Samsung Galaxy A70 Review: A Galaxy Note For The Masses

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The Galaxy A70 has what it takes to be your go-to Netflix phone, or PUBG phone – without burning a hole in your pocket

Written By Saurabh Singh | Mumbai | Updated On:
Photo by Saurabh Singh

It’s no secret that people aren’t buying as many high-end premium phones like they used to, say a couple of years ago. One of the biggest reasons why this is happening is because mid-range phones are getting better and better by the day – so much so that investing (or rather splurging) in a more expensive phone makes little sense. It’s safe to say that mid-range phones have truly come of age, and in some cases, they’re packing innovations far more exciting than what their more premiere counterparts tend to offer. The Samsung Galaxy A70 is a classic example. 

The Galaxy A70 has a tall 20:9 (6.7-inch) Infinity-U display and it supports 25W fast charging - both of which are a first for any Samsung phone, let alone any Samsung Galaxy A-series phone. There’s a 4,500mAh battery inside the Galaxy A70, in case you were wondering. 

Now Samsung has made big screen and big battery phones in the past. In fact, Samsung has a whole lineup of Galaxy Note devices with big screens and big batteries (this year’s Galaxy Note 10 is also rumored to pack a 4,500mAh battery inside). The thing that makes a mid-range phone like the Galaxy A70 stand out is that it tries to offer a similar big screen and big battery experience at a fraction of a cost as say the Galaxy Note 9 – at Rs 28,990 to be precise. The Galaxy A70 is a Galaxy Note for the masses and while it’s not perfect, it serves its purpose well.  

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Galaxy A70 is a phone designed from ground up for content consumption. For endless binge-watching sessions. For scores of rewarding chicken dinners. You get the drift. The Galaxy A70 has what it takes to be your go-to Netflix phone, or PUBG phone – without burning a hole in your pocket. 

So, let’s start with that screen. The Galaxy A70 comes with a 6.7-inch 1080p+ Super AMOLED display with an unusually tall 20:9 aspect ratio and Infinity-U waterdrop-style notch. While it’s not as ultra-widescreen as Sony’s Xperia 1 (that has a 21:9 display), the Galaxy A70 is the closest that it can get to showing content recorded in ultra-widescreen format, the way that it’s intended.   

Of course, content will be a constraint but both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video now have 21:9 content, that purists will appreciate on the Galaxy A70’s 20:9 screen. For the layman it will mean, much smaller black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing content in this format.   

Photo by Saurabh Singh

There are other advantages as well. A taller screen will allow you to browse a lot more stuff at once and it will also be better for multi-tasking – sadly, Samsung isn’t bundling any software enhancements to make the Galaxy A70 any more useful than it already is by default. What it has done, and that’s also a first for any mid-range Samsung phone, is that it has greatly reduced the bezels on all sides of the Galaxy A70 – that includes the chin portion. The Galaxy A50, which falls below the Galaxy A70 in hierarchy, has much more bezels – the chin is substantial on that one.  

As for quality, unsurprisingly, the Galaxy A70 has one of the best displays that you can get on a smartphone at its price point – it offers deep blacks, excellent viewing angles and best in-class outdoor legibility. Pixel-peepers may notice some jagged edges in text on close observation, but that’s expected on a phone as big as this one.  

That AMOLED panel allows Samsung to also outfit the Galaxy A70 with an optical in-display fingerprint scanner. As is the case with all first-generation tech, Samsung’s in-display fingerprint scanner is far from perfect – there's room for improvement especially when it comes to accuracy but that’s nothing that a software update can’t fix. 

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Under the hood, the Galaxy A70 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage which is expandable by up to 512GB via a dedicated micro-SD card slot. One can argue, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 7 Pro packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 at a rock-bottom price of around Rs 14,000 – but really, it won’t be fair to judge the two phones solely on basis of the SoC inside. Much like Xiaomi’s phone, Samsung’s Galaxy A70 has its own merits. 

As for all-round performance, the Galaxy A70 is generally a fast phone. Unless you’re playing a graphically intensive game like PUBG or Asphalt 9 on it – in comparison to a phone like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710-powered Nokia 8.1. In Samsung’s defense, the Galaxy A70 is a much better performer than the similarly priced Vivo V15 Pro with the same hardware credentials. What this means is that the Galaxy A70 is a capable phone that can handle everything (including high-end games) that you throw at it without breaking a sweat and without losing its cool – but the mid-range segment is currently full of excellent performers and even more powerful options like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845-powered Poco F1. The Galaxy A70 is a fast phone, but there are faster phones in and around its price.  

The biggest reason why the Galaxy A70 feels like a fast phone (in 9 out of 10 cases) is because Samsung has been able to well optimize the software inside it. Budget and mid-range Samsung phones have 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. Samsung’s 2019 Galaxy A phones are different. 

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Not only does the Galaxy A70 run Android 9 Pie, it also gets Samsung’s One UI on top of it - the Galaxy A70 is also the first Galaxy A phone to fully support Samsung Pay for contactless payments. I can’t stress enough that One UI is the best piece of software that Samsung has ever built – and it makes even more sense on a large-screen phone like the Galaxy A70. One UI has been built specifically for large-screen phones like the Galaxy A70 after all. Even though the Galaxy A70 is a 6.7-inch phone, One UI ensures everything inside it is easy to reach, and easy to work around with. Its large, cartoonish icons will need some time getting used to – but then you can always download and install third-party icons, just in case.  

All that optimization also works wonders for battery life. The Galaxy A70’s 4,500mAh battery will easily last over a day, even for hardcore users – our battery loop tests gave us close to 15 hours on the Galaxy A70 which is nothing short of impressive. But what really sets the Galaxy A70 apart from any other Samsung phone, or any other phone at its price point for that matter, is that it supports 25W fast charging. Samsung is also bundling a 25W fast charger in the box – a complete charge from 0-100 per cent takes nearly 1 hour 50 minutes. 

Now that we’ve dissected the Galaxy A70’s headlining features (and found them to be quite compelling) let’s talk about the rest of the phone. Particularly the cameras, because well, the Galaxy A70 has a total of four of them. 

Photo by Saurabh Singh

It comes with three rear cameras consisting of one 32MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide sensor (with 120-degree field-of-view) and a 5MP sensor for depth sensing aka portrait photography. On the front, the Galaxy A70 comes with a 32MP camera with f/2.0 aperture. 

Samsung is using its 32MP GD1 image sensor in the Galaxy A70. The GD1 sensor may have tiny 0.8-micron pixels (larger pixels result in greater light sensitivity) but Samsung uses a workaround this caveat, a Quad Bayer arrangement wherein four pixels are grouped under one filter of the same color, to supposedly produce photos akin to a much larger sensor with 1.6-micron pixels. 

The effective resolution in the case of the 32MP GD1 is 8MP – the same reason why the rear and front cameras on-board the Galaxy A70 shoot at 8MP by default. One big highlight of this sensor is that it allows the phone’s ISP to computationally convert the default 8MP array into a 32MP image – which is why it is also possible to shoot native 32MP photos using the Galaxy A70. 

So, how good are the Galaxy A70’s 32MP cameras? Quite good, especially by Samsung mid-range standards – but right of the bat, let me tell you that, the Vivo V15 Pro is an all-round better camera phone than the Galaxy A70. Although the Galaxy A70 photos come out sharp and have colors that look pleasing to the eyes, they’re almost always lacking in detail. The dynamic range is also nothing special to write home about. This is true for both the rear and front main cameras – although I do like the portrait shots that it takes. 

But it’s not all a lost cause – the Galaxy A70 cameras really shine in tricky and low light. The Galaxy A70 can capture brighter exposures with higher ISO in such situations – brighter, cleaner and more detailed photos with little or no noise. This is when you shoot in the 8MP default mode – the 32MP mode isn’t advisable in such cases since it entails in a soft, mushy mess. There’s no dedicated night mode in the Galaxy A70 which is a bummer – the Vivo V15 Pro has one.    

Photo by Saurabh Singh

The Galaxy A70 also has an 8MP wide-angle camera and a 5MP portrait camera on the rear offering a great bit of versatility for a phone that costs south of Rs 30,000. They work well when the lighting is ideal, capturing good wide-angle shots (with distortion) and portraits with good-enough edge detection.   

For videos, the Galaxy A70 rear camera can shoot good-quality electronically stabilized 4K videos at 30fps but dynamic range could have been better. 

Almost everything about the Galaxy A70 feels new and refreshing - which is a big change from past Samsung Galaxy A phones. This is especially true about the specs. But there’s one thing that remains constant across all Galaxy A phones (for now) – the design. 

Samsung is calling it ‘glasstic’ design. The Galaxy A70 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. All its color variants can selectively trigger a rainbow-like effect depending on how light reflects off their surface. It’s clean and minimalistic, the Galaxy A70, but surely there are better looking and better feeling phones in and around its price point. The Nokia 8.1 is one. 

Regardless, the Galaxy A70 is built solid, has ample weight to it, and does not feel cheap from any perceivable angle. It is susceptible to scratches every now and then (also, it is prone to smudge and fingerprints) but there’s a clear case inside the box which is nice. Also, the Galaxy A70 is not a small phone – it will always require the attention of both your hands. The volume rocker is placed higher up on the right – it would have been better had Samsung put it on the left.

Photo by Saurabh Singh

Elsewhere, phone calls made with the Galaxy A70 are of excellent quality - I did not encounter any odd call drops (beyond the usual) on my review unit. The mono speaker vent located at the bottom of the phone can get loud but it’s lacking in all-round sound quality – the phone additionally supports Dolby Atmos over wired headphones. 

The Galaxy A70 is a new-age Galaxy A phone. The reason why I call it new-age is because it’s unlike any other Galaxy A phone in the past. Yes, it isn’t made of glass or metal and it doesn’t have water-resistance and other tidbits, like past Galaxy A phones, but none of that is a deal-breaker. If anything, it helps brings down the cost. What’s important is that the Galaxy A70 covers all the basics – something that not many Samsung budget and mid-range phones were good at once upon a time. 

The Galaxy A70 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, it can still hold its ground well. If you’re in the market to buy a new mid-range phone, and if you’re into binge watching and PUBG, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is the phone to buy.

Also Read:  Review: The Samsung Galaxy S10+ Is The Best Android Phone That Money Can Buy Today

Also Read:  Samsung Galaxy S10e review: Flagship At A Flagship Killer Price

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