Last week, Samsung launched the company’s first Galaxy A series phone of the year– A14 along with A23– in India.
I used Galaxy A14 5G for a little over a week and here are my thoughts on Samsung’s latest budget 5G phone.
Design, build quality and display
The new Galaxy A14 5G keeps hold of some of the design elements of the predecessor and the most noticeable is the vertically aligned triple camera sensors with LED flash on the back. However, the build quality is improved a lot. The phone’s frame look premium and I can feel the sturdiness when held in the hand.
Also, the fingerprint ridge-like texture does an excellent job to offer a great grip for the hand to hold on to the phone and also, importantly repels the sweaty fingerprint smudges and saves time of cleaning the back panel often. This is true at least in the light green model, but not sure about other colours, by the way, Samsung offers the device two other options– dark red and black.
The light green version looks pretty in the sunlight. The colour is uniform on the back panel and the frame.
I am happy to note that Samsung has kept the 3.5mm audio jack at the base, to offer pure high-quality audio through wired earphones. Unfortunately, you have to buy one separately.
However, the speaker does a decent job. It also features a Type-C port along with a mic at the base. At the top, there is a lone mic.
On the left side frame, you will find the SIM slot tray and on the opposite side, there is the volume rocker and the fingerprint sensor-cum-power button. The biometric security feature does a fine job with quick unlocking of the screen. But, make sure the thumb is dry.
As far as the display is concerned, the Galaxy A14 5G sports a 6.6-inch full HD+ (1080 x 2408p) LCD panel with a pixel density of 400 ppi (pixels per inch). It is very bright and comes in handy outdoors to read messages, emails and news on the internet. It also supports adaptive brightness, wherein the sensors on the Samsung phone adjust brightness according to the light intensity in the room.
With support for 90Hz display refresh rate, it offers a better viewing experience while watching vlogs and even when playing games.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is powered by Exynos 1330 chipset octa-core (2.4 GHz x two high-performance cores + 2.0 GHz x six efficiency cores) chipset with Mali-G68 MC4 GPU.
The company offers the device in three variants– 4GB RAM + 64GB Storage, 6GB RAM + 128GB and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage. Our review unit is the latter. It worked smoothly in terms of day-to-day activities such as browsing the internet, consuming content on OTT apps, operating cameras and playing games.
I have to note that, the camera worked fine without lag-ness during daylight, but in the night mode, the phone takes a few seconds to process captured image. This is no big deal, as most phones do exhibit similar behaviour. How was the picture quality? well, scroll down to the photography section below.
It runs Android 13-based OneUI. Also, during the review period, the phone received a software update. The user interface is clean but comes with a lot of third-party apps. With 128GB storage, you wouldn’t mind it unless you go for the 64GB storage model and may probably get a microSD card.
Also, the device supports RAM Plus, which offers the option to increase the physical memory by an additional 8GB RAM. This means, if you buy a low-end model with 4GB RAM, you can expand it to 12GB. If you go for the top-end with 8GB RAM, you can expand to 16GB RAM, provided there is enough storage.
With RAM Plus, you can make the phone work smoother in terms of loading apps faster and doing other tasks on the phone with less hassle.
As far as battery life is concerned, it does an excellent job. With a full charge (5,000mAh capacity), it can easily last a full day under mixed usages such as consuming content or playing games on cellular data and Wi-Fi. If you use the phone just for communications and internet browsing, it can last for one and a half days if not more.
The battery life of a phone is very subjective. If you are an avid social media app user and have a lot of time to kill and watch reels (or any video-sharing platform) most of the time, it still can last up to dinner time.
When the Power saving mode is on, the phone gets tight control over apps and ensures it last really longer than normal circumstances. In more than three hours of standby mode, it barely dropped two per cent.
Read more | Android: Tips on how to ensure device’s battery life lasts a full day
It should be noted that Samsung offers just the Type-C 15W charger chord and you have to separately purchase the charger or rely on your older phone’s adaptor.
Samsung Galaxy A14 is a 5G-ready phone and it supports both Airtel and Reliance Jio networks.
[5G bands supported by Galaxy A14 include— FDD Sub6: N1(2100), N3(1800), N5(850), N7(2600), N8(900), N20(800), N28(700); TDD Sub6: N40(2300), N41(2500), N78(3500)]
The Galaxy A14 5G features a triple-camera module– main wide 50 MP ( f/1.8, PDAF: Phase Detection Auto Focus) + 2MP macro (f/2.4) + 2MP depth (f/2.4) with LED flash on the back.
The new phone takes brilliant photos in the daylight. I have to note that like any of the Samsung handsets, the native camera livens up the scene with vibrant colours, making it more visually appealing.
Having said that, I am happy that the phone ensures all minute details are captured well, as you can see in the close-up photos of flowers.
The Galaxy A14 5G does not come with an ultra-wide angle sensor, but the main 50MP wide camera lens does a good job of accommodating more areas of the landscape.
And, with the 2X optical zoom feature on, the photos don’t lose any picture quality. You can see how the colourful plumage of the country rooster is well captured.
However, in the night mode, the pictures get grainy. This is not a deal breaker, as most phones in the mid-range are like this anyway. Also, the noise in the images is noticeable when viewed on big screens of the computer, but on the compact phone, it is not that discernible.
In portrait mode, the phone camera’s viewfinder helps you focus on the subject and get a wonderful bokeh effect. It also offers creative filters such as blur, spin, zoom and colour point. The sample image below is a portrait mode with the custom filter ‘colour point’ turned on. It ensures the subject is in colour and the background is in the black and white colourway. This also shows how well the portrait mode works on the phone.
On the front, it features 13MP wide (f/2.0) sensor and really good selfies even under a controlled environment indoors and it gets even better outdoors with the natural sunlight.
The portrait mode too is good and comes with similar filters as I mentioned above.
Both the front and rear cameras support up to full HD (1080p) video recording at 30 fps (frames per second). The videos are quite stable even with shaky hands and the quality is decent on par with any mid-range phone.
Last year, most budget and mid-range Samsung phones I reviewed, were decent at best, but not as far as rival brands in the sub-Rs 20,000 price range. As mentioned in the headline, I am pretty surprised by the Galaxy A14 5G’s performance, particularly the camera and battery life.
I am also pleased that Samsung has promised to offer two years of Android OS updates and four years of security software support, making it a future-safe from cyber threats at least till 2027.
This is a welcome move that consumers don’t have to worry much about and can use for it long. Given how Samsung is making strides to cut the carbon footprint in terms of how it manufactures phones and retail packages with environmentally friendly processes, the long software support will ensure consumers don’t have to think of buying a new model after a year or two.
As you can see, the picture samples have come good and also the performance improvements over the predecessor are noteworthy. The build quality too, is really good and does a fine job repelling the sweaty fingerprint smudges. I just wish, Samsung offered a transparent case in the retail box.
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