Samsung flagships can be expensive in the extreme, but the company makes tons of great phones that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The Galaxy A13 5G is another: at just $250, it does everything you’d expect from a smartphone, often better than you’d expect from a budget smartphone. If you don’t want to splash the extra cash on a more premium device, the A13 5G is definitely worth considering.
With relatively strong performance, ample battery life, decent cameras, and long update support, the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is easy to love at $250.
- Storage: 64 GB
- CPU: MediaTek Dimension 700
- Memory: 4GB
- Operating system: Android 11 with OneUI 3.1
- Drums: 5000mAh
- Camera (Front): 5MP f/2.0
- Cameras (rear): 50MP f/1.8 primary, 2MP f/2.4 macro, 2MP f/2.4 depth
- Price: $250
- Dimensions: 164.5 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
- Display: 6.5-inch 720p 90Hz TFT PLS LCD
- Weight: 195g
- Faster than I expected from a budget phone
- Long battery life
- Four years of security updates
- Aside from the 90Hz refresh rate, the display isn’t very good
- Questionable build quality
- Two of its three rear cameras aren’t useful
Design, Material, Box Contents
The A13’s design isn’t particularly polished – it looks more or less like what I’d expect if I asked someone to design a generic Android phone. The front has thick bezels for 2022 surrounding a 6.5-inch screen, with a teardrop notch and an extra-thick chin.
I’m a little torn on the screen. It’s great that Samsung managed to build a $250 phone with a 90Hz display, but as was the case with the latest Moto G Power, nothing else about that display is remarkable. It’s a 720p LCD panel, which, given the price, I don’t mind here, but the colors aren’t very vivid, giving the whole phone a lifeless feel. While I like high refresh rate displays, I think I would have preferred a better quality 60Hz panel than the one that ended up in the A13. There also doesn’t appear to be an oleophobic coating applied, so it collects a parcel hard to erase fingerprints. I noticed that the seam between the screen and the body of the phone also tends to trap more lint than on most phones.
The back is eggshell-finish black plastic with three cameras and the flash in the upper left corner, and a Samsung logo at the bottom. There’s a volume rocker and a quick and satisfying power button-mounted fingerprint sensor on the right edge; a combined SIM/microSD card tray on the left; and a USB-C port, a downward-facing speaker, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack at the bottom. This single speaker is the only one in the A13, and it doesn’t sound great. It gets quite loud, but it doesn’t produce much bass to speak of and has a harsh quality.
Overall, the A13 isn’t a particularly well-built piece of hardware. It’s laminated, it flexes and squeaks, and its shoddy screen is hard to clean. But the fact that it looks cheap is tempered by the fact that it is cheap; It’s not worse than I expected at this price.
There is no charger in the box.
The phone comes with documentation, a chintzy SIM eject tool, and a USB-C-to-C cable. There is no charger in the box. I don’t mind the tendency for flagships to ship without a charger much, and I understand that at this price, bundling a charger may have made the phone more expensive. But people who buy $250 phones probably aren’t drowning in spare chargers like enthusiasts who spend $900 on a new phone every year are. Samsung should have included one.
Software, performance and battery life
You’re getting One UI 3.1 on Android 11 here, so there aren’t many surprises. It has all the normal Samsung tricks, including optional edge panels that add extra shortcuts and the ability to put apps in small windows for multitasking (you might not want to do that on a 720p screen of the size of a phone, but you can).
More interesting than the software itself is the fact that Samsung promises four years of security patches for the A13. That’s not unusual for Samsung in 2022, but it’s still encouraging to see such a cheap phone get decent support.
Running on a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset paired with four GB of RAM, the A13 5G performs better than expected. Flipping through home screens, opening and switching apps, and even playing fairly intensive games like Call of Duty Mobile, all went without a hitch. You’ll still stutter or freeze, and you’ll spend a little more time staring at app splash screens than you would with a more powerful device, but I think the user experience this hardware provides is more than acceptable for a phone budget. It’s really very good.
Battery life is also excellent. I was a bit more of a homebody than usual during my time with the A13, but the phone managed to crank out around seven hours of mixed-use screen time in just over 48 hours between full charges. That time included web browsing, messaging, light gaming, and several hours of watching YouTube videos over a 5G connection. You really should try to kill this thing in one day.
The Galaxy A13 has three rear cameras: a 50-megapixel primary accompanied by two two-megapixel shooters, a macro, a depth. The main camera produces decent images in good light. Its 50 megapixels are reduced to 12.5, and if you zoom in fine details start to look like a watercolor. Uncropped photos taken with adequate lighting, however, look pretty good for social media.
As you can imagine, the A13 struggles in dim lighting. There’s no dedicated low-light mode, and despite climbing thousands of ISOs at very dark settings, the shutter speed is just too slow. In the last image above, the ISO was set to 5000 and the shutter speed was one tenth of a second. You simply won’t get sharp photos with an unstabilized camera with such long exposures.
The two extra cameras might as well not be there at all. One is a dedicated depth camera that allegedly assists portrait mode, and the other is a fixed-focus macro shooter. Good Macro cameras can be a lot of fun, but it’s not.
Photo taken with Galaxy A13 5G’s 2MP macro camera.
At two megapixels, photos from the A13’s macro camera are relatively small: just 1,600 by 1,200 pixels. They are also sharpened aggressively. They are just not good. It doesn’t hurt the phone much to have features you won’t want to use, but it’s never a good idea to add more cameras just to have a certain number. I would much rather have one good camera.
Should I buy it?
Yes. I like this phone much more than I expected. Performance is excellent for the price, battery life is really strong, and compared to other phones in this price range, its cameras aren’t bad at all (well, the main one, anyway). It also has longer update support than many phones, even the most expensive ones like the Pixel 5a.
I wish the display was a little nicer and the build quality was slightly uncanny – I wonder how it will stand up to heavy use. But considering the affordable price of the phone, any issues I have with it seem insignificant. If you want a brand new phone for around $250, the Galaxy A13 5G is among your best options today.
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