Samsung is best known for its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lineups, but its Galaxy A series of entry-level and midrange smartphones is more budget-friendly than those flagships. The Samsung Galaxy A01 ($149.99) is the lowest-end offering in the series. Unfortunately, the A01 is more style than substance. In exchange for good looks and a bright and nearly bezel-free display, you’ll have to live with a painfully slow processor, scant storage, and underwhelming cameras. The $150 Motorola Moto e is a better bet.
Take one look at the Galaxy A01 and you’ll know it’s a budget phone. Its plastic body and tiny camera module are dead giveaways. That’s not to say it’s ugly, however. In fact, it has a charming small phone aesthetic we’re quite fond of.
The Galaxy A01 measures 5.8 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches and weighs just 5.4 ounces. It’s the perfect size to slide into your pocket and light enough to hold comfortably for a long while.Our Experts Have Tested 60 Products in the Mobile Phones Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)The vivid display of the Samsung Galaxy A01 is dimpled by a camera notch.(Steven Winkelman )
The front of the phone is dominated by a 5.7-inch LCD with a teardrop notch and minimal bezels. It’s vivid and bright with good viewing angles. Screen resolution comes in at 1,520 by 720 pixels with 294ppi. Examine the display closely and you’ll notice that app icons and text are a little fuzzy, but we found it crisp enough for most every task except reading long articles.4.0Excellent$149.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Motorola Moto e Review 4.0Excellent$249.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Motorola Moto G Power (2020) Review 3.5Good$169.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Motorola Moto G Fast (2020) Review 2.5Fair$179.99Check Stockat AmazonRead Our Samsung Galaxy A10e Review
In the US, the plastic backplate is available in a matte black finish. There’s a slight texture that makes the Galaxy A01 feel good in the hand but quickly accumulates smudges. A petite vertical camera module sits in the upper left corner of the backplate, and a monochromatic Samsung logo is centered in the top third. A small speaker grille is in the bottom left corner.
The top is home to the headphone jack, and the USB-C charging port is located on the bottom. On the left side, you’ll find the volume rocker; the SIM/microSD slot and power button are on the right. The buttons are thin, but their placement makes them easy to reach and recognize on the go.
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve yet to mention a fingerprint sensor. That’s because the A01 doesn’t have one. That’s a pretty large omission, especially since you’ll find them on less expensive phones such as the ZTE Blade A3 Prime.
Durability is on par with most entry-level phones. There’s no IP rating, so any accidental drops in the sink or prolonged exposures to the elements are not going to end well. The plastic frame and backplate are likely to withstand minor drops and dings without much damage, but the display—which doesn’t appear to be made of strengthened glass—is not going to fare as well. As always, you’ll want to buy a sturdy case.
Samsung sells two versions of the Galaxy A01 in the US: one for Verizon, and another that works on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks. Both have extensive band support for their respective carriers. Our review unit was provided by Cricket Wireless and tested on Cricket's network in Chicago.There's a microSD slot on the left side for extra storage—which you'll definitely need.(Steven Winkelman)
The poky Snapdragon X6 modem has 2x10mHz carrier aggregation on the downlink and 64-QAM encoding. It’s a slow older modem that’s paired with part of the Snapdragon 439 chipset, and is unable to use carrier resources as efficiently as newer alternatives such as the Snapdragon X9 modem on the Motorola Moto e.
Data speeds are disappointing. Our test speeds averaged just 2.3Mbps down and 3.2Mbps up. That’s slow, even for Cricket, and will likely result in video and audio buffering when the network is congested.
Call quality, on the other hand, is excellent. The earpiece has a maximum volume of 86dB and is loud enough to hear on busy streets. Our test calls were clear and noise cancellation worked well.
The back-firing speaker is a letdown. Volume peaks at 94dB, but the location of the speaker leads to muffled audio when it's lying on a table. Timbre is brassy, with over-represented mids and no bass.
Dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 are on board, but there's no NFC. If you want to use your phone for mobile payments and transit passes, this isn't the phone for you.
On the hardware front, offerings are pretty minimal. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor and 2GB of RAM power the Galaxy A01, and there's 16GB of onboard storage, of which just 3.4GB is available out of the box. Fortunately, you can add 512GB of external storage with a microSD card.For comparison, the Motorola Moto e ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 chipset, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.Buttons are easy to reach, even with small hands.(Steven Winkelman )
When attempting all but the most basic tasks—web browsing, scrolling through social media feeds, and the like—performance failed to impress in testing. There’s noticeable lag when tapping the keyboard or swiping between screens. Needless to say, gaming is a frustrating experience punctuated by dropped frames, long load times, and intermittent crashes.
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On Geekbench 5, a benchmarking test that quantifies raw computing power, the Galaxy A01 scored 150 single-core (SC) and 540 multi-core (MC). The Moto e managed 248 (SC) and 781 (MC) on the same test. Our subjective experience is that the Moto e handles basic tasks much more smoothly than the Galaxy A01.
A 3,000mAh battery gives you plenty of screen time. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full screenbrightness, the A01 eked out 10 hours and 14 minutes before powering down. There’s no fast charging option, but it only takes just over two hours to completely recharge the depleted battery.
The rear camera module uses a 13MP wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a 2MP depth sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. On the front, you’ll find a 5MP lens with an f/2.2 aperture.
With good light, the Galaxy A01 is capable of taking admirable photos. The majority of our test shots were vibrant with excellent depth of field, though we noticed some loss of fine detail in the background. In low light, however, the cameras struggle. All of our test shots looked flat, and details in the foreground and background were fuzzy.The Samsung Galaxy A01's dual cameras do a good job with plenty of light, but low-light photography is a different story.(Samsung)
Test photos with the selfie camera produced similar results. Our daylight test photos had crisp foreground detail and excellent color accuracy, but there was noticeable blurring in the immediate background. Low-light test shots showed signs of overaggressive noise cancellation, blowing out significant details in foreground and background.
There’s also a mode called Live Focus that allows you to control the bokeh in Portrait mode. In theory, it should work better with the rear camera since there’s a depth sensor, but we found the opposite to be true. Our Live Focus photos with the rear lenses showed nearly no bokeh, no matter the background blur setting. On the front-facing camera, it works fairly well in brightly lit settings but fails to notice subjects in low light and direct sunlight.
The Galaxy A01 ships with Android 10 along with One UI 2. Samsung’s custom skin brings some unique changes to Android, including a reversed navigation menu, an updated Settings menu, and a suite of productivity apps.
There is, however, one noticeable omission: Easy mode, a feature found on most Samsung phones that allows users to create a basic UI that's great for children, seniors, and people who prefer less-complex feature phones. Without it, this phone is less useful as a low-cost phone to give to your child or parent.A teardrop notch minimizes the bezels on the Samsung Galaxy A01.(Steven Winkelman)
Cricket has unfortunately bogged the phone down with preloaded apps. Our review unit had 29 bloatware apps that used up nearly half of the available storage space. Fortunately, these apps can be uninstalled, but you shouldn’t be forced to delete dozens of apps you didn’t ask for on a brand new phone.
It’s also unlikely the Galaxy A01 will get an upgrade to to Android 11. In 2020, Samsung announced three years of software upgrades for the majority of its Galaxy portfolio, but the A01 wasn’t included on the list.
A $150 phone is typically pretty basic, but the Samsung Galaxy A01 is still outclassed by other budget phones. Sure, it has a vivid display and excellent battery life, but it stumbles just about everywhere else. Its Snapdragon 439 processor sputters on all but the most basic tasks and there’s little room for installing apps, even after you go through the hassle of clearing out the bloatware.
The Motorola Moto e outpaces the Galaxy A01 in just about every way. With more storage and a more powerful processor, it’s a much better value overall. And, if you’re willing to wait for carrier or manufacturer sales, the Moto G Power surpasses both and can often be found for around the same price. Unfortunately, Samsung misses the mark here.2.5Check Stock$39.99 at Best BuyMSRP $149.99View More
The Samsung Galaxy A01 has charming design, vivid display, and solid battery life going for it, but it's not enough to make up for a lagging processor and nearly nonexistent storage.
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