Despite spoiling other budget camera phones for many of us, the Pixel 4a is still an enthusiast phone for the most part. Samsung’s trusted Galaxy mid-rangers, on the other hand, enjoy far greater mainstream appeal and have a better chance at selling like hotcakes — something we felt strongly about last year’s Galaxy A71. The well-rounded package it offered made that phone a no-brainer for just about anybody looking for a decent phone on a budget. But in 2021, with newer Galaxy A models out, does the year-old Galaxy A71 still look like a sensible choice?
It’s crucial for a mid-tier phone to strike the right balance between flagship-class features and price, and the Galaxy A71 was pretty much spot-on in its approach. From top to bottom, Samsung gave the phone what it needed to appeal to a large section of the consumer base. This kind of implementation can easily make the A71 come off as a jack-of-all-trades, but the fact is that it also masters a few specific aspects, especially among its class of phones.
The Galaxy A71's large-screen experience was unmatched, even by contenders like the Pixel 4a and iPhone SE.
An excellent display is one of the perks of owning a Samsung phone, and the Galaxy A71’s AMOLED screen was among the best ones we had seen on a phone costing around $500. It's big, stretching almost edge to edge with just a hole-punch blocking your view, and colorful, making it an ideal candidate for those who watch a lot of videos on their phones. The large-screen experience was unmatched, even by contenders like the Pixel 4a and iPhone SE.
While the lack of a high refresh rate may be a sore point for a few, it definitely helped the A71 offer an excellent battery life. The decently sized 4500mAh cell could also juice up pretty quickly using Samsung’s universal 25W charger — provided in-box. We even liked the pictures that came out of its quad-camera setup, even if those include some arguably useless sensors. The image quality may not have been Pixel-level, but it was good enough for those photos to go into your family collection and be uploaded to social media.
However, the Galaxy A71 doesn’t come without its problems. For one, the plastic that Samsung used didn’t match in quality with some of its pricier models using polycarbonate backs. Needless to say, it got scratched pretty easily, which really isn't what anybody wants to be seeing, especially if you're looking to keep the phone for years. Then there was this mono speaker, which was basically trash, to say the least. We’re just thankful that the 3.5mm headphone jack was still there to save the day.
Still, those shortcomings weren’t significant enough to keep us from giving the Galaxy A71 our nod of approval. But that was last year. Right now, the Galaxy A52 and A72 (internationally) are already out, and those specifically address some of the reservations we originally had with the A71. Samsung has upgraded these phones to high-refresh-rate panels along with proper stereo speakers. Plus, the 2021 models are IP67-rated and get a beautiful matte finish in a whole bunch of colorways, which makes them a lot more fun to use than their predecessor.
The Galaxy A52 in black.
The A71 is in itself a great phone even today, but when you factor in the 2021 Galaxy A phones, it starts making a lot less sense.
At this point, only the Galaxy A52 5G is available in the US; while Samsung also launched the 4G-only A72 internationally, there's no detail on when (or if) that 5G variant will make it to the States. Even though it isn’t a direct successor, the A52 5G can easily give the A71 a run for its money, especially considering it comes in at a pretty reasonable price of $425. The A71 is in itself a great phone even today, but when you factor in the 2021 Galaxy A phones, it's starting to make a lot less sense.
The only scenario where you should really consider picking up a Galaxy A71 right now is if you can’t stretch your budget over $350 and are able to find a refurbished unit around that ballpark figure. The chances of finding a new device at this price are slim, but that shouldn’t stop you from scouting for any good deals that pop up now and then. Either way, you should know that you'll still have at least a couple of years of software coverage left as part of Samsung’s unrivaled Android update policy.