While the top-of-the-range Galaxy S series phones get the most attention, they’re not all Samsung has on the menu. The manufacturer also releases smartphones in the lower price ranges, both mid-range, like the recently tested Galaxy A33, and real budget like the Galaxy A13, which we are testing here. It costs $199 if you buy it from Samsung directly, and can be marginally more than $100 in some stores.
Galaxy A13 is a mobile in large format, with a 6.6-inch screen, thick screen edges and space for a large 5,000 milliampere battery. This makes it larger in dimensions than most top mobiles, although not as heavy. Plastic chassis instead of glass and metal means that the weight does not shine away. The entire back and sides are one and the same piece of shiny plastic, with softly rounded edges and corners. The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass 5.
It’s both a likable and annoying design. We like how the cameras, despite a large main sensor for the price range, don’t stick out more than marginally, and the shape itself is comfortable to hold. The problem is the surface. The shiny plastic quickly feels sweaty to hold and the surface attracts all kinds of fingerprints, dust and dirt.
Just because it’s cheap, it doesn’t have to look cheap and feel budget. This was demonstrated by the Nokia G21, which arrived last winter and combined a stylish exterior with a quality feel, approved performance and a better-than-expected camera. They match each other in price, but on point for point the Galaxy A13 is defeated.
Slow in more ways than one
Its system chip, the Exynos 850, is significantly behind the Unisoc chip in Nokia’s mobile, and the everyday experience is also noticeably slower. Four gigabytes of RAM should be plenty, but we get a lot of art pauses if we try to multitask. It is probably the slow storage that causes it.
The graphics chip also seems to be at its weakest, so much so that even the One UI interface protests. There is a six gigabyte version of the phone that might have done better.
Another reason for that is that the Nokia phone has a 90 Hz screen while Samsung chose a 60 Hz panel. However, the image quality of the screen cannot be complained about. It’s 1080p resolution, wide viewing angles, larger color gamut than we usually see in budget mobiles, well-approved brightness that’s enough for outdoor use, although you should avoid direct sunlight.
With those features and the generous size, it’s a good screen to lie on the couch with and stream a movie. Good sound quality also contributes to this. Sure, it’s only in mono, but we’re not asking for more in the price range, even if some competitors have stereo.
You also have a classic 3.5 millimeter headphone socket at the bottom. At one point, the sound disappoints us, the speaker at the ear is not as high quality, so voices during a phone call get a somewhat sharp tone.
Three cameras, one is (almost) good
The Galaxy A13 has four camera lenses on the back, with the fourth being a depth sensor to support the main camera. It is the one you will use most, or almost exclusively, as neither the phone’s five megapixel wide-angle camera nor two megapixel macro is anything to cheer about.
The wide angle lacks detail sharpness, has harsh dynamics with both black shadows, flat bright areas and produces noise in the image as soon as it gets a little dark. Macros don’t get close enough to their subjects to be worth using.
The main camera is reliably good though. A 50-megapixel sensor that, with pixel binning, delivers 12.5-megapixel photos with a high level of detail, good sharpness, vibrant colors and well-approved dynamics. However, it can be a test of patience, as the autofocus in the camera is both slow and has a tendency to quickly lose “lock”.
But it is possible to take really good photos, although you may need one or two tries. Even in portrait mode, where the depth camera does a competent job, and you can even zoom nicely digitally up to about 3x.
Approved battery life, no charger
With a 5,000 milliampere-hour battery, energy-efficient processor and a pls screen that seems more power-efficient than the more common ips panels, which are usually found in mobiles, we get really good battery life. We stream video at high brightness for up to twelve hours.
It may sound a little compared to many more expensive mobiles, which manage it for over 20 hours, but the difference is that they have amoled screens that handle it better. The brightness is crucial here and if we lower it, the battery life goes up for both video, web surfing and other use.
The phone supports up to 15 Watts of charging, so be patient when topping up. It takes about two and a half hours with a matching charger. Something that you don’t get with the purchase. Samsung has now stopped sending chargers even in their cheapest models. If you’re unlucky and don’t have a suitable charger, you can get one separately.
We have a hard time seeing how the Galaxy A13 will be a success for Samsung. It offers nothing that doesn’t make us look instead at more interesting competitors. If it had had Samsung’s market-leading update plan for Android versions and security updates, which we’ve given plus for on Samsung phones of late, that would have been one thing. But that update plan only extends to the Galaxy A23. For the cheapest mobiles, updates are more uncertain.
Unlock’s Galaxy A13 Review
- Nice screen
- Good battery life
- Competent main camera
- Questionable performance
- Plastic design and sweaty grip
- The rest of the cameras nothing to have
- No charger