We're halfway through 2020 and the least-expensive 5G phone you currently can buy is still the OnePlus 8, which costs $699. Thankfully, the affordable 5G resolution is imminent and it begins with the $599 Samsung Galaxy A71 5G.
Sure, a $600 for a phone is still rather pricey, but the Galaxy A71 5G is important because it breaks some barriers to entry that have kept 5G an exclusively high-end, flagship proposition until now. It also should compete quite formidably against the OnePlus Nord, which looks to offer comparable specs for a similarly compelling price.
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Unlike the pricey Galaxy S20 series, which incorporates Snapdragon 865 processors, the Galaxy A71 employs the slower yet cheaper Snapdragon 765, which is Qualcomm's system-on-chip with an integrated 5G modem designed specifically for mid-range devices.
The 765 combines two performance-focused 2.2GHz cores with six efficiency-minded 1.8GHz cores, for a decent balance of speed and endurance. It's also exclusive to the North American version of the Galaxy A71; Internationally, the phone will ship with Samsung's Exynos 980 processor.
Price: $599; $649 (Verizon)
OS: Android 10 with One UI
Display: 6.7-inch OLED (2400x1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 765
Storage: 128GB; expandable up to 1TB
Rear camera: Quad-lens: 64MP wide (ƒ/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 5MP depth (ƒ/2.2), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.4)
Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2)
Battery: 4,500 mAh
The hope is that the Snapdragon 765 will usher in a wave of attainable 5G phones, from the TCL 10 5G to even Google's Pixel 5, depending on whose rumors you've been listening to. The Galaxy A71 5G is the first of that breed, having launched June 19 at T-Mobile and Sprint. On July 16, it'll drop at Verizon. The A71 5G is also available from AT&T or unlocked direct from Samsung.
In terms of promotions, T-Mobile is cutting the Galaxy A71's price in half at launch for customers adding a line or switching to the Uncarrier. The device will land on AT&T on July 10, and in addition to a similar $300 off offer like T-Mobile's, buyers there will get a $100 Visa gift card for a limited time.
Additionally, Verizon just announced its own variant of the Galaxy A71 customized for its millimeter-wave network. Called the Galaxy A71 5G UW, this model tacks on a $50 premium, bringing the total to $649. That's still one of the cheapest points of entry to Verizon's 5G network — only the Moto 5G Mod costs less — but the A71 5G UW will come with a newer, more powerful chipset and better-designed modem. You'll be able to buy the A71 5G UW on a 24-month plan for $27 every billing cycle, though Verizon is offering it for as low as $15 per month when purchased in tandem on a new line of service with one of its unlimited plans.
Aside from the 5G pitch, the Galaxy A71 is an otherwise well-appointed handset, with a robust 6GB of RAM, 128GB of built-in storage, a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display with full-HD resolution, a 4,500-mAh battery and four cameras on the back comprising primary, ultra wide, depth and macro lenses.
In typical Samsung fashion, you'll be able to upgrade the Galaxy A71's total storage through the use of a microSD card, up to 1TB in size. A 25-watt fast charger will ship with the phone to help it juice back up as quickly as possible, but the A71 notably lacks wireless charging.
It's important to note that the Galaxy A71 isn't the only relatively-cheap 5G phone we expect to see from Samsung this year. There's also a 5G variant of the Galaxy A51 — a phone we reviewed, though weren't necessarily enamored with, ironically due to its anemic CPU. Presumably, a 5G version of that same phone will sport beefed up performance, as a result of Samsung having to slot in a different chipset. There's still no word on the Galaxy A51 5G's ETA.