Samsung’s S20 flagship lineup is impressive, but the trio of phones is also expensive as hell. In this economy, nobody is gonna spend up to $1,400 on a smartphone. We need more affordable options and Samsung just took the wraps off its budget lineup, with six budget handsets to choose from, each cheaper than the last. Of course, you sacrifice a few premium features by spending less money, but if you want an expansive display and a handful of camera lenses, each of Samsung’s A-series phones fits the bill. If you bump your budget up to $500, you can even get a 5G-capable phone, which is practically unheard of.
The Galaxy A51 5G, due out this summer, is the next generation of our favorite budget phone, Samsung’s Galaxy A50. The A51 ditches the notch in favor of a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with the centered hole-punch cut-out for the front-facing camera that Samsung first embraced with the Note 10 and has since rolled out to the rest of its lineup. You won’t get quad-HD resolution with the A51—Samsung reserved that for the pricier S-series—but full-HD+ should look just fine.
The A51 also sports four rear camera lenses: a 48-megapixel main lens (up from 24 megapixels in the A50), a 12-MP ultra-wide, and two 5-MP lenses (one macro and one for depth-sensing). A front-facing 32-MP lens rounds out the package, though it remains to be seen how Samsung’s camera software will stack up to other $500 handsets. Photography is not Samsung’s strong suit compared to the camera quality on Google’s Pixel 4 and Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro.
If you don’t want to wait for 5G, an LTE version of the Galaxy A51 will be available April 9 on Verizon and April 10 on Sprint for $400.
Samsung also has a higher-end A-series 5G phone set to launch this summer: At $600, the Galaxy A71 5G seems to strike a balance between the $1,000 Galaxy S20 and the $500 Galaxy A51 5G. You still don’t get a quad-HD display, but the A71 pumps up the volume on the A51 with a 6.7-inch Infinity-O display, a 64-MP main lens, a 4,500 mAh battery, 128GB of storage, and 6GB of RAM.
Samsung isn’t the only budget phone maker packing 5G inside though. TCL has a budget 5G phone slated for launch later this year, and at $400, it’s cheaper than the A51 5G. But it’s also TCL, a company better known for its affordable TVs than its 5G phones, and the TCL 10 5G will stick with an LCD display to cut costs, as opposed to the likely more vibrant AMOLED panel you’ll get with the Galaxy A51 5G.
Besides more affordable 5G, Samsung also has a trio of ultra-cheap phones ranging from $110 to $250. The cheapest of the bunch, the Galaxy A01, is pretty bare-bones. You’ll get a 5.7-inch HD+ screen with a teardrop notch, a 3,000 mAh battery, and a dual-lens camera (13-MP and 2-MP). It’s not a cutting-edge phone, but it is a cheap one.
The $180 Galaxy A11 and $250 Galaxy A21 both sport HD+ Infinity-O displays, 3,000 mAh batteries, and 32GB of storage (expandable up to 512GB). The pricier A21 has four camera lenses to the A11's three, 3GB of RAM compared to the A11's 2GB, and a slightly larger display (6.4 inches versus 6.3). Both will be available this summer.
But it’s the A51 that could be the budget phone to beat, with the right mix of features and affordability. We plan to review Samsung’s latest affordable handset to see what you get for less than $500.