Big and heavy
No wireless charging
Update, April 2021: We have updated this review with references to new alternatives, price changes, and software updates.
What’s the Galaxy A71 5G like?
- Aluminum frame
- Plastic rear
- 162.3 x 71 x 9mm
- 6.7-in Super AMOLED Plus
- 2,400 x 1,080 FHD+
- 20:9 aspect ratio
The Galaxy A line has evolved over the years to develop a look and feel that’s distinct from the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. The Galaxy A71 looks a bit like a brick and feels like one too — but in a good way.
The phone is large, with squared-off shoulders and feet. It boldly owns the rectangular obsidian slab that it is. It’s about the same size as the Galaxy Note 20, believe it or not.
Curved glass covers the front of the display and it slides into the metal frame expertly. The frame wraps all the way around the outer edges of the phone. A plastic panel covers the back of the phone. It has a glass-like paint job. Samsung gave it a two-tone look that changes as you move the phone around. It’s kind of neat. Shame the glossy blue coating is so prone to collecting fingerprints and dust.
See also: The best Samsung phones
A large camera module adorns the upper left corner of the rear, where you’ll spot four lenses and a flash. It mimics the look of the camera modules of the Galaxy S20 series, but is not nearly as garish or oversized.
Samsung positioned the screen lock button and volume toggle on the right edge of the phone. These buttons worked well. The SIM tray is tucked into the top edge, and you’ll find a USB-C port, headphone jack, and speaker grille on the bottom edge.
Good, simple stuff here from Samsung.
The 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display looks quite good. The resolution is more than enough to flesh out the content you’ll consume on the screen. Everything looked bright, sharp, and color-rich. You can tone things down a bit via the settings if you wish. Viewing angles were good.
It’s no 120Hz, Quad HD beast, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s all the screen most people will ever need.
An optical fingerprint scanner is hidden under the glass. I found it was easy to train, but it was a bit hit or miss when it came to unlocking the phone.
Is it fast? Is battery life any good?
- Snapdragon 765G
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- microSD to 1TB
- 4,500mAh lithium ion
- 18W charging
- No wireless charging
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G may not have a top-of-the-line chip aboard, but it has the next best thing. The Snapdragon 765G is no slouch and serves the device well. We ran the usual benchmarks and found it to consistently run better than about two-thirds of the catalog of devices in the AnTuTu and GeekBench 4 databases.
In the real world, the phone felt snappy and quick. Not once did the phone ever feel bogged down or slow, and I saw no stuttering or lagging within apps or screen transitions. I tried several games, including Fortnite, and they all ran well, though not at the highest settings. Bottom line, the Snapdragon 765G is more than enough processor for this phone.
Related: The best Samsung Galaxy A72 cases
On the battery front, the 4,500mAh power cell does a commendable job pushing the phone through more than a full day. Under typical use, the phone easily lasted me 1.5 days. Even on days that I cranked up the brightness or played lots of games, it managed to have 20% or more left in the tank at the end of the day. Screen-on time generally measured just under seven hours.
The phone supports 18W charging, which is adequate in this price range. In our tests, the phone charged to 43% in 30 minutes, 78% in 60 minutes, and took about 90 minutes to reach 100%. Those are competitive numbers, all things considered.
How’s the camera?
- Main: 64MP
- Ultra-wide: 12MP
- Macro: 5MP
- Depth: 5MP
- Selfie: 32MP
- Video: 4K at 30fps
It’s great to see a quad-camera array on a $550 phone, though I’d have preferred to see Samsung skip the macro and go with a telephoto instead. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard setup.
Read more: The best budget camera phones you can buy
Out of the box, the phone shoots binned-down 16MP images. You have to manually select the full 64MP resolution if you want to use it. Otherwise, you can shoot in several different aspect ratios, including the full 21:9 screen for that cinema-like scope. The app offers the usual sets of shooting modes, including pro, panorama, food, night, macro, super slow-mo, slow motion, and hyperlapse.
The main camera does a fine job snagging decent-looking photos. I was pleased with sharpness and focus, though results showed the typical Samsung color profile — which is to say a touch oversaturated. You’ll see a bit more noise when shooting in 64MP mode, but it’s not egregious. HDR performance was solid, but could do better to brighten up those dark spots.
The ultra-wide lens fires off shots at 123 degrees. There’s a little optical distortion visible in the photos, but it only adds to the ultra-wide effect. I like the drama possible with ultra-wide shots. At 12MP, the sensor does a reasonably good job. There’s a bit more sharpening visible in the final results than the main camera, and the image is somewhat noisy. Last, darker regions are underexposed.
I’m still confused as to why phone makers think people want macro cameras, but the A71 has one nonetheless. I found that getting the focus you want could be a bit tedious when shooting stuff such as flowers, but at least the results are colorful.
Samsung did well to include a depth camera to assist those all-important portraits. Shooting portraits of others was satisfying, though edge detection wasn’t quite perfect. The bokeh fall off looked quite good.
Similar to the main camera, the 32MP selfie camera bins down to 8MP for regular shooting. You have to manually select the higher pixel count if you want it. Either way, the shots are fine. I found results to be in focus, with reasonably good color, and minimal noise or sharpening. The majority of people will be pleased with their shots.
Last, video. The A71 shoots at several different resolutions, with the maximum set at 4K at 30fps. The footage I shot was average in terms of quality. You can opt for Full HD at 60fps, which looks smooth, as well as 21:9 cinema mode. Bottom line, as long as you’re in good lighting you should be pleased with what you see.
Full-resolution samples are available here.
Things I like about the A71
- 5G: The phone supports T-Mobile’s 5G network and we saw excellent performance there. While speeds were not as wholly impressive over the sub-6GHz network as we’ve seen on mmWave 5G, the A71 5G delivered download speeds that were consistently above 50Mbps just about everywhere we took it.
- Headphone jack: Most flagships eschew the headphone jack, but this mid-ranger has one!
- Build quality: The phone is solid and tougher than an all-glass device.
- Expandable storage: The A71 supports microSD cards up to 1TB.
Things I don’t like
- The size: It is a bit big, almost as big as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
- The weight: Though plastic rear panels are typically lighter than glass, this phone weighs a ton.
- Macro: Why the macro camera and not a telephoto camera, Samsung? Why?
- Bloatware: The phone is loaded with T-Mobile bloatware. While it runs One UI 2.1 out of the box, this can now be updated to One UI 3.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G specs
|Galaxy A01||Galaxy A11||Galaxy A21||Galaxy A51||Galaxy A51 5G||Galaxy A71 5G|
1,560 x 720
1,560 x 720
2,400 x 1,080
2,400 x 1,080
2,400 x 1,080
|Available||April 9||Summer||Summer||April 9||Summer||Summer|
Value and competition
- Samsung Galaxy A71 5G (6GB RAM, 128GB storage): — $599.99
The original price of this phone was $599.99, and right now it is still selling for full price. It offers a large, attractive display, zippy performance, solid cameras, and excellent battery life in an attractive and well-built slab.
The competition in this price range, however, is fierce.
For $200 less, you can score the Google Pixel 4a, which is definitely smaller, but it has a similar chipset and performance. Then there’s the OnePlus Nord, which has shaken things up in the mid-range in Europe. Last, there’s the Apple iPhone SE (2020) if you’d rather go with iOS. You can’t go wrong with any of these devices, though each has pros and cons.
If you want 5G or a big screen, the Pixel 4a 5G is a fantastic alternative for a similar price. Looking for something smaller and cheaper? Try the Pixel 4a. Looking for something that’s a lot better for a little more money? Go with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G review: Should you buy it?
Samsung did a bang-up job crafting an appealing piece of hardware that covers the basics and then some. That said, we think the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a better phone even if it’s more expensive.