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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Large and vibrant screen
Sleek aesthetic, albeit plastic
Strong battery life
Takes pretty good photos
Great value for price
Spotty in-display fingerprint sensor
Recurring performance hitches
So-so sound quality
Although light on power, the Samsung Galaxy A50 is a great pick for anyone seeking a big, eye-catching phone without a big price tag to match.
Much like Google did with its Pixel 3a, Samsung’s Galaxy A50 takes the essence of a several-hundred-dollar flagship phone and transplants it into a much, much cheaper midrange handset. It does so with compromises, of course—you get plastic instead of glass on the back, for example, and the phone doesn’t have nearly the same kind of horsepower onboard.
What’s impressive is how much of the Galaxy S experience remains intact on the Galaxy A50, which still looks like a high-end phone, has a very good triple-camera setup, and boasts an excellent screen. And it’s just half the price of the top-end phones it emulates.
At a glance, the Samsung Galaxy A50 seems to easily sit alongside its pricier brethren. It has a sleek design that’s nearly all-screen on the front, aside from the small waterdrop notch for the selfie camera, as well as a “chin” of bezel at the bottom. And the back has the same kind of gleaming, reflective finish that makers like Samsung and Huawei have been packing on their phones, with the blue finish giving off rainbow-like flourishes when the light hits it just right.
However, the Galaxy A50 doesn’t have the same glossy glass backing or aluminum frame as the Galaxy S10 and other high-end Samsungs. It’s plastic for both, but at least the overall look is still stylish and refined. It doesn’t look like a cut-rate phone, even if the materials aren’t quite as premium. Besides, the Galaxy A50 keeps the 3.5mm headphone port that is gradually disappearing from pricier phones (including the new Galaxy Note10). However, the A50 doesn’t offer any kind of IP rating for water or dust resistance.
What’s impressive is how much of the Galaxy S experience remains intact on the Galaxy A50, which still looks like a high-end phone, has a very good triple-camera setup, and boasts an excellent screen.
The A50 also has a premium-sounding perk in the form of an in-display fingerprint sensor—but it doesn’t work very well. It shares that unfortunate quality with the in-display sensor from the Galaxy S10, which uses ultrasonic technology rather than the optical scanner here. We had times where it worked just fine, albeit not as speedily as in flagship rivals, but also many times where it just wouldn’t recognize our registered finger at all. We ended up using the Galaxy A50’s camera-based facial recognition, which is less secure (as it’s just a 2D camera) but significantly more functional.
Samsung ships a modest 64GB of internal storage in the Galaxy A50, but you can expand that out significantly with an optional microSD card—up to 512GB in size.
Setting up the Galaxy A50 is a breeze. Just hold in the power button on the right to fire it up, then follow the on-screen software prompts to agree to the terms and conditions of use, log into your Google account (and Samsung too, if you choose), and choose from a few settings. After this, you should be good to go.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 has a big and bright 6.4-inch Full HD+ (1080p) Super AMOLED display—and amazingly, there’s almost no compromise here. While the colors look a bit more over-saturated than on Samsung’s flagship panels, the display otherwise is very crisp and clear with strong contrast.
Put side-by-side with the 6.3-inch 1080p screen of the $950 Galaxy Note10, we were hard-pressed to spot obvious quality differences. If you like a big screen, it’s even larger than the 6-inch panel on the Pixel 3 XL ($480), let alone the 5.6-inch screen of the Pixel 3a ($400).
Ultimately, performance is the biggest tell that you’re using a lower-end phone. Samsung opted to use its own octa-core Exynos 9610 chip with 4GB RAM, and while it can keep up with navigating around Android most of the time, there are semi-regular hitches and bits of slowdown. It can be slow to open apps and games, as well. That’s not a deal-breaker as it still works well as an everyday phone, but the A50 is also clearly no speed demon.
It scored a 5,757 in PCMark’s Work 2.0 benchmark test, which is lower than the 6,015 we recorded on the Motorola Moto G7 with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 chip, and much lower than the 7,413 seen with the Pixel 3a’s more powerful Snapdragon 660 onboard.
It still works well as an everyday phone, but the A50 is clearly no speed demon.
Despite that, we were pleasantly surprised to see the Galaxy A50 hold up okay as a gaming device. The benchmark numbers aren’t great, but they’re much better than the Moto G7’s; we scored 8.4 frames per second (fps) on GFXBench’s Car Chase demo, and 37fps in the T-Rex demo. But when playing actual games, the performance was solid. Slick racing game Asphalt 9: Legends ran decently well, and the nicely-scalable battle royale shooter PUBG Mobile played well with modest graphical downgrades. Unfortunately, you can’t play the Android version of Fortnite, it doesn’t support the Galaxy A50’s processor, so it won’t even start.
The Galaxy A50 delivered the same kind of speeds we’re used to seeing on Verizon’s 4G LTE network just north of Chicago: about 30-35Mbps download and roughly 7-11Mbps upload. Samsung’s phone works just fine on both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks, as well.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy A50 doesn’t have high-quality sound to match the high-quality screen. Mono output comes through the small speaker at the bottom of the phone, and while the quality is fine for watching videos, it’s too tinny and limited-sounding to play at high volume or try to fill a room with. Call quality was quite good in our testing, however, both through the earpiece and speakerphone.
With three back cameras, the Galaxy A50 appears to be as well-equipped as most flagship phones these days. However, the 5-megapixel sensor is just there to capture depth data so you’re essentially getting a dual-camera setup here.
The 25-megapixel (f/1.7 aperture) main camera does a pretty good job of capturing detail, typically delivering crisp and colorful shots that are Instagram and Facebook-ready. Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel (f/2.2) camera effectively zooms out of a shot to deliver a much broader view. The results aren’t as sharp up-close as with the main camera, but once again, they’re solid for sharing with friends on social media.
With a meaty 4,000mAh battery cell inside, the Galaxy A50 is built to last.
Zooming in, the photos aren’t nearly as detailed as you’ll see on higher-end flagships, and the A50 can’t deliver the same kind of nuance when it comes to color saturation or capturing highlights, plus the dynamic range isn’t nearly as wide. But we got better shots than with one of the A50’s key rivals, the $300 Moto G7, although the $400 Pixel 3a still delivers significantly more detail and color richness.
Note that the Galaxy A50 doesn’t shoot 4K video—it’s limited to 1080p, but even then, the results were sharp and fluid. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera is also at 25 megapixels, and it takes great selfies.
With a meaty 4,000mAh battery cell inside, the Galaxy A50 is built to last. We typically ended a day with about 35-40 percent of charge remaining, which means you have a buffer for a long night out or perhaps a heavier day of streaming media and gaming. For a budget-friendly phone to give you some extra breathing room is a welcome treat, although there are alternatives with even better battery life—such as the Moto G7 Power, with its 5,000mAh pack.
There’s no wireless charging onboard, as that’s a benefit saved for much pricier handsets, but the 15W wired fast-charger charger will give you a pretty speedy top-up when needed.
The Galaxy A50 runs Android 9 Pie with the same kind of One UI interface seen on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10. It’s an elegant skin that’s much cleaner and less cumbersome than Samsung’s Android skins of old (in case you’ve used them). Samsung has made legitimately useful and attractive tweaks to Android, with an eye towards simplicity and easy navigation. It still has all of the advanced capabilities offered by Android, but more casual smartphone users will likely appreciate Samsung’s enhancements here.
Samsung has made legitimately useful and attractive tweaks to Android, with an eye towards simplicity and easy navigation.
At $350, the Galaxy A50 feels like a great deal. With a stellar screen, sleek design, solid triple-camera setup, and excellent battery life, it shows how much phone you can get without spending an arm and a leg on a flagship device. Granted, $50 makes a pretty significant difference in this price range, and just as the A50 brings perks over the $300 Moto G7, the $400 Pixel 3a has advantages over the Galaxy A50.
The biggest of the aforementioned advantages comes with the Pixel 3a’s single camera, which is carried over from the pricier flagship Pixel 3. It takes some of the best shots we’ve seen on a smartphone. You’ll get super-detailed, well-judged shots from one camera that is routinely better than anything the A50 can do with three cameras. Also, the Pixel 3a has a faster processor, which means less bouts of lag during usage, and the back-mounted fingerprint sensor is super reliable.
We think it’s worth the extra $50—the Pixel 3a is the best new $400 phone available today. However, if you want the larger 6-inch screen of the Pixel 3a XL, then you’re looking at a $130 increase over the Galaxy A50. That might be a tougher call to make.
Another great Galaxy.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is one of the most impressive phones you can buy for under $400, with a stylish design that echoes Samsung’s premium flagships, a sharp screen, a very good camera setup, and strong battery life. It’s a little sluggish, unfortunately, and the fingerprint sensor is frustratingly hit-or-miss, but those are tolerable qualms for what is overall a great deal.