Samsung Galaxy A71 Review
The Galaxy A71 offers most of what's great about flagship Samsung phones for a lower price. Unless top-of-the-line features and specs are absolutely needed, this is arguably the perfect Android smartphone for most people, as it should check the necessary boxes for all but the most hardcore Android users. It offers solid performance, long battery life, plenty of camera options and even a headphone jack, while possible downsides for some may be its plastic back, mediocre single speaker and its tall screen aspect ratio.
Design & Display
Featuring smooth edges all around, a tall Gorilla Glass-covered display, and a glossy plastic back, the Galaxy A71 looks and feels premium. Its frame may look like metal but it's plastic also, much like the back, but don't let that discourage you from choosing this smartphone. The plastic on it feels smooth, yet non-slippery, but it does flex a bit when pressed hard on.
The Galaxy A71 sports a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with a tall 20:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080. The display is sharp and beautiful, with pitch blacks and rich, yet not oversaturated colors. The unusual aspect ratio means users will have to pinch-to-zoom in order to fill the screen when watching YouTube or, say, Netflix, which means parts of the top and bottom frame of the videos will be cut out. However, the tall screen makes for a great reading experience, and more information is visible at a glance when scrolling through social media feeds.
A small, centered punch hole inside the display holds the phone's selfie camera. It's tiny enough to not get much in the way of enjoying your content on this phone. Even when watching videos, most users may completely forget about it. Similarly, the small chin below the display is easy to overlook.
The Galaxy A71 supports always-on display, which doesn't seem to impact the battery life too much, and is a welcome feature. Always-on display means valuable information such as time, calendar and even notifications are always visible on the screen, even when the phone is locked.
In addition, hidden under the screen is the phone's fingerprint sensor, which works reliably every time, even if it's not the fastest, taking nearly a second between placing your finger on it and the phone unlocking.
Unfortunately, the A71 lacks any dust or water resistance, and also doesn't support wireless charging, unlike Samsung's flagship options. The phone features three "Prism Crush" color options - silver, black and blue. In addition, it weighs a comfortable 179 grams, making it not too heavy and not too light.
Camera & Audio
The Galaxy A71's arsenal of cameras make it suitable for photography in any conditions. The rounded rectangular module on the phone's back holds four cameras, the main one at 64 megapixels. Although that number matches the one seen on the Galaxy S20's telephoto camera, this isn’t the same cam. The rest are a 5-megapixel depth camera, an ultra-wide 12-megapixel shooter with a 123-degree angle of view, and a 5-megapixel macro camera for taking extreme close-ups. Above the latter is also a flash, useful for nighttime shots.
Pictures come out nice and sharp, with good dynamic range. Colors are fairly true to life and not exaggerated. When zooming into photos taken with the A71, though, there is noticeable oversharpening. Regardless, under normal, well-lit conditions both the main and wide-angle cameras produce great results. Nighttime photos are a bit of a mixed bag, with shots sometimes coming out either a bit blurry or with blown out light sources, whereas other times they can look fantastic, so long as there are strong light sources, such as street lights nearby to light up the scene.
Portrait shots turn out satisfactory, with the main subject appearing properly separated from the background, which itself is blurred more or less, based on depth. When done in sunlight, portrait photos can easily appear as if taken with a dedicated DSLR camera, and would be perfect for social media.
Video quality is generally good, with footage appearing sharp and vibrant in our 4K video testing, albeit a bit shaky and with occasionally blown-out whites, when there is strong sunlight. The camera is quick to focus, which is great, while the available 8X zoom is welcome but entirely digital, so quality is being lost when zooming in. The A71 does have a Super Steady video mode, which offers impressive stabilization at the cost of lesser video quality, with colors being less vivid and overall resolution appearing much lower with that feature on. Nighttime video recording can turn out well under certain conditions, where plenty of light sources are available, but is mostly average.
When it comes to audio, great sound quality doesn't seem to be a priority with this phone, as it features a single down-firing speaker, which produces unimpressive sound. It lacks punch and bass, and it's far from the loudest, making it difficult to hear in outdoor environments. On the plus side, the phone does have a headphone jack.
Software & Performance
Performance from the Galaxy A71 is smooth and snappy, with zero hiccups. The phone is running Android 10 with Samsung's One UI 2.0 skin on top, while on the inside it's packing the reasonably fast Snapdragon 730 upper-midrange processor with either 6 or 8GB of RAM. Browsing through menus or social media feeds, and even multitasking is a completely lag-free experience. Gaming is smooth also, although heavier games may need to be set to Medium graphics settings.
At the time of this review, the phone's latest Android security patch is from April. Samsung's One UI 2.0 interface comes with a nice variety of features, such as a screen recorder, flashlight and Edge Screen, which allows for accessing information, quick actions and even apps by swiping from the edge of the display.
Unlike Samsung's flagships, the Galaxy A17 doesn't have Samsung DeX support, but it does allow for split screen multitasking and running windowed apps. By default, navigation is done through on-screen buttons, but it can be switched to Android 10's gesture navigation.
The 4,500 mAh battery on board can last this phone well over two days of light usage on a single charge, even with always-on display. Most users should be able to get a day and a half between charges, or a comfortable single day of heavy usage. Charging up is quick, thanks to the phone's 25-watt Super-Fast Charging capabilities.
Best Samsung Galaxy A71 alternatives
iPhone SE offers impressive camera quality and raw performance for a slightly higher price. On the downside, it sports an outdated design and lacks wide-angle and macro cameras. It's also missing a headphone jack.
Nokia 5.3 also has wide-angle and macro cameras, and offers good performance along with long battery life. Its 6.55-inch IPS display is far less sharp than the one on the Galaxy A71, but it still offers impressive contrast and high peak brightness. The Nokia 5.3's speaker is much louder, and the phone has a headphone jack too.
Pixel 3a is a good alternative to the Galaxy A71, so long as carrying a much less attractive smartphone isn't an issue. The Pixel 3a has a great battery life, solid performance, and again a welcome headphone jack.