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Samsung Galaxy A50 review: A $350 phone that gives Galaxy a whole new meaning – PCWorld

Samsung Galaxy A50 review: A $350 phone that gives Galaxy a whole new meaning – PCWorld

In no uncertain terms, there’s nothing about the $350 Galaxy A50 that’s only half as good as the $750 S10e. Quite frankly, there’s nothing about it that’s only 40 percent as good as the $900 S10, either. I know that’s not technically how pricing works, but when you have two phones from the same company that are priced so far apart, it’s only natural to compare them.

Unlike the Google Pixel 3a, which basically copied the Pixel 3 note for note with subtle downgrades to bring down the price, there are some major differences between the mid-range A50 and the premium Galaxy S10+. But the main similarities—a giant OLED display, triple-camera array, in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a selfie cutout—give the phones a remarkable kinship. They even have the same pretty, prism-inspired color options.

Update 11 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated that the A50 has IP68 water resistance.

Of course, every mid-range Android phone is essentially designed for people who can’t or simply don’t want to pay upwards of a thousand bucks for an S10 or a Pixel 3, and still want a top-notch Android experience. But with the A50, Samsung has done more than create an affordable phone with the illusion of premium. It’s given budget-minded smartphone purchasers a Galaxy handset they can love as much as an S10.

A great design starts at the display

There’s no “plus” model of the A50, but it clocks in at whopping 6.4 inches in diagonal display width, the same size as the Note 9 and Galaxy S10+. Suffice it to say, if you don’t like big phones, the A50 probably won’t appeal to you.

Christopher Hebert/IDG

The Infinity U display on the A50 has its issues when compared to the S10+, but that shouldn’t deter you from buying one.

If you can handle its size, the A50 is an extremely well designed phone for $350. Like the S10e, the Galaxy A50 has a “flat” Infinity U screen as opposed to the curved display on the Galaxy S and Note lines. The flatness means there are visible bezels all around, but they’re not distracting in the slightest. If you’re coming from a Galaxy S, in fact, you might actually appreciate them, because you’re much less likely to touch the side of the screen accidentally with the wrong grip. The display’s namesake feature—the tiny notch at the top for the selfie cam—makes the whole package feel more compact than a 6.4-inch phone should.

What isn’t so great is the fingerprint sensor built into the bottom of the screen. Samsung is using an optical scanner here rather than the ultrasonic one on the S10, but the results are no less spotty. Even after a mid-review update, missed scans and error messages were the norm. Oftentimes I opted to enter my passcode rather than even try. It might look cool, but there’s a reason why in-screen scanners are more common on midrange phones than premium ones: The technology isn’t nearly as polished as the pricier one it’s supposed to replace.

galaxy a50 ports Christopher Hebert/IDG

The $350 A50 has one thing the thousand-dollar Galaxy S10+ doesn’t have: a headphone jack.

The display on the A50 is Full HD OLED (2340×1080), but the difference between it and the 1440p screen on the S10 is more than just pixel density. The gap in display quality is far more noticeable than the one between the Pixel 3 XL and the Pixel 3a, and the pristine attention to detail isn’t nearly as evident as it is on the S10. Case in point: When you’re using an app that doesn’t fill the whole display, the top few millimeters of the screen bend slightly inward, a phenomenon you won’t find on the S10 or Note 9.