The Galaxy A51 and A71 are two of the best cheap Android phones around, and it's no wonder that they're dominating global sales charts. The global models come with 4G, but Samsung is selling the 5G-enabled Galaxy A51 (opens in new tab) and Galaxy A71 (opens in new tab) in the U.S., and these particular versions sport a few upgrades that are missing on the 4G versions.
First up is the chipset. The 4G variant of the Galaxy A51 is powered by Samsung's in-house Exynos 9611 chipset. It is an older chipset that has Cortex A73 and A53 cores, and the performance on offer is underwhelming. The Galaxy A71 fares better in this regard as it features the Snapdragon 730 with newer Cortex A76 and A55 cores.
By contrast, the 5G versions of the Galaxy A51 and A71 feature the latest Cortex A77 and A55 cores. That gives them a leg up over the regular 4G models, and you will see better performance in day-to-day tasks and gaming. Then there's the connectivity — the Galaxy A51 5G and A71 5G are fully compatible with T-Mobile and Verizon's 5G networks, and are ideal options if you're looking to make the switch to a 5G-enabled phone in 2020.
One point to note is that Samsung is using two different chipsets for the 5G variants of the Galaxy A51 and A71. Based on whether you're buying the 5G model unlocked or via a carrier in the U.S., you will get a version powered by either the Exynos 980 or the Snapdragon 765G. That's in addition to the two distinct chipsets the company uses on its 4G models. Here's the full breakdown:
- Galaxy A51 4G (Global): Exynos 9611
- Galaxy A71 4G (Global): Snapdragon 730
- Galaxy A51 5G (U.S. Unlocked): Exynos 980
- Galaxy A71 5G (U.S. Unlocked): Exynos 980
- Galaxy A51 5G (T-Mobile): Exynos 980
- Galaxy A71 5G (T-Mobile): Snapdragon 765G
- Galaxy A51 5G (Verizon): Snapdragon 765G
- Galaxy A71 5G (Verizon): Snapdragon 765G
While Samsung is using two different chipsets, there isn't any tangible performance difference between the two. The Exynos 980 uses the same Cortex A77 and A55 cores as the Snapdragon 765G, and the Mali G76 GPU is equivalent to Qualcomm's Adreno 620. The key point here is that both chipsets have built-in 5G modems and deliver reliable 5G and 4G connectivity — and you're getting much better performance when compared to the regular 4G models.
So regardless of whether you pick up the Exynos 980 or Snapdragon version, you're getting a phone with stellar performance. With the regular Galaxy A51 in particular hobbled by the aging Exynos 9611 chipset, it's great to see Samsung go with a more powerful option for the 5G model.
The rest of the hardware is thankfully unchanged between the 4G and 5G versions. As a refresher, the Galaxy A51 features a 6.5-inch AMOLED panel, 48MP camera at the back, 32MP front camera, and a 4000mAh battery with fast charging. The Galaxy A71, meanwhile, comes with a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, 64MP rear camera, 32MP front camera, and a 4500mAh battery with 25W fast charging.
The biggest selling point for these devices is the fact that they will get three Android version updates. Samsung has committed to delivering three platform updates to its flagships and select mid-range phones, and both the Galaxy A51 and A71 are on the list. So both devices will be eligible for the Android 13 update once it rolls out two years from now.
It's easy to see why Samsung has sold millions of units of the Galaxy A51 and A71 around the world. Sure, they're lacking water resistance and wireless charging, but the 5G models, in particular, are fantastic value when you consider the hardware, the three-year update commitment, and the fact that they're available for under $500.
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
The Galaxy A51 5G is one of the best mid-range phones today. It has much more robust internals than the 4G model, a gorgeous design, and a vibrant AMOLED panel. The fact that you'll get three guaranteed Android version updates makes it a standout option if you're looking to switch to 5G.
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
With a massive 6.7-inch AMOLED screen and huge 4500mAh battery, the Galaxy A71 5G is an entertainment powerhouse. The phone is ideal for streaming videos and playing games, and you also get reliable 5G connectivity and stellar cameras.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
You would have to be totally nuts to buy a Pixel 4A over an A51 5G. There. I said it.
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