Samsung’s New $200 Smartphone Is Phenomenal
I don’t want to oversell it—it’s not a flagship phone. Yes, you will still see stutters here and there when you switch between apps. Maybe you’ll have to force close an app from time to time. But for the most part, I’ve had a completely good experience using the A14 5G not only for catching up on Reddit and Twitter, but also to respond to emails on the fly, monitor work tasks, and even make calls.
That brings me to the battery. My sister lives in India, so we don’t get a chance to catch up often. The other day, I spent four hours on a video call and the battery dropped only to 50 percent—I was expecting it to be lower! On that same day, I used the phone’s GPS as I drove to a dog park in Manhattan, and snapped lots of photos of my delicious fried chicken sandwich at a local Irish eatery called Bua. By bedtime (which is, er, past midnight for me), the phone was at 11 percent with a fantastic 9 hours of screen-on time. This was an unnaturally busy day. On days when I don’t spend hours on video calls, I had 30 percent left after two full days on a single charge. It’s lovely not having to recharge every night.
That brings me to the 50-megapixel primary camera. It snaps photos pretty quickly, and there’s even a Night mode you can use to take decently bright and sharp images in low light (unlike the Moto G Play). Naturally, your nighttime photos will be a little blurry now and then. There’s a little too much processing at times, smoothening out certain features on faces and other details, plus some colors can be exaggerated. Still, I’ve still been quite happy with most of the results for a $200 phone. That includes selfies I snapped with the 13-megapixel front camera (which also supports Night mode). There’s a macro camera if that’s your fancy, and it works OK for extreme close-up shots, but only if you have a good amount of light.
A Star Is Born
The only major gripe I have with this phone in day-to-day use is the mono speaker. It just doesn’t get too loud, doesn’t sound great, and it’s easy to block in landscape mode when you’re playing video games. The easy solution is to just use headphones—wireless or wired because, yes, there’s a headphone jack.
There’s even a microSD card slot to expand on the 64 GB of internal storage (which is more than what you’ll find on similarly priced peers), plus the ability to make contactless payments with the near-field communication (NFC) sensor so you can leave the wallet at home. I almost exclusively pay with my phone these days when I’m out and about, so this is a huge win for me.
The Galaxy A14 5G also supports … 5G, as the name implies, which is yet another rarity at this price as most sub-$200 phones rely on 4G LTE. It’s supported by every major US carrier, from AT&T and T-Mobile to Verizon. Best of all, Samsung is promising two Android OS updates, which means that since it’s already running the latest Android 13, it’ll still receive Android 15 in 2024. It will also get four years of security updates, which is practically unheard of for a phone so cheap.
It’s near-impossible to not marvel at the value of the Galaxy A14. It does almost everything so well for so little, and that’s precisely what we should be asking more of from our gadgets.
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