Samsung's flagships can be pricey in the extreme, but the company makes tons of good phones that don't cost an arm and a leg. The Galaxy A13 5G is yet another: at just $250, it does everything you'd expect a smartphone to do, often better than you'd expect a budget smartphone to do it. If you don't want to drop extra cash on a more premium device, the A13 5G is definitely worth your consideration.
With comparatively strong performance, ample battery life, decent cameras, and long update support, the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is easy to like at 250 bucks.SpecificationsProsCons Buy This ProductSamsung Galaxy A13 5G Shop at Samsung Shop at Best Buy
The A13’s design isn’t particularly refined — it looks more or less like what I’d expect if I asked someone to draw a generic Android phone. The front’s got thick-for-2022 bezels surrounding a 6.5-inch display, complete with teardrop notch and extra-thick chin.ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY
I’m a little torn on the screen. It’s terrific Samsung managed to build a $250 phone with a 90Hz display, but as was the case with the latest Moto G Power, nothing else about that display is noteworthy. It’s a 720p LCD panel, which, given the price, I actually don’t mind here — but colors aren’t very vibrant, which gives the whole phone kind of a lifeless feel. As much as I like high-refresh rate screens, I think I’d have preferred a better quality 60Hz panel to the one that ended up in the A13. There also doesn’t seem to be any kind of oleophobic coating applied, so it collects a lot of fingerprints that aren’t easy to wipe off. I’ve noticed the seam between the screen and the phone’s body tends to trap more lint than on most phones, too.Image Gallery (3 Images)Expand Expand Expand
The back is eggshell-finish black plastic with three cameras and the flash in the top-left corner, and a Samsung logo at the bottom. There’s a volume rocker and satisfyingly quick power button-mounted fingerprint sensor on the right edge; a combo SIM/microSD card tray on the left; and a USB-C port, downward-firing speaker, and 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on the bottom. That single speaker is the A13’s only one, and it doesn’t sound good. It gets loud enough, but it doesn’t produce much bass to speak of and has a harsh quality.
Overall, the A13 is not an especially well built piece of hardware. It’s plasticky, it flexes and creaks, and its low-quality screen is hard to keep clean. But the fact that it feels cheap is tempered by the fact that it actually is cheap; it’s not any worse than I’d expect at this price point.
There's no charger in the box.
The phone comes with some literature, a chintzy SIM ejector tool, and a USB-C-to-C cable. There’s no charger in the box. The trend of flagships shipping without chargers doesn’t bother me much, and I understand that at this price, bundling a charger actually may have made the phone more expensive. But people shopping for $250 phones probably aren’t drowning in spare chargers the way hobbyists who spend $900 on a new phone every year are. Samsung should have included one.
You’re getting One UI 3.1 over Android 11 here, so there aren’t many surprises. It’s got all the normal Samsung tricks, including optional edge panels that add extra shortcuts and the ability to put apps in little windows for multitasking (you might not want to do that on a phone-sized 720p display, but you can).
More interesting than the software itself is the fact that Samsung is promising four years of security patches for the A13. That’s not unusual for Samsung in 2022, but it’s still heartening to see such a cheap phone getting decent support.
Running on a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset paired with four gigs of RAM, the A13 5G is a stronger performer than I expected. Flicking around home screens, opening and switching apps, and even playing some fairly intensive games like Call of Duty Mobile all went off without a hitch. You’ll still get the odd stutter or hang, and you’ll spend a little more time looking at app splash screens than you would with a more powerful device, but I think the user experience this hardware delivers is more than acceptable for a budget phone. It’s genuinely pretty good.Image Gallery (2 Images)Expand Expand
Battery life’s great, too. I’ve been a bit more of a homebody than usual during my time with the A13, but the phone managed to crank out about seven hours of mixed-use screen time across just over 48 hours between full charges. That time included web browsing, messaging, some light gaming, and multiple hours of watching YouTube videos over a 5G connection. You’d really have to try to kill this thing in a day.
The Galaxy A13 has three rear cameras: a 50-megapixel primary accompanied by two two-megapixel shooters, one macro, one depth. The primary camera kicks out decent images in good light. Its 50 megapixels are binned down to 12.5, and if you zoom in, fine detail starts to look like a watercolor painting. Uncropped shots taken in adequate lighting look good enough for social media, though.Image Gallery (9 Images)Expand Expand Expand Expand Expand Expand Expand Expand Expand
As you might imagine, the A13 struggles in dim lighting. There’s no dedicated low-light mode, and despite ISO climbing into the thousands in really dark settings, shutter speed is just too slow. In the last picture above, ISO was set to 5000 and shutter speed was a tenth of a second. You’re just not going to get sharp photos out of an unstabilized camera with such long exposures.
The two additional cameras might as well not be there at all. One’s a dedicated depth camera that allegedly assists with portrait mode, and the other is a fixed-focus macro shooter. Good macro cameras can be a lot of fun, but this is not one of them.
Shot on the Galaxy A13 5G's 2MP macro camera.
At two megapixels, photos from the A13’s macro camera are comparatively tiny: just 1,600 by 1,200 pixels. They’re also aggressively sharpened. They just aren’t good. It hardly hurts the phone to have features you won’t want to use, but it’s never a good look to add more cameras just for the sake of having a certain number. I’d much rather have a single, good camera.
Yes. I like this phone a lot more than I expected to. Performance is great for the price, battery life is really strong, and compared to other phones in this price range, its cameras aren’t bad at all (well, the primary one, anyway). It’s also getting longer update support than a lot of phones do, even more expensive ones like the Pixel 5a.
I do wish the display was a little nicer, and the build quality is mildly troubling — I wonder how it’ll stand up to rough use. But in light of how affordable the phone is, all the issues I have with it seem insignificant. If you want a brand-new phone for about 250 bucks, the Galaxy A13 5G is among your best options today.
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Taylor was a phone nerd long before joining Android Police in 2018. He currently carries a Pixel 6 Pro, which he uses mostly to take pictures of his dogs.MoreFrom Taylor Kerns