When it comes to smartphones, we’ve grown accustomed to rising prices. Phones like the Galaxy Note 10 or iPhone 11 Pro cost more than $1,000, and it can be hard to stomach paying that much for a phone.
There are a lot of budget-friendly phones on the market, but all of them require some sort of trade-off in performance or quality. For years, Motorola has dominated the entry-level smartphone market with its Moto G lineup. The Moto G7, for example, is only $199 and considered by many to be the best entry-level phone available.
But after using Samsung’s A50, an unlocked phone that’s normally priced at $350, but currently available for $299, I have to say — Motorola had better up its game.
The Galaxy A50 has a subdued look to the front. Its bright and colorful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display takes up nearly the entire face of the phone. At the top of the screen is a teardrop cutout for the 25-megapixel front-facing camera. The screen’s resolution is a respectable 2,340 x 1,080, or full HD. It spans nearly the entire front of the phone, save for a small bezel along the bottom of the phone. Otherwise, the front of the A50 is all screen.
You won’t find a fingerprint reader below the screen, nor on the back of the phone. Instead, Samsung uses an in-screen fingerprint sensor. It can be used to unlock your phone or use Samsung Pay to buy groceries.
On the right side of the A50 are the volume buttons and the power button. The left side is bare, save for the SIM card tray that doubles as a microSD card slot. You can add up to 512GB of extra storage to the A50’s internal 64GB of storage.
There are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port on the bottom, both of which are key features for any smartphone. Well, technically the headphone jack is a dying breed in 2019, so it’s nice to see Samsung keeping it alive on its low-end phones — although Samsung doesn’t include any headphones in the box with the A50.
The back of the A50 is where things get a little more exciting, thanks to the glossy black finish. When you move and turn the A50, light reflects off it, showing flashes of the color spectrum.
Also on the back of the phone are three cameras. There’s a 25-megapixel wide camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor.
Inside the A50 is Samsung’s Exynos 9610 processor and 4GB of memory. It runs Android 9.0 alongside Samsung’s One UI and has a 4,000-mAh battery. All of those things combine to provide a generally smooth experience with great battery life.
I don’t have many complaints about the A50’s overall performance. There were times, when multitasking and moving between multiple apps, that I noticed some delays and overall slower response, but that was temporary. At no point during my testing did I feel that the A50 is underpowered. It’s not going to offer the same level of performance as the Note 10, but that’s expected.
Using the in-display fingerprint sensor has been hit or miss for me. Sometimes it works quickly and without issue, but other times I had to try multiple times before the sensor would recognize my registered fingerprint. I haven’t had similar issues with the same fingerprint sensor setup on the Galaxy S10 or Note 10, but I did have similar issues with the same sensor on the OnePlus 7T.
Samsung estimates the A50 can achieve up to 35 hours of battery life. I wasn’t able to squeeze that much battery life from the A50, but I can say that the battery lasts an entire day. I took the A50 along with me on a recent trip, and despite a long travel day, the battery wasn’t something I had to worry about. I had the same experience on a typical day of use, which is roughly 16 hours from the time I wake up until I go to bed. The A50’s battery isn’t an issue.
As for the camera, I’ve been impressed. The combination of three cameras on the back adds features that have typically been reserved for far more expensive phones. Having an ultra-wide-angle camera is one of my favorite camera features by far that been added to phones in the last few years, and the f A50 not only has it, but that the photos I’ve captured with it look good. I do wish Samsung had used more than an 8-megapixel camera for the ultra-wide-angle camera, but it’ll definitely get the job done.
The default camera is quick and takes crisp photos. Even the Live Focus feature— which adds depth to photos by blurring the background, something a lot of phones struggle with — has done a fantastic job in capturing a subject’s face without blurring the edges of hair or an ear.
Impressively affordable and capable
The Samsung A50 experience can be boiled down to this: It’s nearly the same as having a more expensive Galaxy phone, but at a fraction of the price.
From the interface to the fingerprint sensor, to the camera, to the inclusion of Samsung Pay, the A50 is a fully capable, more affordable version of the Galaxy S10. Sure, it’s not as fast, and the camera may not be of the same caliber when you start to nitpick — but for someone who is looking to save money on a phone that will take high-quality photos without skimping on battery life or performance, the A50 is it.
You can order the A50 for Samsung right now for $299. I recommend getting the unlocked model, so if you need to switch carriers down the road, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your phone is compatible.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.