The most exciting smartphones aren’t the $1,200 flagships, with their minor upgrades only slightly improving the camera over the previous year. No, it’s the cheap phones that caught my attention. It’s remarkable to see what features trickle down from the high-end and how quickly these handsets improve. Nowhere is that more clear than with Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G.
This $200 unlocked Android phone is quite frankly phenomenal. For two Benjamins, you can get a smartphone that can handle most everyday tasks without running frustratingly slow, a surprisingly decent camera system, a long software update cycle and more than two days of battery life. The crazier thing is that Samsung manages to improve on the shortcomings of the A14’s predecessor – the Galaxy A13 5G – while lowering the price by $50. Consider my mind baffled.
The A14 5G looks a bit basic, but it has a textured back that gives it a bit more character than most budget phones. It certainly doesn’t feel as cheap as it is. Thanks to the design of the plastic back, you don’t have to worry about one less glass surface. The only hardware failure? This phone is not IP rated, so it is not dust and water resistant. Be careful with it in the rain, at a pool, and on the beach.
The 6.6-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 1080 pixels, which is sharper than the previous model, and it looks great. I’ve had no trouble reading it on sunny days (not that we’ve had many here in New York lately), and it’s sharp enough for gaming, reading, and watching all the TikToks my partner has my sends to the side.
Speaking of displays, some budget phones have started introducing high refresh rates in their respective screens – a flagship feature that’s making its way down the line. Most smartphones used to have a 60 Hz screen, but increasing the number of times the screen refreshes per second from 60 to 90 or 120 gives you a smoother experience and makes the phone feel faster. (You can read about it in more detail here.) Samsung has kept the 90 Hz panel from the A13, which is nice, but honestly, it’s hard to say. It doesn’t feel as buttery smooth as more powerful devices that can speed up the frames more regularly as you move through the interface.
Performance is definitely a highlight. Compared to a $170 phone I just reviewed, the Galaxy A14 5G is a godsend. I can actually juggle through all my apps without my blood pressure rising. This is thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G and 4GB of RAM inside. In my Geekbench benchmark tests, there’s a solid performance boost over the A13 5G, which is surprising considering the A13 5G has the same chipset and RAM. I suspect there’s just better optimization here. That is easily reflected in my whole experience. I can play games like Alto’s Odyssey, CarX highway racingand Dead cells without noticing annoying hiccups.