Cheap 5G comes at a cost

The Galaxy A10 series has been an affordable way to dip your toe into the Samsung phone family for a few years now. The modest spec sheets have always come with reasonable prices and solid update commitments. Now, though, Samsung is hoping that 5G speeds will raise the budget line’s profile enough to justify an increased price tag. Find out if the gamble paid off in our Samsung Galaxy A13 review.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy A13

Samsung galaxy a13 face down showing ports

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy A13 (4GB / 64GB): $249.99

The Samsung Galaxy A13 first launched in December 2021 as an AT&T exclusive before making its way to T-Mobile and US Cellular in early 2022. It’s the successor to the Galaxy A12, though it offers quite a few significant changes. For starters, Samsung has finally trimmed back the number of configurations. Where there were technically six different Galaxy A12 options, you’ll only find the Galaxy A13 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. It’s also available in black through most US carriers or green exclusively from Samsung (the Galaxy A12 offered white, blue, and red colorways).

The Galaxy A13 we tested arrived running Android 11 out of the box with Samsung’s One UI skin on top. It was on the November 2021 security patch with the June 2021 Google Play system update. While it wasn’t running the latest version of Android at the time of writing, the Galaxy A13 will at least benefit from Samsung’s robust update policy. According to Samsung, the Galaxy A13 will receive four years of security patches and two years of software updates.

Check out: The best budget phones you can buy

Beyond the software, Samsung tapped Mediatek’s Dimensity 700 5G chipset to keep the lights on. It’s not the most potent Dimensity option, but it’s a fair match on paper for the $249 price point. However, that price point represents a sharp increase of $70 over last year. Samsung’s single configuration of RAM and storage may not seem like much, but you can add a microSD card to hold extra photos and apps. The same 5,000mAh battery and 6.5-inch HD+ display are back from the previous model, too.

The packaging is slimmer than ever this time around — it holds the device, a SIM ejector tool, essential paperwork, and a USB-C cable. Samsung’s trend of ditching the charging block has finally hit the budget-friendly realm, so you’ll have to supply your own.

What’s good?

Samsung galaxy a13 app drawer in hand

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As noted, there were six versions of 2021’s Galaxy A12 to choose from. Now, there’s only one, making it much easier to grab the Galaxy A13 and go. The pairing of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is higher than the base model of the Galaxy A12, and it feels like the right amount to keep up in everyday life for a budget phone like this. After all, you can always boost the storage with the microSD slot if you need more.

Of course, the most significant change Samsung brought to the Galaxy A13 is 5G support. It’s nice to see a degree of future-proofing on a budget-friendly device, even if it did come alongside a price increase. Mediatek’s Dimensity 700 chipset feels like a far better match for the Galaxy A13 than last year’s Helio P35, too, as I hardly noticed any lag or stuttering this time around.

The Galaxy A13 balances its budget-friendly price tag with a respectable amount of power and future-proofing.

Samsung kept the side-mounted fingerprint reader from the Galaxy A12, which proved a good decision. It’s quick and easy to reach, and I found that it responded well to my prompts.

The Galaxy A13 also houses a hefty 5,000mAh battery. In my testing, I had no issues pushing the device through two full days of usage before hunting for a charger. Samsung’s new 5G support may have drained the juice a little quicker, but the difference isn’t enough to stop this being a multi-day phone on a single charge.

Galaxy a13 portrait old-fashioned lamp post against a blue sky

A portrait image of a lamp post with the Galaxy A13

I was also particularly impressed with the performance of Samsung’s primary rear camera. It’s a 50MP camera, though images pixel bin down to 12.5MP by default. I found that it delivered sharp results in good lighting, and the portrait mode’s edge detection was impressive, especially on static objects — you can see an example of this in the image above. The color reproduction is generally good, too, even if it’s not always perfect due to Samsung’s tendency to dial up the contrast (as we’ll see later). Either way, it looks plenty good for those that want to share vibrant snaps on social media.

See also: The best budget camera phones

What’s not so good?

Samsung galaxy a13 microsoft bloatware

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung has been slowly ditching chargers from its packaging over the last few years, and now it’s the Galaxy A13’s turn. While there are good reasons to not include plugs in boxes, it’s a disappointing change in the context of a budget device like this. The Galaxy A13 is a perfect fit for someone getting their first smartphone. As a result, they may not already have a USB-C charging block and will have to spend some extra money. When you grab a charger, the 15W speeds aren’t exactly impressive, either. I found that a half-hour plugged in gathers about a 20% charge, and a full charge takes more than two hours.

Samsung also made an interesting design decision to add ridges to the back of last year’s Galaxy A12, only to take them away this year. The Galaxy A13 isn’t completely smooth, but the lightly textured back panel feels more like a pebble. This gets quite slippery when handled with slightly wet fingers (don’t actually get the phone wet, though — there’s no IP rating of any kind). In spite of the raised retail price, Samsung chose plastic for the overall construction, which doesn’t feel particularly premium or durable.

The Galaxy A13’s simplified design and plastic construction tend to punch below the $249 price tag, not above it.

Although Samsung’s primary camera performs pretty well on the Galaxy A13, the peripheral options leave something to be desired. For starters, Samsung eliminated the 5MP ultrawide lens from last year but kept the 2MP macro option. I can’t imagine that too many people would choose a low-resolution macro shooter over the ability to fit more in an image, but that’s what you get. The selfie lens also dropped from 8MP to 5MP, though it still captures fine images and has a wider aperture for improved portrait shots.

Galaxy a13 orange no parking bags

An image of No Parking bags with the Galaxy A13

While the aforementioned main camera is easily one of the phone’s strengths, Samsung’s processing can go overboard. Take the No Parking bags in the sample above. They show up as very red in the image, where, in reality, they were more of a traffic cone orange. All of my other images showed good color accuracy, though.

The Galaxy A13’s low light performance is also an issue. There’s no dedicated night mode, so you’ll have to rely heavily on ambient light and some post-processing magic. As a result, images tend to give up detail pretty quickly and come out with a lot of grain, as you can see in the sample below.

Samsung galaxy a13 low light

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Even though Samsung added a 90Hz refresh rate to its 6.5-inch HD+ panel, I’m hard-pressed to say it’s an improvement that the phone needed. The panel itself isn’t very sharp, nor is it the brightest, which makes the smoother animations feel like an unnecessary boost when there are more crucial issues to address. Unfortunately, the top and bottom bezels are also relatively large for a $200+ device in 2022.

My final problem with the Samsung Galaxy A13 comes back to that $249 price tag. It’s a $70 increase over the Galaxy A12, yet the upgrades don’t quite justify the cost. The design and display don’t feel more premium than last year, and the lack of an ultrawide camera sticks out pretty badly. If Samsung had found a way to keep the price steady or increase it by just $20, it would be a different story.

Shop around: The best budget phones you can buy

Samsung Galaxy A13 camera samples

Samsung Galaxy A13 specs

Samsung Galaxy A13

Display

6.5 inches
PLS TFT
1,600 x 720 (20:9)

Processor

MediaTek Dimensity 700

RAM

4GB

Storage

64GB
MicroSD Slot

Cameras

Rear triple camera:
50MP wide (f/1.8)
2MP macro (f/2.4)
2MP depth (f/2.4)

Front:
5MP wide (f/2.0)

Battery

5,000mAh
15W wired charging

IP Rating

None

Software

Shipped with Android 11
Samsung One UI 3.1

Dimensions

164.5 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
195g

Colors

Black
Green

Security

Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
Face recognition

Samsung Galaxy A13 review: Should I buy it?

Samsung galaxy a13 microsoft cameras up close

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung’s Galaxy A13 offers the most complete package of any A10 series device to date, but it does so at a cost. The addition of 5G provides better longevity than previous models, it’s more powerful than ever, and the 50MP primary camera offers pleasing results in good lighting. However, the lack of improvements to the peripheral cameras and missing ultrawide shooter, the weak display, and the bland design raise some questions about the $70 price increase. I can’t help but feel that Samsung would’ve been better off skipping 5G and making improvements to the rest of the package instead to make it a better overall starter smartphone.

For as difficult as the Samsung Galaxy A13 can be to justify unlocked, US carrier access tells a slightly different story. Right now, it’s available for free from T-Mobile or for $2 per month at AT&T over 36 months. Paying $72 is much easier to justify than $249 outright.

With a boost to its camera setup or plastic finish, Samsung could have a real winner among budget-friendly smartphones.

Nevertheless, the increased price puts the Galaxy A13 in competition with a new class of budget devices. It’s just $30 more affordable than the Galaxy A32 5G ($279), but you get a lot for that extra money. From an additional camera lens to a more premium design package, anyone paying the full price upfront will want to reach for Samsung’s fractionally more expensive device. If you’re looking for something cheaper instead, the Samsung Galaxy A03s ($159) is a notable downgrade in performance, but it goes some way to filling the gap the Galaxy A13 left behind with its increased price tag.

You could also consider the OnePlus Nord N200 ($239) at nearly the same price. It offers a sharper 6.49-inch Full HD+ display, though the cameras and software support can’t quite keep up.

Samsung galaxy a13 display

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Samsung’s new Galaxy A13 brings 5G to the budget sphere for the very first time. It packs a hefty 5,000mAh battery to keep you moving for hours on end with three rear cameras to capture your daily life.

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