Samsung Galaxy A70 review: Redefining the premium mid-range segment

The Asian Age.  | Aaron Almeida

Technology, Mobiles & Tabs

The Galaxy A70 offers an immersive display with a beautifully designed body without sacrificing on cameras and battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy A70 is the top-end A-series handset that’s been released in India and it boasts some pretty incredible specs that rivals are yet to match.
Rating: 4/5

The sub Rs 30K price bracket isn’t as populated as the sub Rs 20K price range but we do have some gems here which include, but not limited to, the POCO F1, the Nokia 8.1 and the OPPO F11 Pro. These handsets are aimed at different audiences as they have unique features which absolutely wow you at this price.

Samsung, in 2019, is like a beast revived and have launched smartphones in every segment; be its flagships with the Galaxy S10 line-up or for the budget-conscious with the Galaxy M handsets. Breathing new life in their A-series handsets, Samsung has unveiled no less than six handsets this year; all of which have their own strong suits.

The Samsung Galaxy A70 is the top-end A-series handset that’s been released in India and it boasts some pretty incredible specs that rivals are yet to match. The Galaxy A70, aimed at the digital natives offers everything you would expect from a flagship; but at a price that pales in comparison. The Samsung Galaxy A70 comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner, a beautifully vibrant 6.7-inch display, triple rear cameras, which also includes an ultra-wide sensor and a 32MP front-facing snapper. This handset is aimed at the "TiTok" generation, which, let's admit, is now an "in-thing". The A70 can not just wow this audience, but it’s essential for anyone who wants a spectacular upgrade without breaking the bank.

We had the chance to play around with this handset for a couple of weeks and we were left quite impressed. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, then read on.

Design, Build

At first glance, the sheer size of the Galaxy A70 is what will set eyes gaping as it comes packing with a super large display that makes it appear a whole lot bigger because of its ultra-slim bezels. The Galaxy A70 is a larger version of the recently launched Galaxy A50 which features a marginally smaller 6.4-inch display. Let’s make one thing absolutely clear — the large display isn’t a bad thing but in fact one of the handset’s true selling points. There are a lot of people out there who will buy this phone just because of the 6.7-inch screen; making it worth every last millimetre it possesses.

The Galaxy A70 comes in three colour options — Black, Blue and White and ours is the Black variant. This handset not just boasts sophistication but also can fit in well in either an official environment or a party atmosphere. The rear features a prism-like finish, giving it a rainbow-like an appearance when light falls on it at certain angles. However, like its competitors, this iridescent effect isn’t overpowering but subtle, adding a rich look to this premium midrange handset. The beauty of the handset extends to every facet of the device as it’s a beautiful amalgamation of plastic, metal and glass. Much to the surprise of anyone who comes in contact with the A70; the rear is indeed made of plastic, although it will take a couple of glances for you to be convinced. The rear is built well and even though it’s made of plastic, it gives you the impression it is glass as it features the latter’s lustrous properties. While the rear gets top points for its design, it is, unfortunately, a fingerprint magnet. However, this can be easily fixed with a case that comes as part of the handset’s packaging.

A feature of the handset we really appreciated was the way the edges on the rear taper towards the sides. So, even though it may be a task to handle the handset because of its size, this feature makes it sit in your palm comfortably, giving you that much-needed peace of mind. Also, due to the tapered edges, the Galaxy A70 appears a lot thinner than it is. Sandwiched between the display and the plastic rear is a metallic frame which is not just polished but also curved allowing for a better, more comfortable grip.

The Galaxy A70 comes with a triple rear camera setup that’s vertically stacked, unlike the Galaxy S10 which is horizontally positioned. The buttons are located to the right of the screen and we found the position of the power button to be absolutely comfortable to reach. The volume rockers, on the other hand, are positioned a bit higher making reaching them quite a stretch. This is probably one of the few instances where the size of the handset has been a hindrance, forcing you to use both hands to access the controls.

The SIM tray is located on the left allowing you to add two nano-SIMs and a microSD card of up to 512GB. The trend of adding a tray with individual slots is quickly gaining steam as it is a much better option than a hybrid SIM tray that compels you to sacrifice either a second SIM or a microSD card. The bottom is where you get the USB Type-C charging port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, speaker and microphone.

To sum up, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is a beautifully designed handset that’s built well. The only thing you have to consider before purchasing this device is its size as at times certain controls may be a bit difficult to access. If you have no problem with this, then the A70 can serve all your needs.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy A70 features a 6.7-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display that sports a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels. This handset features a waterdrop style notch which is a part of the brand’s Infinity-U display series. Featuring a large display, the A70 has enough real estate for media consumption which you will find using it a lot of because of its immersive front panel.  Also, offering protection to the screen is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 which helps against accidental drops. 

The display features rich blacks and vibrant colours across the board making viewing content on it an absolute pleasure. For the HD hounds out there, the handset comes with Widevine L1, this allows you to stream high definition content from Netflix, Amazon Prime and so on. The display features rich colours as well and it has the Samsung punch with its vibrancy; something which the Galaxy flagships have made a name for themselves with. Viewing content in direct sunlight is also possible due to the high brightness levels found here. Viewing angles are also really great which doesn’t offer a blue tinge when peering at the handset at obtuse angles.

Software

This is where things get interesting. Samsung, with its 2019 Galaxy devices have gone all out by including their newest UI, the One UI on their premium handsets. With One UI, you get a brand new OS that’s based on Android 9 Pie which means you get Google’s latest Android OS complete with all the benefits it has to offer. However, being a Samsung device, you also get Samsung’s welcome customizations on top enriching your smartphone experience. Apart from Google’s vanilla Android One experience, the One UI is one of the few custom OS’ that we actually took a strong liking to mainly because of how intuitive it is.

The handset comes loaded with the March security patch from Google and we have to say that the overall minimalist feel makes it appear modern and more in tune with a 2019 OS. The OS feels a lot streamlined in comparison to the rather clunky Samsung Experience UI that used to be the default OS of past years.

The One UI has been optimized to suit larger devices and the ability to pull controls down from the top of the display to reachable levels is well received by us. Apart from this, out of the box, we get rather large, overbearing app icons. However, the size of the apps can be easily adjusted by choosing a grid layout that suits your want. The font settings such as style and size can be customized too as per your requirement.

Digital Wellbeing which we feel is a very important feature is baked into the device since it runs on Android 9 Pie. With this feature, you can monitor how much time you actually spend on your phone. This feature has become a necessity as we tend to spend a lot of time on our smartphones and at times, ignore the outside world.

With the Galaxy A70, you get an unadulterated version of Samsung Pay that’s capable of supporting both traditional and NFC payments. This full-blown feature is not seen on most A-series handsets so it’s a return to form with the A70.

Performance

The Galaxy A70 is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 675 SoC with two Kryo 460 cores clocked at 2.0GHz and six power efficiency cores clocked at 1.7GHz. The chipset is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, which is the only variant available in India. In other markets, Samsung also has an 8GB option and as of writing, there is no word on when or if the higher-end version will be launched in India.

The  Galaxy A70 performs basic tasks without any stutter or lag with apps opening very quickly. While switching between and pulling up apps from the background, the handset performs as expected without any issues and this was due to the 6GB of RAM loaded in the device. Paired with an Adreno 612 GPU, the Galaxy A70 performs decently when it comes to playing graphic intensive games and heavy photo/video editing apps. However, if you want to max out the in-game settings, then it’s best if you use another handset which a more powerful chipset as the Snapdragon 675 will fall short on expectations. If you switch settings to medium, then you get a better gaming experience without any framing issues.

Moving on, the Galaxy A70 comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner, but it's fairly slower than its competitors. If there were any points we had to dock off the handset it would be for the fingerprint scanner as it is painfully slow and it takes over a second to unlock the phone. While trying to unlock it we were constantly greeted with a ‘No match’ error popping up showing that our fingerprint wasn’t recognized. We would have preferred if Samsung would have used a physical sensor on the side as they did with the Galaxy S10e, which by the way works flawlessly. In 2019, with in-display fingerprint scanners now becoming a norm, we don’t fault Samsung for including it; however, we would have preferred it if it was a lot faster and more efficient.

Cameras

The cameras are the biggest USP of the Galaxy A70 and since this handset is designed for the digital natives, it also includes the TikTok generation which is growing by leaps and bounds. With the A70, Samsung has added some of the best camera hardware and yet managed to keep the price competitive. The handset not only features a 32MP primary shooter on the rear, but it also packs one up-front; making it an obvious choice for anyone who is serious about mobile photography.

The camera app is pretty intuitive with the various shooting modes located at the bottom and further settings located at the top. This interface is pretty easy to use and we feel that getting acquainted with it will take a matter of seconds. There is a scene optimizer, Live Focus which is the handset’s portrait mode and various other shooting modes. The handset also comes with a Super Slow-mo mode which is capable of recording videos at for 8 seconds at 480fps at an HD resolution. The handset can record normal slow-motion videos as well at 240fps. Also, the handset can record 4K videos at 30fps from the front and rear cameras making it a useful shooting tool.

The rear of the Galaxy A70 comprises of a triple camera module that houses a 32MP F1/7 snapper, an 8MP F2.2 ultra-wide sensor and a 5MP depth sensor. The handset does a decent job of capturing photos with natural colours in well-lit environments. With scene detection on, you get images with a lot of detail and a fair amount of dynamic range. The edge detection on the A70 is decent, but not the best out there as noticed in some portrait shots. Close-up photos are where the handset tends to shine as it manages a lot of details. The handset is quick to focus and at most times it does a stellar job. However, when capturing images from a moving vehicle, we noticed that the handset lacked focus.

The handset comes with an 8MP ultra-wide camera and with it, the brand gets a huge advantage over its rivals. While this is a great feature to have on-board, shooting images with the Galaxy A70 had somewhat of a fish-eye effect at the edges, pulling back some brownie points from the overall image quality.

In the live focus mode, with the 32MP front-facing camera, the edge detection was not as sound as the images captured from rival handsets with some bleeding noticed. However, this was noticed in very few instances and nothing to take away the overall photographic experience.

In photos that were shot in less than ideal light, the Galaxy A70 did manage to hold its own with a lot of detail appearing and image noise kept to a low degree. While viewing these images on the handset, no issues can be easily seen; however, if viewed on a larger display, then the image grain becomes apparent. However, photos captured with the A70 is more than passable for social media. The handset fares a lot better than the competition in terms of photography and Samsung has done well to fit all these features in a sub Rs 30K price bracket.

Battery

Samsung has added a massive 4500mAh battery in the A70 and to power this huge 6.7-inch display, every milliampere is necessary. While on our test, while using the handset as our primary device, we observed that it managed to last a day, every day with medium to heavy usage. We observed that at the end of a typical work day, the A70 had about 15-20 per cent of juice left in the tank; which was quite reassuring.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A70 is priced at Rs 28,990 and is available in a 6GB/128GB configuration. The handset is the top-end A-series device to be launched in India so far and if you ask us if this handset is worth your cash? Then our answer is a definite yes. The A-series of Samsung is the brand’s playground where they use the best possible internal specs that are paired with materials that keep the cost to a minimum. Featuring a beautiful display and stellar shooters in the front and back, the Galaxy A70 is more of an experience than a purchase. By adding an in-display fingerprint scanner and a massive battery, the brand not just targets the digital natives but anyone who wants a premium device from a premium brand without paying for flagship specs.

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