If you're not willing to shell out for a big-bucks flagship phone, device makers are increasingly ready to meet your price. And Samsung is the latest company to try its hand at a less expensive phone that still offers some premium features.
Samsung announced today (June 11) that its Galaxy A50 will lead a parade of mid-tier Galaxy A Series handsets as they become available through a variety of U.S. carriers over the summer. The A50 hits Verizon on Thursday (June 13), where it will cost $349. For context, the Galaxy S10e, the low-cost entry among Samsung's flagship Galaxy S10 phones, costs $749 at Verizon, so that's a significant discount.
In bringing the Galaxy A50 and similar phones to the U.S., Samsung is following a trail blazed by Google last month, when the phone maker introduced the $399 Pixel 3a. That's a $400 discount off the Pixel 3, even though the 3a offers the same quality cameras as Google's pricier flagships. Instead, Google used a less powerful processor and cheaper materials on its budget phone, while also dropping features like wireless charging.
Galaxy A50 Camera: Three rear lenses
The Galaxy A50 also puts an emphasis on mobile photography, with a multi-lens setup that's meant to approach what you get from the S10 lineup. The A50 features a 25-megapixel main shooter augmented by an 8-MP wide angle lens that offers a 123-degree field of view. In addition, there's a 5-MP depth lens on the back of the A50 to help produce bokeh effects on portrait shots.
That's not far off from what you get with the latest phones in Samsung's Galaxy S series. The S10e, for example, sports two rear lenses — a 12-MP main camera with a variable aperture and a 16-MP ultra wide angle lens. (The aperture on the A50's main camera is fixed at f/1.7, so there's one of the trade-offs you'll make with the less expensive phone.)
The more expensive S10 models add a telephoto lens to that setup. So while A50 owners won't get the optical zoom that Samsung's more expensive phones feature, they'll still be able to take more detailed landscape photos and add effects to their portraits.
The A50 will also benefit from the Scene Optimizer feature that Samsung uses on its more expensive phones. This software-powered tool uses artificial intelligence to recognize 20 different scenes and adjust camera settings to take the best possible shot.
Galaxy A50 Specs vs Pixel 3a
|Galaxy A50||Pixel 3a|
|Screen (Resolution)||6.4-inch OLED (2340 x 1080)||5.6-inch OLED (2260 x 1080)|
|CPU||Exynos 9610||Snapdragon 670|
|Rear Camera||25-MP main (f/1.7), 8-MP wide (f/2.2), 5-MP depth (f/2.2)||12-MP (f/1.8)|
|Front Camera||25-MP (f/2.0)||8-MP (f/2.0)|
|Battery Size||4,000 mAH||3,000 mAh|
|Availability||Verizon||Google Fi, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon|
As for the front of the phone, the Galaxy A50's 6.4-inch OLED screen trades the punch-hole cutout of the Galaxy S10 lineup's Infinity-O display for an Infinity-U panel with a teardrop notch to house the front camera. That selfie cam is a 25-MP shooter. Notches aren't universally popular, but the teardrop design does allow the A50 to use thinner bezels on the top of the phone, squeezing more screen space into its 6.2 x 2.9 x 0.3-inch frame.
In other parts of the world, the Galaxy A50 runs on Samsung's own Exynos 9610 chipset, and that's apparently what will power the U.S. version. (For the U.S. releases of its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones, Samsung uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile processing platform while other markets get Exynos-powered phones.) The phone will feature 4GB of RAM and you can augment its 64GB of onboard storage with up to 512GB of storage via a microSD slot.
The Galaxy A50 will top some S10 models in at least one area. It's got a 4,000 mAh battery, which is the same size as the power pack inside the Galaxy S10 Plus — a phone that costs $650 more. The S10 Plus is among the longest lasting phones we've tested, so we're eager to find out if the Galaxy A50 makes the most of its big battery.
More Galaxy A Series phones to come
Look for other phones to join the Galaxy A50 later this summer. Samsung says the $249 Galaxy A20 and $179 Galaxy A10e are coming to the U.S. as well, though there's no specific launch date. Carriers offering Samsung's A Series phones include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, U.S. Cellular and Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service.
The A20 will also feature a 4,000 mAh battery along with a 6.4-inch display, 13-MP rear camera and 32GB of storage, while the 5.83-inch Galaxy A10e offers an 8-MP camera, 3,000 mAh battery and 32GB of storage. Both phones use an Infinity-V display, which features a teardrop cutout for the front camera that's more V-shaped than the rounder Infinity-U cutout.