You’d be forgiven for thinking that Samsung’s smartphone lineup starts with the Galaxy Note 20 and concludes with the Galaxy S21 if you only learned about phones from TV commercials, which, happily, it doesn’t appear you do as you read this.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy A12: Design
Even though the Galaxy A12 has a few obvious telltale indicators that it isn’t a Samsung flagship, it has a premium appearance at first glance. With bezels that are only a few millimeters thick all the way around and double in size around the chin, the 6.5-inch screen dominates the front of the phone. Although the shallow notchlette where the front-facing camera is located at the top is obtrusive, it is no more so than any other option up until the promised in-screen camera technology is realized.
Despite having the most realistic faux-metal appearance of any plastic I’ve ever seen, flipping it over reveals that it is clearly made of plastic throughout. On the back, there is a two-tone design with a flat matte finish on the bottom fifth and a nice, softly corrugated appearance and feel on the top four-fifths thanks to a diagonal lining pattern.
Although it protrudes a tiny bit from the phone and prevents the phone from lying flat on its back, the quad-camera hump in the top left corner looks neat enough. The power button is located on the right side, which is my preferred location for a fingerprint scanner.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy A12: Display
The Galaxy A12 has a 6.5-inch PLS display, which is essentially a Samsung IPS-like panel with a resolution of 720 x 1,600 and 264 pixels per inch. Even with the wide panel, it still looks perfectly sharp in everyday use, even though this may fall somewhat short of Full HD experiences that you can get for the price.
Testing with the colorimeter demonstrates that the panel is reliable but unremarkable. Its color accuracy is a tad off with a sRGB color gamut coverage of 88% and a gamut volume of 95.7%, and its peak brightness of 439 cd/m2 isn’t exactly blinding. A contrast ratio of 1,740:1 ensures that everything is sharp enough.It’s not a terrible panel by any means and compares favorably to both the Moto G9 Power and the Nokia 5.3. However, it falls far short of the high bar that the Poco X3 NFC set.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy A12: Performance
You were right to be cautious if the mention of a MediaTek processor in the introduction made your stomach turn. The G95 processor in the Realme 7 and the Dimensity 800U chips in the Redmi Note 9T are both fairly powerful MediaTek chips, but the Helio P35 used here isn’t exactly a standout.
The phone feels slow right out of the box, with animations that stutter and apps that take a few seconds to launch. Despite having a very big 4GB of RAM, it does eventually catch up after some time of use, but it’s still not the best for multitasking.
The benchmarks support these first impressions. As you can see from the graph below, it performs noticeably lower on Geekbench 5 than all the competitors I mentioned earlier, but it performs notably poorly when compared to the three Chinese-branded phones, two of which use a more powerful MediaTek chip.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera
I’ve been reviewing smartphones long enough to recall when three lenses on the Huawei P20 Pro was thought to be a bit excessive. These days, even cheap cell phones are participating. With the exception of the Moto G9 Power, which has ‘only’ the three cameras,’ all of the phones I’ve compared to the Samsung Galaxy A12 have four cameras on the back.
Since I don’t think I’m alone, I prefer phones like the Pixel 4a with just one excellent camera over those that feel the need to keep up with the Joneses with rarely utilized accessory lenses. The Samsung Galaxy A12, however, has four cameras: a 48MP (f/2.0) main camera, a 5MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens, and two 2MP (f/2.4) cameras for depth perception and macro photography.
The Galaxy A12’s small aperture and affordable entry point would lead you to believe that photography on the device is inconsistent. Photos taken in bright lighting typically have a respectable composition and sufficient detail to be valuable. Yes, you can achieve greater results by investing more money, but the images are still clear enough to be shared, and under the appropriate circumstances, you can achieve good results.
The front-facing 8MP (f/2.2) camera is enough for selfies and video calls. It features more subdued ‘beautification’ options set by default (center), which can be fully disabled (left) or maximized (right). As always, go over the recommended dosage at your own risk because the outcomes don’t seem natural to me.
Verdict on the Samsung Galaxy A12 review
In the end, it’s difficult to think of the Galaxy A12 as anything other than a Samsung failure. Yes, the battery life is amazing, and I genuinely hope the firm uses the two-tone design on more handsets, but even at £169, it falls short.
The fact that other companies are doing such amazing work on a shoestring budget is much to blame, although Samsung’s entry-level phones have historically been competitive. It’s difficult not to blame the MediaTek Helios MT6765 totally for the disappointment. Mobile devices from Exynos and Qualcomm have never seemed this slow.