Samsung Galaxy A70 review

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy A70 raises the bar within the new A series – a completely reimagined lineup to lead a full-scale war in the midrange kingdom. And the rule of the Chinese makers is very much threatened, having already seen what the A40 and A50 are capable of.

The Galaxy A series are not what they used to be, thank whoever is in charge. Now they are not only affordable AMOLED-bearers, they are also jam-packed with trendy features and come priced very competitively. In fact, it’s been quite a while since we could recommend a Galaxy amidst midrangers, but now we can easily name a few.

The Galaxy A70 builds on the very balanced tri-eyed mid-ranger Galaxy A50 by enlarging its AMOLED screen and employing a higher-end chipset with a better processor. Then the camera setup on the back might be keeping its logic (wide/ultra-wide/depth) but the main snapper is now a 32MP one and it can capture 4K videos.

Finally, the Galaxy A70 has one beefy 4,500 mAh battery capable of up to 25W fast charging courtesy of USB-PD technology – a departure from the Samsung’s Adaptive Charging that’s been around since the Galaxy S5.

Specs:
Body: 164.3 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm, 3D Glasstic back, plastic frame.
Screen: 6.7″ Super AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 393 ppi.
Chipset: Snapdragon 675 chipset: octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Kryo 460 Gold & 6×1.7 GHz Kryo 460 Silver); Adreno 612 GPU.
Memory: 6/8GB RAM, 128GB built-in storage; microSD slot
OS: Android 9 Pie; Samsung One UI
Main camera: Primary: 32MP, f/1.7, PDAF; Secondary: 8MP, f/2.2, 12mm ultra-wide, fixed focus; Depth camera: 5MP f/2.2; LED flash; 1080p@30 video recording.
Selfie camera: 32MP f/2.0, 1080p video
Battery: 4,500mAh; 25W fast charging
Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE Cat.12 (600Mbps) download / Cat.6 upload (50Mbps), Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS; Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, USB-C 2.0.
Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader, down-firing loudspeaker, 3.5mm audio port

Design

The Galaxy A70 is one of the biggest Galaxies we’ve seen so far, as large as the notch-less Galaxy A80 that’s about to come any day now. The A70 has been built around a 6.7″ Super AMOLED screen with a dewdrop-shaped notch – same size as the behemoth screens on the Galaxy S10+ 5G and the Galaxy A80.

But we’re dealing with an A series device here so the choice of materials is not so premium. Instead of glass, the back is made of shiny plastic which Samsung likes to call ‘3D Glasstic’. The frame is also plastic and not metal. But hey, at least both pieces look that part and you would have a hard time recognizing them for what they are. As the name suggests, the Glasstic material can easily be mistaken for glass, especially with its shifting hues, which are very attractive.

Back to the front. Obviously, it’s mostly screen with bezels as thin as those on the iPhone XS. Inside the notch are a 32MP selfie camera and one barely noticeable earpiece grille just above it. There is no notification LED on the A70.

The front glass doesn’t have the edge curves the recent Galaxy S phones have, and we are glad for that. We are not fans of those, call us old-fashioned, but too many curves completely ruin the grip and don’t let us start on the ghost touch issues. So, yes, the A70 has a flat front, and we like it as it is.

Just like the Galaxy A50 and A80, the A70 has an under-display fingerprint scanner – an optical one. The sensor is around the bottom, making it easy to reach. Its setup is straightforward, and from what we experienced, the thing is mostly reliable. Its accuracy is good and while it takes a second to recognize your finger – it’s not a sluggish process.

You don’t need to wake up the phone, just place your finger around the spot (you will get used to this within minutes) and the sensor will light up immediately and will take you to the homescreen upon a successful recognition. Sure, the experience is not as fast as with the conventional scanners, but it’s acceptable – that is as long as you are applying a proper pressure. Gentle touches won’t do it, and it will take a few tries to get used to it.

The back of the Galaxy A70 looks stunning thanks to the color-shifting paint job. Depending on the viewing angle, you will see purple, blue, green, or gradients of those three. Samsung calls this chameleon hue Black, but the only time you can see it black-ish is when you are looking at the back at nearly 180-degree angle.

While many other makers are using such gradient paint jobs, Samsung’s still feels unique and easily recognizable. You can never pinpoint an exact color, and that’s probably the reason why the Koreans called it Black in the end.

The rear glass is bent towards the long edges as we’ve seen it on many smartphones, which makes the A70 look thinner and prettier. There is no sharp transition to the frame, which has some curves too, and the overall grip isn’t that good.

But while the plastic frame is glossy, Samsung has added something to the paint that makes it sticky, and the grip is quite okay.

The triple-camera setup on the back is humping by just 1mm or less, and it won’t make the phone wobble on a flat surface. The top snapper is the 5MP depth sensor, followed by the 32MP main camera, and the final one is the 8MP ultra-wide-angle shooter. Outside of the setup sits the single-LED flash.

The Galaxy A70 has all the necessities on its sides – there is a tri-card slot on the left, the volume and power keys on the right side, while the audio jack and the speaker grille are at the bottom.

The Galaxy A70 is big and one-handed use is almost impossible, despite the One UI optimizations. But it was never intended to be pocket-friendly but immersive-friendly. And with that 6.7″ AMOLED it sure is shaping to be. On top of that, the A70 is enjoyable when handled as it’s not as slippery as it looks. Plus, the curved sides make it feel somehow smaller in hand, and that’s something.

Display, Battery Life, Loudspeaker, Audio Quality

The Galaxy A lineup has been known for its AMOLEDs (A for AMOLED, get it?) and the Galaxy A70 is no different. But the A70 not only has the cool panel, but it’s also impressively large with a 6.7″ diagonal – the biggest screens on a Galaxy this year and the same size as A80’s and S10+ 5G’s.

The A70 packs the so-called Infinity-U panel, meaning it has a U-shaped cutout at the top for the selfie camera. But notch or not, the Super AMOLED screen is of the usual high-quality we’ve grown to like. We measured about 407 nits of maximum brightness in manual mode, and 607nits in Auto brightness with the ambient light sensor is exposed to bright light.

The Galaxy A70 has a large 4,500mAh battery inside, an increase over the 4,000mAh cell inside the A50. It supports 25W fast charging thanks to USB Power Delivery, and the provided charger replenishes 42% of the depleted battery in 30 mins.

In our testing, the Galaxy A70 achieved excellent results. We clocked 13+ hours on our Wi-Fi web browsing script and 17+ hours of looping videos in airplane mode. The 3G talk time is over a day and a half – an excellent score as well.

Adding to the mix the very good standby performance the Galaxy A70 posted an overall Endurance rating of 103h

The Galaxy A70 has a single loudspeaker located on the bottom. It scored a ‘Very Good’ mark in our three-pronged test when it comes to loudness, but it’s sound quality is rather average – not as poor as A50’s, but not as rich and clean as the best in the class.

The Samsung Galaxy A70 delivered an output of perfect accuracy when hooked to an active external amplifier test as is to be expected from any half decent phone these days. When headphones came into play, we got some intermodulation distortion and an average amount of stereo crosstalk.

Loudness was just above average in both cases so all in all we’d say the audio output won’t win the Galaxy A70 many new fans, but it won’t be held against it either.

Camera

Just like the Galaxy A50, the A70 has a triple camera on its back featuring a larger main sensor. The primary cam is now a 32MP f/1.7 snapper with PDAF, joined by a familiar 8MP fixed-focus, f/2.2 ultra-wide and a 5MP, fixed-focus, f/2.2 depth sensor. There is also a single LED flash around.

The 5MP isn’t a standalone module that you can take actual pictures with – instead, it’s a ‘Depth Camera’, to be used for ‘Live Focus’, in Samsung’s own terms.

So, the primary shooter has a 32MP resolution sensor behind a fast f/1.7 lens with a focal length that’s reported as 26mm. Then, there is the 8MP sensor behind an f/2.2 aperture lens that delivers a 120-degree field of view. The EXIF data reports 12mm equivalent focal length for this one.

Live focus mode is present, naturally, with all so many cameras and a dedicated depth sensor. There’s also a Pro mode, but there’s hardly anything pro about it – you can only choose ISO (in the 100-800 range), exposure compensation (-2/+2EV in 0.1EV steps), and white balance (presets, but no light temperature).

The Galaxy A70 comes with a high-res 32MP selfie camera, which may or may not be the same as the main 32MP one. If you get the distance right, and if there’s plenty of light – you can get some detailed shots. Colors are spot on too.

Alternatives, Pros and Cons, Verdict

The Galaxy A70 has the largest AMOLED screen on the market right now. Combine that with the very attractive sub €400 price in most markets, and you have a real winner here. Users who value large displays and the immersive experience they offer have scarce options outside Samsung’s camp.

Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is probably the only offer to beat the Galaxy A70 in terms of screen estate and price, but it’s already a year old, it has a feeble chipset and can’t match the overall camera experience. Still, it’s at least €120 cheaper and doesn’t have a notch (or OLED screen for what’s worth), so maybe you want to check this one out.

Then there is the Galaxy A80, which offers same the size of AMOLED but notch-free. The primary camera is on a motorized pop-up, which also rotates to serve as a selfie shooter. Another upgraded bit is the new Snapdragon 730 chipset, which should be offering flagship-grade performance. Those are some costly features though as the price hikes north of €600, and that’s almost within flagship territory.

Then there is the vivo V15 pro, which has an uninterrupted 6.4″ AMOLED thanks to a pop-up selfie camera and the same Snapdragon 675 chipset. The phone is limited to a couple of markets but has some very nice looks and capable snappers.

Then there is the Galaxy A50, which is about €90 cheaper and yet offers the same experience on a slightly smaller 6.4″ Super AMOLED. If the 6.7″ diagonal isn’t a must, then the A50 is an even better offer altogether.

The Huawei P30 Lite is another exciting proposition with a lower price. It has a smaller 6.15″ LCD screen but offers similar gaming experience and battery longevity. The P30 Lite’s main camera is similar to A70’s, but it has Huawei’s excellent Night Mode, and that’s a massive advantage camera-wise. Huawei ongoing turmoil shouldn’t affect the P30 Lite much aside from the absence of a future Android Q upgrade.

If Realme X is available in your country, it’s probably the phone you should try before going for the A70. The Realme X has a notch-less 6.53″ AMOLED, the Snapdragon 710 chipset, and similarly capable snappers on both ends (the selfie is a pop-up), though there is no ultra-wide-angle cam. The Realme X is much cheaper, and that’s another reason we are excited about the X.

The verdict
The Samsung Galaxy A70 is a very balanced mid-ranger, and we enjoyed using it. But it all boils down to the fact that A70 is more or less a stretched Galaxy A50. And if 0.3″ difference in the screen diagonal aren’t that of a big deal for you, you can easily save yourself about €100 by going for the A50.

But if every single millimeter of screen estate counts, and you want the biggest Super AMOLED on the cheap, then the Galaxy A70 is your go-to phone. It’s one very capable mid-ranger (we guess we’ve already said that a bunch of times), and its only weakness is the night-time photography.

Pros
Bright, vivid, and large Super AMOLED
Triple card slot, audio jack, FM radio
Excellent battery life, USB-PD fast charging
Dependable performance
Consistently good camera experience in daylight
Very nice selfies
One UI is great

Cons
No ingress protection
Unimpressive low-light camera performance, no Night mode
No electronic video stabilization

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