The Galaxy A50 is one of Samsung's first A-series phones to hit the US. At a decidedly midrange $349, it offers a flagship-level design, a beautiful AMOLED display, and a battery that will easily get you through the day. But with just-average performance, a lackluster speaker, a poor fingerprint sensor, and no guarantee of software updates, the Galaxy A50 simply doesn't offer the same value proposition as the $399 Google Pixel 3a.
The A50 looks every bit the flagship. It's thin, sleek, and sports an edge-to-edge display that's uncommon to find on phones in this price range. With the exception of a small teardrop notch for the selfie cam, there's almost no bezel—another rarity for the price. It measures 6.24 by 2.94 by 0.30 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.86 ounces.
Flip the A50 over and you'll find a glossy plastic back in an almost iridescent black. A vertically aligned triple camera stack is at the top left, and there's a monochromatic Samsung logo in the center. While the design is undoubtedly attractive, it picked up a number of nicks and scratches during our review period.
The top of the phone is bare, while the bottom is home to a headphone jack, a speaker, and a USB-C charging port. On the left you'll find a hybrid SIM/microSD slot, and the right houses the volume rocker and power buttons. The buttons are easy enough to reach, even with small hands, and provide a satisfying click when pressed.
The 6.4-inch AMOLED display is, without a doubt, the A50's best feature. Resolution comes in at 2,340 by 1,080, for 403 pixels per inch, and everything looks wonderfully crisp, with inky blacks and vivid colors. The only downside is the in-display fingerprint sensor. In testing, it only worked about 40 percent of the time, and with a dirty finger or a smudged screen, it failed to respond at all.
Like most phones in this price range, the display uses Gorilla Glass 3, an older version of Corning's strengthened glass that's more likely to break with an accidental drop. And like the Pixel 3a and most other midrange phones, the A50 isn't water resistant, so we recommend a case to protect the phone from drops and water damage.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 supports LTE bands LTE 2,3,4,5,7,12,13,20,25,26,28,41,66,71. It's compatible with every US carrier, and even has band 71 for rural T-Mobile customers. In our tests on Verizon's network in downtown Manhattan, we clocked average data speeds of 57.4Mbps down and 64.8Mbps up.
Call quality is solid. Noise cancellation worked without a hitch, and at 68dB, the speaker is fine for indoor conversations, though you may encounter a little difficulty hearing calls on a busy street. The speakerphone clocked in at 82dB, which is loud enough to hear in a noisy room.
On the other hand, the Galaxy A50's bottom-firing speaker is a disappointment. With a peak volume of 93dB, it can easily fill a room, but audio quality gets tinny at higher volumes, so you don't want to rely on it for multimedia streaming. Fortunately, there's a headphone jack for wired audio, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless audio and wearable connectivity. NFC is also present for mobile payments.
Three sensors sit on the back of the Galaxy A50. The primary wide-angle sensor comes in at 25MP and has an f/1.7 aperture. It's complemented by a secondary 8MP ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5MP depth sensor.
The majority of our daylight test shots with the 25MP sensor looked crisp and offered excellent depth of field, though there were a couple with slight background blurring. The ultrawide sensor performed similarly, though we noticed a shot with some minor distortion around the edges.
For low-light photos with the 25MP sensor, most of our images were acceptable, but somewhat muted, with a hint of background noise. Photos with the ultrawide lens had noticeably more noise as well as some background blurring. There's really no comparison here with the terrific Pixel 3a, which has the absolute best camera you can get outside of a pricey flagship.
The front of the phone holds a 25MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture. In bright light, subjects were well defined, background details were crisp, and color accuracy was spot-on. Low-light photos were pretty solid as well, with good color accuracy and well-defined foreground detail. There was a little background blurring, but not enough to detract from the photo. Again, though, the Pixel 3a easily has the advantage in the camera department.
The Galaxy A50 is powered by a Samsung Exynos 9610 processor (comparable with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 series) and 4GB of RAM. There's also 64GB of storage, of which 48GB is available out of the box. If you need more space, the A50 supports up to 512GB of external storage with a microSD card.
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For basic tasks like email, web browsing, and social media, the A50 performs perfectly well. Once more than half a dozen apps are open, however, the A50 quickly slows down. Gaming is hit or miss as well. We tested the phone with Asphalt 8 and encountered long load times and intermittent skipped frames, but still managed to play without too much frustration.
Benchmark scores support our real-world findings. The phone turned in 5,389 on PCMark, an app that emulates everyday use. That's significantly behind many competitors in this price range including the Google Pixel 3a (7,378) and the Moto G7 Power (6,107).
The A50 packs a 4,000mAh battery. In our power drain test, in which we stream HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the phone lasted 8 hours and 54 minutes from a full charge. That's less than the Pixel 3a XL (9 hours, 22 minutes), but you should have no problem making it through a full day with more conservative use. Fast charging is supported with the 15W adapter included in the box.
The Galaxy A50 ships with Android 9.0 Pie and Samsung's One UI. Over the past few years, Samsung's custom UI has become more refined and doesn't deviate too far from stock Android. The most noticeable changes include a custom navigation bar, Samsung's suite of apps that duplicate most of Google's, and Samsung's Bixby taking the place of Google's Discover Feed.
We tested a review unit from Verizon, which included nearly a dozen bloatware apps (not counting Samsung's own). Fortunately, we were able to uninstall all of them.
While the Galaxy A50 doesn't have the latest version of Android, it appears that an update is in the cards for 2020. After that, however, all bets are off. If software updates are important to you, remember that the Pixel line runs stock Android and is guaranteed to get OS updates for at least three years.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is a solid midrange phone with good looks, a gorgeous OLED display, and solid battery life. If you're a die-hard Samsung fan in search of a good midrange handset, this is your best bet. If not, you should consider the Pixel 3a. It checks off all the same boxes as the A50, along with a superior fingerprint sensor, faster performance, better camera quality, and guaranteed software updates, making it our Editors' Choice.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 offers a handsome design and decent midrange specs, but it's not quite enough to compete with the Google Pixel 3a.
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