Samsung Galaxy A30 Review: could entice offline buyers

Rating: 6.5/10

Yay:

  • Best-in-class display
  • Good ergonomics
  • Decent battery life

Nay: 

  • Sluggish gaming performance
  • Sub-par camera
  • Tough to justify its price tag

Introduction

Okay, so Samsung has launched plenty of smartphones recently. Be it the S series, the M series, or the A series, Samsung is growing everywhere. The company recently launched the Galaxy A30 and the Galaxy A50, both of which are surprisingly good phones. However, the Galaxy A30 goes head to head with the previously launched Galaxy M30. Yes, it goes head to head with it, despite being two grand expensive than it. And honestly, I can’t really justify the price difference. So before we get started with the full review, let me make one thing very clear. Despite everything that’s good in this phone, it’s going to be a hard sell. And this review is going to tell you just why.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy A50 review: the most premium smartphone experience under Rs. 20,000

Design and Build Quality

Okay, so one look at the back of the Galaxy A30, and you’re reminded of the M-series. And I wouldn’t blame you since they all look a lot similar. Samsung has clearly kicked 2019 off by declaring its own standard design language for its budget range, and it shows. Thankfully, it isn’t a bad thing. The Galaxy A30 is a beautifully crafted design, which feels almost perfect to hold in a single hand. I currently use the OnePlus 6T as my daily driver, and honestly, the ergonomics on the A30 feel a tad bit better. Despite cramping up a 4,000mAh battery, the device is quite slim. And despite the curved edges and smooth finish, it still feels quite grippy.

On to the front, you get this beautiful Super AMOLED display with a tiny notch at the top. Samsung likes to call it the Infinity-U display, and inside it, resides the 16MP selfie shooter. The display is amazing, and I’ll get to that in a while. But on the whole, when you consider the front of the design, it looks really appealing. Yes, there is still a massive chin at the bottom. But honestly, I wouldn’t make a big fuss about it.

Over to the right side. Here, you’ll find the volume rockers followed by the power button. On the opposite side, there’s the triple card slot SIM tray. I wish there was a Bixby button there too. Nah, just kidding, nobody wants that. Down below, you’ll find the USB Type-C port, sandwiched between the 3.5mm jack and the speaker grill. It’s nice to have pretty much everything here, with no compromises.

On the whole, the Samsung Galaxy A30 has a great design. Is it unique? No. But does it work? Absolutely yes. And trust me, I love the ergonomics on this thing, especially for its price.

Display

So when you talk of budget offerings, you usually consider LCD displays. Now, Samsung has already shown the kind of magic LCDs can do with the Galaxy M10 and the M2o. However, the company decided to push out not LCD but sAMOLED for the Galaxy A30. And damn, it is absolutely stunning. The Galaxy A30 comes with a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display. Like all AMOLED displays, the color reproduction is top-notch, and everything just feels super sharp on it.

Samsung is already known for making the best smartphone displays out there. And I dare say that the display on the Galaxy A30 is as good as the ones on its flagship series. And that is, by no means, a stretch. The panel here is super crisp and can get quite bright, making it easier to use under direct sunlight. In fact, it is brighter than most phones in this price range.

Also, here’s another thing that you folks would love to know. The display on the Galaxy A30 is Widevine L1 certified. So you can enjoy your Netflix and Amazon Prime videos in full quality on this device as well. Honestly, the display on the Galaxy A30 is its strongest suit. It has the best in class display, and the only other device that comes close to the Galaxy A30 is, well, the Galaxy M30. Actually, it’s not close, it’s identical. Now you’re starting to put together the things I mentioned in the intro, right? Well, let’ continue, ‘coz there is one thing where the A30 certainly outsmarts the M30.

User Interface

Now, surely the Galaxy A30 has a lot of similarities with the Galaxy M30. However, it scores above the M30 in the software front. You see, the M30 comes with Samsung Experience 9.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Now, while it is better than the TouchWiz UI of the old age, it isn’t great either. However, the Galaxy A30 comes with the latest OneUI 1.1 based on Android 9 Pie. And boy, it is just amazing. I’ve never liked using a Samsung device this much, and this is definitely saying something. 

Now, it’s not like there’s no nonsense at all. For instance, there’s the Lockscreen Stories features. Enabled by default, Lockscreen Stories essentially showcases a bunch of articles, from Samsung’s content partner Glance. But there are a lot of things to admire. The entire UI is designed to better facilitate one-handed usage, and it shows. Almost everything that is system-based is pushed down, so basically you have to operate the two-thirds of the display, which makes it quite snappy. Also, there’s the in-built dark mode, and thanks to the sAMOLED display, makes the device look so much cooler.

On the whole, if you’ve ever used a Samsung device before, this would feel like a welcome change, with all the good features without losing the core Samsung experience. If this is your first Samsung device, it could take a while to get accustomed. However, trust me on this, it is very hard to hate on OneUI. It is genuinely that good.

Performance

Ah, the performance segment. Now, this is a tricky one, since a lot of people have been wondering how good the Exynos 7904 chipset really is. Sadly, it is the same experience as the Galaxy M30. To put this in a nutshell, the Galaxy A30 offers decent performance, if your expectations aren’t that high. Our review unit came with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. I’ve already talked about how the chipset fairs against the likes of Snapdragon 660, Helio P70, and the Kirin 710. So make sure to check that out as well.

Also read: Exynos 7904 vs Snapdragon 660 v Helio P70 v Kirin 710: the midrange SoC battle

Now, on to my regular set of benchmarks of the device. The phone scored 1,07,262 in AnTuTu, which is similar performance to the Snapdragon 636. And, in the Geekbench test, it scored 1322 in the single-core test and 4129 in the multi-core test. The device also managed a sequential read/write speed of 193.82MBps/99.74MBps. Now, if you’re a fan of PUBG Mobile, the game automatically resorted to Medium graphics settings. However, I was able to push the device to Ultra FPS while keeping the graphics settings on Medium. And surprisingly, the game ran quite smooth. For 20 minutes, after it crashed. So there’s that. We’ve had trouble using the Exynos 7904 for gaming in other Samsung devices too, so if that’s your priority, I’d suggest you choose an SD636 or a Kirin 710 device for better performance.

However, if we talk about day to day usage, the Exynos 7904 is a fantastic chipset. Not once did I notice any lag in the normal usage of the device. And mind you, this is a Samsung device we’re talking about. On the whole, apart from gaming, the Galaxy A30 is a great device. However, if gaming is your priority, you should look elsewhere.

Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy A30 comes with a dual camera setup on the back, comprising of 16MP primary shooter alongside a 5MP ultra-wide shooter. Personally, I like this setup more. I’ve never been a fan of software implemented portrait effects. As such, to finally have the option of choosing between a telephoto sensor and a zoom lens sensor is pretty much welcome. All creds to LG though for starting the trend. Anyway, back to the Galaxy A30. 

In the camera samples on your screen, you can see that the A30 does a decent job. The subject looks clear, and even the portrait mode looks good, despite lacking a depth sensor. In night photography, the noise does start to creep in, but I wouldn’t expect anything better from a device at this price point. Oh btw, the M30 has a triple camera setup at the back. Just saying!

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Anyway, over to the front, and the selfies are great too. In clear Samsung fashion, there is a noticeable amount of saturation present here. Also, the images are slightly soft, so there’s that. Is that a deal breaker though? Not entirely, but yeah, I do expect a bit better from Samsung.

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Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy A30 manages to check all the points in terms of what all ports there should be on your smartphone. It’s 2019, so definitely there should be a USB Type-C port, and the Galaxy A30 has that. You want to listen to your music collection, but still, haven’t adopted the wireless standards? No worries, the A30 has a 3.5mm headphone jack as well. But if you want to go the Bluetooth way, the device comes with Bluetooth 5.0.

Oh, and thanks to the triple card slot, you don’t have to choose between dual SIMs or expandable storage. In fact, on the Galaxy A30, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Audio

The Galaxy A30 features a single firing speaker on the bottom edge, and truth be told, it’s good enough. It doesn’t come with any mumbo-jumbo high-tech words, coz frankly, it’s not that powerful either. What’s more, is that the placement does end up in the user muffling the sound while using the device, so there’s that. But apart from these slight issues, the speakers themselves are pretty good enough for your average media consumption. The levels are pretty much balanced, and there is a slight hint of bass as well. The vocals do seem to distort at the higher volumes, so I’d recommend using a pair of earphones if you’re serious about your entertainment.

Battery And Charging

For anything that’s portable, battery life is a big concern. The Samsung Galaxy A30 comes with a 4,000mAh battery with support for fast charging. That said, there is no fast charger supplied in the box per se. It still charges quite rapidly and takes about 108 minutes to reach the 100% mark, so I’m alright with that.

The overall battery life isn’t that bad either. In my usage of the device which included watching some Anime, playing the usual games, lots of calls, and a ton of surfing on Twitter; the device managed to easily last throughout the day, while still retaining some juice. I think along with the huge battery capacity, the OS also deserves its fair share of praise. OneUI is extremely good at battery management, and the different battery saving modes could easily allow one to push their device to higher battery life numbers.

Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy A30?

Honestly? No. That’s the TL;DR version of it. You see, the Galaxy A30 is a great device. No, it is a fantastic device. But at Rs. 17,000, it is hard to justify its price tag. Especially when you have the Galaxy M30 in the market. The M30 offers almost everything the A30 does, and then some. It improves upon almost every front. It offers a triple camera setup, an extra 1,000mAh battery, the same amazing display, and what not. The only edge the A30 has over the M30 is OneUI, which is significantly better than the Samsung Experience 9.5. That said, a software update should be coming soon, and it would bring forth the OneUI to the M30 as well. Oh, and did I tell you that the Galaxy M30 offers all this at just Rs. 15,000? So yeah, that’s a direct savings of Rs. 2,000.

Now there is something to be said about the A30, which is its offline availability. You see, the Galaxy M30 is available for sale only via online channels. However, the A30 is for those who actually want to go to a retail store and purchase it in front of their eyes. Now, charging a premium of Rs. 2000, or actually, even more, might not seem worth to most, but then again, the A30 does give you an option.

So the choice is pretty much clear. If you like the Galaxy A30, go ahead and buy the Galaxy M30. Sorted.

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Varun Mirchandani
varun.mirchandani@u2opiamobile.com

Varun is your go-to guy for everything related to technology. Someone with a keen interest in the Android world, he installs a new custom ROM every week and is always living on the bleeding edge of technology. When not writing for Mr. Phone, you can find him gaming on his beastly gaming rig which is also his prized possession.