Samsung Galaxy A50 review: Premium features now come at an affordable price
Since last year, Samsung has been experimenting a lot with its mid-range Galaxy A-series. In a bid to bolster sales and take on companies like OnePlus, Samsung began introducing new technologies like triple and quad cameras with its Galaxy A phones before bringing them to its flagship phones. This along with a switch to glass and metal design has allowed phones like the Galaxy A7 and A9 to look more premium and in line with modern sensibilities. Samsung is taking that same philosophy and is applying it to its affordable phones like the Galaxy M30 (Review), M20 (Review) and the newly launched Galaxy A50, A30 and A10.
Among the new Galaxy A-series phones launched this year, the Galaxy A50 is by far the most interesting device. Reason being the Galaxy A50 offers plenty of premium features at a price that starts just under Rs 20,000. The Galaxy A50 brings a gorgeous design coupled with a stunning AMOLED Infinity-U display, triple rear cameras, an in-display fingerprint sensor and a powerful Exynos chipset, which potentially makes it a great all-rounder in this segment.
Galaxy A50 Design
Samsung has given up on the all-metal design for its smartphones, opting either for glass or plastic designs instead. It's a natural progression, and one Samsung had to take to make its phones look and feel like they belong in 2019. The Galaxy A50 goes with a 3D plastic panel on the back that nicely curves around the sides and seamlessly meets the frame. It a good quality plastic being used here that feels premium and almost glass-like to the touch. It is smooth to the touch, but not quite slippery which is a good thing.
The panel is offered in three colours - black, white and blue - all of which come with a stunning gradient finish. I received the black colour as my review unit, but it is actually more of a dark gray colour rather than a deep black. The panel gives off a gorgeous rainbow-like effect as light hits the surface. The effect looks quite attractive and isn't too loud either.The panel is glossy enough to attract a lot of fingerprints and smudges and is highly noticeable on the black colour variant. Without a cover, the panel will see scratches and scuffs after a few days.
Apart from a triple camera setup on the top left corner and the Samsung branding, the rear panel is clean and offers a very fluid, watery look thanks to the rounded corners. There is no physical fingerprint sensor as Samsung has opted for an optical in-display fingerprint sensor on the front, which is nice to see in this price segment.
The Galaxy A50 offers a slim profile at 7.7mm thickness and is also pretty lightweight. The metal frame offers a solid structure to the device that will make sure it doesn't bend or break easily. The power and volume buttons on the right side of the frame are perfectly placed for ease of reach and they also offer a nice tactile feel. The left side of the frame sees a SIM tray that supports two Nano SIM cards and a microSD card. You also see a 3.5mm headphone jack and a speaker grille on either sides of a USB Type-C port.
Galaxy A50 Display
The Galaxy A50 sports a 6.4-inch FHD+ (2340x1080) Super AMOLED Infinity-U display, which is awfully similar to the Galaxy M30. The bezels are quite thin around the top and sides with a chin that isn't too thick, allowing for a screen-to-body ratio that's over 90 per cent. If you keep the Galaxy M30 and Galaxy A50 next to each other, you won't be able to tell them apart. Like the Galaxy M-series phones, the outline of the notch lights up when using face unlock or the selfie camera.
The AMOLED display on the Galaxy A50 looks absolutely radiant, vivid and sharp with plenty of brightness and good viewing angles that make it easy to view even under harsh sunlight. The colours are punchy and saturated with deep blacks that makes One UI's system-wide Dark Mode look even better.
The Galaxy A50 offers a rich display that makes it a pleasant experience to watch videos and play games on. The droplet notch is barely intrusive and some of the apps are not yet optimised so you get a black bar that hides the notch by default. The Galaxy A50 supports the Widevine L1 standard for streaming content on platforms like Netflix in true 1080p resolution.
Galaxy A50 Performance and Software
The new Galaxy A-series phone is powered by a new 2.3GHz octa-core Exynos 9610 chipset based on a 10nm FinFET process. The chipset consists of four Cortex-A73 with clock speeds up to 2.3GHz for performance-intensive tasks and four Cortex A-53 cores clocked at up to 1.6GHz. The Exynos 9610 SoC also embeds an ARM Mali-G72 MP3 GPU. This is paired with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM. We received the 4GB RAM variant as our review unit.
The Exynos 9610 is a performance-oriented processor that is capable of delivering a consistently smooth experience during intensive usage such as multitasking, running heavy apps and gaming. The Galaxy A50's RAM management isn't really aggressive and switching between open apps is pretty efficient and lag-free. Based on my usage of the Galaxy A50, the new Exynos 9610 looks like an impressive mid-range chipset that is perhaps on par with a Snapdragon 660 or 675 SoC.
Gaming performance on the Galaxy A50 has been a pleasant experience for the most part. PUBG runs on medium graphics by default and you get a consistently smooth performance with no noticeable lag or stuttering. The experience remains pretty much the same even after bumping the graphics to high. The handset gets a bit warm during a 30 minute session but doesn't get uncomfortably hot.
What makes the experience even better is Samsung's new One UI software. The Galaxy A50 ships with Android Pie-based One UI, which is great to see. This gives it an edge over the Galaxy M30, if you're confused between the two phones. The M30 runs on Oreo, while the A50 is more up-to-date. During our review period, the A50 even received two minor software updates to improve the fingerprint sensor and camera picture quality along with the March security patch.
One UI is Samsung's best software redesign yet in my opinion. It brings a cleaner, easier-to-use UI with large icons and easy one-handed use. The biggest change to the design is that the action buttons are now placed on the bottom half of the display leaving the top half mostly blank for headers and content. While this does leave a lot of blank space, it does make the UI easier to use. More than anything else, it is a UI that your parents and grandparents will love to use, if they want clutter-free, easy to navigate UI.
That being said, Samsung is still offering bloatware with One UI. One of the more annoying issues takes place during the initial setup process where a notification from an app called IronSource ends up installing a bunch of spammy apps like Calculator, myTuner Radio, ShareChat and Candy Crush Saga. These are ad-fueled apps that can be uninstalled if you happened to install them initially.
While the in-display fingerprint sensor does look appealing for a sub-Rs 20,000 phone, it isn't the best feature about the Galaxy A50. The sensor is pretty slow when it comes to recognising and unlocking the phone. It usually takes a few seconds to do so and you will need to keep your finger placed on that specific area of the display firmly until it does the job. It works even with the display turned off, and you also get a ripple effect animation similar to the one on the Galaxy S10.
Galaxy A50 Camera
Triple cameras have somewhat become a staple feature on Samsung phones. The Galaxy M30 has a triple camera setup and so does the Galaxy A50. The Galaxy A50 arguably gets a better set of sensors with a 25MP f/1.7 primary camera along with a 5MP depth and 8MP ultra wide-angle cameras.
The camera app is familiar and easy to get used to if you're a first-time Samsung user. The leaf icon toggle lets you switch between regular and ultra wide-angle with just a tap. You also get options like Live Focus that lets you manually adjust the level of background blur, Pro mode, slow motion (480fps at 720p) and hyperlapse, among others.
In daylight conditions, photos typically look sharp from the primary camera. There's a good amount of detail and colours often look rich and vibrant thanks to the AMOLED display, but I did find instances when the camera overexposed photos. If you feel the photos look a little too oversaturated, you can change the display type in Settings for a toned down, natural-looking colours.
The Galaxy A50 doesn't offer great low-light photography. While the wide f/1.7 aperture does allows for more light to come in, leading to brighter photos, there is a lack in clarity and sharpness. The Galaxy A50 misses a dedicated night mode feature that brands like Oppo and Xiaomi are introducing in the affordable segment. Computational photography is the way forward when it comes to improving low-light photos, and Samsung needs to jump on that bandwagon soon.
The ultra wide-angle lens is becoming a common sight on Samsung phones this year with phones as cheap as the Galaxy M10 and as high-end as the Galaxy S10+ getting a wide-angle lens. It is a neat little option to have as you sometimes find yourself wanting to capture a wider area of say a landmark or people in large groups. Picture quality via the 8MP ultra wide-angle camera is just about good enough in daylight conditions as long as you don't zoom in. There isn't a lot of detail or sharpness, and exposure levels are low as well so I wouldn't recommend using the lens in low-light.
The Galaxy A50 also offers a 25MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture. Selfies definitely look clean on the Galaxy A50 with plenty of sharpness and detail when taken in good lighting conditions. There is some softening that happens with beauty mode enabled by default, but you can always turn it off to get more natural-looking selfies.
Galaxy A50 Battery
I feel the biggest takeaway right now is how much the battery life has improved on Samsung phones in 2019. The company has been generous in the battery department for most of its phones that have launched already, and the Galaxy A50 is no exception. The device houses a 4,000mAh battery, which is sufficient for a full day to a day and a half depending on your usage.
The Galaxy A50 supports fast charging, and you get a 15W adaptive fast charger with the box. It takes about 30 minutes to charge the device to 30 per cent, and a little less than two hours to fully charge the phone.
Should you buy the Galaxy A50?
The Galaxy A50 doesn't give you a lot of reasons to complain about. While its price point does put it in the company of the Poco F1, the Galaxy A50 still manages to hold its own. Sure, the performance may not be as snappy as what you get on the Poco F1, but the new Exynos 9610 offers a satisfying performance in this segment and the One UI software experience makes the A50 a delight to use.
You may wonder whether it is worth going for the Galaxy A50 when there is a perfectly good Galaxy M30 available for a lower price. Indeed, when it comes to the display, both the devices offer similar vivid and sharp AMOLED panels. The Galaxy M30 is one of the best phones you can get under Rs 15,000, but the Galaxy A50 looks and feels more premium. It is a phone that you would love to flaunt around. It also runs on a newer One UI software and gets a more powerful Exynos chipset, and it is definetly worth spending a little extra on to get these benefits.