Time for a new phone …
I didn’t really want to get a new phone; specifically, I didn’t want to spend the money. I’d bought my Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime back in 2015 and it was still serving me well seven years later but the annoyances were starting to accumulate. The 8GB of storage space was maxing out, the display was showing some wear, there was a bug in voicemail playback that had never been fixed and now, the Android version was old enough that it was starting to refuse new apps.
So, with that bit of arm twisting, I decided to treat myself to a newer model. Since the Samsung had lasted so long, the Galaxy A series was the first, and really the only, option I explored beyond the number of stars in the rating. I looked at the less expensive Galaxy A03 but figured if I was going to make the jump, I might as well get another phone for the long-haul and went with the Galaxy A13.
A comfortable and familiar experience – upgraded.
One of the things I immediately liked about the A13 is that it’s familiar. I’m past the point of wanting to spend an entire week getting used to a new device. This phone basically does everything my Galaxy Grand Prime did – it just does it better. It feels the way an upgrade should.
The 64 GB of storage is a huge relief. Even without an extra SD card (and this phone can support an incredible 1 terabyte of storage) I have more than enough space for the few essential apps I need and my entire music collection, especially after I removed some of the pre-loaded games and apps.
The battery was the next thing I noticed. The A13 has a very respectable 5,000 mAh battery which held up pretty well as I was playing with it over the weekend. After taking some pictures in a local park, it was still up around 97% while the old one would have been down in the 70s. I spent about an hour reading a Kindle book on the A13 and it was still in the 90s.
This does bring me to an annoyance – the A13 uses a USB-C connector for charging so if you’re using a Micro-B plug on everything else like I am, you’ll probably need to buy an adapter or your own charger. The phone comes with a USB-C male-to-male cable but that doesn’t help much if you can’t plug it into any of your power sources. Pay attention to the quality of the cable; cheap charging cables might take an unacceptable amount of time to charge a battery this large.
The A13 also offers a Fast Charging option to reduce the time back to full charge but be careful with this. It’s been noted elsewhere that this is not good for the battery and can reduce the battery’s life because of the extra heat that it causes. With the battery capacity on this model, I’m perfectly happy keeping it charged the old fashioned way and bringing along a charging pack if I really need it.
My home internet is pretty reliable and fast enough for my everyday use. On the rare occasion that it does go down, my phone’s hotspot has come in very handy but it’s always been just a backup. I’ve rarely come close to using the 6 GB of data that I have each month.
With the 5G service, I might have to resist the temptation to max out my data. A speed test clocked my Metro / T-Mobile service at just over 63 Mbps on the phone and around 31 Mpbs through the hotspot’s 5 Ghz band which is much faster than my home service. According to one source, the phone speed is a bit higher than the average real-world 5G speed at this point. My old 4G LTE service was probably half that so this is a welcome improvement.
What about the camera?
Let’s be honest, often people are buying the camera first and the actual phone features second and I have to admit to being wowed by the quality and features offered with the 3-lens camera on the A13. Of course, considering I’ve been around since before cameras were even an expectation on phones, I might be an easy sell.
The A13 offers a 50 megapixel rear camera and a 5 MP front camera which, in my experience, is phenomenal for a smartphone and more than enough for the average consumer’s expectations. Bear in mind that this is still a smartphone camera, however, not a professional SLR.
The standard shooting mode on the camera is around 10 MP which is still really great. The 50 MP mode has to be specifically selected and is limited to a 3:4 image ratio while other modes allow for different size pics. Those 50 MP images are 8160 x 6120 pixels and the ones I took started at 19 MB each so you might want to install that SD card.
With the 10 MP images, you’re still going to be viewing them zoomed way out to around 30% to 60% in size and they look awesome. Although, even at that size, you might notice that there’s a lot of sharpening going on in the processing of the photos. If you zoom in to 100%, you’ll start to see where the detail starts breaking down, even giving a watercolor appearance on some fine detail. This is barely noticeable on the 50 MP images but, again, you need to select that mode and be prepared to use more storage space.
Is this a problem? For most people, probably not because most people are not going to be viewing these huge images anywhere close to 100%. The resolution of the photos and the selection of settings on the camera software provides more than enough tools for the average person to produce beautiful photos for their albums or social media.
The A13 also offers additional profile, macro, panoramic and professional photo modes that will give you plenty to play around with to get your shots just right. There are also some great editing features that enable you to fine tune your photos to your own needs. The front-facing camera makes selfies easy by taking a photo a couple seconds after you wave your palm at the camera. The 5 MP resolution will be great for video conferencing… unless you don’t want to show that much detail from home.
The Android Police took more time than I did evaluating the camera quality and had a few more critiques of the camera and build quality but still gave the phone a very positive review.
- The A13 is bigger than my old phone with a 6.5″ display that covers the entire front area of the phone. This might make it a little more awkward to carry in my pocket but it’s great for reading or watching videos.
- If you’re really security-minded and a pin or password is not enough, the phone also offers fingerprint and facial recognition biometrics that you can setup.
- I’m not an audiophile so my expectations for smartphone sound aren’t much higher than they are for photos but I’ve always been impressed by the kind of sound that the speakers on these phones can generate. For serious listening, you’ll probably want a good music app and nice pair of Bluetooth headphones but the onboard speaker is fine for YouTube videos and the like.
- The phone appears to have dual microphones which might be handy if you occasionally like to record meetings as I do.
As I’ve indicated from the beginning, my preference is for a smartphone that will run the apps I need, work well and not hurt my wallet more than necessary. I went seven years between phone purchases and semi-reluctantly upgraded this time.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A13 is everything I expect and maybe a little more. It’s a smooth upgrade that doesn’t try to amaze with new features. Instead, it provides very nice refinements to the expected, time-tested features at a comfortable price of $249, less if you get an upgrade discount from your carrier. If you’re looking for a solid, budget phone, I’d definitely recommend it.