“Our two cents on Samsung’s most powerful handset in the A series — the Galaxy A50”
As per a recent report from IDC (International Data Corporation), Korean tech giant Samsung has lost a good chunk of its market share to numerous Chinese OEMs in India. Be it Xiaomi, which displaced the brand from its top spot, or phonemakers like Realme and Honor, the company is facing competition left, right and centre. But Samsung isn’t one to take things lying down, and the Chaebol’s latest smartphones are well-equipped to take the fight straight to the Chinese influx.
The company started its battle with the Galaxy M series, and now it’s expanding that with the launch of a trio of smartphones in the Galaxy A series. The devices in the A series are priced quite competitively, and yet come packed with powerful features. One such handset is the Galaxy A50 (first impressions), which I’ve been testing for the better part of a week. If you were thinking about picking the device up, then read on to know about its strengths and weaknesses.
Design and display
Samsung has a penchant for designing good-looking smartphones, but it refrained from bringing that to the affordable segment. The Galaxy A50 turns that notion on its head. The device comes clad in a polycarbonate shell, but I’m willing to bet that the smartphone’s glossy finish will fool you into thinking that it’s made of glass. The device looks straight out of a chic boutique store and it comes in numerous peppy hues. However, buyers residing in India will be limited to Black, Blue and White colourways of the device. That’s a bit of a bummer, as the bright orange variant of the smartphone I checked out at MWC Barcelona looked other-worldly.
That said, the all-black paint job on my review unit looks dazzling too, especially when rays of light strike its back to show off an iridescent glow. Samsung has even paid heed to the little things, such as keeping the camera bump to the minimum, thereby ensuring you can use the device even when it’s put flat on a table. What’s more, the physical buttons are adequately tactile, and there’s even an in-display fingerprint sensor on the device — making it one of the most affordable smartphones to boast an invisible fingerprint reader. Now, granted, it’s not the quickest in the market, but the scanner has been positioned within thumb’s reach under the display and was reliable enough during my testing too.
You’ll also get a 3.5mm headphone socket with the device, which is always a welcome sight along with a USB Type-C port for charging, bringing up Samsung’s affordable handset up to the speed with the competition.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 offers a remarkable in-hand grip too. The device nestles comfortably in the palms owing to its tapered back which blends seamlessly into the edges. The corners have been rounded off as well, which coupled with the smartphone’s sleek girth ensure that you won’t feel the device pressing against your thighs when it’s inside the pocket of your jeans. And, thanks in no small part to its sleek bezels, the 6.4-inch display on the Galaxy A50 can be operated with just one hand quite comfortably.
The design of the smartphone is not without its flaws though. The back panel of the device is a fingerprint magnet and the smartphone doesn’t feel as premium in the hand like a proper glass-back phone either. But, on the whole, the smartphone’s design is up there with the most stylish offerings in this segment.
As I mentioned previously, the Galaxy A50 ships with a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, which bears an FHD+ resolution. Unsurprisingly, consuming content on the device is a visual treat, especially since the panel features a tiny Infinity-U notch which isn’t as intrusive as a traditional camera cut-out. What’s more, Samsung has added a bunch of cool animations to highlight the smartphone’s U-shaped notch too and there’s a transition effect when you unlock the phone using facial recognition or switch to the selfie camera in the camera app. The panel has excellent viewing angles too and it gets reasonably bright as well. All in all, the display on the Galaxy A50 is among the best in its class and I expected no less from Samsung.
Performance and software
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is backed by the company’s in-house Exynos 9610 octa-core processor which in the case of my review unit, worked alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of user-expandable storage. However, buyers looking for a bit more grunt can opt for a 6GB RAM variant of the device too.
Now, the Exynos 9610 utilises ARM’s older Cortex-A73 performance cores which work in conjunction with battery-efficient Cortex A53 cores. Consequently, you should expect better performance from a smartphone which is backed by newer Cortex-A75 or A76 performance cores, such as the recently launched Redmi Note 7 Pro. With that out of the way, I can confirm that the performance of the A50 isn’t all that bad either.
Apps opened swiftly on the device and for the most part, multitasking was buttery smooth too. The smartphone did struggle to render animations cleanly when I was juggling between resource hungry applications like Twitter and Chrome, but that can be boiled down to the 4GB RAM model I was using. In the gaming department, the handset breezed through casual titles like Clash Royale and Alto’s Adventure, however, I had to tone down the graphics setting in demanding games like PUBG. Even then, there were some significant frame drops during intense battles, which made me lose a lot more than I otherwise would. Therefore, if you’re a hard-core gamer, then the similarly priced POCO F1 (review) is where your money should be at.
As for the battery life, the Samsung Galaxy A50 ships with a 4,000mAh cell which managed to last me a full day on heavy usage. To give you a better picture, my usage involved juggling between various social media apps like Fenix, WhatsApp and Instagram, playing a Classic game of PUBG Mobile and listening to songs on Apple Music. By the time I hit the bed, the device had clocked in over four hours of screen on time, which is quite an impressive number.
Samsung has really upped the ante in the software department and the Galaxy A50 boots the company’s One UI on top of Android Pie. I’ve always disliked the company’s custom skin, but the brand’s all-new One UI comes across as a breath of fresh air. The skin is quite minimalistic and comes bundled with practical features like an all-dark mode, a device manager and navigational gestures. What’s more, the company has deployed some clever animations to better the UI experience. For instance, swiping down on the home-screen brings down the notification tray, but the kicker is that when you swipe down on the display again, the icons at the top are lowered further, making them more accessible to someone with tiny hands. Everything considered, it was about time Samsung improved its software and with One UI, the company has genuinely outdone itself.
Samsung is no stranger to furnishing its devices with multiple cameras and the Galaxy A50 too features a triple-camera array towards the back comprising a 25MP f/1.7 standard shooter, an 8MP wide-angle lens with a 123-degree of field of view and a 5MP depth sensor. For selfies, the smartphone comes with a 25MP f/2.0 sensor.
Clearly, Samsung is going all out in the photography department and it shows. The handset managed to click some incredible shots and barring a handful of issues, I don’t have any complaints with the A50’s cameras. I’ll sum up my experience with the smartphone in the form of bullet points, so here we go:
1) The Samsung Galaxy A50’s primary 25MP shooter clicks phenomenal photos. The pics I shot with the phone in broad daylight had ample amounts of details, exhibited punchy colours and showcased quite possibly the best dynamic range I’ve seen on any affordable Samsung smartphone.
2) The handset comes with a scene optimiser, toggling which, the pictures look much more dramatic. I loved using this mode to click cloudy skies and sunsets, as the colours appeared more vivid and the different shades of grey in the clouds were highlighted more prominently. However, I’ll advise you against clicking macros of red / orange flowers with the feature turned on as the smartphone botches up the details in the petals quite a bit.
3) The HDR mode works really well on the device. Pictures clicked with the HDR turned on had noticeably more details in the shadows, and on the whole, the scene just felt more appealing to the eyes.
4) The wide-angle shooter gets exceptionally wide, which although helps you paint on a much, much bigger canvas, also creates a distinctive fisheye effect. Regardless, unlike most other devices which leverage a wider lens, the Galaxy A50’s module doesn’t skimp on the details. It should be noted that the scene optimizer works on the wide-angle lens as well.
5) Despite shipping with a 5MP depth sensor, the Samsung Galaxy A50 didn’t create a convincing blur effect in portrait shots. Often, the blur effect crept into the parts I wanted in focus, which wasn’t what I was expecting.
6) The 25MP front camera on the Galaxy A50 is downright excellent and there was nary an instance when I didn’t enjoy a selfie I’d taken with the smartphone. The pictures had a ton of details and unlike most smartphones from Chinese OEMs, the beauty mode on the A50 can actually be turned ‘off’. What’s more, the smartphone didn’t overexpose the background when the source of light was behind me and instead, retained the information by cleverly tweaking and exposing the frame.
Suffice it to say, if you’ve got a penchant for photography, then Samsung’s Galaxy A50 won’t disappoint you.
In my books, the Galaxy A50 is Samsung’s best attempt yet to fend off the Chinese competition. The smartphone offers a gorgeous design, a stunning display, long-lasting battery life, excellent cameras, and good performance, all while being priced quite competitively. The handset starts at Rs 19,990, which honestly, is a really good price from Samsung. In fact, after a long time, I don’t feel that buyers have to pay a premium to get a capable smartphone from the company.
Unfortunately, the pricing is still not competitive enough to sway gamers away from the Snapdragon 845-toting Poco F1. Moreover, the recently launched Redmi Note 7 Pro could give the A50 a run for its money too as it features a slightly more powerful CPU, comes with Sony’s 48MP imaging sensor and costs much less.
However, for all the Samsung loyalists, the Galaxy A50 is a stellar buy, and if this is a sign of things to come, I can’t wait for the more offerings from the South Korean giant in the affordable and mid-budget segments.
Editor’s Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Excellent display
- Capable cameras
- Streamlined software experience
- Performance could’ve been better
- Overshadowed by Chinese offerings