The year 2019 saw Samsung holding three spots out of the top five bestselling smartphones worldwide. For the unaware, you must be thinking that these were the flagship S-series or the Note-series. Instead, these were the A-series phones.
The Samsung Galaxy A51 had big shoes to fill considering how successful the previous-gen A50 was and how well it sold. Priced at $399 in the States initially, the competition is steep, to say the least. So did it manage to hit the bull’s eye or falter along the way? Read our Samsung Galaxy A51 review to find out.
List of specifications
|Dimensions||1585 x 73.6 x 7.9mm|
|Display||6.5 inches FHD+ sAMOLED|
|4/64 GB, 4/128 GB, 6/128 GB, 8/128 GB|
|Software||One UI 2.1 based on Android 10|
|Rear Camera||48 MP, f/2.0 + 12 MP,f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 5 MP, f/2.4 (macro) + 5 MP, f/2.2 (depth)|
|Front Camera||32 MP, f/2.2|
|Battery||4000 mAh (supports 15W fast charging)|
- Compact yet packs a sizable battery
- sAMOLED is a rarity in the price range
- Good overall camera performance
- Clean software
- The Exynos 9611 can be a deal-breaker for many
- Video output missing some key features
Design and Layout
The Samsung Galaxy A51 comes in three shades, Blue, White, and Prism Crush Black. Even though all of them look unique, you must choose the black variant if you want to stand out from the crowd. There is an array of diagonal lines crossing each other, giving you an ‘X’-like end result. If you look at a certain angle, you will find it emitting a rainbow of colors and makes it an exciting attempt.
Talking of materials, the back panel is all plastic and a sheet of Gorilla Glass would exude more confidence nevertheless. Thankfully, the front gets some of GG 3 treatment and it covers a seemingly large Infinity-O panel, as Samsung likes to call it. The bezels are minimal and the earpiece sits on the top, carved into the glass. You get a mic on top for improving the call clarity.
The back houses four cameras in a rectangular finish and you will find the volume rocker and the power button on the right. On the left, there is the SIM card tray which houses three slots, two for nano SIMs and the rest for a MicroSD card. You will find the USB-C port on the bottom center and a headphone jack and speakers and primary mic on either side.
Samsung’s weight distribution is on point here and you do not feel the bulk of a 4000 mAh cell, mostly due to the plastic build and good heft dissipation throughout the body.
The Galaxy A51 houses a 6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, complete with a punch-hole camera in the top middle. The resolution is 20:9 and the pixel count stands at a respectable 405 per inch. It performs like any other Samsung panel, with good dynamic range and deep blacks. The maximum brightness is a better-than-average 600 nits, and the minimum was 1.8 nits.
If you find the default color setting a tad overwhelming, Samsung has introduced Natural/Vivid modes which lets you tweak the display to your taste. Natural mode tends to represent the sRGB accurately whereas the Vivid one gives you a 5-slider option which shifts to warmer tones as you move up. The media consumption is a treat due to excellent viewing angles and richness that we have come to accept with AMOLEDs.
Also present is the in-display fingerprint sensor, which is much better than the one found on its previous iteration. Like with most sensors of such kind, it too suffers a certain time lag, between you placing the finger on the sensor and the phone unlocking.
The battery capacity in the Samsung Galaxy A51 stands at a higher-than-average 4000 mAh. Samsung claims it to be “long-lasting” but the results are average at best. The large Full HD screen and the combination of Exynos 9611 probably led to the lower-than-expected endurance.
On the other side, you get a 15W fast charge adapter which tops the battery quite fast. When at the 30 minute mark, you get around 35 per cent in the tank and it takes a full 2 hours and 15 minutes to charge, which isn’t the best in the price range.
Software and Performance
The Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the first phones from the Korean giant to come with Android 10 out-of-the-box. It currently runs on One UI 2.1 on top which adds to the overall fluidity and performance.
The general performance is fluid with most of the mundane tasks running without any hiccup whatsoever. The UI is colourful and focuses more on improving user experience by adding several nifty features. You get all the general perks with Samsung bringing in some of its unique features such as Edge Screen, Quick Share, Music Share, and Android’s Live Caption to its midrange too.
Talking of performance,the Galaxy A51 is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 9611, which is an upgrade from the previous gen’s 9610. It is a 10nm octa-core chipset with 4 power-efficient A53 cores running at 1.7GHz and 4 powerful A73 cores at 2.3GHz to handle the power-hungry tasks.
It comes in several RAM and storage configurations – 4/64 GB, 4//128 GB, and 6/128 GB. If we compare it to what the competition has on offer, the Exynos 9611 barely manages to compete with Snapdragon 660, let alone the significantly powerful SD730 found in its price range.
The benchmark scores reiterate the fact that chipset is one of the weakest parts of the package. It scores a barely respectable 110,000 on the Antutu 7 and 175,000 on the Antutu 8. The GeekBench scores are no different. It manages 1300 in the 5.1 (multi-core) test and a below-par 350 in the single-core tests.
To sum it all, it is a decent performer if you are not looking to run power-hungry tasks and you will have not many hiccups in the day-to-day business. Gaming is not its forte and it is capable of running games like Subway Surfer well.
The Galaxy A51 comes with four rear cameras and a single front camera. Like most other smartphones in the price range, the primary sensor packs a lot of pixels, 48, to be precise. Also present is a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle which is a step ahead from the usual 8 MP we find in most of the Samsung mid-rangers.
To accompany them, you will find two 5 MP units, one of them is a macro lens and another a depth sensor. The focal length of the macro one is 25 mm which should prevent you from going unnecessarily close to the subjects in focus.
You will also find a 32 MP Quad Bayer shooter on the front which outputs 8 MP pixel-binned images by default. The camera app is the regular setup we have come to expect from most Samsung phones with a plethora of features to give more options to the users. Talking of features, there is a Pro mode fitted in as well.
In broad daylight, the primary sensor takes decent images with respectable details and dynamic range. The ultra-wide lens is the one with a significant upgrade from the last-gen A50.
The colors are much more vivid, the dynamic range is considerably better and edge correction is decent too. The macro sensor is amongst the best you will find in a smartphone but lacks autofocus resulting in blurry shots more often than we would have liked.
Low light is not its forte and you will see a lot of noise and the images coming out soft consistently and somehow de-saturated too.
On the flip side, the front camera takes better photos, especially when the subject separation is on point. The Live Focus feature lets you adjust the bokeh in real-time. Like with most other aspects in the camera review, the video output is decent and workable for the price it demands.
At $399 in the USA, the competition is steep for the Samsung Galaxy A51. You can get a Google Pixel 3a which has a far better camera and is a solid performer overall. A Xiaomi Mi 9T with a unique finish and metal-glass build sells for around $300. It comes with an Sd730 chip which is miles ahead of the Exynos 9611.
Then there is Realme X2 which sells for $350, and comes with 8 GB of RAM and the same chipset as that of the Mi 9T. If you are looking for impeccable build, the Nokia 7.2 with a decent processor, Carl Zeiss lens, and stupendous durability can be found at around $350. To our surprise, the last-gen Xiaomi flagship, the Mi 9 sells in the same price bracket, which makes the A51 a difficult recommendation.
The bottom line
If you look at the Samsung Galaxy A51 without measuring the competition, it has everything going for it. A decent processor, good overall camera experience and a full-day battery life with an AMOLED screen makes it perfect in most of the departments.
Plus, it has a macro lens which is hard to beat and performs way beyond expectations. The portrait shots with either of the cameras come out good and the software is streamlined and intuitive.