“The Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 offer improvements to the essential device features that matter most,” Samsung says – those essential features being the display, performance and cameras. On paper, the Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 seem to be no-compromise mid-tier devices (hovering around the Rs 20,000 price bracket) that set out to get the basics right – which is a far cry from past Samsung Galaxy A phones. But there’s more to the Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 than meets the eye.
If you know a thing or two about Samsung’s Galaxy A phones, you’d probably know this – Samsung designed them to bring premium Galaxy S specs/experiences to the mass market. But back in the day, Samsung’s Galaxy A phones used to cost quite a bit (even though they were priced way lower than their Galaxy S counterparts) - around Rs 30,000 and more - probably because they were in fact, Galaxy S Lite devices made of glass and metal, and packed a lot of jazz like IP-rating to seemingly justify their high asking price. But with the arrival of OnePlus, things changed for Samsung, and not in a good way. And then, Xiaomi happened.
There’s no other way to put it – Samsung has been pushed into a corner in India. Its entry-level and mid-tier portfolio – the one that was driving sales and volumes, has hit a massive roadblock. A thorough revamp was therefore the collective need of the hour. The Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 follow close on the heels of the Galaxy M10, Galaxy M20 and Galaxy M30 and all these Samsung phones have one thing in common - they’re all designed from ground up to take on Xiaomi. (Of course, the Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 are only the first batch of 2019 Galaxy A phones, and others that will follow them will likely take on OnePlus as well).
This starts with the price. Samsung has launched the Galaxy A50 in India at a starting price of Rs 19,990 for the base variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, going all the way to Rs 22,990 for the top-end variant with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. The Galaxy A30 has been launched in India at Rs 16,990 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
Samsung finally has a product that can go toe-to-toe with competition
Even though the Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 cost substantially lower than any other Galaxy A phone we’ve seen to date, and even though they lack a metal/glass design or IP-rating, they’re still typical Galaxy A at heart – which means, they pack some cool new features (features, you’d normally find in more expensive devices). Only this time, Samsung seems to be also working on the basics and making them count – rather than putting in specs just for the sake of it.
The Galaxy A50 is the most premium of the lot, but the Galaxy A30 is also not very far behind – so unless specified, I will be talking specifically about the Galaxy A50 at large in this quick hands-on piece.
The Galaxy A50 is an all-plastic phone but it doesn’t look or feel like one. In fact, its glossy and light-bending paintjob will give all-glass phones a run for their money and so will its different colour options. The Galaxy A50 will be available in black, blue and white and all of these can selectively trigger a rainbow-like effect depending on how light reflects off their surface.
Unlike competing products with a gradient finish, the Galaxy A50’s so-called “glasstic” design doesn’t always overpower you – rather it sits there calm and composed, showing its true colours only when light strikes it at an angle. So in the Galaxy A50, you basically get two distinct flavors – one that’s smart and sophisticated (Samsung is also not using any fancy branding to show off the phone’s AI genius and whatnot – the back in fact is simple and minimalist) and one that can jazz things up for you when the moment is just right.
The Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 offer a complete package, and don't skimp down on anything, at least on paper. But more importantly, they come with a sensible price tag
Samsung does not say if the Galaxy A50 has any protective coating up-top - it will ship a clear case in the box though which is nice. Also, it does not say if the phone can survive accidental splashes of water/rain. Like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro. But what I can tell from my brief usage is this – the Galaxy A50 is built solid (although, it can be a little slippery), has ample weight to it, and does not feel cheap from any perceivable angle. It is susceptible to scratches every now and then, so that clear case does come in handy.
On the front, the Galaxy A50 has a large 6.4-inch 1080p+ display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 – with Samsung’s signature Super AMOLED panel and Infinity-U teardrop notch. Samsung has also thrown in its highly customizable always-on feature into the mix, something that it normally reserves for its high-end devices. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy A50 easily has one of the best screens that you can get on a smartphone at its price point. There’s also a blue light filter for comfortable night-time reading/browsing.
That AMOLED panel also allows Samsung to spring a surprise – the Galaxy A50 is one of the most affordable phone in India to come with an optical in-display fingerprint scanner. While not as fancy as the ultrasonic solution found in its more expensive Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ phones, the optical in-display fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy A50 uses the gaps between pixels of the OLED panel for authentication.
As for actual usage, it doesn't work any better or worse than what we've already seen from OnePlus or Vivo – but I'll still reserve my final verdict for my full review. The Galaxy A30 has a conventional fingerprint scanner on the back – it is fast although it’s high positioning could irk users with smaller hands.
The Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 follow close on the heels of the Galaxy M10, Galaxy M20 and Galaxy M30 and all these Samsung phones have one thing in common - they’re all designed from ground up to take on Xiaomi
In terms of core hardware, the Galaxy A50 is powered by Samsung’s 10nm-based Exynos 9610 processor (octa-core with four Cortex A73 cores that run at 2.3GHz and four Cortex A53 cores at 1.6 GHz) with up to 6GB RAM and up to 64GB storage which is also expandable via a dedicated micro-SD card slot. Although it was announced in March 2018, this is the first time we’re seeing the Exynos 9610 processor in action at scale which also means, there will be sometime before we have a more comprehensive opinion about it. Preliminary results are encouraging – the Galaxy A50 feels smooth and fast in day to day usage and while multi-tasking, and it can handle PUBG at high settings. More on this in our full review.
The Exynos 9610 brings interesting camera possibilities and while the Galaxy A50 does not make use of all of them (the phone can’t shoot 480fps slow-motion videos in full HD, and 4K at 120fps for instance, both of which are key highlights of Samsung’s new processor) it is still the most feature-packed when it comes to photography elements (at its price). The Galaxy A50 comes with three rear cameras consisting of one 25MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture (Sony IMX576), a 5MP depth sensor with f/2.2 aperture and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor with f/2.2 aperture and 123-degree field of view. On the front, the Galaxy A50 comes with a 25MP camera. Cameras on-board the Galaxy A50 are surely a step-up from Samsung’s other triple camera Galaxy A phone – the Galaxy A7. Again, more on this in our full review.
The Galaxy A30 has a 1.8Ghz octa-core Exynos7885 processor with up to 4GB RAM and up to 64GB storage which is expandable. It comes with dual rear cameras consisting of one 16MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture and another 5MP depth sensor with f/2.2 aperture. On the front, the Galaxy A30 comes with a 16MP camera.
Now, design and hardware are important factors while making a purchase, but software and software updates are equally important – something that not many budget phones are good at. Budget Samsung phones always had to make do with a stripped-down version of the company’s software – whether it was TouchWiz of yore, or Experience of now. All this changes with the Galaxy A50 – the Galaxy A50 has the same software that’s running inside the new Galaxy S10 phones, and that I believe, is its biggest highlight. This means – not only does the Galaxy A50 run Android 9 Pie, it also gets Samsung’s One UI on top of it. Out-of-the-box. With features like a system-wide dark mode and an emphasis on faster and seamless use on large-screen devices, One UI is without a doubt the best piece of software that Samsung has ever built. And the fact that it is not keeping it exclusive to its flagship devices means more people can now appreciate it – hopefully, it shows the same intent with updates as well.
Moving on, the Galaxy A50 packs a 4,000mAh battery and there’s also 15W fast charging through USB Type-C (Samsung will bundle an adaptive fast charger in the box).
The Galaxy A50 is a breath of fresh air from Samsung and even though it is coming at a time when competition is at an all-time high – Samsung finally has a product that can go toe-to-toe with competition. The Galaxy A50 offers a complete package, and does not skimp down on anything, at least on paper. But more importantly, it comes with a sensible price tag. The same is true about the Galaxy A30 as well. Watch this space for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 in the days to come.