"Despite the growing value of cheaper devices, the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is a solid mid-range phone."
Good value for the price
Long-lasting battery life
Camera is just fine
No wireless charging
Cheap phones have a moment right now. While there were always good options in the under $ 400 range, 2020 seems to be the year of the cheap phone, thanks in part to the ultra-powerful iPhone SE and the new Google Pixel 4a. But older cell phone series like the Samsung Galaxy A series have been around for years and they have a huge fan base. Thanks to Samsung's strong brand and carrier relationships, the A-series, which includes the new Galaxy A71 5G for $ 600, is one of the best-selling phone lines ever.
My test device is the 5G model from the US carrier, which offers 5G support and a Qualcomm processor (not to be confused with the various international models).
As the most expensive A-series device, the Galaxy A71 5G faces more intense competition – which means that it has to offer some serious advantages in order to be worth buying. Does it really compete? I tested the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G to find out.
The Galaxy A-series usually has a solid design, and although the build quality is sometimes not quite at the level of more expensive phones, the look is still there. That remains true here. The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G offers a beautiful and large edge-to-edge display with a hole cut out for the front-facing camera and a rectangular camera projection on the back, which is reminiscent of the Galaxy S20.
The bezels around the display are razor-thin and the phone therefore looks very modern. The lower bezel is slightly larger than the others, but barely noticeable and makes no real difference in everyday use. Interestingly, the hole cutout at the top of the display is smaller than that of the Galaxy A51, although it appears to offer the same camera hardware.
Thanks to the plastic back, the phones feel very light.
On the edges of the phone you will find a USB-C connection, a volume rocker and a power switch. And there is a headphone jack, which is a nice touch these days.
The phone is also comfortable to hold and is very light. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that the back of the phone is made of plastic instead of glass, but it still feels pretty high quality and doesn't seem to scratch or ring easily.
A modern design is one thing that sets some midrange phones apart from the competition. For example, the iPhone SE has a greater focus on performance than design, although it still looks good. Then there is the Pixel 4a, which also offers an edge-to-edge design, but only costs $ 350.
At 6.7 inches, the display of the Galaxy A71 5G is slightly larger than that of the Galaxy A51 with 6.5 inches. Here, however, the differences end – you still get the same AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The display actually looks great, and although a higher resolution would have been nice, a flagship-level display would hardly be expected. This is particularly true given the fact that it is still an AMOLED panel that provides deep black levels and vivid colors. It can also get light enough to be used outdoors even in direct sunlight. In a few years, we should expect 1440p resolutions for midrange phones, but right now this is a great display for a phone in this price range.
A higher refresh rate may have been estimated, but is not expected in this price range. With a higher refresh rate, the software feels smoother and the animations are more natural. Samsung's high-end phones, such as the Galaxy S20, offer refresh rates of up to 120 Hz. We hope that these higher rates will also apply to mid-range phones in the next few years.
There is a fingerprint sensor under the display, which apparently works quite well. It worked much faster and more accurately than the Galaxy A51's fingerprint sensor. It has occasionally failed, but no more than other fingerprint sensors I use.
Under the hood, the Galaxy A71 5G offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor, 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The result is a fast phone that's reactive and fast enough for most multitasking and even most mobile games. This is in direct contrast to the Galaxy A51 which, due to its Exynos 9611 processor, appeared to freeze and stutter in general when used more than lightly.
Of course, it's not necessarily the best performing phone in its price range, especially in a flagship iPhone SE world. The iPhone SE offers the A13 Bionic chip from Apple – the same processor as the iPhone 11 Pro. The best comparison in the Android world would be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, which can only be found on flagship phones like the Galaxy S20.
The Galaxy A71 5G will outperform the vast majority of the competition. The phone will outperform the Snapdragon 730-equipped Pixel 4a, but in everyday use, the Pixel 4a may feel a bit smoother and more responsive due to its stripped down software. We have to wait until we get our hands on a Pixel 4a.
The Galaxy A71 5G also performs well in mobile gaming. The phone seemed to be able to handle games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9 with ease, and although it didn't load as quickly as flagship phones, the actual gameplay felt smooth and smooth.
The solid performance is also reflected in benchmarks. Here are the benchmark results we got on the phone.
- AnTuTu: 324,648
- GeekBench 5: 617 single-core, 1,916 multi-core
These results are excellent for a phone in this price range. It doesn't really come close to the iPhone SE, which reaches over 480,000 on AnTuTu, but with the Snapdragon 765, it should surpass almost anything else that is cheaper. If you can add an additional $ 50 to $ 100 to your budget, you can of course purchase the OnePlus 8, which offers a flagship Snapdragon 865 and even better performance than the Galaxy A71.
This device also offers 5G support, making it one of the cheapest phones. It supports both mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G, so you should be able to achieve ultra-fast speeds wherever your network operator offers them. This won't be one of the cheapest 5G phones for long – manufacturers are likely to add more and more 5G modems to their phones this year. The Google Pixel 4a 5G is due to appear sometime in the fall and will only cost $ 500.
If you want 5G on a budget now, this may be the way to go – but wait a few months and you'll likely have a lot more options.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G comes with Samsung's One UI operating system. Samsung's software skin has evolved significantly over the years, improving usability and cutting out bloatware. Still, Samsung could be even better at generally offering less third-party software. The T-Mobile variant Galaxy A71 5G contains a number of T-Mobile apps, an extensive selection of Microsoft apps that you may not want or need, Spotify, McAfee and much more. Some of these apps can be removed, others stay with you.
A user interface generally looks and feels different from standard Android, thanks to its larger square apps, more colorful user interface, and wide range of customizations. You can choose between the classic three-button navigation system or the new Android gesture controls from Google. A user interface also has some unique features like the built-in screen recorder, integration with Windows computers when you want to set them up, and more.
Customization is another strength of Samsung software. A user interface offers a variety of customization options, and many people love the ability to tweak pretty much anything related to the home screen, theme, etc. However, others simply feel overwhelmed by all options and are better served by OnePlus & # 39; OxygenOS, the standard Android offered on a pixel phone or even Apple's iOS.
As is so often the case with Samsung phones, the Galaxy A71 5G is unlikely to receive super-fast updates. We expect the phone to receive important updates for at least a year. Hopefully it will make it on Android 11, but Samsung hasn't confirmed anything and you shouldn't buy the phone as you hope it gets a lot of updates. If you want to stay up to date with Android, buy a pixel.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G offers a quad lens camera with a 64 megapixel main sensor, a 12 megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 5 megapixel macro sensor and a 5 megapixel depth sensor. It's a solid selection of cameras, and although I personally would have preferred a telephoto lens to a macro lens, the Galaxy A71 5G can generally deliver great photos.
Of course, the photo quality depends on the situation, and a phone is not necessarily as consistent as more expensive devices. When the lighting is good, the photos are colorful and bright, with adequate dynamic range and solid details. In low-light conditions, the photos are relatively noisy and have no details, which is usually the case with medium-range phones. There's a built-in night mode that removes the noise, but photos are still not on the same level as devices like the iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL.
The elephant in the room here is the new Google Pixel 4a. There are few early reviews of the Pixel 4a, but most suggest that the device offers a camera that matches the standard Pixel 4. This is a flagship camera in a $ 350 phone. Don't expect this on the Galaxy A71 5G, though the phone comes a lot closer to a flagship in price.
The macro lens is more or less useless for the phone because it has a fixed focal length and is therefore extremely difficult to focus on a subject. Even if you get a good focus, there aren't many details and the colors are a bit subdued.
Despite the problems, you will find that photos are more than passable in most situations.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G easily lasted a whole day under relatively heavy use, and we don't expect anyone to have any real issues with the battery life itself. The battery of the Galaxy A71 5G has a capacity of 4,500 mAh, and at the end of a long working day, I still had 30% to 40% remaining.
If you run out of juice at some point, you can charge the device relatively quickly. The phone supports 25-watt quick charge, which means the device gets 50% of its battery back in just 30 minutes. It’s pretty impressive.
The only feature that's really lacking is wireless charging, although it's not necessarily unacceptable that a phone in this price range doesn't have this feature. We hope that wireless charging will become cheaper phones over the next few years.
Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is located between real mid-range phones and flagships and costs $ 650. Depending on your wireless service provider, you can get it at a cheaper price. For example, T-Mobile is offering the phone for $ 600. It's actually not a bad price considering what you get – but there is definitely some competition in the price range. The device is available from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and directly from the Samsung website.
With solid performance, modern design, and 5G support, the Samsung Galaxy A71 is a great phone for the price. The fact that it offers 5G support is probably not a reason to buy the phone alone, but it's an added bonus. However, the spread of new budget phones at the flagship level dampens the excitement about their value.
Are there alternatives?
If you can spend an additional $ 50 to $ 100, you'll get the OnePlus 8, which offers better performance and a more modern design.
When you're ready to make the switch, the iPhone SE performs better than any other Android device and only costs $ 400.
Then there is the Pixel 4a, which probably doesn't achieve the same performance as the Galaxy A71 5G, but offers a much better camera, modern design, and more – all for $ 300 less than this phone.
How long should it take?
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G does not have an IP protection class. You should therefore keep it away from the pool or bathroom if possible. The phone should last a good two years before it needs to be replaced. The plastic back breaks much less often than a glass shelf.
The Galaxy A71 5G offers a limited one-year warranty, but only covers manufacturing defects.
Should you buy it
Yes, but only if you want a solid Samsung phone for $ 650 or less. Otherwise, you should consider spending more on the OnePlus 8, or save almost half that money, and purchase the Pixel 4a.