Samsung Galaxy A73 review: Pricey excellence

Samsung Galaxy A73 review: Pricey excellence

Samsung Galaxy A73 review: Pricey excellence


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Last year’s Galaxy A72 had something of an identity crisis. Except for a slightly larger screen, bigger battery, and a zoom camera, it didn’t have anything to set itself apart from the Galaxy A52, with Samsung going as far as using the same Snapdragon chip for both handsets despite their price difference, making the A72 something of an underpowered device for its segment.

It didn’t help that Samsung later launched the Galaxy A52s 5G, which had a considerably faster Snapdragon chip – the Snapdragon 778G — inside. Fast forward to 2022, and that same processor now powers the Galaxy A73, which launched alongside the Galaxy A53 a few weeks back.

In addition to the Snapdragon 778G processor, the Galaxy A73 entices by being the first mid-range Galaxy phone to feature a 108MP camera. It also has the crazy good advantage of being promised four years of OS updates, which is something no other Android manufacturer can match on a flagship phone or otherwise.

The Galaxy A73 also keeps exciting features from last year’s Galaxy A72, like an IP67 water and dust resistance rating, stereo speakers, a high refresh rate display (now 120Hz instead of 90Hz), a 5,000 mAh battery, and 25W super fast charging.

A couple of downgrades are part of the package, as well. There’s the lack of a dedicated zoom camera – you’re getting a macro camera instead, which just doesn’t sit well with us considering the Galaxy A73’s price tag, especially in markets like India. You also don’t get a 3.5mm headphone port, and the box doesn’t come with a charger or USB-C earphones.

But does all that stop the Galaxy A73 from being a phone worth buying? Well, the title of this review has already given the plot away, but now, it’s time to dive in for the details.

Design

In terms of design nothing has changed on the Galaxy A73, or with Samsung’s mid-range phones in general. There’s only glass at the front; the sides and back are all plastic. Plastic that doesn’t feel cheap, mind, but it’s still plastic and that continues to be one of the negatives about Samsung’s mid-range phone design.

Thankfully, there’s a matte finish on the back so fingerprints aren’t a problem, and it also helps make the A73 look understated yet beautiful. On the flip side, the phone can be a little slippery and you might want to buy a case for it to avoid any accidental drops.

The Galaxy A73 is not very heavy, and thanks to the removal of the headphone jack, it’s also nearly a millimeter thinner than its predecessor, which contributes to better handling, especially when you’re trying to reach the top corners of the screen in one-handed use. Of course, the fact that the headphone jack is gone isn’t going to please everyone, but I guess wireless earphones really are the standard now and not enough customers are going to care.

Display and audio

The 120Hz 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display on the Galaxy A73 is a looker. It doesn’t impress with numbers like, for example, the 1750 nits of brightness you get on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the experience is amazing. The contrast, viewing angles, and brightness levels are all spot on, and the 120Hz refresh rates keeps animations fluid at all times (thanks to the power afforded by the Snapdragon 778G chipset).

The 120Hz 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display on the Galaxy A73 is a looker

Samsung’s also finally perfected in-display fingerprint recognition, whether it’s the optical kind or ultrasonic. It’s like Samsung flipped a switch this year – the A73, like the Galaxy S22 lineup, is extremely quick at unlocking once you place your finger on the sensor area and is highly accurate, too.

The only thing I still fail to understand is why the Galaxy A7x line has bigger borders around the front-facing camera’s punch hole compared to the Galaxy A5x line. That big black hole can sometimes be really frustrating to look at, especially when you’re not using dark mode in the UI/apps. It seriously needs fixing, but it doesn’t look like Samsung is bothered enough to do something about it.

For audio, unless you bring your own wireless earbuds, all the Galaxy A73 provides is its stereo speakers. It’s a good thing then that these speakers do a good job. Samsung has improved the maximum volume over the stereo speakers on last year’s Galaxy A52/A72, and the A73’s speakers provide plenty of punch and clarity, as well. Stereo sound from the device is no longer a feature limited to Samsung’s flagship phones, and that’s great.

Camera

This is the first time Samsung has used a 108MP camera on a mid-range phone, and picture quality is excellent. Unless you look close at shots taken by the Galaxy A73 and the Galaxy S22 Ultra side-by-side, you won’t really notice anything different. Zooming in reveals slightly lower detail and more noise in Galaxy A73 pictures, which I think are a result of the poorer AI capabilities of the Snapdragon 778G,=.

By default, you get 12MP pictures, and there’s plenty of detail, both in the bright and dark areas of the image, and noise is controlled well. The results are good at night, too, just as long as it’s not too dark, in which case the phone uses a longer exposure, which just doesn’t work as well here as it does on Samsung’s flagships, likely because of a combination of the mid-range processor and the older Night mode that you get on this phone.
Surprisingly enough, Samsung has added the detail enhancer feature from the Galaxy S22 series here when you switch to the full 108MP resolution. But I wouldn’t recommend capturing 108MP images with or without detail enhancer on. First, the detail enhancer barely makes a difference, and in 108MP mode, the dynamic range is considerably poorer, as well. That means areas in shade remain almost entirely hidden in the final shot.

Look at the side-by-side example below. First, there’s the 12MP photo in default mode. Then, there’s the 108MP picture with the detail enhancer off and on side by side. See how the area surrounding the lights are all dark in the latter two? It’s a nice visual look in some scenes, but overall, it’s not preferable.

Oh, and if you were wondering whether the Galaxy A73 has the autofocus issues of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, I’m glad to say it doesn’t. Video recording quality is great with excellent focus, with plenty of detail during the day. Unfortunately, despite the 108MP camera, you don’t get 8K video recording, nor do you get the option to record videos at 60 fps at 4K resolution, which is a good reminder that this is a mid-range phone that doesn’t have all the features of Samsung’s top-of-the-line handsets.

Another reminder is how the other rear cameras just can’t match up to the 108MP main camera. First, there’s no dedicated zoom camera, which I hate (the 108MP cam doesn’t do great past 2x zoom). The 12MP ultra-wide, meanwhile, doesn’t offer enough detail or good enough dynamic range; the only good thing about it is it tries to match the colors and tone of the image taken with the main camera (which is also hit and miss).

The 5MP macro camera, as I’ve said again and again, is barely of any use. I have no idea how long Samsung is going to keep using these low-res macro cameras with fixed-focus technology, because taking shake-free shots with proper focus using them is just crazy hard. And the depth sensor is also kind of unnecessary, because we’ve seen excellent background blur in portrait shots from Samsung phones that do the blurring in software instead of getting an assist from a depth camera.

Below are a couple of macro shots along with some portrait shots.
For selfies, the Galaxy A73 is yet another mid-range Samsung phone that sports a 32MP camera, and picture quality is nice during the day with mostly accurate skin tones but not-so-impressive indoors or at night. It’s certainly serviceable for all your social media needs, though, especially if you can manage to grab a bokeh shot in good outdoor or artificial lighting. Some selfie shots are included below.

Performance

I’ve already praised the Galaxy A73’s performance in a separate article before, and I’ll say it again: The Galaxy A73 is like really, really fast and smooth. Even switching on the camera and shooting pics, something Samsung’s mid-range phones often struggle with, is almost as quick as it is on the company’s flagships. Needless to say, general navigation through the user interface, scrolling, or switching apps are all done effortlessly, as well.

In case you’re wondering if performance is similar to the Galaxy A52s, which also uses the Snapdragon 778G, the answer is yes. But the Galaxy A73 feels even smoother than the A52s, and I think that’s probably a result of additional optimization because Samsung now has longer experience with the Snapdragon 778G.

The Galaxy A73 is like really, really fast and smooth

However, I should note that there are some circumstances where the phone can lag or stutter. It’s a rare thing, and I noticed it mostly when switching from a game to the home screen, but it’s there. Still, I don’t think it will bother anyone. Oh, and speaking of games, the Galaxy A73 handles every kind of title perfectly. The Snapdragon 778G is like a flagship chip in all but name, and it shows.

On a side note, the Galaxy A73, like all recent Samsung phones, comes with the RAM Plus virtual memory feature, with the option to choose up to 8GB of virtual memory. But I really don’t see how this makes any difference in day-to-day use, what with Android’s insistence on never letting a device run out of RAM in the first place. Basically, don’t think too much about this feature if you decide to buy a modern Galaxy smartphone.

Software

The Galaxy A73 is one of many Samsung phones to come running Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1 skin. At this point there’s no denying the fact that Samsung’s custom Android UX is the best out there, and you’re getting that same great experience here. Barring flagship-grade features like DeX, the Galaxy A73 has all the best One UI features, including One UI 4’s RAM Plus feature as mentioned in the performance section above.

Barring flagship-grade features like DeX, the Galaxy A73 has all the best One UI features in there

Another thing I’ve already mentioned is how the Galaxy A73 5G is going to get four major OS upgrades. That’s just awesome and the kind of Apple-like long-term support Android fans have long been starved for. Given Samsung’s recent update history, Android 13 should arrive for the A73 sometime in early 2023, or perhaps even earlier. A lot has been said about how the Galaxy A73 is a little overpriced, but the promise of such software support makes that price a lot easier to stomach.

Battery

Samsung is touting 2-day battery life for the Galaxy A73 5G, just like it does for the Galaxy A33 5G and A53 5G, but don’t expect those numbers except with ultra-light usage or perhaps with the 120Hz refresh rate turned off (which I didn’t try as the 120Hz screen is one of the best features of this phone).

That said, on most days I didn’t have to charge the phone until the next morning. The A73 is capable of powering through an entire day with 7-8 hours of screen on time and have enough juice left to stay disconnected overnight. Idle drain is impressively low, although if you decide to leave it off the charger at 5%, you will wake up to a phone that’s turned off. Ah, the joys of Android.

The A73 is capable of powering through an entire day with 7-8 hours of screen on time

As far as charging is concerned, the A73 is quick. 10 minutes of charging from 5% takes it to around 20% while half an hour takes it nearly to 50%, which is actually pretty similar to Samsung’s latest flagship phones. Of course, that 25W charger will be a separate purchase, and you’ll need to make sure you buy Samsung’s official charger or one that supports USB PPS to take advantage.

Verdict

The Galaxy A73 is, as the title of this review has already given away, an excellent phone. It’s pricier than it should be, but with a few discounts, the Galaxy A73 is a great package. Fast and fluid performance, great photos from the main camera, a beautiful high refresh rate display, a water resistant design, stereo speakers, and all-day battery life are all awesome to have, and the four years of OS upgrades that Samsung is promising is just unbeatable in any segment, let alone the A73’s.

If you don’t care about software updates, though, I would recommend trying to get the Galaxy S20 FE, which can be purchased at a similar price in many markets. And look, there are also many other options on the market that offer an equal or better experience at a similar or lower price, so all I will say is that if you do end up buying the Galaxy A73, you won’t be disappointed.



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