Samsung Galaxy A51 Review: Sticking to that A formula
Quietly moving up the price ladder
The Galaxy A50 and A50s were among Samsung’s star performers of 2019. So their successor, the Galaxy A51, clearly has some very hefty boots to fill. And well, to its credit, Samsung has not tried to fix what was not broken. The Galaxy A51 borrows a fair bit from its predecessors while bringing a few new features to the table.
As we pointed out in our first impressions, it comes with the same processor (the Exynos 9611) as the Galaxy A50s, a broadly similar design (complete with Glastic back with a prism texture effect, although again with no water or dust resistance), a Super AMOLED Full HD+ display, a 48-megapixel main sensor, and an equally large 4000 mAh battery. It is a good looking enough phone, but not really one to turn heads, although the rectangular camera unit on the back marks it out as a recent Samsung device.
Samsung Galaxy A51: Adding some display magic
Where the A51 steps away from its predecessors is in terms of two vital areas – display and camera. The display of the A51 might be a Super AMOLED Full HD+ one like that on the A50s, but it is larger at 6.5 inches and is an Infinity O display. In simple English, that means it comes with a punch hole notch that is far less obtrusive than the drop notches that we have seen on the Galaxy A50 and A50s. And well, it might just be our impression, but we felt that display just seemed more colorful and bright than its predecessors. It is closer to being a typical Samsung AMOLED display, the sort we see on higher-end devices. Some might wince at the colors being a little extra saturated at times, but truth be told, we loved viewing games and videos on it. Yes, we are going to wish it had stereo speakers, not least because the single speaker on the base of the phone is not very loud, but all said and done, it does deliver a very good multimedia experience.
The processor in the phone is the Exynos 9611, which, when paired with 6GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage (expandable) is decent enough for most routine tasks like social networking, Web browsing and messaging. And well, it can handle most games as long as you do not expect things to fly at maxed-out settings. PUBG and Asphalt did reasonably well, but there were lags and frame drops at higher graphical settings. This is not a phone built for heavy-duty gaming, but for the general user, it should more than suffice.
The 4000 mAh battery will see you through a day and slightly more of normal usage. The 15W charger in the box takes about two hours to charge the battery, although it gets the phone from zero to seventy percent in an hour. And of course, general operations work smoothly on the One UI 2.0 interface running on top of Android 10. There is still some third-party bloatware on board, but the whole interface seems much cleaner than before. A small irritant is the in-display fingerprint scanner which does seem to take a little longer to unlock the device.
Samsung Galaxy A51: Putting in some camera muscle
The larger Infinity O display apart, the biggest change in the A51 as compared to its predecessors is the camera set up. The phone now has four cameras at the back, with a dedicated 5-megapixel macro sensor being added to the regular 48-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and 5-megapixel depth sensor. On the front, the phone sports a 32-megapixel selfie camera as well.
Does that translate into a better photography experience, though? Well, our experience was a mixed one. In good light conditions, the A51 is a very good performer indeed, capturing decent detail and reproducing colors very well, although it errs on the slightly saturated side. The ultrawide is great for landscapes and bigger group shots, although the 12-megapixel limit means detail sometimes gets lost. Portrait shots using the depth sensor are middling – you get some great bokeh sometimes, but on other occasions, part of the subject gets blurred or part of the background too gets sharpened. The macro sensor is a handy addition for those who love super close up snaps of textures and maybe the odd insect (provided it does not scurry away when you get that close to it), but we were a little surprised to see no autofocus on it. Low light performance is middling, not exceptional and suffers from Samsung’s tendency to try and smooth out noise, which can affect detail. Video quality is decent if one sticks to daytime or good light conditions. Selfie quality is generally good, although the camera seemed to struggle a little with glares.[Click Here for full resolution images]
Everything taken into consideration, in spite of the additional camera, the Galaxy A51 is not a massive step ahead of the A50s when it comes to image and video quality. It has a good camera set up for its price point, but if you have an A50s, the additional camera is not a compelling reason to upgrade!
Samsung Galaxy A51: Going up against very tough competition
Which brings us to perhaps the final point of difference between the A51 and its predecessors. While the A50 (Rs 19,999) and A50s (Rs 20,999) were both within touching distance of Rs 20,000, the A51 starts at Rs 23,999 for the 6 GB/ 128 GB variant (we have been told there will be an 8 GB RAM variant too, but its price is not known at the time of writing). That is a significant price jump which not only makes it significantly more expensive than some devices offering comparative or better specs (the Redmi K20, the Realme X2, the Poco X2) but also actually puts it close to budget flagships like the Redmi K20 Pro, which is now retailing for Rs 24,999. Yes, the Galaxy A51 is more of an off-line and conventional retail option, but comparisons will be made – in fact, there is every chance that a very similarly specced Galaxy M31 from Samsung itself might come with a lower price tag.
The Galaxy A51 does score in terms of being a very solid overall proposition with a very good display (one of the best we have seen in the sub-Rs 25,000 category), and of course that Samsung brand association that many find reassuring. Indeed, if you already have an A50s, we would not be able to give you a compelling reason to upgrade. Which just shows how good the A50s was. The A51 serves up more of the same, which is not a bad thing. However, that slightly higher price means that in terms of sheer value for money, it might find itself in a tight spot with those chasing specs and sheer value for money.
- Very good display
- Generally smooth performance
- Good battery life
- Expected more from cameras
- Some might find it expensive
- Predictable design
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After making it big with the Galaxy A50 and A50s, Samsung has now released the Galaxy A51. The brand has chosen not to tinker too much with the formula that worked with those two phones. But has increased its price. Do the additions to the package justify the increased price tag?