Mehul Reuben DasJan 30, 2023 10:56:05 IST
– Battery life
– Aesthetics and design
– Lower-specced variant one of the cheapest 5G phones in the market
– Impressive main camera
– 3.5mm jack
– Expandable Storage and virtually expandable RAM
– Vibrant LCD display
– Mono speaker
– No OIS in any of the cameras
– No IP rating
– 15W charging, with no charging brick in the box
– Bezels and bottom chin
Price: Rs 20,999 for the 8GB + 128GB variant
Although smartphone manufacturers tend to focus most of their resources in hyping up their flagship devices, it is the mid-range segment where they face some of their fiercest competition. The first smartphone that Samsung launched this year, the Galaxy A14 5G may look rather simple and plain on the surface. However, considering that it costs Rs 20,999 for the top, 8GB + 128GB variant, and can be had for cheaper after discounts and offers, we have to say that the device has the potential to shape up to be one of the best 5G devices under Rs 20,000. There’s also a 4GB + 64GB variant as well as a 6GB + 128GB variant which costs even less.
What Samsung has done with the Galaxy A14 5G may be that they have focussed on what really makes a budget smartphone good, and ticked most of the boxes they could. The Galaxy A14 5G is a device that gives you the hand feel of a far more premium device, something that would cost around Rs 35-40,000, but at almost half that price.
The Galaxy A14 5G is feature loaded, has some pretty solid specifications and is genuinely a good phone who are looking for something that gets the job done without too many distractions. However, there are a few flaws as well. So how does the Galaxy A14 5G hold up, and more importantly, is it worth your hard-earned money?
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The design
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is simple but elegant looking. Our test unit was a light green unit, which looked particularly chic, thanks to the textured back that the device gets. The rear panel, which has been made using plastic, also has this shimmery effect that looks particularly premium especially when the light hits it at an odd angle. The textured rear panel ensures that it does not attract any smudges or fingerprints. Other than green, you get to choose from two more colours, dark red, and black.
Coming to the front of the display, the first thing you will notice is that the device has some conspicuously large bezels. The bottom chin, in particular, stands out quite a bit. Although the device comes with a pretty sizeable 6.6-inch display, the bezel makes the screen look a tad bit smaller. On the front, we also get to see the front-facing camera behind a teardrop notch.
On the right, we get to see the volume rockers, as well as the power button. The power button also doubles up as the fingerprint scanner. The left side has no buttons and houses the sim tray, which also has a slot for a microSDXC slot.
At the bottom, we see a speaker grille that houses one of the speakers, as well as the USB Type-C port. Much to our surprise the device comes with a 3.5mm jack.
At the rear, we get three rear cameras all of which stand vertically on their own, along with the LED flash. There is no camera module or a camera island as such which actually gives the device a premium and somewhat minimalistic appeal from the rear.
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is built like a tank and feels solid to hold. All in all, as far as aesthetics are concerned, the device looks simplistic and elegant. The only flaw with the hardware is that the device doesn’t come with an IP rating, so it’s not dust or water-resistant.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The display
The bezels of the display of the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G will have you believe that the display isn’t something to write home about. That, however, couldn’t be far from the truth. The Samsung Galaxy A14 comes with a 6.6-inch FHD+ PLS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×2408 pixels, set in an aspect ratio of 20:9. The display supports a refresh rate of up to 90Hz, which gives users a buttery smooth experience.
The display comes with an HDR10 certification is vibrant, sharp and very clear, even under direct sunlight. We had no problem reading off the screen or playing games, even under the sun, although, the dark portions of videos do get a little difficult to deal with.
All in all, while the Display may only be an LCD panel, it gets the job done, easily. As typical with most Samsung phones, the display is sharp and vibrant enough, so much so that unless you have been using a smartphone with an AMOLED panel, you wouldn’t actually realise that the display that you’re using doesn’t have the same level of crushing blacks and that high a contrast ratio. For people who have been using other phones with LCD panels, the display will certainly feel more refined and more saturated.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The camera
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G has a triple camera setup at the rear. The main camera is a 50MP sensor, paired with an f1.8 lens and shoots wide. The other two cameras are 2MP each, one for macro and the other for depth.
The main camera comes with PDAF or Phase Detection Auto Focus and takes some pretty awesome photos, especially in the daylight. The photos are vibrant and crisp when they have adequate lighting, and take photos that have plenty of details. In certain situations especially when the light isn’t optimal, the photos showed a little too much processing. The dynamic range is pretty solid, but we reckon Samsung can do a better job, once it pushes out an update that optimised the camera better.
At night though the camera struggles. The pictures get a little grainier but still usable. The Night mode does tone things down a bit, however, it becomes quite clear that the photos have been processed a lot. Also, the Night Mode turns the camera a little slower than the normal shooting settings. With that being said, we aren’t complaining exactly, as most smartphones at this budget will have this issue.
You can get the camera to take photos with some pretty good bokeh, but you will have to use the portrait mode for that, and more importantly, hone in on the focusing point properly. The camera also comes with a bunch of filters to play with, if that’s your thing.
As for the front-facing camera, it is a 13MP sensor. The device gave us some decent shots, considering the price. The fixed-focus camera gives us plenty of details, and the colours are also accurate. The front-facing camera does have the tendency to overexpose the face a little to brighten it up, but then again, that’s an issue with almost all smartphone cameras at this pricepoint.
As for videos, the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G shoots 1080p videos on the 50MP main sensor, as well as the front camera. Both cameras can shoot videos at up to 30fps. You get some sort of EIS, which quite frankly, is a bit of a downer.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The performance, software experience and UI
The Samsung Galaxy A14 is a rather capable smartphone thanks to an octacore, Exynos 1330 CPU, and the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU. The SoC has been properly optimised for the Galaxy A14 which makes its performance rather snappy in day-to-day tasks.
Our test unit had 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.2 internal storage. We also get RAM Plus, which offers the option to increase the physical memory by an additional 8GB RAM. Furthermore, you also get a dedicated microSDXC slot so storage won’t exactly be an issue.
Given that this is not a top-tier flagship device, the scores that it gets in benchmarks do not break records. However, in our day-to-day usage, which involved some pretty intense gaming sessions and quite a bit of multitasking, it did really well.
The device handled lighter games like Alto’s Odyssey rather well. Moreover, it handled more demanding games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile decently as well at 60fps albeit at low graphic settings without any issues.
The Samsung Galaxy A14 runs on OneUI 5, which is based on Android 13. You get Android 13 straight out of the box, so that’s a massive plus. As divisive as OneUI can be, OneUI 5 is definitely one of the better versions, and with the Galaxy A14, you’re truly getting the best features that the UI has to offer, of course, barring flagships like the S22 Ultra or the Galaxy Fold 4.
There is some bloatware, mainly in the form of Samsung’s own apps. – it is actually much easier than turning off app recommendations in smartphones from other brands.
As for connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy A14 comes with WiFi, BlueTooth 5.2 and USB Type-C 2.0 port. We also appreciate that the device has a 3.5mm port, as users will be needing it. The device only has a mono speaker at the bottom and no speakers at the top, not even an earpiece. Naturally then, content consumption and gaming without a headphone may be underwhelming for some.
The device also comes with both SA and NSA bands, for a total of 10 5G bands, which covers most of the popular bands that 5G operators are operating on. During our 5G tests, we were easily getting about 450MPBS at about 500 metres away from a tower, which is usually where and how we do these tests.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The battery life
Speaking of battery life, we can only say good things about it as we were thoroughly impressed. The Galaxy A14 has a 5000mAh battery. Because we are using an LCD panel, and because the CPU isn’t that power-hungry, we get a pretty impressive battery life
You’ll easily get over 8-10 hours of screen on time at 70 per cent brightness, and over 14 hours of usage time. Our typical usage included watching videos, browsing the internet, some amount of gaming, going through emails, conference calls with the office etc.
The Galaxy A14 supports 15W wired charging, provided you have a supporting charging block. The device does not come with a charging brick, but only with a USB-C to USB-C cable. This is another aspect of the Galaxy A14, especially when you consider what the device costs, and that smartphones in this budget, support up to 80W charging. Samsung should have provided a USB-A to USB-C cable. During our tests, we were consistently getting to the end of the day, with about 25-30 per cent of battery while daily driving it.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G review: The verdict
Given that the Samsung Galaxy A14 costs about Rs 20,000 or perhaps even lower, depending on offers and discounts, it ticks a lot of the correct boxes, especially for someone who’s looking for a budget smartphone from a reputable and established brand.
Yes, there are a ton of options from other manufacturers at this price point which offers a ton of more features and have slightly better hardware. But then, they are known to have terrible after-sales services, and availability of spare parts.
We also like the fact that Samsung has pledged two years of Android OS updates, and four years of security updates.
Performance, even though not chart-topping is still solid, and not something that you can complain about. Unless you’re a pro gamer or an ultra-heavy user, you won’t find any issues
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is a pretty solid device, one that we can confidently recommend people go for, if they want to go for a mobile phone brand that has been around for decades now.