Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A6 Plus review

An overpriced perfection?

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

First impressions of the phone won't take you so long to judge it. It is solid from the very moment you grip it, but on paper, things aren't so hunky dory.

For

  • Sturdy metal build
  • Bright and crisp display
  • Useful software features
  • Impressive front camera

Against

  • Entry-level chipset
  • micro USB for charging

In a market that's slowly adapting to hardware-centric decision making for smartphone purchases, Samsung still believes that user experience isn't directly propositional to on-paper specifications. 

Samsung says it spends around $50 billion to $60 billion on RnD globally every year. The fund is to learn user behaviour and customise their phones as per their need.

To prove their point, the company released the Galaxy A6 Plus alongside the A6 in India recently. The phone is aimed at 'millennials', who are more into multimedia and social media. Meaning, a good display, camera, support for latest apps and features.

I have the Galaxy A6 Plus, and it has been treating me well so far. But if you question if I'll shed Rs 25,990 for this phone, I'll have to take a few more days to answer that.

Still, looking at the fierce competition right now, I can safely say it's priced slightly over the average mark.

Samsung Galaxy A6 Plus availability and price

The Samsung Galaxy A6 Plus has been priced at Rs 25,990. The Galaxy A6 and Galaxy A6 Plus will be available from 22 May exclusively from Amazon. Offline, the phones will be avialable on all Samsung and its partner stores. 

A sturdy metal design, with ease of usability.

A sturdy metal design, with ease of usability.

Design

Samsung Galaxy A6 Plus specs

Dimensions: 160.2 x 75.7 x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 8
Screen size: 6.0 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2220 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 450
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,500mAh
Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP
Front camera: 24MP 

The biggest change introduced on the Galaxy A-series this time is the elongated 'Infinity display' with 18.5:9 aspect ratio. It covers the front. That means removal of home button, extra bezels from the top and bottom, and a narrow but tall display. It is similar to what is already seen on the more powerful Galaxy A8 Plus.

Surprisingly, Samsung has used metal in place of glass. Glass undoubtedly adds more class to the design, but metal has its own advantages. It's more durable and doesn't catch fingerprints like glass. 

The back is flush, the quality of finish is premium and it also has rounded sides and corners. I call it a football field design, as Samsung has found a new pattern to fit the antennae bands. Both the bands form a D-like shape at each end. Plus, there's Samsung's standard soda can tab-style camera module with two lenses and fingerprint sensor. 

There's nothing on the top of the phone, while the left looks too busy residing the volume keys and two separate slots for SIM cards and micro SD card. Power and lock key is on the right, with a smartly placed loudspeaker grill that doesn't muffle while holding the phone in landscape.

Micro USB port is dated

Micro USB port is dated

Don't look at the bottom of the phone, it may upset you. It's difficult to understand why there's a microUSB port on a Rs 25,990 phone. Small elements like these make a major difference. Expecting a USB Type-C port on a phone of this price is fair, and Samsung must do something about it.

Always on display feature scores extra points.

Always on display feature scores extra points.

Display 

The trend is about 18:9 aspect ratio, and being among the first ones to adapt the change, Samsung has done it in the Galaxy A6 Plus as well. But in this case, it's 18.5:9 similar to other Galaxy smartphones.

The display has a full HD+ resolution and it's undoubtedly the highlight of the phone.  It's bright, immersive and crisp. Samsung's AMOLED panels have always impressed and this one makes sure it has the best screen in its league too. 

Samsung's proprietary UI works well with Android 8.0

Samsung's proprietary UI works well with Android 8.0

Performance and software

Although the phone sports an entry-level Snapdragon 450 chipset, we didn't find the Galaxy A6 Plus struggling for power until now. To be honest, we haven't put a lot of stress on the phone either.

The chipset is found on Xiaomi Redmi 5, which starts at Rs 8,999 and it does well for a phone for that price. But for Rs 25k? We need some more time to give a word on that. 

The Galaxy A6 Plus runs the Android Oreo 8.0 with company's custom UI on top. We must say Samsung has hugely improvised their software in terms of looks, transitions and optimisations. It looks lot cleaner and easy to use.

There are a couple of India-centric features that Samsung has baked in this time. First and the most interesting one is the 'Chat over video' that allows users to reply to text on WhatsApp and messages app without interrupting the video. A Facebook Messenger like circular pop-up appears, which can be moved or dragged around the screen. It offers a see-through chat drop down and keyboard, which doesn't block the video in the background. As of now, there are a few selected apps supported with this feature, but Samsung will be adding more in the future. 

Further, it has advanced memory management that automatically trashes duplicate images, moves media from messenger apps to microSD, zip unused files to save space, and deletes unused APKs.

So, software-wise, it's quite packed with skills. Bixby has also made it to the A-series phone, but it's more or less a dummy as of now. 

Soda can tab style camera module for the dual lenses.

Soda can tab style camera module for the dual lenses.

Camera

There's a dual camera setup having a 16MP primary and 5MP secondary sensor. On the front, there's a whopping 24MP sensor. 

The quick shots I clicked looked quite convincing in day light. Especially, the front camera shots are actually praiseworthy. The pictures looked well-defined with ample of details and punchy colours.

One sure thing about the phone I can confirm right now, is that selfie-lovers are likely to find it interesting.

Note- The in-depth test of the Galaxy A6 Plus camera will be done in full review.

The camera app is very straightforward. It has some really useful features like expanding and shrinking viewfinder, stickers, live focus/selfie focus for bokeh, Bixby vision and a lot more. 

Early verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A6 Plus is very well-built and aims to suffice users looking for a dependable multimedia phone. The front camera managed to impress us in minutes and so did the display. 

Buying this phone is more like a bargain where there's quality vs quantity. But is the quality is worth the extra buck to make up for the quantity? We'll find out in the full review. 

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.