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I’ve reviewed several phones with relatively low price tags that somehow offer a near-premium experience, and they actively make me think, why would I spend more?
Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G is not one of those phones. While the phones I’m referring to above are inexpensive, the Galaxy A14 5G is the cheapest I’ve tested in a long time, and it acts more like its $200 price.
Still, the Galaxy A14 5G sets out to do what any phone can do, and it capably runs apps, makes voice and video calls, takes photos, and does so on a surprisingly smooth and large display.
For those who can’t stretch their budget for a phone beyond $200, the Galaxy A14 5G will serve them well; we named it the best Samsung phone you can buy on a budget currently. However, those who expect a smoother overall experience, good battery life, and higher-quality photos won’t be smitten.
Surprisingly smooth in-app performance, but a choppy experience in Android
The Galaxy A14 5G runs on the budget-oriented Mediatek Dimensity 700 processor, and while it’s not in any special rush like a premium phone, it does a solid job of opening and running basic apps and tasks smoothly, like social media, video streaming, shopping apps, and messaging.
The biggest noticeable difference compared to a more expensive phone in day-to-day usage is delays and stuttering animations when navigating around the Android operating system, especially when returning to the home screen from an app, or swiping down the notification shade.
These delays and stuttering animations aren’t a deal breaker — the Galaxy A14 5G is a $200 phone, after all. However, they’re common enough in regular usage that it’s worth reporting. If you’re looking for smoother overall performance, you’ll need to buy a phone with more power, which also means a higher price tag.
A large, sharp, high refresh-rate display that surprises for the price
The Galaxy A14 5G has a large 6.6-inch display with a sharp 1080p resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. It uses an LCD panel rather than a premium OLED panel, but I wouldn’t expect more on a $200 phone. Its colors are vibrant, and the contrast is impressive for an LCD panel.
The only negative attribute of the Galaxy A14 5G’s display is its low maximum brightness, which means visibility is noticeably reduced outdoors on a bright sunny day. Otherwise, the Galaxy A14’s display is bright enough for any other situation.
One decent camera, one bad one, and one that doesn’t take photos at all
On the back of the Galaxy A14 are what appears to be three cameras, but you’re only likely to use one of them — the 50MP main camera.
The 50MP main camera captures memories in sharp detail, good color, and high brightness. Still, anything with the color white risks overexposure, and contrast is lacking — it won’t amaze you, but it gets the job done.
There’s also a 2MP macro camera for taking up-close photos of things like pollen on a flower, but it’s virtually pointless. At 2MP, macro photos aren’t sharp at all, and macro cameras on phones in general are pretty niche. If you’re someone who actively wants to take macro photos with your phone, the Galaxy A14 wouldn’t be the phone for you.
And then there’s the third lens, a depth sensor, which doesn’t take photos at all. It’s purely designed to help the main camera take portrait mode photos.
Weak battery life, but that might not matter if you’re not a heavy user
Battery life is a weak spot on the Galaxy A14 — it had 50% remaining battery life after our battery test, which is the lowest score out of any phone we’ve tested so far. It’s a surprisingly low score for a phone with a large screen, as well as a large 5,000mAh battery. Most phones with similar screen and battery sizes score above 60%.
The Galaxy A14’s battery life may not necessarily be an issue for those who don’t spend that much time on their phones. However, those with daily screen times of two hours or more may need to charge the phone during the day, or carry a spare battery.
The Galaxy A14 5G supports charging speeds up to 15W, which isn’t very fast, but it’s what I’d expect for this price range. The Galaxy A14 5G review unit we received from AT&T did not include a charger, and Samsung doesn’t provide one, either.
If battery life is a higher priority for you, and you’re looking to spend as little as possible, my recommendation would be the $300 OnePlus Nord N30 for its superior battery life and included super-fast 50W charger. The N30’s extra $100 premium also gets you significantly better performance and a superior camera.
A decidedly budget-quality design
The Galaxy A14 5G looks as good as it can for $200 with a plastic frame that looks semi-convincingly like metal and a textured plastic back. It’s also quite lightweight for its screen size, which isn’t necessarily a premium trait, but it makes the phone comfortable to maneuver.
Still, the rather thick black borders around the screen, overall thickness of the phone, plasticky hollowness of the back, and even its 3.5mm headphone jack, are dead giveaways that it’s a budget phone. These aren’t deal breakers by any means, as they’re common features of phones priced around $200.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G?
If $200 is your budget, and you can’t go any higher, you’ll be happy with the Galaxy A14 5G. The phone’s large, smooth 90Hz display, capable camera, and solid overall performance for its price make it the best budget Samsung phone you can buy currently.
However, if you’re able to stretch your budget by $100, you can get a phone with better performance in the Android operating system and with significantly better battery life.
In that case, we’d recommend either the $300 OnePlus Nord N30 if you like bigger screens, or the $350 Google Pixel 6a, which can often be found for around $300, and offers stellar performance and cameras, albeit with a smaller, 6.1-inch display.
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