Samsung Galaxy A51 Review
How good can a $400 phone really be? When the device in question is the Samsung Galaxy A51, the answer is simple: very good. As the first real representative of the Galaxy A family in the US, the A51 is a convincing effort that proves Samsung can make a good midprice phone that’s worth buying. In fact, Samsung’s budget phone (£329 in the UK and AU$599 in Australia) even bests the iPhone SE (which starts at $399, £419 and AU$749), in some specific, and significant, ways. When it comes to screen size and clarity, phone features, camera quality and performance, the Galaxy A51 delivers where it counts, with one exception.
The Galaxy A51 is sold at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Amazon and as part of a package bundle at Samsung.com.
It’s the speed of its Samsung-made Exynos 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. Benchmarking tests support that real-world observation.
The Galaxy A51 certainly lags compared to top-tier phones such as the Galaxy S20, but also when held up against the A51’s main rival. That’s because Apple gave the iPhone SE the same A13 Bionic chipset as its most expensive iPhone 11, so Apple’s budget device moves fast. The iPhone SE also leapfrogs the A51 when it comes to water resistance and wireless charging, both features that Samsung’s cheaper phone lacks. (For a full comparison of the Galaxy A51 and iPhone SE’s specs, see the table at the end of this review.)
But the Galaxy A51 has its own charms. It doubles the iPhone SE’s on-board storage for the SE’s starting price, giving you 128GB out of the gate compared to the SE’s 64GB for its cheapest model — and it supports external storage, too. The Samsung screen is much larger, with slim bezels that make the phone feel modern and committed to little wasted space. Battery life is also on par between the two phones. Both come to around 16 hours in a looping video test in airplane mode, with more lab tests on their way. The Galaxy A51 lasted about 20 minutes longer than the SE in this test.
The Galaxy A51 also stands its ground on the camera front in the typical ways that Samsung phones and iPhones compare: Galaxy photos are more saturated compared to the iPhone’s more natural tones. The iPhone SE benefits from optical image stabilization, but the A51’s four cameras also give you more shooting options than the iPhone SE. Wide-angle lens is the one I care about most, which is absent from the SE. But in all other respects, photo quality is fairly close, with one edging the other in this or that scenario. For more, my colleague, Lexy Savvides, created this wonderful and in-depth Galaxy A51 versus iPhone SE camera comparison.
Galaxy A51 vs iPhone SE
|Samsung Galaxy A51 (4G)||Apple iPhone SE (2020)|
|Display size, resolution||6.5-inch FHD AMOLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels||4.7-inch Retina HD; 1,334×750 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.24×2.90×0.31 inches||5.45×2.65×0.29 inches|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||158.5×73.6×7.9 mm||138.4×67.3×7.3 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.07 oz; 172g||5.22 oz; 148g|
|Mobile software||Android 10||iOS 13|
|Camera||48-megapizel (standard), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth sensing)||12-megapixel|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 9611 processor (Octa-core)||Apple A13 Bionic|
|Storage||128GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 512GB||No|
|Battery||4,000 mAh||Not disclosed, but Apple claims it has the same battery life as iPhone 8|
|Fingerprint sensor||In-screen optical reader||Home button|
|Special features||15W fast charging||Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$400||$399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB)|
|Price (GBP)||£329||£419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB)|
|Price (AUD)||AU$599||AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB)|