Samsung Galaxy A51, hands on: Solid mid-range specs and performance

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The Galaxy A51 is a nicely specified handset that should appeal to Samsung fans looking for mid-range performance at a reasonable price. There are more affordable alternatives if you're interested in buying SIM-free, though.

My review sample came from Vodafone, where it's on contract from £34 a month. It is only available in black from Vodafone, but white, blue and silver versions are available direct from Samsung, where the handset will set you back £329 (inc. VAT) SIM free.

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The 6.5-inch Galaxy A51 runs on Samsung's mid-range Exynos 9611 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 4000mAh battery.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

For that money you get 128GB of internal storage, of which 21GB is used out of the box and 107GB is free for your own use. You can augment this via a MicroSD card without sacrificing one of the Galaxy A51's two SIM slots. There is just 4GB of RAM, although 6GB is becoming increasingly common, even at the lower end of the market. The Galaxy A51 runs on Samsung's Exynos 9611 processor and turned in respectable Geekbench 5 benchmarks, with average scores of 346 (single core) and 1321 (multi core). That's a shade under the benchmarks for the Motorola Moto G8, and Google Pixel 4a, but perfectly respectable for a handset at this price. 

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The Galaxy A51's 4000mAh battery kept the handset going for 11 hours and one minute under the PC Mark for Android Work 2.0 battery test, and when asked to play YouTube video for three hours non-stop at full screen, it dropped 20% from a full charge. 

In short, this is a handset that should be up to most everyday tasks, and as long as you don't push the battery too hard, you should get a day's use from it. 

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The Galaxy A51 is quite thin at 7.9mm (it's 158.5mm tall and 73.6mm wide), and weighs just 172g. It has a 3.5mm headset jack at the bottom, but the most impressive feature in design terms is the backplate. This has a couple of angled insets so that the design is a mix of two-tone plain design and vertical stripes. But even more interesting, the back refracts light in a true rainbow effect, which is really eye-catching. However, without a case it's a slippery critter.

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There are four cameras at the back: 48MP wide-angle; 12MP ultra-wide-angle; 5MP macro; and 5MP depth-sensing.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The 6.5-inch AMOLED screen delivers bright, punchy images, and its 2,400-by-1,080 pixel resolution (405ppi) means that text is readable and graphics look pretty sharp. There are small side and top bezels, and a slightly larger bottom bezel, making for a decent screen-to-body ratio of 87.4%. A punch-hole for the front camera sits in the top centre of the screen. The fingerprint sensor is in-screen, and Gorilla Glass 3 provides some protection against drops.

The quad camera setup at the rear is impressive for a handset at this price point. The main 48MP f/2.0 wide-angle camera is joined by 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle (123°), 5MP f/2.4 macro and 5MP f/2.2 depth sensing cameras. Images were pretty impressive, and I did enjoy using the macro lens. It's a shame this is hidden away under the More button on the main screen, where it sits with pro mode, panorama, food, night, slow-mo, super-slow-mo, and hyperlapse modes. The selfie camera is a 32MP unit with an f/2.2 wide-angle lens. 

Android 10 is coupled with Samsung's own UI and quite a lot of pre-installed extras, including Samsung Pay, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and Samsung's own Galaxy Store. Some of these can be deleted, but anything else you don't want will need to be hidden away in a folder somewhere.

For those on a budget, Samsung's Galaxy A51 performs capably, has a large screen, strong battery life and looks good. It's worth shopping around at this price though, as there's plenty of competition.

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Specifications

Details
SAR Value 1.037 W/kg (body), 1.207 W/kg (wireless router), 1.468 W/kg (simultaneous), 0.821 W/kg (head)
Body Color Prism crush black
Cellular
Technology CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Navigation GLONASS, GPS, Galileo
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900 / CDMA2000 1X 1900/800
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Intelligent Assistant Bixby
SIM Card Type nano SIM
SIM Card Slot Qty single-SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, voice control, call timer, conference call, flight mode, voice dialing, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, gyro sensor, hall sensor, geomagnetic sensor
Additional Features Fast Charging, Samsung KNOX, Bixby Vision
Security Devices Fingerprint reader (under display)
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, geomagnetic sensor, gyro sensor, hall sensor, proximity sensor
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, EV-DO, FDD-LTE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, TDD-LTE
3G UMTS Band Band 1, Band 2, Band 4, Band 5, Band 8
Wireless Interface ANT+, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC
Processor
Clock Speed 2.3 GHz
Processor Core Qty 8-core
Display
Technology Super AMOLED
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Display Format Full HD+
Diagonal Size 6.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 16.4 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 6.5 in
Color Support color
Features Edge-to-Edge screen
Manufacturer Warranty
Service & Support Limited warranty - 1 year
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MKV, FLV, AVI, WMV, ASF, 3GP, M4V, WebM, 3G2, MP4
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, WMA, AAC, AMR, MP3, FLAC, XMF, OGG, MIDI, M4A, MXMF, OGA, 3GA, AWB, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, MID
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC - up to 512 GB
User Memory 106 GB
Battery
Run Time Details Active online usage (LTE): up to 15 hrs
Active online usage (Wi-Fi): up to 16 hrs
Playback (video): up to 19 hrs
Playback (audio): up to 85 hrs
Talk (4G): up to 1680 min
Digital Camera
Special Effects Bokeh effect
Header
Brand Samsung
Product Line Samsung Galaxy
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, geomagnetic sensor, gyro sensor, hall sensor, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert, voice control, voice dialing
Security Devices fingerprint reader (under display)
Additional Features Bixby Vision, Fast Charging, Samsung KNOX
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards 3GA, AAC, AMR, AWB, FLAC, IMY, M4A, MID, MIDI, MP3, MXMF, OGA, OGG, OTA, RTTTL, RTX, WAV, WMA, XMF
Supported Digital Video Standards 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, M4V, MKV, WMV, WebM
RAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 128 GB
Max Supported Size 512 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC
User Memory 106 GB
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year
Front-facing Camera
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Focus Adjustment focus free
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty

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Where To Buy

Galaxy A51 (Black)

Part Number: SM-A515UZKNXAA