Samsung Galaxy A70 Australian review

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Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Great software
  • Surprisingly good performance
  • Solid camera

Cons

  • No water resistance or wireless charging
  • Large form-factor

Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy A70 retains the majority of what makes a Samsung’s flagship smartphones appealing at half the price.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 649.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy A70 (2019)?

The Samsung Galaxy A70 doesn’t have wireless charging, water resistance, dual speakers or DeX support but it does still retain the majority - or at least the most important parts - of what makes a Samsung’s flagship smartphones appealing. 

The performance is great, the battery life is long and both the hardware and software design are polished as hell.

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy A70 commands a recommended retail price of AU$649. 

Samsung Galaxy A70 (2019) full review

The Samsung Galaxy hits a lot of the same notes as the flagship Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ but costs about half as much.  It features a 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED Infinity-U screen with a teardrop notch, a single speaker, USB Type-C fast charging, Samsung Pay mobile payments via NFC, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an in-display fingerprint sensor

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A70 features both front and back 32-megapixel cameras, plus additional 5-megapixel depth-of-field and 8-megapixel Ultra-Wide cameras on the back. Under the hood, the mid-range smartphone sports a six-core Snapdragon 675 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 4500mAh battery that supports 25W Fast Charging.

Of course, there are a few things you miss out on here. The Samsung Galaxy A70 doesn’t have wireless charging, water resistance, dual speakers or DeX support.

Despite these compromises, there’s still plenty to like about the A70. You won’t get the flagship frills of the S10 or Note but you will get most of the polish and performance with the Samsung Galaxy A70.

Price

In Australia, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy A70 outright at the following retailers:

You can also purchase the Galaxy A70 on a post-paid mobile plan (see below):

Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera

Much the same as fare like the Google Pixel 3a (review here) and Oppo Reno Z, the Galaxy A70 isn't shying away from its inspirations. When it comes to looks, it’s a device that hits a lot of the same notes as the flagship Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ but costs about half as much. History isn't repeating itself here - but it does rhyme. You get two colors to choose from: black and white. 

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A70 has a 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED Infinity-U screen with a teardrop notch (for more on smartphones notches, check out our guide here), a single speaker, USB Type-C fast charging, Samsung Pay mobile payments via NFC, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an in-display fingerprint sensor. The A70 opts for an optical sensor rather than an ultrasonic one but we didn’t notice any significant difference in terms of reliability and usability. We'd still rate it as a little slower and less reliable than the in-display fingerprint sensors found in Huawei's Mate 20 and P30 Pro but it's not too egregious of a compromise.

Like the rest of the A-series, the Samsung Galaxy A70 supports 2D Face Unlock as well as microSD upgrades of up to 512GB. It also ditches the dedicated Bixby button found in recent Galaxy S flagship smartphones, though it does still come with Samsung’s smart assistant pre-installed. For more on how Bixby compares to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, click here

Credit: Samsung

In terms of how it feels to hold and handle, I found that the Samsung Galaxy A70 was a little large but otherwise really nice. The “glastic” material that’s used to give the A70 its pseudo-all-glass look doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny but it doesn’t feel bad by any stretch.

Again, comparisons to the Pixel 3a are apt here. The build quality and material design of the Galaxy A70 doesn’t hold a candle to that of the S10 but it does do a good job of reminding me of it without seemingly overtly inferior. It doesn’t feel like a particularly premium device but it doesn’t feel like a cheap one either. 

When it comes to the cameras, the Samsung Galaxy A70 features both front and back 32-megapixel cameras, as well as additional 5-megapixel depth-of-field and 8-megapixel Ultra-Wide cameras on the back. In practice, this array produces surprisingly good results. Colors and picture detail - particularly in bokeh and daylight shots - was impressive. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

As you’d expect, low-light and extended zoom are the main areas where the A70 falls short - but it’s by no means a disaster. If you’re just looking for a smartphone camera that’ll let you easily and quickly share your latest meal or adventure on Instagram, the A70 is more than up to the task.

Of course, there are a few other flagship level perks that you do miss out on. You don’t get wireless charging. You don’t get the water resistance, dual speakers or DeX support found in the more expensive Galaxy S10, S10e and S10+ smartphones. If any or all of those are something you want out of your next smartphone, you’re probably going to have to spend a little more than the $649 asking price of the Galaxy A70.

Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life

Specs

  • Processor: Snapdragon 675

  • Operating System: Android 9.0 Pie with Android One

  • RAM:  6GB

  • Storage: 128GB

  • MicroSD slot: Yes

  • SIM: Single

  • Battery: 4500mAh

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5, NFC, 

  • Rear Camera: 32-megapixel (f/1.7) + 5-megapixel (f/2.2) + 8-megapixel (f/2.2) ultrawide

  • Front-Facing Camera: 32-megapixel (f/2.0)

  • Dimensions: 164.3 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm

  • Weight: 183g

Software

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A70 runs on the latest version of Android 9 Pie spiced up by Samsung’s One UI skin. A far cry from the purer, stock Android experiences you’ll find out of the latest hardware from Nokia, Motorola or Google themselves, Samsung have tinkered extensively with the software experience you get from the A70. 

The final results of this are polished, responsive and intuitive. One UI is visually clean and deceptively practical. All of Samsung's native apps (plus most of their Android cousins) have also been modified to privilege the lower half of the screen. This ends up being a really smart change, since it makes interacting with them both faster, easier and more ergonomic.  

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is powered by a six-core Snapdragon 675 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a huge 4500mAh battery that supports 25W Fast Charging.

Benchmarks

When it came to benchmarks, a few things stood out about the Galaxy A70. 

Though it didn’t lead when it came to PCMark’s Work test, it still highlighted just how powerful mid-tier smartphones are getting. The difference between what the Snapdragon 675 in the A70 was able to do and what the Samsung Galaxy S10’s Exynos processor was able to do here isn’t as huge as the price disparity might suggest.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

That being said, the difference here was more pronounced when it came to graphically-intensive things like 3DMark’s SlingShot Extreme test and Geekbench’s Multi-Core test.

Still, taking the S10 out of the picture, it should be noted that Galaxy A70 managed to take the lead on several fronts, frequently beating out fare like the Nokia 8.1 (Amazon) and the Google Pixel 3a for performance. It’s not necessarily going to hold its own against flagship-grade hardware but when it comes to the $500-600 price-range it occupies, the A70 is nothing short of dominant. 

Battery Life

Right out the gate, the Samsung Galaxy A70 really impressed us when it came to battery life. For the first few days of using the device, we’d get a comfortable two days of regular usage per charge. However, it didn’t take long for this to slip into a more tenuous day-and-a-bit. Still, even if it’s not the best battery life you can get for $649, it’s still really good battery life. 

We’d easily make it through the usual 9-5 work day and often well into the evening as well. We’re talking eleven or twelve hours of average use here, though - as always - your mileage may vary. Particularly, if you watch or film a lot of video content.

Just to be safe, we’d usually charge the Galaxy A70 back to full overnight - but if we accidentally forgot to do, we’d usually still have a little bit of juice to go on until we found a power source.

The Galaxy A70 supports 25W fast-charging via USB Type-C but, again, does not offer any form of Qi wireless charging. You're also missing out on the PowerShare reverse wireless charging found in the flagship Galaxy phones.

The Bottom Line

The arrival of Google’s Pixel 3a has shaken up the mid-tier market in a big way. 

Whether you opt for one of the bigger brands like Samsung or Motorola or embrace relative newcomers like Nokia and Oppo, it feels like the ground war here is shifting away from subtraction and towards addition. It’s not about how much you can strip out of a flagship to hit a lower price-point. It’s now about how high you can push the baseline of what $600 gets you.

And for $649, the Samsung Galaxy A70 gets you a lot. You don’t get the flagship frills of the S10 or Note but you do get most of the polish and performance. At 6.7-inches, the notched display might be a little large for some but the fundamentals of what makes a good Samsung smartphones haven’t really been compromised here. The camera isn’t quite as impressive as that of the Google Pixel 3a but it dunks on pretty much everything else you stack it up against. 

The Samsung Galaxy A70 is more than the smartphone you can get away with, it's one that most people will probably be you’ll be happy with. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

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