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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Extensive battery life
Big, beautiful screen
No water resistance
Unlocked doesn't work on Verizon 5G
The Galaxy A71 5G is a sensible, well-rounded, 5G-capable mid-range phone, though it's edged out by the Pixel 4a 5G.
We purchased the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
The lines are blurring between mid-range and flagship phones as device makers attempt to create the most appealing combinations of features at varying price points. Google’s Pixel 5 is one such example, pairing flagship perks with a less-powerful processor. Samsung’s Galaxy A71 5G is another such device, one that looks and (mostly) feels like a top-end flagship phone but makes a few smart tweaks to shave down the price point.
There’s a lot of competition in this space, especially if you push $100 higher or lower, but the Galaxy A71 5G could deliver the right mix of features for many prospective phone buyers. It’s not the fastest or fanciest phone around, but the large screen looks great, performance is still snappy, the battery lasts and lasts, and you can tap into 5G speeds. Just make sure you get a version tailored to your carrier, as the unlocked edition doesn’t support all 5G networks.
Just as the price point straddles the line between categories, so too does the build. Plastic backing is common for more affordable phones, and it’s here in a lone Prism Cube Black style that has a subtle prismatic effect on the back. It doesn’t look or feel cheap at all, however. And that curved plastic backing is paired with an aluminum frame that is weighty and sleek, giving the phone a more premium allure.
The A71 5G doesn’t have some of the visual flourishes—like a curvy frame or distinctive camera module—that help define Samsung’s top-end phones, but otherwise, there’s little here to give away the fact that this is a more modest handset. Given the large 6.7-inch screen, this is a sizable phone. Still, it’s both lighter and narrower than some phones with a screen this large (like Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max), and I found it pretty easy to handle for a huge phone.
Unlike Samsung’s pricier phones, however, the Galaxy A71 5G doesn’t have an IP rating for dust and water resistance, and there are no assurances that it’ll be fine after taking an unexpected dive into a puddle or bathtub. Tread carefully, as such. On the plus side, you do get a 3.5mm headphone port on the bottom, and those are missing from most flagships these days. The Galaxy A71 5G comes with a solid 128GB of internal storage, and you can boost that tally by inserting a microSD memory card.
The Galaxy A71 5G has a bold and beautiful 6.7-inch Full HD+ (1080x2400) OLED panel, which serves up excellent contrast and deep black levels. It’s crisp and clear and solidly bright, although you don’t get the benefit of a faster 120Hz refresh rate seen on the Galaxy S20 and S21, which provides smoother transitions and animations. That’s a nice-to-have feature, though, and this is still a great screen for a phone this price.
We’ve seen cheaper phones with poor-quality screens this size, such as the LG K92 5G, but this is one of the most affordable phones that’ll get you a great, enormous display.
We’ve seen cheaper phones with poor-quality screens this size, such as the LG K92 5G, but this is one of the most affordable phones that’ll get you a great, enormous display. The in-screen fingerprint sensor is solidly responsive here, too.
Setting up this Android 10-powered phone is very similar to setting up other recent Android devices. Simply hold in the power button on the right side of the frame to start up the phone, and then follow the on-screen prompts to get the phone ready to use. It’s a straightforward process that includes signing into a Google account, reading and accepting the terms and conditions, and choosing whether or not to copy data from another phone or a saved backup.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB RAM alongside, which is the very same setup as Google’s Pixel 4a 5G. Like that phone, the Galaxy A71 5G feels smooth and responsive the vast majority of the time, with only occasional hints of sluggishness here and there. More powerful handsets with flagship-level chips tend to feel snappier and score higher in benchmark testing, but I didn’t feel disadvantaged while using the A71 5G.
In benchmark testing, the Galaxy A71 5G scored 7,940 in PCMark’s Work 2.0 test. That’s almost identical to the score from the LG K92 5G, which felt much more sluggish by comparison. The Pixel 4a 5G recorded a faster score of 8,378, meanwhile, but the phones feel similarly smooth and responsive in day-to-day usage.
The Galaxy A71 5G feels smooth and responsive the vast majority of the time, with only occasional hints of sluggishness here and there.
The Galaxy A71 5G does a solid job with 3D gaming, but it’s no high-end performer on that front. I played a bit of Fortnite, which is still available via Samsung’s Galaxy Store, and it ran decently enough but was choppy at times, with parts of the environment popping into view much closer than expected. The phone also got pretty warm during play. Still, it’s playable, and less demanding games will run perfectly fine. In benchmark testing, the A71 5G put up 18 frames per second in GFXBench’s demanding Car Chase demo and 60fps in the T-Rex demo, both of which are a step up from the Pixel 4a 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is compatible with the most prevalent sub-6Ghz spectrum of 5G connectivity, but there’s a hitch: the unlocked edition, which we tested, does not work on Verizon’s 5G network. Verizon’s network currently features both sub-6Ghz (5G Nationwide) and faster-but-sparse mmWave (5G Ultra Wideband) connectivity, but you can’t even get the former to work on the unlocked Galaxy A71 5G. I tried! There’s a Verizon-centric version of the phone that supports all of the carrier’s 5G spectrum and sells for $50 more than the unlocked version.
I tested the unlocked Galaxy A71 5G on T-Mobile’s 5G network instead. The results can vary widely by location. When in my usual testing area just north of Chicago, I typically recorded download speeds between 50-65Mbps, which isn’t much faster than 4G LTE. However, when I tested in Chicago, I hit a peak download speed of 180Mbps on T-Mobile’s network. It’s still early days in 5G deployment, so depending on where you are, the benefits may or may not be very noticeable. But that should improve and become more consistent in time.
Curiously, the Galaxy A71 5G doesn’t use the earpiece above the screen as a complementary speaker, so you only get audio playback through the bottom-firing mono speaker. As you might expect, then, the sound quality isn’t great. The A71 5G gets loud but sounds confined given the single, small speaker, and it’s pretty easy to cover up the speaker while holding the phone. The earpiece sounds just fine for calls, and a lot of other phones use their earpiece to create a stereo effect for music, videos, gaming audio, and more. Not this one, though.
The Galaxy A71 5G packs in four back cameras—three actively usable—on the back, headlined by a 48-megapixel main sensor. It’s joined by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, a 5-megapixel macro sensor, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor that simply aids the other cameras by capturing depth data.
For the most part, the 48-megapixel main sensor does a good job of capturing detail and delivering crisp results in strong lighting, although the results tend to be a little overly vibrant in very typical Samsung fashion. Lower-light results are a bit more hit-or-miss, as sometimes the camera struggles to strike the right white balance or capture the clarity of the moment, but the night shooting mode does a solid job of illuminating darker scenes for usable shots.
The ultra-wide camera doesn’t produce quite as detailed results but is good for landscape and group shots when in good lighting. And the macro camera feels like a gimmick here, as it often does on mid-range and budget phones that include it rather than an infinitely more useful telephoto zoom lens. It can capture close-up detail, but at 5 megapixels, the results aren’t great.
It’s a better-than-average mid-range camera setup, but the Google Pixel 4a 5G still beats it on nuance and consistency.
All told, it’s a better-than-average mid-range camera setup, but the Google Pixel 4a 5G still beats it on nuance and consistency. The Pixel 4a 5G is better able to contend with low or challenging lighting conditions and produces more natural-looking results, while its night photos do a much better job of minimizing noise, maintaining nuanced contrast, and avoiding over-brightening.
Even with that huge screen, the Galaxy A71 5G is a battery life beast. This sizable 4,500mAh routinely left me with 50% or more of a charge remaining by the end of the night, and with modest use, you can feasibly get two full days out of this phone. I wasn’t expecting such battery life resilience, but between the mid-range processor and 60Hz screen, it only sips away at that charge. There’s no wireless charging here, which is typical for sub-flagship smartphones, but it does offer speedy 25W wired charging via the included power brick.
Even with that huge screen, the Galaxy A71 5G is a battery life beast.
Samsung’s take on Android 10 is attractive and useful, thanks to many years of gradual iteration. It’s not as minimal and straightforward as Google’s own stock take on the operating system, but it’s nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to ease of use and visual appeal. As mentioned, Android feels pretty smooth on this mid-range processor, and while you might occasionally encounter an app that takes an extra beat to open or load, it’s nothing that’ll hold you back.
It’s unclear exactly when the Galaxy A71 5G will receive the Android 11 update, as of this writing, although Samsung has committed to providing its phones with three years of Android updates going forward. That hopefully means that it will eventually receive the Android 13 update, should Google maintain the typical annual release cycle.
At a $600 list price, the Galaxy A71 5G is sandwiched in between rival options that offer either more/better perks for a little more cash or fewer/lesser features for a little less cash. It’s a very competitive space, but that’s ultimately good for consumers. The Galaxy A71 5G feels like a good value for the price, given the solid performance, great (and large) screen, premium-feeling build, and 5G support. And we’ve seen it marked down to $500 lately, which is even better.
Google’s Pixel 4a 5G is normally $499, but has a fully plastic shell for the frame and backing, and has a smaller 6.2-inch screen with a slightly less resilient battery. However, its dual-camera setup is more consistent and captures more nuance than the Galaxy A71 5G. Meanwhile, Samsung’s own overstocked lineup has the excellent Galaxy S20 FE 5G for just $699, and with that you get improved flagship-level performance, better cameras, a 120Hz 6.5-inch screen, and wireless charging in the mix. It’s a worthwhile upgrade if you can spare the extra cash, but if not, the Galaxy A71 5G is a compelling package on its own.
As mentioned above, there are a couple of key differences between these handsets, which are otherwise very comparable. Both provide similar performance thanks to the Snapdragon 765G chip, have great Full HD+ OLED displays, and serve up 5G support.
The Pixel 4a 5G is a bit smaller and doesn’t look or feel quite as premium with its plastic backing shell, and the battery life—while very good—is not quite as long-lasting as the Galaxy A71 5G. However, it has a more consistent camera setup that is rarely thrown for a loop even in lower-light conditions, and better night mode shooting results as well. At a list price of $499, the Pixel 4a 5G is a super-appealing option and today’s best phone for under $500.
A nice alternative to flagships.
If you don’t want to spend top money on a smartphone but still want something that looks and feels darn close to a flagship, the Galaxy A71 5G is a great option. Like all mid-range phones, it skimps on a few bits: there’s no water resistance rating and the speaker quality isn’t great, plus the cameras are just below top-class. But with a stellar screen, epic battery life, solid performance, and 5G support onboard, this is a very nice sub-flagship smartphone.
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