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Samsung Galaxy A51: Useful tweaks make it better than peers, predecessors

Compared to predecessors, the Samsung Galaxy A51 brings incremental upgrades in performance, design and imaging. Its new UI has surprise elements that improve the user experience a lot

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 

Samsung Galaxy A51
Samsung Galaxy A51

South Korean electronics maker has begun its 2020 smartphone journey with the launch of the Galaxy A51. Priced at Rs 24,000 (6GB/128GB), this midrange smartphone brings several upgrades to the last year’s Galaxy A50 and A50s. Among noticeable changes is design, which seems to be inspired by the company’s upcoming flagship in the Galaxy S-series line-up.

On paper, the Galaxy A51 seems to be a rehashed version of the Galaxy A50s, with a new format of display, improved optics and enhanced user interface (OneUI 2.0). Do these upgrades make the Galaxy A51 truly better than its predecessor? Let’s find out:

Design

The Galaxy A51 has got minor but noticeable design changes when compared with the Galaxy A50 and A50s. Like its predecessors, the phone is made of polycarbonate with glass-like gradient design on the back. It has a slightly raised rectangular quad-camera module on the back and a tiny punch-hole display on the front. Other than these changes, the phone looks quite like its predecessors. It has a slim profile, with a power button and volume rocker keys on the right side, and dual SIM with microSD card slot on the left of the chassis. The top is left blank with a tiny opening for a secondary microphone. At the bottom, the phone has a 3.5mm audio port, USB type-C port for charging and data transfer, a primary microphone opening and a five-hole speaker grille.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Display

With a new display format, the Galaxy A51 has managed to fit a tad bigger screen estate of 6.5 inches. It is a super AMOLED unit of a fullHD+ resolution, stretched in a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. You would appreciate for squeezing the punch-hole diameter on the A51 display, making it less intrusive into on-screen content.

Samsung Galaxy A51

As for the quality, the super AMOLED screen looks vivid and has good sunlight legibility. AMOLED screens are known for their deep blacks and good contrast ratios, and the Galaxy A51’s screen is no different. The screen supports the always-on mode, which shows relevant information and notification icons even on locked screen. It also boasts an in-display fingerprint scanner – an optical fingerprint recognition sensor under the display. This biometric module proves handy while unlocking the phone. However, it is neither fast nor accurate.

Camera

The Galaxy A51 has a quad-camera module on the back, featuring a 48-megapixel primary sensor of an f/2.0 aperture, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, a 5MP depth sensor and a 5MP macro sensor. Except the depth sensor, the other three sensors have independent utilities. The depth sensor works only for live photos to add the Bokeh effect in the background. On the front, the phone has a 32MP selfie camera.

Samsung Galaxy A51

Besides adding a macro sensor on the back and giving a front camera with higher megapixels, has also improved the imaging features in the Galaxy A51. The phone supports night mode for low-light photography which works with both primary and ultra-wide sensors. Additionally, the night mode is also available for selfies.

In terms of performance, the camera takes satisfactory shots in good light but comes across as weak in low light. The primary lens works optimally in most lighting conditions, but requires steady hands in low light. The ultra-wide lens takes good shots in daylight conditions but struggles in low light. Moreover, the shots taken by the ultra-wide angle lens shows a fish-eye effect (curved distortion on the sides). Similarly, the macro sensor requires good light conditions to work well. The rear cameras support the scene optimiser mode, which automatically detects scenes and adjusts settings best suited for the frame. However, it is slow and does not recognise even basic scenes like food and pet at times.

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Ultra-wide

A51 camera sample: Ultra-wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Wide

A51 camera sample: Wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Macro

A51 camera sample: Macro

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Live Focus

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Live Focus

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Ultra-wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Ultra-wide

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range

The front camera, on the other hand, delivers good results in all light conditions. It is best suited for selfies and group selfies, as the lens supports a wide field of view (FoV).

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range (ultra-wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range (ultra-wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range (Wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Dynamic range (Wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light (Ultra-wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light (Ultra-wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light (wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light (wide)

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light

Samsung Galaxy A51 camera sample: Low-light

Performance

The Galaxy A51’s performance is a mixed bag of hits and misses. Powered by Exynos 9611 system-on-chip and Google Android 10 operating system-based OneUI 2.0 user interface, the phone handles everyday tasks without any glitches. Put it to heavy duty jobs, however, and the phone starts to show inconsistencies. It is not a phone on which you would enjoy playing graphic-intensive games at their highest graphic settings, as it tends to skip frame rates, hampering the overall experience. Similarly, recording long videos warms up the phone. Other than these limitations, the phone is a delight.

The OneUI 2.0 comes with several new features that improve the user experience. The phone’s built-in messaging app now features a new ‘useful cards’ window, along with conversations and contacts windows which accumulate all promotional messages at one place and present them in card formats. Moreover, the useful cards window has tabs to filter messages (all, upcoming and offers). Besides, Samsung has also improved its native keyboard, which makes texting easier.

Another useful improvement is in phone’s search, which now allows you to find relevant results from apps, app store, system settings, etc. For example, you no more need to open an e-commerce app to search for new shoes. Instead, just type the search query and it reflects results directly on the search window.

Battery

Powering the device is a 4,000 mAh battery, which is good enough to keep it going for almost a day. The charging time is also quick, thanks to the supplied 15W fast charger; the phone takes around two hours to charge the battery from zero to 100 per cent.

Verdict

Compared to predecessors, the Samsung Galaxy A51 brings incremental upgrades in terms of performance, design and imaging. However, its new user interface has surprise elements that improve the user experience a lot, making it a better than peers and predecessors. It is important to note that the Galaxy A51 enjoys this exclusivity until these software-related features are rolled out as part of software upgrade to the Samsung of previous generations. Once that happens, the Galaxy A51 will lose its charm.

First Published: Wed, January 29 2020. 17:01 IST
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