Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Review: $200 Phone Hits Every Essential

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Review: $200 Phone Hits Every Essential

6.5

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

Like


  • NFC for contactless pay

  • 90Hz refresh rate

  • Good software and security update timeline

Don’t like


  • Sluggish performance

  • Mixed photography

  • Single audio speaker

The $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G sets a new baseline for cheap phones. It’s one of the few affordable phones to include NFC for contactless payments and support 5G. Even more notable is that Samsung provides two years of software updates along with five years of security updates for the A14, when most similarly priced rivals stop at one software update and three years of security updates. This means that even though the phone’s a lower-cost option, it’s one you could safely use for several years if you chose to — and with perks usually found only in pricier phones, the Galaxy A14 5G is a great choice.

Over my month of testing the Galaxy A14 5G, these inclusions meant I could use the phone to buy a quick breakfast, browse the web while listening to music during my commute, reliably use the phone’s camera for day trips, and with its 5,000-mAh battery, still have enough of a charge left to use the phone the next day.

That’s not to say the phone is issue-free: The Galaxy A14 cuts corners with a fairly drab design and a slower processor that sometimes left me waiting for apps to load. But load they did, and if you’re just looking for a phone that can handle most daily tasks, the A14 could be a solid option as long as you aren’t craving speed.

Samsung Galaxy A14 front

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G’s 6.6-inch display can run at a 90Hz refresh rate.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G design, specs and features

The Galaxy A14 5G comes in one color, black, and has a reflective plastic body. It feels a bit thick in-hand, with the back embracing a blocky look that lacks any rounded edges. Along the top-left corner are its three cameras: a 50-megapixel main camera, a 2-megapixel depth camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera.

Around the front is a teardrop notch for the 13-megapixel front-facing camera. In addition to its 1,080p resolution, the 6.6-inch display has a 90Hz refresh rate. While the $200 Moto G Stylus runs at a consistent 90Hz, the A14 has an “adaptive” mode that adjusts up to 90Hz when scrolling through text and animations while swiping between apps. I found the effect noticeably smooth, especially when I was reading articles or playing games.

The phone plays audio through its single speaker, which was fairly easy for me to accidentally block when I held the phone horizontally to watch videos. It’s notable since Motorola’s current budget phone lineup includes stereo speakers across its Moto G phones, (though the Galaxy A14 does include a headphone jack as an option for stereo audio). While the Samsung phone’s internal 64GB of storage should be enough to get you started, you do get the option of expanding storage to 1TB using the phone’s microSD card slot.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G playing a podcast

The phone has a single speaker for audio, and a headphone jack can be used for stereo sound.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

In benchmark testing, the Galaxy A14 5G’s Geekbench score came out ahead of the Moto G Stylus, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it in my real-world use. The phone’s Mediatek Dimensity 700 processor is sluggish, and I often noticed the A14 needing an extra beat to unlock itself when I had another app open, when I tapped a text box to launch the keyboard and when moving between apps. Software updates can refine this in time, and its current performance is totally fine for casual use. But this wouldn’t be a phone that could handle lots of productivity documents or more graphically demanding apps.

Geekbench 6 Benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G 693 1,824Moto G 5G (2023) 740 1790Moto G Stylus (2023) 448 1471

  • Single-core
  • Multi-core
Note: Higher scores are better.

However the Galaxy A14’s inclusion of NFC is quite meaningful, providing full compatibility with Google Wallet for contactless payments. I rarely find NFC for contactless payments in phones under $300, even though it’s accepted everywhere from transit systems to convenience stores. I hope this creates a trend and we’ll finally start seeing NFC become a feature on every phone regardless of cost.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G photo taking

The Galaxy A14 5G’s cameras are good for still subjects, but moving ones are particularly challenging.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G cameras and photography

The Galaxy A14’s cameras, despite the inclusion of a 50-megapixel main camera, are a mixed bag. I took the phone on several day trips, including a visit to a Brooklyn anime food festival and during a weekend stop-in to San Diego Comic-Con.

Outdoor photos came out decent as long as there was very little movement. During the anime food festival, my dessert photos of a cheesecake and rabbit milk pudding looked nice, but there was blurriness in most of my other photos whether due to the crowds or movement by the performers during a Taiko drum show.

Rabbit milk pudding

Rabbit milk pudding photo taken on the Galaxy A14 5G.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Cheesecake

Cheesecake photo taken on the Galaxy A14 5G.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Taiko drum performance

Of the several photos I took during a Taiko drum performance at the Anime NYC Food Festival in Brooklyn, this one had the least blurriness when depicting the performers.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

A selfie I took while outside is decent, but similar to some of Samsung’s more expensive phones, I felt like colors were exaggerated.

Mike Sorrentino at the Anime NYC Food Festival

A front-facing camera photo at the anime festival.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

This exaggeration also holds true for my test photo of the grass wall in CNET’s office. Photos taken with the Moto G Stylus and the $250 Moto G 5G captured more accurate shades of green than those taken with the Galaxy A14 5G.

Grass wall taken on the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G.

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G’s depiction of the grass wall in CNET’s office.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Grass wall taken on the Moto G Stylus

Grass wall taken on the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Grass wall photo taken on the Moto G 5G.

Grass wall photo taken on the Moto G 5G.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

And much like other phones in this price range, photo quality proves challenging when moving indoors. Even on the well-lit San Diego Comic-Con floor, my photo taken with Final Fantasy 16’s Ifrit looks fuzzy. 

Mike Sorrentino and Ilfrit, photo captured on Galaxy A14.

The Comic-Con Hall is fairly well-lit, but there’s some image noise in this indoor photo.

David Lumb/CNET

When I moved to Amazon’s Good Omens party, the dim lighting made it a challenge for the A14 to find focus.

Good Omens party

The darker environment of the Good Omens party in San Diego makes some parts of this image appear out of focus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Returning to New York, there’s plenty of image noise in this selfie, which I took in the underground La Caverna restaurant, but my photo of the restaurant itself looks better since there weren’t many other people moving around.

Indoor photo taken on the Samsung Galaxy A14

Front-facing camera photo taken inside of La Caverna in New York.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Restaurant photo inside La Caverna

The interior of La Caverna in New York, taken on the Galaxy A14 5G.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Overall the Samsung Galaxy A14’s photography is definitely not punching above its price range. If finding a $200 phone with decent cameras is important to you, Motorola’s latest G-series phones could be a better option. While the Moto G phones have similar issues in darker environments, from my testing I feel like the photos taken by those cameras are slightly better.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G running YouTube Music

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G streaming music on YouTube Music.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Bottom line

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is one of the most functional phones I’ve tested for under $200. Even though the phone has noticeable issues — including the slower processor and mixed photography performance — the device is capable of performing most essential tasks. The inclusion of NFC is a clear highlight, and hopefully it means that contactless payment features will now make their way into phones at all prices. The longer security update timeline also means the phone will be safe to use for several years, which could be especially helpful for someone just looking for an affordable device to stay in contact with friends and family.

This makes the Galaxy A14 5G particularly easy to recommend for most people shopping for a phone on a budget, or if the phone is offered for free. But keep in mind that the phone won’t be getting any faster, and should deals or incentives drop the price of a better-equipped phone that normally costs $300, don’t pass that up.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G vs. Moto G Stylus (2023) vs. Moto G 5G (2023)

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Moto G Stylus (2023) Moto G 5G (2023)
Display size, resolution 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD display, (1,400×1,080 pixels), 90Hz 6.5-inch IPS LCD; 1,600×720; 90Hz refresh rate 6.5-inch HD Plus LCD display (720p resolution); 120Hz refresh rate
Pixel density 268 ppi 269 ppi 269 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.6×3.07×0.36 in 6.41×2.91×0.36 in 6.45×2.95×0.33 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 167.6×77.9×9.1 mm 162.9×74.1×9.2 mm 163.94×74.98×8.39mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 203 g (7.19 oz) 195 g 189g (6.66 oz.)
Mobile software Android 13 Android 13 Android 13
Camera 50-megapixel (main), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 50-megapixel (main), 2-megapixel (macro) 48-megapixel main, 2-megapixel macro
Front-facing camera 13-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 1080p at 30 fps 1080p at 30 fps 720p at 30fps
Processor MediaTek Dimensity 700 MediaTek Helio G85 Snapdragon 480 Plus
RAM/Storage 4GB + 64GB 4GB + 64GB; 4GB + 128GB 4GB + 128GB
Expandable storage Yes Yes Yes
Battery/Charger 5,000 mAh (15W charging) 5,000 mAh (15W charging) 5,000 mAh (15W charging)
Fingerprint sensor Side Side Side
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes
Special features 5G-enabled, NFC, 15W charging Stylus, Moto Gestures 5G enabled, dual stereo speakers, Moto Gestures
Price off-contract (USD) $200 $200 $250
Price (GBP) £179 Converts to £160 N/A, Converts to £195
Price (AUD) AU$379 Converts to AU$295 N/A, Converts to £380

How we test phones

Every phone tested by CNET’s reviews team was actually used in the real world. We test a phone’s features, play games and take photos. We examine the display to see if it’s bright, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and build to see how it is to hold and whether it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s performance to the extremes using both standardized benchmark tools like GeekBench and 3DMark, along with our own anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution videos and playing graphically intense games at high refresh rates.

All the cameras are tested in a variety of conditions from bright sunlight to dark indoor scenes. We try out special features like night mode and portrait mode and compare our findings against similarly priced competing phones. We also check out the battery life by using it daily as well as running a series of battery drain tests.

We take into account additional features like support for 5G, satellite connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus support, fast charging speeds, foldable displays among others that can be useful. And we balance all of this against the price to give you the verdict on whether that phone, whatever price it is, actually represents good value.

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