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Samsung Galaxy A30 review: Why does this phone exist?
Samsung Galaxy A30
What we like
What we don't like
From an Indian perspective, the mid-range smartphone category was one where Samsung was severely lacking behind competitors from Xiaomi, Honor and others. However, Samsung’s gone on the offensive in the last few months. We’ve already reviewed the Samsung Galaxy M10, M20, M30, and A50. They’re all capable performers for the price.
Now Samsung is launching the Galaxy A30, its fifth phone in the $120 to $300 segment. Does it offer enough value over Samsung’s other offerings? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy A30 review.
Update May 20 , 2020: Updated with details about fresh software updates and value for money.
About our Galaxy A30 review
I reviewed the Galaxy A30 over the course of a week while using it on the Airtel network in New Delhi, India. The review unit shipped with Samsung One UI 1.1 running on top of Android Pie. The unit had the February 1st, 2019 security patch and build number PPR1.180610.11.A305FDDU1ASBA. The review unit was provided by Samsung India’s PR team.
What’s in the box?
- 5V/2A charger
- USB-C charging cable
- SIM ejector tool
- Transparent TPU case
- Plastic build
- Infinity-U notch
With almost five consecutive launches, Samsung now has a clearly defined design language for its mid-range segment smartphones. The Galaxy A30 sits at the cross-section of the Galaxy M30 and A50, taking some elements from both.
My main take away from spending a week with the Galaxy A30 was how good looking the phone was — from the way the edges curve over, to the slim design’s mild curvature (which makes it feel great to hold). It isn’t all that different from other devices in Samsung’s mid-range line, but the flowing curves of the Galaxy A30 make it feel a bit more “organic.”
However, the design isn’t quite perfect. The construction of the phone is entirely plastic. The material feels robust enough and helps keep the weight down, but the glossy, polished sheen is sure to catch fingerprints and scratches.
The rear mounted fingerprint scanner is too hard to reach.
Additionally, I found the fingerprint reader too hard to reach, a sentiment echoed by nearly everyone I showed the phone off to.
The right side is where you’ll find the volume rocker as well as the power button. The tactile feedback here is fine but the power button feels a bit sticky. On the left side is a tray packing dual nano-SIM card slots as well as a dedicated microSD card slot.
The bottom edge has a USB-C port and a speaker grille for the single speaker. Volume output is not particularly loud and the audio sounds quite tinny. There is no low end here and you will definitely end up covering the speaker while gaming with the phone in a landscape orientation.
The Galaxy A30 is a very pretty phone with a fluid, almost organic design.
The front of the Galaxy A30 is very clean and the Infinity-U waterdrop display helps reduce bezels all around. The 6.4-inch display has slim bezels all around and a screen-to-body ratio of 84.9 percent. There is a substantial chin along the bottom edge, but it isn’t much of an eyesore.
Like the Galaxy A50, the A30 takes a step down from the M30 in battery life. Still, 4,000mAh is very respectable, and the phone handily lasted more than a full day. During the testing period, I regularly observed between six to seven hours of screen-on time depending on the workload.
- 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display
- Full HD+ (1,080 x 2,340) resolution
- Excellent for media consumption
Similarities between the Galaxy M30 and the A30 continue with the display, too. Both phones have a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, which might be the highlight of the phone. Placed next to competing smartphones, the display here shines through as vibrant and generally excellent to look at.
The Super AMOLED display is a definite highlight.
Being a Super AMOLED panel, the contrast ratio is obviously top notch. The display looks fantastic even at extreme angles and I would rank it as among the best in the category. Brightness levels go sufficiently high and the phone is easily visible outdoors.
Samsung has done a good job calibrating the screen and I found the white point accurate. Between the ability to adjust the white balance and the built-in screen color profiles, there are enough options to tweak the display to your preference.
Like most phones, there is a built-in blue light filter that can be scheduled and a very robust dark mode that skins the entire system UI. While the Galaxy A30 lacks a notification LED, you can set the display to always on mode and use it for incoming notifications.
The water drop notch on the Galaxy A30 is not intrusive at all but if you really don’t want one, there is a software option to hide the notch away. This being an AMOLED display, the black bar at the top does a good job at camouflaging the notch. The software bar curves around the edges but has a lower degree of curvature compared to the physically curved display along the bottom edge which might irk you if you are as particular about symmetry as I am.
- Exynos 7904 chipset
- Two Cortex A73 and six Cortex A53 chips
- Dual nano SIM and dedicated microSD slot
Despite many similarities to the higher end Galaxy A50, the performance here is more in line with the Galaxy M30. Internal specifications include an Exynos 7904 processor paired with a Mali G71 MP2 GPU. Our review unit had four gigabytes of RAM though there is a lower end three-gigabyte variant as well. Storage options vary between 32 and 64GB but you can expand this via a microSD card. Out of the box, the 64GB variant had about 50GB available.
The Exynos 7904 in the Galaxy A30 is a 14nm chipset that combines two high-performance Cortex A73 cores with six Cortex A53 cores designed to improve efficiency.
As mentioned earlier, the phone ships with dual nano SIM slots with both slots supporting VoLTE. Network performance is very good and the phone latched on to and, more importantly, held on to a rather poor network. If you make a lot of phone calls, the Galaxy A30 won’t disappoint.
- Great day-to-day performance
- Not the best for gaming
- Mali G71 MP2 GPU
If your smartphone usage revolves around social media, phone calls, and general everyday use, the Galaxy A30 should be right up your alley. The Exynos 7904 on board is powerful enough and Samsung has done a brilliant job mating the software to the hardware.
Even though the company went a bit overboard with animations, everything flows smoothly and you’ll have a lot of fun flicking around the interface.
General performance is great and you'll have a lot of fun flicking around the interface.
Gaming performance, however, isn’t quite the best. The Mali G71 MP2 GPU simply can’t keep up with the likes of the Adreno 612 on competing phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Fan favorite PUBG defaulted to medium graphics. Pushing them to high resulted in quite a few dropped frames. The game was still playable, but it was far from the best experience.
We also put the Galaxy A30 through a few benchmarks.
The Samsung Galaxy A30 runs One UI 1.1 on Android Pie right out of the box. This is the same software build as on the Galaxy S10, and it has a very similar feature set. I really like what Samsung has done with One UI. The interface strikes a good balance between features and ease of use.
Samsung makes it easy to switch between an iOS style app-based grid and the more standard app drawer and homescreen layout. If you prefer gestures, it is easy to toggle off the home, menu, and back keys. Samsung’s overzealous animations can get a little old, but the company also lets you turn them off in the settings.
Overall, the software experience is pleasing and doesn’t get in the way. The phone isn’t entirely free of bloat, but it’s kept to a minimum compared to some devices. There are a few preloaded apps, like Microsoft’s office apps and a Daily Hunt news app. Samsung’s own apps have a tendency to spam the notifications shade and you will want to turn them off.
Since launch, the Galaxy A30 has received a few hotfixes to improve stability. In February, the phone received an update to Android 10 and along with it came One UI 2.0. The latest version of Samsung’s interface brings with it a range of enhancements including a dark mode, improved navigation gestures as well as improvements to Digital Wellbeing. The update also added the February security patch.
- 16MP primary camera, 5MP wide-angle secondary camera
- 16MP front facing camera
- 1080p, 30fps video recording
The rear camera hardware on the Galaxy A30 pairs a 16MP primary camera with a 5MP wide-angle shooter. The latter does not have autofocus capabilities.
Much like Samsung’s other current mid-rangers, this phone boosts exposure when shooting with the primary camera. Shooting outdoors, images from the primary camera always appeared a bit overexposed.
Like the Galaxy S10, the A30 has a scene optimizer to bump up saturation and contrast a bit to make the image more striking and visually appealing. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you like to mess around with filters before sharing your shots, you’ll probably like it.
Coming to actual image quality, there is significant noise reduction going on and low-level details aren’t all that great. The shadows have a relatively low dynamic range, with little detail. This is all the more visible in the wide angle shot.
The Galaxy A30 manages quite well in capturing close up shots. The built-in scene optimizer helps give objects like flowers a slight saturation boost, enough to make your photos stand out on social media.
Low light imaging on the Galaxy A30 is pretty bad. The primary camera displays ample splotches, digital artifacts arising from attempts at reducing noise. Images appear soft and light on details. The wide-angle camera is much worse in its ability to control noise. All in all, the Galaxy A30 is not the camera to reach out for when shooting in less than ideal light.
Follow through to the link to view full resolution Samsung Galaxy A30 photo samples.
|Samsung Galaxy A30|
6.4-inch Super AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
Up to 512GB microSD
15W fast charging
Main: 16MP, f/1.9
Ultra-wide: 5MP, f/2.2
158.5 x 74.5 x 7.7mm
Black, Red, Blue
Value for money
The Galaxy A30 is priced starting at Rs. 14,799 (~$194) in India. The only variant available comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, in black, blue, or red.
The Galaxy A30 overlaps too much with other devices in Samsung's portfolio without offering an incentive to opt for it over the others.
At this price, it is hard to make a case for the phone. There’s nothing really wrong with the Galaxy A30, but it gets overshadowed by other phones within Samsung’s own portfolio. The Galaxy M30 offers a bigger battery, more RAM, and more storage at a very similar price point. If you are willing to spend a little more, the Galaxy A50 is perhaps the most well rounded midranger we’ve tried out recently.
Then there’s the Redmi Note 7 Pro, which offers vastly superior performance and a very good camera.
Now, in 2020, the phone has received a hardware upgrade in the form of the Galaxy A30s which makes it completely redundant. With the abundance of quality options like the Redmi Note 9 Pro, Realme 6 and the Poco X2, there’s no reason to pick the Galaxy A30 over the competition.
Despite the price cut, the Samsung Galaxy A30 is too old a phone to really compete with the modern alternatives.
Samsung Galaxy A30 review: Verdict
The Galaxy A30 delivers the goods in design, but fails to differentiate itself enough from Samsung’s other mid-range phones.
Nothing makes the Galaxy A30 stand out, and with so many good options available, being perfectly average doesn’t really cut it anymore.
If you are really enamored by the design of the phone, you won’t go wrong with it, but there are several, much more powerful and modern options available and there is little to no reason to consider the Galaxy A30.