Samsung last month announced updates to its Galaxy A series, its family of budget phones that are poised to compete against Apple’s latest iPhone SE for 2020. While some models have new features like 5G, all of them are less than $400 and have headphone jacks. One of the new phones, the Galaxy A51, is a sequel to 2019’s Galaxy A50.
The Galaxy A50 from 2019 may not be as fancy as the latest Galaxy S20 phones or as cool-looking as the Z Flip. But at $350 at launch and now discounted by Samsung even more at $300, the A50 is one of two best Android phones that are under $400 and came out last year. (For more phones under $500, check out our roundup.)
That other choice is the Motorola Moto G7, which originally launched at $300 (£189, AU$349), but you can now get it for cheaper (in the US, Motorola currently sells it for $230). For the past few years, Motorola’s G-series has consistently ranked as our favorite budget phone and the G7 continues this legacy as an exceptional phone for its price.
All in all, we still love the Moto G7. It’s a fantastic, affordable phone, and it won our Editors’ Choice for its inexpensive price, good camera and reliable performance. But I do think the Galaxy A50 is better, even if it’s a bit more expensive. For that, it too earned itself an Editors’ Choice. If you have an extra $70 to spare, go for the Galaxy A50 over the Moto G7. Though it doesn’t shoot 4K video and I’m not a huge fan of Samsung’s One UI, the A50’s superior camera, sleeker design and longer battery life make it the better phone.
Samsung’s Galaxy A50 serves up a Galaxy experience for much less
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Galaxy A50 looks better, but has no water protection
Though both phones are similar in size and design, there are a few details that elevate the Galaxy A50 above the Moto G7. For instance, the Moto G7 has a larger camera bump on the back. Having a bump isn’t a deal breaker, and a lot of phones have it including the iPhone. The Galaxy A50’s camera is way more flushed, it looks flatter and sleeker. The on-screen camera notch for the front-facing camera is also smaller, so it’s less obtrusive when you’re viewing the display. Lastly, because the Galaxy A50 has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, the device looks more seamless overall. The Moto G7, on the other hand, has a visible reader on the back that’s emblazoned with the Motorola logo (and there’s a Motorola logo on the front too, on the bottom bezel), which isn’t as appealing.
In addition, the Galaxy A50 has an AMOLED display compared to the Moto G7’s LCD screen. Though both phones have about the same resolution and pixel density, the Galaxy A50 screen is brighter and colors are much more vibrant. Blacks are much darker and inkier as well. When viewing both phones at different angles, the color shift is more severe on the Moto G7 too. That means colors wash out dramatically and the screen appears to get dimmer at certain angles.
One advantage the Moto G7 does have is that it’s slightly water repellent. You can’t fully submerge it underwater, but it does have a nano-coating that protects it against light water sprinkles and splashes. Samsung did not add water protection to the A50.
The camera bump on the A50 is less prominent.
Don’t care about 4K video? Galaxy A50’s camera is superior
Both the Galaxy A50 and Moto G7 take clear and bright photos when conditions are ideal, as in settings with a lot of even lighting. And while the Galaxy A50 can record only 1080p video (compared to the Moto G7’s 4K maximum), the Galaxy A50’s camera still pulls ahead of the Moto G7 in many ways.
Pictures are sharper, so you can see finer details in things like leaves and bricks. In low light, the A50 brightens and punches up colors, while photos taken with the G7 are muddier with much hazier and washed out colors. The A50 also has a wider dynamic range, meaning scenes with different lighting situations are exposed more evenly compared to the Moto G7. I did notice that there were times when the A50’s HDR effect looked a little too unrealistic, but I preferred it over the Moto G7 nonetheless. The Galaxy A50 has a second wide-angle camera too, meaning you capture more content within each frame. This is handy when you want to capture vast landscapes and scenery too.
The Galaxy A50 (left) brightened up this scene and has a wider dynamic range compared to the Moto G7 (right).