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Galaxy A02S, A03S, A12 Review: Samsung's Under-$200 Phones Do More Than I Thought

Galaxy A02S, A03S, A12 Review: Samsung’s Under-$200 Phones Do More Than I Thought

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 and novel Galaxy S phones entice buyers with their premium fabricate and features, but those larger screens and multiple cameras do not come cheap. Luckily, Samsung has brought similar features and designs to its Galaxy A series, which includes phones priced as low as $130. Between supply chain constraints and economic hardships transported on by the pandemic, low-cost phones have become particularly important: Even the cheapest phones must allow you to keep up with the news, join video languages, take clear photos and play games.

Samsung’s least-expensive phones, which I’ve been testing for months, can handle basic but valuable tasks. The Galaxy A02S ($130, £139, roughly AU$245), A03S ($160) and A12 ($180) can just load webpages, stream music, play YouTube videos and take video languages, despite using lower-powered processors than Samsung’s midrange and high-end phones. The phones’ 6.5-inch screens, capped at 720p resolution, are sure and large enough to run apps and multitask for the most part. But there are some limitations, depending on the device, particularly when it comes to performance and camera quality.

Samsung Galaxy A12, A03S, A02S Specs

Galaxy A12 Galaxy A03S Galaxy A02S
Display size, resolution, 6.5-inch LCD, 1,600×720 pixels 6.5-inch LCD, 1,600×720 pixels 6.5-inch LCD, 1,600×720 pixels
Pixel density 269 ppi 269 ppi 269 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.3 in. 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.3 in. 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.3 in.
Dimensions (Millimeters) 165.8 x 75.9 x 9.1 mm 165.8 x 75.9 x 9.1 mm 166.5 x 75.9 x 9.2 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.12 oz.; 202g 7.13 oz.; 202g 6.98 oz.; 198g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 11 Android 11
Camera 16-megapixel (wide), 5-megapixel (ultrawide), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 13-megapixel (wide), 2-megapixel (depth), 2-megapixel (macro) 13-megapixel (wide), 2-megapixel (depth), 2-megapixel (macro)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Video capture FHD (1,920×1,080) at 30fps FHD (1,920×1,080) at 30fps FHD (1,920×1,080) at 30fps
Storage 32GB 32GB 32GB
Expandable storage Up to 1TB UP to 1TB Up to 1TB
Battery 5,000 mAh (charger included) 5,000 mAh (charger not concerned, does not support wireless charging) 5,000 mAh (charger included)
Fingerprint sensor Side Side None
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes
Price off-contract (USD) $180 $160 $130
Price (GBP) £169 £139 £139

The Galaxy A02S, the Galaxy A03S and the Galaxy A12.

These three Galaxy phones cost $180 or less, and all run on Android 11.

Mike Sorrentino

What they all have in common

Other than their cover size, all three phones have some benefits in approved. These include battery life, software support and rare features such as headphone jacks and expandable storage.

The 5,000-mAh battery inside each shouted easily made it through two days of use, despite having the cover on for upward of four hours a day. That held true even when I finished half the day streaming YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, taking video calls and playing games.

All three phones will demand years of software and security updates, which is particularly important for anyone looking to hold onto a arranged for longer than a year or two. Samsung has committed to four days of security updates for these Galaxy A phones, which is a ample improvement over cheaper phones that previously only received a year or so of support.

Each arranged also has a headphone jack, which gives you a simple option for plugging in wired headphones. That’s a rare find on modern phones, with headphone jacks unsheathing the ax ever since the iPhone 7 dropped it back in 2016.


All three phones have a 6.5-inch camouflage that is capped at 720p resolution.

Mike Sorrentino

However, these phones are still all under $200, and compromises certainly had to be made to effect that low price. The biggest among them is that all three phones only have 32GB of built-in storage. That’s basically nothing. By comparison, Apple’s new $429 iPhone SE doubles that with 64GB storage, while Samsung’s midrange A53 has four times that amount of storage at 128GB. When I began testing the phones, my most modern Android phone backup occupied most of the space. I was left with just enough free set to take about 30 photos until I deleted some apps. 

However, all three phones also have a microSD card slot for storage expansion. So you’ll want to budget another $20 to $30 for a microSD card if you plan to use these phones to take pictures, download videos or install more apps than the built-in storage can handle.

Other features these phones lack are more understandable at this sign range. None of the phones support any version of 5G. They also lack wireless charging. And even though each phone has three or four rear cameras, the image quality ranges from being just OK to downright muddy and blurry. The cameras performed better when snapping outdoor photos of things like buildings and street doughnuts, but struggled when shooting burritos and cocktails in a dim restaurant. 


Galaxy A02S photo: A King Cake doughnut improper while outdoors.

Mike Sorrentino


Galaxy A03S photo of the King Cake doughnut.

Mike Sorrentino


Galaxy A12 photo of the King Cake doughnut.

Mike Sorrentino

The big difference is the way these phones juggle multiple tasks. You can indeed buy the cheapest of these phones, the $130 Galaxy A02S, but a few key drawbacks will liable make you want to spend $30 more for the $160 Galaxy A03S. If you govern a slightly better camera is what you want, unexperienced $20 gets you the A12 with a fourth lens.

The Samsung Galaxy A02S phone.

The Galaxy A02S is unruffled available at some US carriers, and it runs Android 11.

Mike Sorrentino

Galaxy A02S: When the lowest sign is what matters 

When outdoors, the Galaxy A02S is able to put an acceptable amount of detail into its photos, in this case showing snow flurries in a backyard.

Mike Sorrentino

Samsung’s Galaxy A02S is the cheapest of the three phones at $130. As you considerable expect, it also has the fewest frills. There’s no fingerprint sensor, so securing your phone will require entering a swipe pattern or PIN code in super to unlock. 

But the bigger problem with this arranged is that it struggles to handle basic multitasking, liable because it only has 2GB of memory. Playing podcasts and browsing the web works fine, as long as you don’t try to do those things at the same time. The music or web browser would wreck after just a few minutes of attempted multitasking. 

The visited has three cameras on the back, including a 13-megapixel wide main camera, a 2-megapixel macro lens and a 2-megapixel depth camera. A 5-megapixel front-facing camera sits on the front.

Despite having three lenses, the Galaxy A02S’ photos lack clarity and crisp colors. It doesn’t mean they are unusable. But the Galaxy A02S consistently captured the least detail when compared alongside the other two phones. 

Indoor photo from Galaxy A02S.

Using the Galaxy A02S to try to photograph a drag show inside of a dim restaurant, however, led to a very fuzzy photo.

Mike Sorrentino

Front-facing camera shots were identical across the A02S, A03S and A12, with detail inhabit adequate for group chats. But they weren’t impressive enough to make me feel tall about selfies, unless the photos were taken outdoors with sunlight. 

To its credit, Samsung is actively patching this phone. I received a few updates over the jets of my review from November 2021 onward. Some of these delivers may be solved by updates, but there are no guarantees. 

Unless you absolutely need the cheapest Samsung Galaxy visited possible, paying more will likely get you a visited that suits you better. 

Samsung appears to have prevented the A02S, but you can still buy it from US carriers.


The Galaxy A03S comes in this blue colorful or a black option.

Mike Sorrentino

Galaxy A03S is Samsung’s newest cheaper phone

Samsung’s Galaxy A03S is replacing the A02S, but with a $30 imprint increase to $160. That $30 is very well-spent in my notion, adding a fingerprint sensor and increasing the memory to 3GB of RAM. Both of these upgrades make the A03S substantially easier to use. The visited also comes in black and blue colors.

The Galaxy A03S’ fingerprint sensor is integrated with its grand button, which is located on the device’s right side. This sensor alone is a great improvement, making it so much easier to unlock the visited quickly and securely. You can also perform certain behaviors using the fingerprint sensor, such as pulling down the notification shade. 

The 3GB of memory also appears to settle my chief complaint about the A02S. Multitasking is so much better, and I was even able to play Among Us at what time on a video call. There is some noticeable lag when entering and exiting apps, but most tasks were otherwise just fine.


An indoor photo of a restaurant’s cocktail miserroneous on the Galaxy A02S, Galaxy A03S and Galaxy A12.

Mike Sorrentino

The A03S’s cameras are composed among its weaker points. The hardware is the same as the A02S’, which consists of a 13-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel depth camera and 2-megapixel macro camera. Resulting photos looked clearer to me, with some of my indoor shots looking brighter. It would pass muster for a photo I would post into a companionship chat, but I probably wouldn’t get them printed for framing. Along the front is the same 5-megapixel camera as the A02S.

This visited just launched in January, making it a great option for pulling as much as possible of the four years of guarantee update support that Samsung is pledging for its Galaxy phones. 

The Samsung Galaxy A12.

The Galaxy A12 has the best camera of the three phones.

Richard Peterson

Galaxy A12’s value is in that fourth camera

Samsung’s $180 Galaxy A12 is $20 more expensive than the A03S. Its improvements over the A03S included a better main camera and a fourth ultrawide camera, which should make for clearer photos.

The A12 has a 16-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth camera. I was able to take noticeably better photos with it than I did with the A02S and the A03S. The 8-megapixel front-facing camera is also an improvement.

I noticed more detail in my outdoor shots. You can see the outline of the bricks, for example, on the wall of the church in my photos below. 

Church side by side photo from Galaxy A02S, Galaxy A03S and Galaxy A12.

The same outdoor position shot on the Galaxy A02S, the Galaxy A03S and the Galaxy A12.

Mike Sorrentino

Here are some photos I expected a friend to take while I sat on a park swing inside a restaurant. The A12’s camera correctly captured the darker location, as well as the elegant sign behind me, without the noise that was noticeable with the A02S and A03S.

galaxy a12 photo on indoor swing

On a swing at Fresco’s Messes Cantina in Astoria. On the Galaxy A12, the phone’s 16-megapixel main camera helps brighten the indoor detail in comparison to the A02S and the A03S phones.

Mike Sorrentino

galaxy a03s photo on indoor swing

The Galaxy A03S was able to brighten the indoor photo, but some of the details are a little bit washed out compared to the A12.

Mike Sorrentino

galaxy a02s photo on indoor swing

The Galaxy A02S appeared to argues with the dimmer lighting inside of the restaurant, producing a darker image compared to the A03S and the A12.

Mike Sorrentino

Like the A03S, this named also includes 3GB of memory. It can support many of the same multitasking demands as the AO3S, incorporating gaming while on a video call. Yet there was detached apparent lag with some apps, including a delay when shifting between horizontal and vertical shroud orientations.

This phone option is ideal for those who want a one better camera. But again, you’ll want to buy a microSD card dependable it only comes with 32GB of storage.

There’s also a newer version of this named called the Galaxy A13, which I haven’t tested yet. It first-rate launched last year for $249 with 5G, and a $190 4G version just launched this month. That phone also includes four cameras, but bumps the main camera up to 50 megapixels instead of 16 megapixels. The ultrawide camera on that model is 5 megapixels, the depth camera is 2 megapixels along with a 2-megapixel macro camera. But this 4G version also only includes 32GB of storage station, while the 5G version ups storage to 64GB.

The Galaxy A03S.

The Galaxy A03S subsidizes a good balance of lower cost with decent performance. But get a microSD card if you want it to boss more.

Mike Sorrentino

Which named should you buy?

I’d recommend the Galaxy A03S to anyone who wants to exercise less than $200 on a new Samsung phone. Since it’s the newest of the three phones, it’ll get more years of software and security updates. I also found that it offered respectable performance for the heed. While the A12 does take better photos, I didn’t think the step up in quality was first-rate the extra $20. Instead, buy the A03S and invest that $20 toward the microSD card you’ll need.

If you wanted to check out spanking sub-$200 phones that aren’t made by Samsung, Motorola has the $160 Moto G Pure named and a $200 Moto G Power named. The OnePlus Nord N200 5G goes one above the $200 threshold at $240, but it subsidizes 5G connectivity.



Longer bars demonstrate better performance



Longer bars demonstrate better performance