Samsung is on a mission in 2019. Faltered by dwindling smartphone sales, the company is desperate to regain the lost momentum in perhaps its most important market—India.
The company recently launched two more devices in its new Galaxy A line-up — the Galaxy A70 and A80. While the latter is yet to make it to the Indian market, the A70 is already here.
But is it a worthy attempt to upset the reigning category favourites? The answer to this is tough.
It is clear that Samsung wants to impress consumers with a rich, vibrant display and somewhat acceptable design and camera. I mean, the first thing you interact with is that sprawling 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display with minimal bezels and that tiny notch (Samsung calls this the Infinity-V). The curved glass at the back is easy to grip and buttons are easily reachable, at least for me.
The lack of a flagship or even sub-flagship level processor didn't irk me for my day-to-day use. The Snapdragon 675 chipset is good at keeping up with most of the light tasks I threw at it. Tasks, like scrolling through social media feeds and keeping up with emails, were taken care of easily. But that is something a sub- ₹20,000 smartphone would also do.
The in-display fingerprint scanner is a very cool idea, but it completely depends on the implementation. The one on this smartphone is a hit and miss. It requires you to push really hard on the screen and you're often forced to use other methods of unlocking. That's when the face unlock saves the day.
The camera quality is pretty good during daytime—photos are crisp, thanks to the 32MP primary sensor, and it doesn't have issues with dynamic range. The ultra-wide camera is of great use when you need to fit in more stuff in your frame. But that's where the fun ends.
The phone turns into a stubborn child when you try tapping on the shutter button to click a photo during low light scenarios. The shutter lag is so pronounced that by the time the photo is clicked, the moment is gone or your subject is so tired of holding a pose that they move and you end up with a blurred photo. But hey, I can turn those photos into some sick memes, right? Jokes aside, I do hope Samsung addresses this with a software update in the future, if it can.
The 4,500mAh battery seems more than sufficient for most users, but it only lasted me a day at most. The battery charges fairly quickly too, given its size, and it took me a little more than an hour to fully charge it with the provided charger.
One place where the Galaxy A80 does shine is in media consumption and, to an extent, gaming. Watching videos is a fantastic experience, even though the display doesn't have fancy HDR10+ certification. If you can see what's going on in the dark scenes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, your display has passed the test with flying colours.
It tackles gaming with relative ease too. Popular titles work well, although switching apps during gaming sessions might take a good second or two. It is one of the few smartphones where the notch really doesn't come in the way while playing games like PUBG.
This brings us to the overall UI experience. It runs Samsung's One UI and is pretty refined when compared to Xiaomi's MIUI and Oppo's ColorOS, but it's not quite up there with its arch-rival in this segment, OnePlus.
I like how Samsung has tried to bring everything that people use more frequently closer to their thumb, somewhere at the bottom of the screen. I love the dark mode, but the only reason I choose OxygenOS over this it’s noticeably faster.
And it's just the minor things, really, that spoil the fun. To watch a video on Chrome, you have to increase the screen-timeout because the phone would be locked automatically after a few seconds. You can turn on "Smart Stay", which keeps the display on only when you're looking directly at it, but why should one unoptimised app have a consequence on my entire smartphone?
The ₹30,000 price point is a place where Indian buyers try to find the best bang for their buck. It's a stepping stone to flagships. Yes, this phone can do everything (well almost) others guys in its class can do, it's just that some others do it a little better.
Does it look good? Yes. Is it fast? Kinda. Does it have the fancies? Yes. Could it be better? Definitely.