Samsung got me. On paper, the company's Galaxy A51 appears to have everything you could want out of a $400 smartphone. A big, pretty screen. A multitude of cameras. A 4,000mAh battery. A flagship-inspired design, and a headphone jack. As an avid — some might say rabid — fan of ambitious midrange smartphones, I was ready for the A51 to take its place alongside other modestly priced standouts like the Pixel 3a XL and the iPhone SE. It never did.
That’s not to say the Galaxy A51 is a bad phone. Samsung got a lot right here, and over a week of testing, I found it perfectly pleasant at times. Sadly, all the things the company handled well couldn't fully offset some janky, inconsistent performance: This is a $400 device that sometimes runs like a $250 one. I don’t think that's enough to make the A51 a bad smartphone, but it does make it a bad deal.
- Excellent design
- Big and beautiful AMOLED screen
- Flexible multi-camera system
- Laggy performance
- Camera quality is largely unremarkable
- Mediocre battery life
Samsung Galaxy A51
Octa-core Exynos 9611
4GB + 128GB
MicroSD card support
6.5-inch Infinity-O Super AMOLED display
1,080 x 2,400 (20:9)
48MP f/2.0 wide camera with, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera (123° field of view), 5MP f/2.4 macro camera, 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor
32MP f/2.2 camera
USB-C, supports 15W fast charging
158.5 x 73.6 x 7.9mm
Yes, in display
The Galaxy A51 I've been testing is a Verizon Wireless model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. (Disclaimer: Verizon is Engadget's parent company, but it has no influence over what we say.) Sprint and AT&T also offer this version of the A51, and no matter which carrier you choose, they'll all sell you the phone outright for $399. That doesn't sound too steep, but it's worth noting that the phone can be had for less when purchased unlocked, especially if you live outside the United States. If you're serious about owning an A51, scouting out a good deal is a must: This isn't worth $400.