Samsung updates its most popular smartphone range
The mid-range A-Series matches top-end models for software updates
Samsung has updated its Galaxy A smartphone range – a midrange collection of handsets that quietly outsells its premium Galaxy S series and is one of just three non-iPhone units to crack top ten global sales charts.
The A-series features five models: the A1x, A2x, A3x, A5x and A7x. The x is updated for each year's new models.
The A1x and A2x are big hits. Analyst firm Canalys found 2020's versions of the A11, A21 and A31 all cracked the global top ten list for Q3 2020. Rival analyst Counterpoint asserts that 2021's A12 was the sixth-best selling smartphone on the planet last year, ahead of Xiaomi's Redmi 9A and Redmi 9. Every other place in that firm's top ten was occupied by an iPhone.
The A series sells well in most markets. Counterpoint says it accounts for 59 per cent of Samsung sales across Europe, and the handsets also do well in emerging markets where $1000-plus handsets are out of reach for most buyers.
But Samsung still gives the range features like 120Hz screens that allow a good gaming experience, as well as its Knox secure enclave tech so the handsets are at home in business.
Samsung's yet to reveal a new A13 or A23 for 2022, but overnight announced A33, A53 and A73 models.
The big upgrade for the A33 and A53 is a 5nm eight-core processor. In past generations the A3x made do with a lesser CPU. This time around, the two models share silicon.
Another important change is extended supported lifespan of the devices. They will now survive four generations of Android, and will be provided security updates for five years – the same as the premium Galaxy S range. An IP67 rating for dust and liquid tolerance, plus the presence of Gorilla Glass 5, means the devices could well last that long.
A jump in base RAM from 4GB to 6GB is another addition. Unusually, the A33's main camera offers fewer megapixels – 48MP – compared to last year's 64MP. Samsung assures buyers the shooters are more refined in myriad ways that more than make up for the change.
Batteries have grown from 4500mAh to 5000mAh - better than the 3700mAH unit in the premium Galaxy S22 - and Samsung again claims the devices can go two days between charges.
Headphone jacks have gone, leaving owners to worry about how a single USB-C port will handle charging and playback at once, or to contemplate dongles with 3.5mm socket adapters.
The A53 will sell from $525/€449 when sales commence on April 1. The A33 will debut on April 22 at around $430/€369.
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Samsung also revealed the existence of a new A73, without detailing its specs. If true to form, the device will offer a slightly larger screen than the 6.4" and 6.5" offerings on the A33 and A53.
Counterpoint asserts that 2021's A32 and A52 together accounted for 14 per cent of the European sub-$500 5G smartphone market, and that six A-series models made the top ten for such handsets on the continent during the year.
The A-series, therefore, represents a platform developers and carriers would do well to understand. ®