Samsung makes its own Exynos-based processors, which you'll find in all its premium smartphone lines in Australia.
Samsung's also responsible for the explosive growth of larger smartphones, having innovated with its very first Galaxy Note phone back in 2011.
What to consider when choosing a Samsung phone
Choosing from Samsung's formidable line-up of smartphone handsets can be a daunting challenge. There's the allure of the premium lines, but those come with premium pricing. There's the considerably more affordable Galaxy J entry-level handsets, but what are the differences there, especially compared to the mid-range Galaxy A devices? It's not always an easy matter to sort out which features are mere gimmicks and which are must-have essentials.
Knowing what to shop for, and what the features actually mean in your day-to-day usage is key to working out how to properly compare Samsung smartphones. We've created a primer on the key features you should consider to make those comparisons as easy as possible, guiding you to the right Samsung phone for your needs.
Samsung's crop of smartphones come with varying levels of storage, from 16GB on the entry-level Samsung J series phones up to a hefty 256GB on the Galaxy S series of handsets. All of Samsung's phone ranges feature microSD expansion, making it easier to increase the storage on your phone if you're running low, although it's worth checking the specifications carefully. Some handsets will only support expansion up to 256GB, while others can run up to the current best-of-breed 2TB microSD cards.
Samsung has long sold its phones on the promise of expanded entertainment that only comes with a larger screened display. Indeed, it can claim some innovative in this space, having pioneered the first "phablet" phone in the Galaxy Note series.
That's not to say that Samsung exclusively works with larger handsets. Many of its more affordable phones feature displays as small as 5 inches. However, in the more premium space, Samsung stretches up to an impressive 6.3 inches on its largest handsets, but often without producing overly bulky handsets.
The secret here is that Samsung has progressively reduced the bezels on its smartphones while also switching to phones with an 18:9 aspect ratio, making them taller and thinner than phones of years gone past. The end result is a phone with a large display that is still pleasant to hold in the hand.
Samsung is also notable in that its phones feature its own produced Super AMOLED displays. AMOLED screens typically have brighter colour displays with less power usage than the older LCD technology found on most competing handsets.
There's a Samsung phone for just about every price point, depending on which class of its Galaxy-branded handsets you opt for.
Samsung's Galaxy J series typically retail for around $200-$400 depending on specification, and they're very much Samsung's entry-level models. Stepping up the pricing levels, the Galaxy A phones typically retail for between $500-$800, offering a more mid-range power and camera array than the Galaxy J phones.
For the more luxurious buyer, the best of Samsung's offerings are the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones. Expect to pay north of $1,000 outright for a cutting-edge Galaxy S or Galaxy Note phone, although they're also consistently available on contract from a variety of carriers if you don't fancy buying outright. There's less carrier choice when it comes to the Galaxy A and Galaxy J lines, although they are sometimes offered on contract terms.
There's a huge trend to ditch headphone jacks on smartphones across smartphone manufacturers of late, but it seems that nobody told Samsung that. To date, each and every one of its smartphones has included a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, leaving the choice as to whether you use wired or wireless headphones entirely up to you.
Where most manufacturers simply drop a fingerprint sensor onto a phone and call it a day, Samsung has an entire software division dedicated to smartphone security, making it a very wise choice if you're concerned about the security of your personal data. Which isn't to say that you don't also get fingerprint sensors for simple locking. It's just that on many models, especially in the premium space, you also get access to Samsung Knox.
Knox is a pre-installed enterprise-grade security application that partitions off any data you secure with it into its own encrypted enclave. This also means that you can set up a Samsung phone with Knox installed for both work and personal usage with your critical work documents safe from prying eyes and your personal data easily accessible and shareable.
Samsung is well aware of the importance of camera technology to smartphone buyers, although the capabilities and quality that you'll see does scale against the price you're paying. For the J and A series Galaxy phones, you can expect solid and capable smartphone performance in normal conditions, but it's on the premium side that you get a really exciting photographic journey.
Samsung's current crop of premium phones features dual lens technology with variable apertures and plenty of smarts to enable live focus effects, personalised animoji and much more. It's a brutal battle among the top players in the premium space, and very much Samsung's battle to lose. That's something it hasn't done to date, with the premium Galaxy S range typically featuring that year's best camera, or at least in the top three. If what you demand is top-tier camera performance, you won't be disappointed with a Galaxy S phone.
Again, you'll see some gradual difference between handsets across Samsung's range, but then your network experience will also vary markedly depending on both the capabilities of the underlying network and the pressure it's under, not to mention any environmental obstacles at play.
The upside here is that Samsung consistently pushes the forefront of mobile network speeds in terms of its premium phones, and this typically folds down gracefully into the more affordable lines over time. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is a Category 9 phone, with support for up to 1.2Gbps download speeds, which you'd be lucky to hit on Australia's current 4G LTE networks.
Samsung has long been a heavy proponent of wireless charging technologies, although, as with the rest of its range, the level of support you get will depend on the tier you play in. Wireless charging is still very much a feature of the premium space, and Samsung supports both the more common Qi and slightly less common PMA standards on its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones. It's a big reason why Samsung phones feature so prominently in our list of smartphones that support wireless charging.
You won't find wireless charging on Galaxy A or Galaxy J series phones, but like their more premium siblings, you will typically find fast charging technologies available as long as you're using the supplied charger that came with your phone.
Samsung produces phones that cover the gamut from budget models all the way up to premium flagships, but one constant factor is that they tend to have exceptionally good battery life. While the premium flagship phones tend to have the largest battery capacities, they're often matched with highly efficient powerhouse processors, giving easy single-day battery life. Even at the cheaper end of the Samsung Galaxy pool, the lower power processors tend to match up well, and all classes are well served by Samsung's use of AMOLED displays which require much lower power draws than typical LCD screens.
Water and smartphones don't make a good mix most of the time, but again Samsung somewhat bucks this trend. It's typical for a flagship phone in this day and age to offer IP-rated water resistance, but Samsung goes further than most manufacturers, offering official IP-rated water resistance across its Galaxy A line of handsets as well.
What this means in practical terms isn't that you've got a free pass to dunk your phone as much as you like, but that accidental spills onto the handset or even full immersion shouldn't immediately kill it. It's still not advisable to use your phone while scuba diving though.
With phones ranging from budget buys all the way up to premium flagships, Samsung covers the entire spectrum of smartphone performance ranging from rather more sedate models to those that have some of the best performance you can get on any smartphone. It's very much a case of getting what you pay for, although it's worth noting that the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones we see in Australia typically use Samsung's own Exynos processors rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon processors found in the international models. Samsung's Exynos systems typically have slightly lower performance than their Qualcomm counterparts, but balance that against improved battery performance.
If you're interested in a Samsung phone, it's smart to read reviews of a prospective Samsung smartphone to get a better idea of how the whole phone operates. Benchmarks are good comparative scores to gauge performance, but there are many other aspects to the overall experience of using a phone and how that affects its performance in the real world to consider as well.
Which Samsung phone is best?
User needs will vary, not just by budget but also by what it is you want from your smartphone. As such, it's impossible to single out a "best" Samsung phone for every user. What we can do is point you in the direction of the best Samsung phone to cover a variety of usage scenarios, such as the best budget model, the best camera phone and so on. You'll find these recommendations below.
Still, it's wise to consider our recommendations against your own personal situation and preference. Our team has decades of experience in testing and evaluating smartphones, but your tastes, preferences and dislikes could vary from ours, making a phone that we don't rate more valuable to you or vice versa.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
Updated February 23rd, 2020
Samsung's first foray into 5G has a lot more going for it than just compatibility with the latest mobile networks. Its powerful guts deliver fast and responsive performance, and its quad-lens camera provides plenty of flexibility for taking high-quality photos. Add to that a long-lasting 4,500mAh battery and the Galaxy S10 5G reaffirms why Samsung leads the Android smartphone market.
The Galaxy S10 gets our nod here, and it's not hard to see why. With a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, 12MP f/1.5 wide angle lens and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide 123-degree angle lens at the rear, you have plenty of options for capturing long-range, close-up and panoramic photos at high quality. Low-light performance is similarly impressive, making the Samsung Galaxy S10 a compelling choice for folks wanting a premium camera experience.
The Samsung Galaxy J2's bright and colourful display and prolonged battery life make for a clean day-to-day experience
Premium phones are Samsung's calling card in terms of the brand, but that doesn't mean that folks on more modest budgets have to miss out. The Samsung Galaxy J2 combines the style of its more expensive siblings with more modest processing power, but its battery life is very good as a result.
It's also super-affordable, with typical prices under $200 easy to secure.
Samsung's premium smartphones are among the most popular in Australia, and that means that there's plenty of competition in the carrier space to offer the best deals on Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones. There's less pressure on the Galaxy A series, although it does get offered by a few carriers. The Galaxy J series phone's low cost means that if they are offered by telcos, it's pretty much always on an outright basis to pair with a prepaid phone SIM.
Here's the current rundown of Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Note plans in Australia:
Alex Kidman was the tech and telco editor at Finder and is now a freelance technology writer. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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