Three models of the Samsung Galaxy A50 smartphone

These days, a top-flight smartphone can be a major investment, but our testers have found a great, low-cost solution. In a world of $1,000 smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy A50, ($350; prices vary), stands out for its exceptional blend of features and value.

It may not have the cachet of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max or Samsung’s Galaxy S10+, but it’s the only model in the top half of our ratings with a budget-friendly price. And while it doesn’t rise to the levels of Samsung’s top-rated S-series models, it comes pretty close.

In fact, the A50 scored well enough that Richard Fisco, CR’s head of electronics testing who spends a nice chunk of his time analyzing smartphone test results, decided to buy one for himself.

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“When I looked at the performance specs and features, they were more than good enough for how I use the phone,” he says. “I don’t play games, edit photos, or watch 4K video.”

The processor was plenty fast, screen quality was great, and cameras were adequate for his needs, he explains, so he took the plunge—and he’s very happy with that decision.

Here’s a deeper look at the A50’s test results and cutting-edge features, as well as a peek at what you’ll be missing out on if you opt to buy one. 

Quick Take

Samsung Galaxy A50

Price: $350

Battery life
Display
Camera: Rear image quality
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The Good

Great battery life. If staying power is one of your biggest priorities, this phone has a lot to offer. In our testing, the A50 lasted 34 hours on a single charge. That’s good enough to land the model in our top 10 list for battery life; ahead of fancier and more expensive phones, such as the Note10+.

Big, beautiful display. You wouldn’t expect a phone at this price to have an OLED display, but the A50 does.

OLED technology, also used on some higher-priced TVs, give you blacker blacks and nearly unlimited viewing angles. The screens tend to be thinner, too, allowing smartphone makers to slim down a phone’s overall size.

Better yet, the testers say the A50’s 6.4-inch display is supersharp, displaying smooth images. That 6.4-inch span, measured diagonally, makes it one of the largest phablets in our ratings.

Great performance. Unlike the S-Series phones, this model doesn’t come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Instead it uses a Samsung-designed Exynos 9610.

While it may lack the exceptional horsepower of Samsung’s flagship phones, the A50 still scored high enough to earn an Excellent rating for performance. That means its upload and download speeds match up well with today’s premium phones.  

The Bad

There are, of course, inevitable trade-offs when you buy a budget-priced product. Here’s where the A50 falls short of its S-series siblings.

OK cameras. If you relish exhibiting fine-art photos on Facebook and Instagram, you may want to look elsewhere.

The A50 has 25-megapixel cameras on the front and back of the phone, plus a second rear 8MP camera with an ultrawide lens. But those extra megapixels don’t mean better images. Most of our top-rated smartphone cameras range between 10 and 16MP.

Overall, our testers found the A50’s cameras to be decent but nowhere near as good as those found on Samsung’s top-tier phones. They don’t have optical-image stabilization, either, which means they’re more likely to produce blurry images, especially in low-light situations.

But if you just aren’t that interested in smartphone photography and you use your trusty SLR camera for important occasions, the A50’s cameras may be just fine for you.

Durability questions. This phone literally went to pieces during our admittedly tough tumble test. We use a rotating chamber that repeatedly drops a phone from a height of about 2.5 feet. The phone is checked for damage after 50 drops and then again after 100. The goal of all that repetition is to expose it to impacts from a wide variety of angles.

When we checked the A50 after 50 drops, the display was broken and the phone no longer worked. By comparison, the Galaxy S10 and S10+ emerged unscathed after 100 drops. The $700 S10e survived, too, but with a few more scrapes and bruises than its siblings.

So regardless of the budget price, you’ll want to invest in a case for the A50 to protect it.

The Bottom Line

So is this a good phone? Technically, yes.

Overall, we recommend it and rate it as Very Good.

That said, if you’re thinking about buying one, you need to keep your expectations in check. If you’re a camera phone connoisseur or a premium phone user who depends on a speedy processor, you might be better off looking at older S-Series model instead.

The Galaxy S9, for example, now sells for as low as $500.

But for the money, a lot of people are going to be okay with what this phone provides.

Just make sure you don’t drop it.