Just a year ago, Samsung’s Galaxy A series was placed in the ‘value’ flagship space, which a tier just below the premium Galaxy S lineup. But with the Chinese handset makers playing a dominant role in the Indian smartphone market, Samsung now seems to have rolled up its sleeves and decided to clobber these OEMs in an attempt to reclaim lost ground. It's weapon of choice? A revitalised Galaxy A series lineup.
For the past few years, Samsung’s mid-range A series design language has been consistent — brick-shaped boring designs with chunky bezels. But this time around, Samsung has completely overhauled the design of its 2019 Galaxy A series smartphones. The new Galaxy A lineup now flaunts a sleek profile with rounded corners and a dew-drop style front panel.
The Samsung Galaxy A30 sits between the Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A10 and inherits Samsung’s premium Super AMOLED display. The smartphone doesn’t feature a gradient finish rainbow effect rear panel (as seen on the Galaxy A50), however, the glossy back panel and the smooth finish does give an elegant look to the Galaxy A30 phone. But although the Galaxy A30 is branded in the budget segment, the competition is stiff, given that you get a plethora of options in this segment with some devices sporting better aspects than the new A-series smartphone.
Undoubtedly, the Galaxy A30 features a gorgeous AMOLED panel and refreshing design but does it live up to the expectations in terms of performance and camera quality? We find out in our review.
Galaxy A30’s sleek profile and tapered back provides the perfect grip
The very first time I got hold of the Galaxy A30 in my hand, I was pleasantly surprised. The sleek profile, glossy back and smooth flowing curves on the phone made me pinch myself twice to believe that is indeed a Galaxy A series device. I have used the Galaxy A9 (2017 Edition) and Galaxy A8+ (2018 Edition) and to be honest the new Galaxy A30 falls nowhere in the list when it comes to design aesthetics. The bulkiness and dated design are gone and you now get a lightweight device that you can easily handle and operate with one hand. The phone looks attractive and feels durable.
Ergonomically speaking, the Galaxy A30 is good, and the reduced weight and tapered back mean that the phone is comfortable to hold. As with the Galaxy A50, the Galaxy A30 features a plastic chassis and metal frame. Samsung has put a reflective coating on the back panel to make it look like it has a glass-like finish. Having said that, the phone is prone to scuffs and fingerprint smudges. But Samsung has bundled a transparent back cover, perhaps to save the phone from getting the scuff magnet title.
Another issue I have with the phone concerns the fingerprint sensor placement, which is put a bit too high up for my hands, and more often than not, I had to stretch my index finger to reach the sensor.
The phone has a dedicated microSD slot which means you don’t have to ditch your precious SIM card to fit in a microSD card. The bottom side houses all the necessary ports — a 3.5 mm audio jack, USB-C and mono speaker grill alongside.
The audio quality on the Galaxy A30 is pretty decent, however, the sound tends to get shrill when the volume is ramped up to its highest level.
A gorgeous display
The Samsung Galaxy A30 features a 6.4-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-U display. The phone has slim bezels on either side and a U-shaped notch at the top. However, the front-fascia is marred by a chunky chin.
But despite all this, the Galaxy A30 does manage to hold your attention with its bright and vivid AMOLED panel. The viewing angles are good and the display produces vibrant, saturated colours. The brightness levels and contrast on the phone are amazing and I barely had any issue while reading content under harsh sunlight. The phone offers a few display modes that you can choose from, which include Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo and Basic.
The Galaxy A30 has support for Widevine L1 DRM which means the phone is capable of streaming HD content from Netflix and Hotstar. The phone doesn’t have a notification LED but it does offer an Always on Display mode that shows notifications. Besides the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy A30 comes with facial recognition and surprisingly, the Face Unlock responds faster than the fingerprint reader. Though that might not be a good thing because it's a not very secure means of authentication.
The adaptive brightness is quite responsive and adapts quickly enough to changing lighting conditions.
The new Galaxy A series now comes with a refreshed user interface — OneUI
The Galaxy A30 runs Android Pie right out of the box and with Samsung’s new interface — One UI skinned on top. The user interface is simple and intuitive and better than Samsung's previous attempts at a UI. The software on the Galaxy A30 offers a host of options that you can tweak based on your preference. Be it picking up a theme from the array of themes available, toggling options to display notifications on the AoD (Always on Display), or customizing the notification panel, OneUI caters to all.
The phone comes with a bunch of gestures as well as with support for one-handed use, finger sensor gestures, Smart stay, etc. The one-finger swipe down gesture on the home screen layout to pull down the notification shade comes in handy given the phone has a tall form factor. The Galaxy A30 includes a mini version of Samsung Pay service that works with the UPI payment network. The phone also has support for Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing, which a good add-on. The notification shade once pulled down covers the entire panel and enables you to easily select the icons with one finger. The icons on the home screen are by default inanely large, but it can be scaled down.
But although the UI is not cluttered like the previous versions, the Galaxy A30 is not free from bloatware. The phone comes pre-loaded with a few unwanted apps including Dailyhunt, but thankfully these apps can be uninstalled. During the initial setup, the phone lets you select and install from a wide range of Samsung apps. While this seems good, it is recommended to tick the checkbox at the bottom before tapping the Finish button to avoid frequent promotion pop-ups from IronSource (the adware brand that Samsung has teamed up).
The dual cameras are just fine
Unlike the Galaxy A50 (Review), which boasts of triple rear cameras, the Galaxy A30 accommodates dual cameras at the back. However, the phone does include a wide-angle lens that captures a wide frame with good details in good lighting conditions.
The Galaxy A30 features a 16 MP primary camera and a 5 MP wide-angle camera. In daylight, the cameras on the phone manage to render a good image with a fair amount of detail and bright colours. The wide-angle lens captures a lot more from a scene in the frame. However, the wide-angle camera fails to retain detail due to the lack of autofocus and the edges get distorted giving the photos a fish-eye appearance from the sides.
The camera app on the phone offers a ‘Scene Optimiser’ that detects objects automatically and adjusts the exposure depending on lighting conditions. The mode makes the photos appear more vibrant, however, it tends to soften the texture.
The low-light camera performance is one area where I was quite disappointed. Although the phone was able to capture good landscape shots in daylight, it was a different story altogether in low light. The cameras failed to lock focus on the subject accurately and the software took a good few seconds for processing the final output. Though the Scene Optimiser on the phone managed to adjust the exposure accordingly in low light, the Redmi Note 7 Pro’s dedicated Night mode could produce a better-exposed picture with decent details.
The camera app on the phone offers a bunch of features including Pro, Panorama, and Live Focus. The app offers AR emojis as well which are fun to play with. The 16 MP front camera does a decent job in good lighting condition. The colours appear good, however, the camera software tends to soften the image and misses out hairline detail.
The Live Focus which is Samsung’s version of a Portrait mode, lets you adjust background blur post capturing a shot. The mode captured shots with a decent depth effect in daylight, but the edge detection and detailing wasn’t so good when compared to the Redmi Note 7 Pro’s Portrait mode. Further, in low-light, the images had a lot of noise and looked patchy.
The Galaxy A30 is capable of recording full HD videos and has EIS support. The cameras on the phone take good videos in daylight, however, a lack of stabilisation causes the phone to fail in delivering stable footage.
The phone is not meant for gaming aficionados
While sleek design and vivid displays are all good things, they're not the only aspects you need to be concerned about. The phone is powered by the Exynos 7904 SoC, the same chipset that sits under the budget Galaxy M30 phone. The 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage onboard suffice for moderate and even heavy users. The phone manages to handle day-to-day activities and web browsing well. However, performance takes a beating when running heavy apps like games.
The Exynos chip manages to run casual games like Orbia with ease, however, to play graphic-intensive heavy games, for instance, PuBG or Asphalt 9: Legends, one needs to scale down the graphics settings. While playing Shadowgun Legends, I observed occasional frame drops in the initial stages.
Moreover, the phone heated up (near the fingerprint sensor) while playing heavier titles for extended hours. However, I didn’t face any lag or stutter while multitasking with multiple tabs open in Chrome and when scrolling through social media feeds.
The battery on the phone easily squeezes out a day’s worth of juice
The Galaxy A30 packs in a big 4,000 mAh battery and supports USB-C port for charging. In terms of battery performance, the phone could easily last a day and a couple of hours with normal usage. However, running heavy games for more than 30 minutes does drain the battery quickly. My day-to-day activities, which involve streaming Netflix, texting on social, some photography, making phone calls and running casual games, netted me an average battery life of 15 hrs. The bundled ‘Fast Charger’ can fully charge up the device in two hours on average.
Samsung Galaxy A30 offers the best display for its price and the sleek design, refreshed UI and good battery backup round out the deal. The vivid Super AMOLED panel gives a pleasing experience while streaming videos on the tall screen. The wide-angle lens is another nice addition which is quite hard to find at this price point.
However, the phones average performance and struggles when rendering low-light photos brings into question its value at Rs 16,990 when compared to the stellar Redmi Note 7 Pro. More confusingly, the cheaper Galaxy M30 (Rs 14,999) is basically the same phone but with the addition of a triple camera and an even larger 5,000 mAh battery. The M30 does use the older Samsung Experience UI and a less exciting design, but those are its only shortcomings.
Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy A30 would be ideal for those who wish to taste Samsung’s new user interface and need a sleek, elegantly designed smartphone. In contrast, Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 7 Pro is a far better performer, offers great value and has the best camera in the budget segment.