somehow highlight it. The camera is placed in an additional silver ring. The bezels are thin on both sides; traditionally, the field below is larger than the rest.

Along the perimeter, the smartphone has a frame made of glossy plastic. The white model has silver frame, or so-called polished steel.

Samsung Galaxy A51

On the back there are lot of interesting things. The white panel shimmers nicely when light hits it. Moreover, it is divided into three areas with different effects and even “texture”.

In the lower part, where the logo is located, there are peculiar vertical lines and a multi-colored pearl effect. There are no stripes on the right side, however the overflow is the same. But the left part has a monotonous, slightly yellowish tinge. In principle, there is nothing annoying here and the design is not bad.

The camera block this time is not in the form of a vertical “tablet”, but rectangular with rounded corners. It looks more massive and differs from what we saw in 2019. How popular this style will be in 2020 is unclear but we are sure to see more of this from Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy A51

The back plate is also made of plastic, which is somewhat confusing. Especially looking at other devices from the same segment. In this regard Samsung has not changed anything since the time of its predecessor. Is it bad? Depends on how to approach the issue. Personally, I would like to see more premium materials, of course. From another point of view, most of us use protective covers anyway, so it doesn’t matter really.

Samsung Galaxy A51

There is a small problem with the build quality, but I assume it’s because I tested the version not intended for commercial release. In the upper left corner at the back, the cover slightly moves away from the frame. The case is not protected from moisture and dust, the Gorilla Glass 3 in front has an oleophobic coating.

Samsung Galaxy A51

There are four color options: white, black, blue and red.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Element configuration

In front under the grill is an earpiece speaker. The front camera is embedded in the screen in the center. On the sides of it are light and proximity sensors, they are also built into the screen. The lower area is empty and the LED is missing.

On the right side are the power and volume buttons. On the left is a slot for two nanoSIM cards, as well as a microSD storage expansion card. A full-fledged triple slot is always better than combined one.

The bottom end has everything you need: a multimedia speaker, a microphone, a Type-C port and a 3.5 mm audio jack. On the top there is only a second additional microphone.

At the back is the already mentioned rectangular block with four lenses and a flash. It is nice that the element only protrudes slightly above the surface of the rear panel. At the bottom we have the Samsung logo.

Ergonomics

In terms of ergonomics everything is good. For a 6.5-inch screen, it has very good sizes due to thin bezels: 158.5 × 73.6 × 7.9 mm. Weight is also small – 172 grams.

But it is clear that this is not a compact smartphone at all. You will have to change the grip when using it with one hand. The case is a little slippery, but not to say that it is critical. The control buttons are located in convenient places.

Samsung Galaxy A51 Display

Here we have a display with an Infinity-O notch, 6.5-inch diagonal and 20:9 aspect ratio. The matrix is ​​Super AMOLED – what else? The resolution of the panel is Full HD+, 2400 × 1080 pixels, the density of dots is 405 ppi.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung knows a lot about Super AMOLED matrices, and therefore there can be no doubt about the quality of Galaxy A51. The display here is definitely good: bright, contrasty and adjustable.

There are two profiles with natural or saturated colors. The names speak for themselves, the second profile allows you to manually select the white balance. The viewing angles are excellent, if you don’t care that much about iridescent white color at an angle.

The blue light filter can be found in the settings, as well as the forced “stretching” of applications. Despite the fact that this isn’t a curved screen, the manufacturer has added Edge panels features and backlighting around the perimeter for notifications.

There is protection against false touches and increased sensitivity of the sensor grid, if, for example, you glue a protective glass or film over it. But with gloves on, a smartphone is still impossible to use.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Of course, Always On Display function is still here and it’s still highly adjustable.

Samsung Galaxy A51 Performance

Inside we have 10-nm Exynos 9611 platform from Samsung. It replaced Exynos 9610 used in the predecessor. It contains 8 cores: 4 Cortex-A73 cores with a maximum clock frequency of up to 2.3 GHz and 4 Cortex-A53 cores with a clock frequency of up to 1.7 GHz. The graphics accelerator is from Mali – G72 MP3.

RAM can be either 4 or 6 GB, depending on the configuration you choose, the type of memory is LPDDR4x. I tested the senior version and everything is great there with multitasking. There is enough RAM for anything, applications are restarted rarely, only of you run too many at the same time.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Storage also varies, it can be 64 GB or 128 GB. My model has 128 GB, of which 111.26 GB are allocated to the user’s needs. If you are considering a lesser version, then you should know that if necessary, you can put a microSD-format memory card up to 512 GB. Naturally, without occupying the slot for the second SIM.

In general, the smartphone has almost no issues with the speed and smoothness of the interface or related software. Small slowdowns are a possibility, but they happen rarely. The level of gaming performance is not amazing, but everything will run one way or another. The only condition is that it is unlikely to be on the highest settings.

  • PUBG Mobile – maximum graphics settings with smoothing and shadows, an average of 29 FPS
  • Shadowgun Legends – Ultra Graphics, average of 28 FPS
  • Call of Duty Mobile – high, depth of field, shadow, Ragdoll, Battlefront mode – ~ 41 FPS; Battle Royale – ~ 36 FPS

The above are examples of demanding games with the maximum possible graphics settings set and measured via Gamebench. You probably better lower the graphics (choose “medium” preset or turn off some effects) in order to get a stable frame rate.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 cameras

In Samsung Galaxy A51 cameras were improved not only in quantity, but also in quality. Now we have 4 cameras:

Quad 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
12 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide)
5 MP, f/2.4, 25mm (wide), dedicated macro camera
5 MP, f/2.2, 1/5.0″, 1.12µm, depth sensor

Samsung Galaxy A51

Photos taken with the main module are relatively good: bright, sharp, detailed with nice colors. However, all this applies only to pictures taken in good conditions – in the afternoon outdoors, for example. But in the evening and in poor lighting there’s nothing you can do: there is noise and bad detalization. The night mode helps to make things better.

EXAMPLES OF PHOTOS IN FULL RESOLUTION

By default, you get 12 megapixel photos, but you can always select 48 megapixels (indicated in the camera interface as a 3:4H ratio). If you look at 12 and 48 megapixel photos on one screen and compare them, then the full resolution ones there will have an advantage in detail. Not much, but the difference is noticeable. On the other hand, the weight of such files is approximately twice as large.

Pictures with the so-called “live focus” (blurring of the background) look fine. Naturally, the more complex the shape of the subject, the more errors there are in the end. But as always, you can and should experiment with this mode.

The ultra-wide module is quite different from the main lenses in color reproduction and white balance, not counting the overall quality, of course. Sometimes the white balance can differ even in the same scene. Often the photos look oversaturated. With details, in the afternoon, everything is fine, but unfortunately, it’s not so hot in the evening or indoors without a lot of light sources. But it captures quite a lot of everything – the viewing angle here is 123°.

EXAMPLES OF PHOTOS IN FULL RESOLUTION

A macro camera should be considered unnecessary, rather than something useful. Photos, even in good lighting conditions, can and probably will be blurry.

You can record video in UHD resolution (3840 × 2160) at 30 frames per second on both the main and ultra-wide-angle sensors. It is worth clarifying that in the predecessor, the resolution was Full HD so we have progress thanks to the updated chipset. No optical stabilization, of course. Electronic stabilization when shooting in 4K is also not available. But when you select 1080p mode, it is activated. The interface, however, has a stabilization enable button even at 4K, but then we get a stabilized image from the ultra-wide module, and not the main one. In general, the quality of the videos of the mid-ranger is not bad, in the context of the main module. The second one is mediocre.

The front camera has a resolution of 32 megapixels (f/2.2, 1/2.8″, 0.8µm, 26 mm) and the manufacturer offers two options of its operation. The camera is has a wide angle, but there is a separate button for a small digital zoom, not bad in good lighting. Portrait mode is also supported by the front camera – it tries, but it is not always possible to separate the object from the background accurately. This camera can write video in UHD resolution.

The camera application includes everything you need. There is a manual mode: ISO, white balance and exposure is all it offers. It’s definitely not enough. There is a night mode, panoramas, food, slow motion, super slow motion and hyperlapse. There’s also optimization system and image recommendations. For a wide angle, distortion correction can be enabled.

Unlocking methods

The fingerprint scanner is located same as always – under the display. The optical sensor does not always work the first time, because it is quite demanding on the accuracy of placement. Ideally, the fingertip should cover it completely, and then you can count on a successful and relatively quick unlocking.

Samsung Galaxy A51

This scanner is hardly fast and stable. It is clearly slower than the best capacitive ones. Compared with sensors of the same optical type in other devices, it’s about the same. Again, it all depends on the accuracy of the placement of the finger. There are several other factors. For example, it is almost impossible to unlock a smartphone with a scanner after a couple of hours on the street in winter.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Face recognition is implemented using the front camera. In good light, the method works quickly, but certainly not lightning fast. With diminished lighting, this process may take longer, but is likely to succeed. If you want to use recognition even in complete darkness,  increase in the brightness of the display. However, this method is not perfect.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Other options: adding an alternative look (for example, wearing glasses), staying on the lock screen after scanning (it will be necessary to swipe the screen every time), faster recognition (faster, to the detriment of security) and the need for open eyes when recognizing the user.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 battery life

Despite the small thickness of Galaxy A51, the manufacturer managed to install a 4000 mAh battery. And in general, this should enough for the whole day of a variety of activities. In forgiving mode, it’s possible squeeze up to two days without recharging.

You can get 6-7 hours of the screen in this situation, and I also always had Always On Display working from 8 to 21. In the test, we get 8 hours 34 minutes in PCMark 2.0 with maximum screen brightness, which is very good. In general, good battery life.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Sound and communication

The earpiece speaker perfectly performs its direct function. The multimedia speaker is mediocre; not very loud. You can watch a video at a low volume in a quiet environment, but listening to music might not be the best idea.

Samsung Galaxy A51

In wired headphones, everything is fine, the normal volume margin (but could have been higher) and decent quality, especially after applying some of the settings available here. With wireless headphones, too, no problem. In terms of sound, everything is as it should: a good supply of volume and the expected sound quality. Most of the settings available for wired headphones can be applied to Bluetooth devices.

Wireless modules are as follows: dual-band Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth version 5.0 (A2DP, LE), GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS) and, of course, an NFC module. No problems with their work, although GPS positioning is not particularly accurate.

Firmware and software

Samsung Galaxy A51 comes with a fresh version of Android 10 and an updated One UI 2.0 shell. There is a change in the interface, both visual and functional. Of course, the shell deserves a separate review, but let’s discuss it briefly here.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Firstly, full-fledged gestures were added just like in the original Android 10. But the user was left with a choice: a new navigation system, an old navigation panel with three keys, or swiping. You can set the sensitivity of the Back gesture yourself. There’s dynamic lock screen: each time the lockscreen has a new picture from the category selected in advance by the user.

Additional functions: launching the camera or application by double-pressing the power button, Bixby scripts, connecting the smartphone to Windows, one-handed operation mode, Game Launcher. Plus – a number of other gestures and movements.

There’s new statistics on the use of applications, a mode for concentration and redesigned “Device Maintenance”. What I personally didn’t really like about the latter is the new statistics on battery consumption. Now you can see the operating time for the last 7 days with applications and the number of hours of the active screen, but it is difficult to understand how many hours the smartphone worked since the last charge.

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy A51 is a good smartphone in its class that offers a fresh new look, relatively small dimensions, excellent screen, solid battery life and functional and thought-out software. The hardware platform can perform all everyday tasks, the cameras are good during the day.

Samsung Galaxy A51

At the same time, there are some issues here: materials aren’t premium, and the unlocking methods are slow. Taking photos at night can be problematic. Finding the device from the same price range that could handle heavy games is not difficult (try something from Xiaomi).

Samsung Galaxy A51

If we consider Galaxy A51 an updated A50, it succeeds. But changing from A50 to A51 is probably not worth it. But if you were thinking about purchasing a predecessor, and were counting on the same price, the new model definitely looks preferable, as it will remain relevant for a longer time.

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