Samsung Galaxy A70 test and Verdict: a nice improvement on the mid-range

In 2019, Samsung completely overhauls its mid-range strategy. The Galaxy A family is growing with 6 models including the Galaxy A70. With this smartphone, the Korean is trying to compete with Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi or Honor. Does he manage to pull out of the game? Answer in our test of the Galaxy A70.

Brilliant on the market of premium smartphones, Samsung struggles to hoist its mid-range models in the top. In question, fierce competition straight from Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi or Honor. In 2019, the Korean takes the problem head-on and completely overhauls its strategy. From now on, the A range comes in 6 models and the J range (entry level) disappears from the catalog.

Among the 6 smartphones in the A range, the Galaxy A70 takes the role of the reference model. Marketed at 409 euros, it meets the standards of 2019 to compete with the most competitive competitors (Honor View 20, Xiaomi Mi 9, Asus Zenfone 6). Nevertheless, Samsung had to make some sacrifices. The weak points of the Galaxy A70 disqualify it from the competition? Does his strength allow him to outclass his rivals? We tested it for several days.

Price and release date

The Galaxy A70 is available since the end of April 2019 at a price of 409 euros . It comes in four colors: black, blue, coral and white. At this price, the A70 is in competition with the Pixel 3a XL (best picture), the Mi 9 (more complete), the Zenfone 6 (slightly more expensive) or the View 20. Nevertheless, Samsung has a huge distribution network and can rely on subsidized formulas to sell his smartphone. Among an operator, the A70 is among the best proposals on the mid-range.

Technical sheet of Galaxy A70

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Massive but elegant design

Right out of the box, the size of the Galaxy A70 impresses . Its dimensions of giant (164.3 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm) and its overweight (183 g) do not facilitate handling despite a curved back 2.5D. On this point, the A70 is getting closer to the OnePlus 7 Pro , another mastodon.

If Samsung takes the lines of the Galaxy S10 + , he still had to make some sacrifices. First, the brand trades the glass hull for plastic. However, the excellent treatment of the material creates the illusion perfectly. We also regret the lack of IP certification, but on a smartphone at this rate it remains acceptable.

The flat (not curved) 6.7-inch screen also distinguishes the A70 from the S10 +. A 3mm black border surrounds the slab (5mm for the chin) and a teardrop shaped notch ( Infinity U design ) conceals the front sensor. While some will regret these black outlines, others will appreciate the flat format that avoids the involuntary touches.

In the back, the brand plays the card of minimalism with the triple photo sensor positioned in the upper left corner in the vertical and the logo in the center. Note also that the photo module fits perfectly the hull. The speaker, the USB-C and the 3.5 mm jack are gathered on the lower edge. The volume and power buttons are on the right border. In contrast, we access the slot nanoSIM / microSD and … that’s it. To our delight, the Galaxy A70 does not include a physical button dedicated to Bixby. Phew!

Without causing any effect wow , the design of the Galaxy A70 is very successful. If its massive format reserves it for use with two (large) hands, its lines seduce. Samsung knows how to design beautiful smartphones, even on the mid-range segment.

Samsung, master of the Amoled screen

The great strength of the Galaxy A70 is (by far) its screen and its diagonal of 6.7 inches which ranks it among the giants. In addition, Samsung opts for an original format of 20: 9 when the competition adopts the 19.5: 9 or the 21: 9 (Xperia 1 of Sony). This allows the Korean to incorporate a slab surrounded by very thin borders (including the chin) and a discrete notch around the front sensor.

To make a difference with the competition, Samsung has chosen the technology Super Amoled, with the qualities we know him. Infinite contrasts add a good colorimetry and excellent brightness. The Galaxy A70 can be used in all conditions, including in direct sunlight. Samsung offers two display modes: natural (default) and vivid. The first is more realistic even if the colors lack saturation. Bright mode corrects this problem but cools the whole thing. More advanced settings can optimize everything for a custom view.

Note finally that the definition Full HD (2400 x 1080 pixels) is more than enough on this screen size. On a smartphone of this range, a higher definition does not exist for obvious reasons of costs.

As expected, the Galaxy A70’s screen is among the best in the mid-range segment. Korean perfectly masters the Super Amoled technology he designs. This allows him to optimize manufacturing costs and outperform his competitors in this field.

Somewhat fair performances

This is the biggest sacrifice made by Samsung in the design of the A70. While some of its competitors opt for a high-end chip, the Korean is satisfied with the Snapdragon 675 processor ( engraved in 11nm). Accompanied by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable by microSD up to 512GB), it perfectly meets the needs of classic everyday use. But we noted some slowdowns in transitions and multitasking management.

At stake, the Galaxy A70 is uneven. Basic licenses like Candy Crush work perfectly, for 3D games, however … If PUBG runs perfectly with an optimal configuration (we still note some slight framerate falls) we can not say much of Fortnite. The game of Epic Games runs in low quality at 20 fps. In the same way, we see some freezes on Asphalt 9 and most car games.

With such performance, the Galaxy A70 does not compare with a Mi 9 or Zenfone 6 , both equipped with Snapdragon 855, the high-end processor Qualcomm. Even the Pixel 3a, yet equipped with a mid-range chip (Snapdragon 710) is more stable. Pity.

One UI, a software reference

Fortunately, Samsung is catching up with its software One UI (version 1.1) based on Android 9.0 Pie. By deploying the interface of the Galaxy S10 on its mid-range models, Samsung makes a nice shot. One UI is one of the best Android overlays at the moment (with Oxygen OS and Zen UI 6).

The sleek, graphic chart perfectly blends minimalism and efficiency with completely redesigned menus and useful options. For example, you can replace the navigation bar with a system of gestures that we talked about in our Galaxy S10 test .

To access quick shortcuts, an option allows you to swipe up and down from any part of the screen. This function is included in a more global reflection on the design of the interface. To overcome the large size of the screens, Samsung has redesigned the layout of action keys so that they are accessible to one hand. On a daily basis, this is particularly effective. The ability to activate the night mode (strong point of One UI) directly from the quick shortcut bar is also very convenient.

Finally, note that Samsung includes two methods of unlocking. The first is facial recognition based on the poorly secured frontal sensor. It completes the optical impression reader placed under the screen. Yes, Samsung is incorporating this high-end standard into its more affordable model, but with mixed results. Overall slow, the fingerprint sensor is sometimes capricious and does not easily detect the fingers. Yet we use the same fingers for all tests …

A tenor of audio

Samsung’s expertise in audio is no longer to be proven, as evidenced by the Galaxy S10. Good news, the Korean uses its skills (and those of the group Harman bought in 2016) to offer a good audio experience on its mid-range models.

If the Galaxy A70 only integrates a mono speaker rather average, it outperforms all competitors as soon as you plug a headset or headphones. The 3.5 mm jack positioned on the lower edge allows to connect any earphones. Those provided in the box are also pleasant in everyday life, even if they are not stamped AKG. For fans of wireless, Samsung has everything planned: the A70 is compatible aptX, aptX HD and LDAC for listening in high definition. Best of all, a Dolby Atmos mode lets you enjoy surround sound.

Like the high-end models, the A70 embeds a complete equalizer (9 bands) consisting of 6 presets (normal, pop, classical, jazz, rock and custom). With Adapt Sound, Samsung can refine the sound quality according to the age of the user (under 30, between 30 and 60 and over 60).

Although the bass is discrete, the sound remains balanced and seduce users of streaming services. The combination of integrated technologies and functions allows the Galaxy A70 to become the benchmark in its category. And by far !

Excellent battery and fast charging

With its large size, the Galaxy A70 can ship a battery of 4500 mAh. It allows it to be among the most enduring smartphones on the market, all ranges combined. We were able to use it intensively for two full days. It is closer to the two and a half days of autonomy of Zenfone 6.

Samsung provides a 25W (9V – 2.77A) USB-C charger that is compatible with fast charging. On average, the A70 gains 45% of battery in 30 minutes , the equivalent of one day of use. On the other hand, a complete refill lasts a little more than 2 hours. Note finally that wireless charging is for absent subscribers, which is not surprising on a smartphone at this price.

Disappointing camera

Samsung can also design high-end smartphones with excellent cameras. The Korean is trying to use its expertise on its mid-range models. It starts with good equipment. Thus, the manufacturer equips his Galaxy A70 with a triple photo sensor composed of:

  • a main sensor of 32 MP (78 °) equivalent 26 mm
    • Opening of the objective: f / 1.7
  • a 5 MP sensor dedicated to portraits
    • Opening of the objective: f / 2,2
  • an ultra wide angle sensor of 8 MP (123 °) equivalent 12 mm
    • Opening of the objective: f / 2,2

Added to this is an artificial intelligence capable of recognizing 19 types of scenes and a slew of modes of shooting to stimulate your creativity.

In good conditions, the Galaxy A70 is doing very well. The clichés are detailed, with excellent contrasts and realistic colors. Be careful though, the smartphone hates them. In this situation it tends to burn the background and smooth the subject.

The smartphone inherits the ultra-wide angle of the S10, with the same flaws. Less detailed, the pictures also suffer from a loss of contrast and a decrease in exposure. At night, the results miss too much detail to hope to exploit the clichés, even on social networks. So it seems that Samsung still has not found the magic formula in the treatment of the ultra wide-angle lens.

Obviously, the Korean did not know how to tame either the sensor dedicated to portraits. Outlines often turn out to be imprecise and random blur effects. It is not uncommon to observe the effects of pies around the subjects. We can hope for an improvement of the portrait mode thanks to an update. But as we write these lines, we do not hide our disappointment.

At night, the Galaxy A70 limits the case. Digital processing corrects the lack of light well. Nevertheless, a good stabilization of the smartphone remains essential to obtain suitable results. That is not the case here. Most of the time, the photos are just acceptable. In addition to the loss of dive, the lack of stabilization reveals a lot of noise.

The Galaxy A70 is saved with its 32 megapixel front sensor (f / 2.0). All in all selfies are pretty good, with a good dive and excellent contrasts. Again, beware of the contraries. The self-portrait mode (purely digital) will appeal to fans of the genre. Note however that the software treatment smooths the face. It may be flattering (my circles thank Samsung, though), but the pictures are unrealistic.

Note finally that the Galaxy A70 can shoot in 4K at 30 fps, in Full HD at 60 fps (or 30 fps) with the rear camera. With the front camera, the quality is limited to Full HD at 30 fps.

In general, the Galaxy A70 camera disappoints. In the face of competition, he does not hold the comparison. And we’re not just talking about Google Pixel 3a outperforming all of its rivals. Even facing an Honor View 20, the Galaxy A70 is not the weight. To our regret …

Note finally that the Galaxy A70 can shoot in 4K at 30 fps, in Full HD at 60 fps (or 30 fps) with the rear camera. With the front camera, the quality is limited to Full HD at 30 fps.

In general, the Galaxy A70 has camera disappoints. In the face of competition, he does not hold the comparison. And we’re not just talking about Google Pixel 3a outperforming all of its rivals. Even facing an Honor View 20, the Galaxy A70 is not the weight. To our regret …

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