Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Editor Rating: Excellent (4.0)
- Solid performance
- Excellent camera
- Nice display
- Long battery life
- Lackluster durability
- Poor audio quality
It's easy to forget that Samsung makes more than $1,000+ flagship phones. After all, handsets like the $599.99 Galaxy A71 5G tend to get overshadowed when the company announces scene stealers like the $2,000 Galaxy Z Fold 2. But you shouldn't discount these more affordable models just because they aren't as flashy. In the case of the Galaxy A71, you're getting a lot for your money, including 5G connectivity, solid performance, a terrific camera, and long battery life. It's one of the better phones for getting 5G in this price range right now, though the competition is increasing at a rapid clip.
Design, Display, and Durability
The Galaxy A71 5G is flat in the front, with a curved plastic back panel. It measures 6.3 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and comes in at 6.5 ounces. We tested an unlocked model in black with a subtle monochromatic pattern, though Verizon's version has a more distinct prismatic design.
The front of the phone is dominated by 6.7-inch, 2,400-by-1,080-pixel AMOLED display with a notch for the camera. The screen looks gorgeous, with vibrant colors and inky blacks, and it’s bright enough to see outside. Even the in-display fingerprint sensor is pretty good, though it's not as fast or accurate as on the iPhone SE or the Pixel 4a.
Top of the phone has a hybrid SIM slot, while a speaker, a USB-C charging port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack sit on the bottom. The left side is bare, across from the volume rocker and multifunction power/Bixby button on the right. The buttons provide a satisfying click when tapped, but are hard to reach with small hands.
The back of the phone features a large rectangular camera stack in the upper left corner and a Samsung logo in the middle. The back panel is constructed of plastic, but it could easily be mistaken for glass if it weren’t for the dull thud it makes when tapped. While the high-gloss finish looks great, it quickly attracts fingerprints.
The phone’s plastic build should be able to handle a few bumps and drops without issue, but the display isn't likely to fare as well as it’s constructed out of older Gorilla Glass 3. There’s also no IP rating, which is unacceptable once you cross the $500 threshold.
Connectivity and Audio
The Galaxy A71 5G is available unlocked and through every major carrier. AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and unlocked versions of the phone support sub-6GHz 5G. Verizon offers an Ultra Wideband version that supports millimeter-wave now and will support low-band 5G when it is rolled out later this year.
It’s worth mentioning that 5G is a much different beast than LTE, and you should do your homework before making a purchase. The X52 modem (400MHz) in the Galaxy A71 has half the bandwidth of the X55 (800Mhz) in the pricier Samsung Galaxy 20+, for instance.
We tested the phone on T-Mobile’s 5G network in Philadelphia. Download speeds averaged 146.8Mbps, while uploads clocked in around 38.6Mbps.
Call quality is excellent. At 85dB, the earpiece is loud enough to hear in just about any setting. Our test calls were consistently clear on both ends, and noise cancellation worked well.
Audio quality, on the other hand, is disappointing. The phone has a single bottom-firing speaker that maxes out at 90dB. It’s fine for video calls, but it sounds pretty bad for everything else. On the plus side, Dolby Atmos is supported with wired or Bluetooth headphones.
The phone also supports Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and dual-band Wi-Fi.
The 64MP quad-pixel lens performs well in all lighting scenarios. Photos are crisp, depth of field is excellent, and color is slightly saturated but looks great. In low light, we noticed minor noise and a slight loss of detail, but the phone managed to surpass the Pixel 4a in a few scenarios. The ultra-wide lens offers similarly good performance.
The 5MP macro sensor is just okay. With a steady hand and good light, you can get a decent shot, but not one that can compare with a true macro lens. That's not surprising, as we’ve yet to see a spectacular macro lens in this price range.
The front-facing camera shines in all lighting scenarios. In good light, test shots were sharp with excellent detail. Low-light photos were nearly as good, though a few of our images showed minor noise around the edges.
Portrait mode works well on the front and rear cameras. Depth mapping was spot on in nearly all of our test photos, which is no small feat since most phones in this price range struggle with correctly capturing wisps of hair, subjects against monochromatic backgrounds, and accurately mapping the areas around hats and glasses.
Hardware and Performance
The Galaxy A715G ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset and 6GB of RAM. There’s 128GB of storage, with about 108GB available out of the box. You can add up to an additional 1TB of storage with a microSD card.
Performance is solid for the price. The A71 5G handles multitasking without any problems; we had nearly two dozen apps open simultaneously, as well as 30 browser tabs, and didn’t experience any slowdown.
We tested the phone for over an hour playing Alto’s Odyssey and didn’t experience any lag or skipped frames. The game loaded fast and didn’t have a significant effect on battery life.
Benchmarks underscore our experience. On Geekbech 5, a test that measures raw processor power, the A71 5G earned scores of 609 single-core (SC) and 1,879 multi-core (MC), for a nice lead over the Pixel 4a at 402 SC and 1,618 MC.
The phone is powered by a 4,500mAh battery that will get even the most demanding user through the day. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the phone lasted for 10 hours and 33 minutes. When you find it running out of juice, the A71 5G supports Samsung’s fast charging protocol and comes with a 25W adapter in the box. Wireless charging isn't supported, however.
The Galaxy A71 5G ships with Android 10 along with Samsung’s One UI 2. While many manufacturers have gravitated toward a more stock Android model over last couple of years, Samsung’s UI continues to offer a very customized user experience.
In One UI 2, navigation buttons are reversed, app icons are changed, and the settings menu looks different than stock Android. It’s not bad by any means, but if you’re used to Android on a non-Samsung phone, prepare to spend a few minutes getting used to it.
The unlocked version of the A71 5G features Samsung’s suite of productivity apps. For the most part they’re Samsung’s version of apps already baked into Android, and for years we've considered them redundant, but we’re starting to rethink our stance. This year, Samsung integrated many of its apps with Microsoft Office and improved its cloud platform significantly. The A71 5G is also tightly integrated with many of Samsung’s other smart devices to offer a more seamless user experience.
And the Galaxy A71 5G is one of Samsung’s first handsets confirmed to receive OS upgrades for three years. While there’s no timeline on when Samsung will release these updates, it’s good to know that you're not buying into a dead end.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 is a good phone for 5G on a (relative) budget, with solid performance all around. It also costs $100 less and has a much better camera than the 5G-capable Moto Edge. That said, we'd like to see better durability for $600, and unless you buy the phone on Verizon, you're not getting a future-proof 5G experience. And with the $500 Moto One 5G launching on AT&T and Verizon soon, the competition is really heating up. So while the Galaxy A71 gets most things right, you might want to sit tight to see how things shake out before picking one up.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G Specs
|Operating System||Android 10|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G|
|Dimensions||6.3 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches|
|Screen Size||6.7 inches|
|Screen Resolution||2,400 by 1,080|
|Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing)||64MP, 12MP, 5M, 5MP; 32MP|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||10 hours, 33 minutes|
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