Samsung Galaxy A71 5G Review: A Drab, but Reliable Phone

Have you seen a Samsung Galaxy A before? It’s a series of smartphones for people who don’t want to spend $1,000 on a Galaxy S20. Samsung announced a whopping six new Galaxy A models for 2020, and they’ve been trickling out in the past few months.

I took the $400 Galaxy A51 for a spin in May, and my takeaway was that there are better phones for the same price. The newer Galaxy A71 5G doesn’t have as many compromises, but it commands a $600 price tag ($500 at Amazon). It, too, struggles to stand out in a crowded field, but with a better camera system and more reliable performance, it’s a great all-arounder worth considering.

Just the Basics

Photograph: Samsung

Perhaps the most disappointing two things about the A71 5G are that it lacks water resistance and wireless charging, the same as most phones in this price bracket except the LG Velvet. Considering Samsung has been including these features in its flagship phones for years, you’d think it would have figure out by now how to trickle them down to a phone that costs only $120 less than its top-of-the-line Galaxy S9 from 2018. Ah well.

If you can get past those two omissions, the A71 mostly delivers. It has a MicroSD card slot so you can expand its 128 gigabytes of storage if you need more space; a 4,500-mAh battery capacity to keep it running more than a full day; and a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen that could stand to get brighter outdoors but does the job.

Performance, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor and 6 GB of RAM, is ample, running games like Genshin Impact without much trouble. I noticed a few stutters here and there, but I never felt inconvenienced or hampered by them. It’ll run your apps and games just fine.

The A71’s body is plastic, which doesn’t feel as nice as glass yet attracts the same amount of smudges. But hey, it also won’t shatter if you drop it, and that’s always a plus.

It also has a headphone jack. You’ll want to use it, because the mono speaker at the bottom is easy to block with your hands when you’re holding the phone in landscape (widescreen) orientation to watch video or play a game.

The fingerprint sensor is under the display, and it’s not … great. It often takes two tries to identify my thumb. Registering the same fingerprint more than once helped, but you shouldn’t have to do that.

A Handful of Cameras

Like most phone makers, Samsung likes to cram in as many cameras as it can these days. There are a total of five here, including a 32-megapixel selfie camera. The main camera packs 64 megapixels, then there’s a 12-megapixel ultrawide, a 5-megapixel depth camera for improving the blur effect in portrait mode, and a 5-megapixel macro camera for extreme closeups.

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