In the good old times, when carriers ate the iPhone or Galaxy S-line price above $200 with subsidies, there was a veritable dearth of midrange option on US carriers for the simple fact that nobody cared about going cheaper than $200 or $300 if they could get less than a flagship for that tag.
Now that carriers managed to shift that full price phone burden to subscribers, people are either keeping their phones longer, or increasingly looking into affordable midrangers that now do most of what you can do with a flagship, save for the camera prowess. This market shift has slowly started to increase the number and quality of midrange offerings from carriers, even though the US still lags behind other countries in that respect.
It was usually last year's flagship from Samsung, LG, Apple and the like, that is this year's midranger, but with the arrival of Samsung and Google's A-series of phones, things have shaken up a little in that particular market segment. This is why we pit the newly-minted Galaxy A50
against the perennial Moto G7
favorite and the homebrew Pixel 3a
to gauge who's boss in the value-for-money segment on US carriers.
Galaxy A50 vs Moto G7 vs Pixel 3a design and specs
On paper, the A50
has the best specs of these three puppies, with the largest, 4000mAh battery, fastest charging, the highest 128GB storage amount, extra wide-angle camera, and the highest sensor resolution, if anyone is still counting pixels.
3a, however, beats it where it counts in the camera area - it has the largest pixel sensor size of all three, presuming a better low-light performance, as well as 4K video recording abilities. Other than that, the three phones' processors are decidedly midrange.
While the A50's 6.4-inch OLED panel is brighter, with higher resolution, and the best minimum brightness compared to the 5.6" OLED display of the Pixel, or the 6.2" LCD screen of the Motorola, its color accuracy leaves something to be desired in comparison with the other two.
Display measurements and quality
Last but not least here, design differences! The A50 and G7 have much larger screen diagonals than the Pixel 3a, yet they don't have a much bigger footprint due to the better screen-to-body ratio, and yet the Pixel feels most manageable in the hand, if you are willing to sacrifice some screen estate.
The Galaxy A50 and the Pixel are unapologetically plastic which is a breath of fresh air in a $350 phone you don't want to baby, whereas the Motorola goes with today's typical glass body. Samsung pledged to bring high-end features downmarket and the in-display finger scanner of the A50 is a case in point, making it as modern as they come at this price.
Galaxy A50 vs Moto G7 vs Pixel 3a camera prowess
- Pixel 3a: 12MP f/1.8 main + 8MP front cam, 4K30 video
- Galaxy A50: 25MP f/1.7 main + 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide + 5MP depth, 25MP front cam
- Moto G7: 12MP + 5MP depth cam, single LED flash, 4K30 video, 8MP front cam
We know what you've gathered around for, you can live without some internal storage or a bit shorter battery life, but when it comes to picture quality, that can not be rectified once the phone is purchased, right? Well, it may come as a shocker, but the Pixel 3a is football yard ahead of the direct competition here. Not only is it the only one with an optically-stabilized camera sensor, but it is also capable of cool 4K video recording, something that the A50 lacks.
As for the image quality - well, it's the same camera kit and most of the software available on the Pixel 3
, one of the best mobile cameras out there. The A50 and Moto G7 ain't bad when there is enough light around, but once the sun starts to set down or once you press the video recording button, the Pixel 3a is dribbling flawlessly around them on the way to the goal posts. Check out some of its stills and video samples for better illustration.
Pixel 3a kills it in both day and night shots
If we have to rank the cameras on the three phones, despite the wide-angle prowess of the Galaxy A50, the G7 takes slightly better shots at night, and is capable of 4K video recording, so it would go second, whereas Samsung has more pleasing day shot colors. The first place in camera abilities, however, is unequivocally for the Pixel 3a.
Galaxy A50 vs Moto G7 vs Pixel 3a battery life and charging speeds
Don't look now, but the 4000 mAh battery pack of the Galaxy A50 does what it says on the tin - keeps you powered through the longest of days, with nearly 11 hours of screen-on time on our demanding battery test.
While impressive, the difference with the Pixel and the Motorola that both behave admirably for their battery capacities, is not that big, considering the 30% larger battery pack on the A50. In short, you won't be disappointed with all three phones when it comes to endurance, and all three have fast charging that will top up their power units for about 1.5 hours which is pretty quick.
Galaxy A50 vs Moto G7 vs Pixel 3a prices and wrap-up
So, which one should you get? The Pixel 3a is $399 retail, but can go down to $299 on promo, the A50 is $349 but can be $240 with Verizon's discounts, while the Moto G7 is the cheapest of the bunch at $299, and can often be found at $200 even.
If your budget is of concern, go with the Moto G7 - it is a well-rounded midranger that doesn't excel in any one point, but will disappoint in no respect, either. For two to three Benjamins, it's a no brainer.
If the camera part is not that important to you, the Galaxy A50 steps it up many notches - from its "all-screen" design with in-display finger scanner, to its longest endurance on a charge, and the generous 128GB memory amount.
If you are the socialite type that needs good photos and videos in any situations Google's stellar computational photography algorithms and optically-stabilized video can now be had on the cheap for less than four Benjamins. Besides the aging design and the lack of LED notification light, however, the Pixel 3a downsides aren't many at that price, so if you can trade those for the excellent camera and the quick software updates, Google's midrange Pixel rings as a winner, and it should, as it is the most expensive of the bunch.