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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A51 review

Mixing top features with an attractive price

What is a hands on review?
Samsung Galaxy A51
(Image: © TechRadar)

Early Verdict

If you're after a smartphone with a big screen, big battery and plenty of photography features, but don't want to break the bank, the Samsung Galaxy A51 could well be the phone for you.

For

  • Big screen and battery
  • 4 rear cameras

Against

  • Not water resistant
  • No wireless charging

The Samsung Galaxy A51 is an affordable mid-range handset with a few features borrowed from the firm's flagship range. 

You get a big screen, a dearth of cameras and a sizable battery, which when paired with an achievable price tag ensures the Galaxy A51 makes a positive first impression.

We got hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy A51 during CES 2020, where it debut alongside the Galaxy A71, to see if it can live up to the spec sheet.

Samsung Galaxy A51 release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy A51 release date is set for early February, so there isn't too long to wait if you want to get your hands on the phone, but we don't know the exact day it'll be available.

As for the Samsung Galaxy A51 price, the UK pre-orders have now gone live revealing a price tag of £329 (around $430, AU$630) SIM free making it an a pretty affordable option. That's a lot better than lots of other Samsung phones, so it's a tempting choice if you're looking for a new Samsung phone without breaking the bank.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

The Samsung Galaxy A51 is an attractive smartphone, with a large screen dominating the front and an eye-catching 'Prism' design on the rear.

While the screen is big at 6.5 inches, Samsung has kept the bezels super slim, which keeps the size of the handset down, and it's possible to use the Galaxy A51 one-handed.

Those with smaller hands may still find it a little on the large size, and you're getting an impressive amount of display real estate in the 158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9mm, 172g frame.

The power key and volume rocker are nicely located on the right side of the handset, and audiophiles will be pleased to learn there's a proper 3.5mm headphone jack on the base of the A51.

It feels solid in the hand, and while it doesn't ooze the same premium finesse of the S10 and Note 10 series, it certainly doesn't come across as cheap. One thing the Galaxy A51 is missing, however, is an IP rating, which means it's not officially water or dust resistant.

You'll be able to pick the Galaxy A51 up in four different colors (although all hues may not be available in every region); black, white, pink and blue.

The 6.5-inch Full HD+ (1080 x 2400), Super AMOLED display is bright and colorful, with a good level of detail and it also boasts Samsung's smallest ever pin-hole camera in the screen.

It shares the super-small camera cutout with the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, while the Galaxy A51's bigger sibling (the A71) has a larger cutout.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Camera and battery

The Samsung Galaxy A51 may be an affordable smartphone, but it doesn't short-change you when it comes to its cameras.

On the front you get a 32MP camera - perfect for the selfie generation - while round the back there are four cameras housed in the large, black camera bump.

The main camera is a 48MP offering, and it's joined by a 12MP ultra-wide (123 degree field-of-view) snapper, 5MP macro sensor and a 5MP depth sensor. This gives the Galaxy A51 great flexibility when it comes to photography, with the option of wide-angle shots, detailed close-ups and blurred backgrounds (a mode Samsung calls Live Focus).

We managed to snap a few images during our hands-on time with the A51 and results were generally good, although the quality wasn't as good as the Galaxy A71 which has a more powerful main sensor, and more processing grunt under the hood.

There's a 4,000mAh battery packed into the Galaxy A51, which is pretty sizable for a handset in this price range. The hope is this will translate into solid battery life performance, something we'll put to the test during our in-depth Samsung Galaxy A51 review process.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Performance and specs

The Samsung Galaxy A51 packs an unspecified octa-core processor (although one that isn't quite as powerful as the Galaxy A71) along with 4GB of RAM (some regions may get 6GB or even 8GB).

This provides enough power to keep Android 10 running smoothly, but the Galaxy A51 doesn't quite have the same zip as devices higher up in Samsung's mobile tiers. 

There's also 64GB or 128GB of internal storage - again, it'll vary by region - plus a microSD slot supporting cards up to 512GB in size. In short, you shouldn't run out of space easily.

You'll find a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display, plus there's the option for face recognition as well.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Early verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A51 appears to get the mix right when it comes to features vs price point, and it's a smartphone you should definitely keep an eye on this year as it could be an affordable handset champion.

The only reason not to buy the Galaxy A51 is if you want the slightly higher-specced Galaxy A71, which debut alongside the A51.

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2020 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.  

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.