DNA Review: The Samsung Galaxy A71 is a mid-ranger that is big on features
By Tan Jee Yee February 23, 2020
- Pros: Good cameras, massive battery life, great screen and performance
- Cons: Plasticky build, not exactly the cheapest mid-range
Samsung’s A-series – the reimagined line-up to stake their claim in the mid-range battlefield – has seen its fair share of solid devices. Amongst it is the Samsung Galaxy A70, with triple-camera setup, large screen and Snapdragon 675 chipset makes for a strong contender at the sub-US$500 range.
The new Galaxy A71 carries the same DNA, albeit with additional muscles and tweaks. Some of the specs are similar – like the A70, it has a 6.7-inch screen fitted with an under-screen fingerprint reader and a 4,500mAH battery – but now you have an additional camera and a more powerful chipset.
It’s perhaps not something current A70 users would feel the need to upgrade towards, but the updated features does make for a better – if not just as good – device for those seeking flagship features without trading a kidney.
A thing of beauty
It’s a good looking phone, at the very least. The curved-edge screen design is wrapped with premium gloss finish that is easy to hold and nice to behold. The rhythmical pattern at the back gives it a playful personality too – the Blue edition which I got to use is both elegant and fun.
It has a prominent, square-ish camera deck to house its four cameras. In a way, the boxiness takes away from the phone’s sleek veneer, but considering that even the iPhone 11 has odd, asymmetrical designs for increasingly more powerful camera setups, the A71’s does come off as relatively tame.
What’s more striking, however, is the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED screen (with Gorilla Glass 3 protection), which displays at a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio at 393ppi density. It looks great with nice, popping colours and enough brightness to work under direct sunlight.
Where the A70 has a water-drop notch, the newer A71 features a punch-hole setup for its selfie camera, located at the middle top much like the Galaxy Note 10. Frankly, it looks good without being too intrusive on the screen. Underneath the display is the fingerprint scanner, which I’m happy to report works superbly fast and accurate.
All in all, it’s an excellent device for multimedia – the clear, loud down-firing speakers pair well with the screen. There’s also a 3.5mm jack! If there’s a downside to the design, though, it will be how plasticky the device feels. It’s to be expected for a design that eschews metal, but it doesn’t quite feel as solidly-built as its other mid-range competitors. It is, however, slim and light.
The Galaxy A71’s quad-camera setup is comprised of a 64MP main unit, which is paired with a 12MP ultra wide-angle cam (an upgrade over the 8MP versions that have been featured on previous Galaxy A phones), a 5MP macro camera and a 5MP depth sensor.
Its main camera shoots nice photos. You get nice, detailed images when shooting under daylight, with good dynamic range and excellent contrasts. Colours are lively and expectedly saturated, but not to the point of aggravating. I can’t find any fault here, even if it doesn’t particularly excel in any area. But it’s solid and does its job and that’s all you need for a mid-range device.
I like the 12MP ultra wide camera, too. While I can’t exactly compare it to the old 8MP version, the A71’s does provide good details and sharpness, and it doesn’t have over-compensating noise-reduction. The 13mm lens lets you fit a lot in the frame and it doesn’t warp the sides all that much. In other words, it’s great.
The 5MP macro shooter works pretty well as well, though it does take getting used to considering that it has a fixed focus, which requires you to get the distance perfectly right. Not much of an issue for me, to be honest, but expect some blurred shots on early attempts.
I’m also glad that its low-light performance is pretty decent. Shooting in Night Mode especially pops more details and keeps the noise down. The feature is also extended to the ultra wide-angle shooter, so make sure to keep it activated when going out for a bit of night photography.
As for the front-facing camera, it’s a capable selfie shooter. You can activate a wide-angle mode that widens the frame a little for group selfies. As far as selfie cameras go, this 32MP shooter is great, providing good details and contrast. All in all, the cameras work close to what certain premium phones offer.
Not lacking in power
The Galaxy A71 boots Android 10 out of the box (in fact, it’s among the first Samsung phones to do so). Layered over it is their custom One UI 2.0.
As someone who doesn’t have issues with Samsung’s UI, the A71 works fine and just as accessible. A nice touch, however, is the inclusion of Edge screen. This is a feature typically reserved for Samsung’s high-end, curved-edge displays, allowing users to get quick access to apps, tools and actions by swiping on a slim digital handle. It’s a nifty addition that’s great on Samsung’s flagships and is now nicely here, too.
Other recent inclusions are here too, including Dark Mode. This skins UI elements in black and shades of dark grey, on top of automatically turning on dark modes of supported apps.
This is all powered by the Snaprdragon 730 chip, which is an upgrade over the A70’s Snapdragon 675. The 730 has newer CPU cores and GPU, and is meant to be more power-efficient. Combined with 8GB of RAM, the A71 works zippily and can handle graphics-intensive games like Call of Duty Mobile with no issues.
It’s a device meant for gaming and a good amount of Netflix binging, which is why it’s great that the A71 comes with a massive 4,500mAh battery. On a full charge, I could spend a day browsing the web, several episodes of anime, some Call of Duty sessions and tonnes of social media and still go to bed with 30% left.
On top of that, the device supports fast-charging. You can replenish 50% of its empty battery in half an hour – a full charge only requires 80 minutes or so.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 stands among the top offerings when it comes to mid-range devices. It’s not the cheapest of mid-range smartphones, though. In Malaysia, it prices at US$432.20 (RM1,799).
That’s fair considering the good amount of features it provides, but there’ll be some give or take when compared to other brands punching at the same price class. Xiaomi’s Mi 9T Pro, for instance, goes for roughly RM100 cheaper but offers the higher-end Snapdragon 855 chip (albeit at a smaller screen).
For a lot cheaper, you might want to look into Samsung’s own Galaxy A51, which provides a fairly similar experience except for a smaller screen, a lower-end processor and slightly downgraded camera. Samsung Malaysia’s website lists the A51 at RM1,299.
But if you’re looking for a smartphone that’s not premium-priced while sporting excellent features, you can’t go wrong with the Galaxy A71.