EVALUATION

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Review: S21 Killer?

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Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

8.50 / 10

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The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is the company’s most tamed device in its diverse Galaxy ecosystem, and it’s a decent phone for the vast majority of people at this price point.

Key Features

  • 64MP main camera with stabilized video
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 5G enabled
Specifications

  • Brand: Samsung
  • Storage: 128GB
  • CPU: Snapdragon 720G
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Operating System: Android 11 with One UI 3.1
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • Ports: USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 64MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth sensor, 5MP Macro, 32MP selfie
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.5-inch, 1080 x 2400, 120Hz
Pros

  • The 120Hz refresh rate makes this phone feel super responsive and snappy
  • One UI surprisingly doesn't feel too bloated
  • Phone feels lighter compared to similarly large devices
Cons

  • The macro camera and depth sensor feel wasteful
  • The fingerprint scanner is slow
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Last year, the best-selling Android smartphone on the market was a Sumsung device, but it wasn’t the company’s flagship Galaxy S20 or Note 20 line. Instead, the Galaxy A51 was the most sold Android smartphone of 2020, at 11.4 million units.

Samsung Galaxy A52 cameras

Naturally, Samsung released the next iteration of this device, the Galaxy A52 5G. While it doesn’t get as much attention as Samsung’s other devices like the Galaxy S21 series or its Foldable lineup, the Samsung Galaxy A series of devices are the ones that will end up in more people’s hands. So, does the Galaxy A52 5G live up to its predecessor? Let’s find out.

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Design

The Galaxy A52 5G is as simple as phones can get; you’re getting a very standard design, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Galaxy A52 5G resembles its bigger cousins, the Galaxy S series of devices. Interestingly, the A52 looks more like the Galaxy S20 FE and Note 20 devices than it does Samsung’s Galaxy S21.

The Galaxy S line is Samsung’s safe bet on the flagship lineup, and the A52 is the safest device anyone can recommend, and that’s especially true when it comes to design; this device is very much a practical phone with no frills.

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On the front, you’re getting a sizable 6.5-inch 1080p panel with a hole-punch camera. The screen is made of Gorilla Glass 5, and it should give you adequate scratch protection.

Samsung Galaxy A52 screen

On the back, you’ll find a plastic build that has the same matte finish as the base model Galaxy S21; it has a nice soft touch feel to it, and it feels great to hold.

Samsung sent me the Black color variant, and while it feels like the higher-end Galaxy S21, this finish is a fingerprint magnet. I found it quite cumbersome to clean the back of this device. I highly recommend getting a case if you end up getting this phone.

Samsung Galaxy A52 back

The back also houses the camera system, which looks similar to the Galaxy S20 FE, but Samsung refined the layout and took some design queues from its latest flagship. The S21 lineup used its metal frame to blend the camera module with the rest of the phone, and similarly, the A52’s camera module seamlessly blends in with the rest of the back panel, almost as if it was one single piece of polycarbonate.

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The sides of the Galaxy A52 are made of plastic, and they have a mirror look to make it look more like metal. You wouldn’t notice the sides are plastic unless you happen to scratch them or pick up a more premium device to compare against.

The buttons are indistinguishable to its flagship cousins, and on the bottom, you even get a 3.5mm headphone jack—something that is missing in Samsung’s flagship lineup.

Samsung Galaxy A52 ports

While many will argue plastic feels less premium, I think Samsung made the right decision with this phone. Compared to my S21, the A52 is a larger phone, but when I picked it up, in contrast to my S21, I thought the A52 was lighter than my device. In reality, it’s 20 grams heavier. Bigger phones generally feel unwieldy at times because of their size and weight, but choosing a plastic build all the way through makes the A52 feel like a much smaller device while getting the benefits of a larger battery and a larger display.

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Overall, Samsung isn’t going to wow anyone with the design of this phone, but that’s not the point. The Galaxy A52 is a large device that brings practicality in a minimalist design, and for many people, it’s sufficient for everyday use.

Display: Galaxy S21 Quality Without the Polish

The Galaxy A52 has the best screen I have seen in a mid-range device, and it shouldn’t come as no surprise. This screen is essentially what you’ll find on the Galaxy S21 and S21+, just without the polish. The Galaxy A52 packs a 6.5-inch, 1080p display with 120Hz. This screen size is in-between the S21 (6.1-inch) and the S21+ (6.7-inch). The resolution is the same as those two flagship devices, coming in at 1080 by 2400. The only difference between the Galaxy S21 and this A52 is the display brightness, the slightly worse-looking hole-punch camera, and the bezels.

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The A52 has a maximum peak brightness at 800 nits, while the S21 can get up 1300. In real-world use, it is noticeable when you compare the devices side by side, but you’re still going to be able to see the screen in direct sunlight.

Samsung Galaxy A52 screen 2

The hole punch on the A52 is centered, just like the S21 series, but Samsung added a silver ring around the camera for some reason. It’s distracting, even with the screen on. The silver ring is reflective, and it’s always visible regardless of which angle you view it from. I’ve gotten used to it, but I think it was an unneeded design aesthetic that doesn’t add to anything significant.

Finally, the bezels of the A52 are what make it short of its flagship cousins. The bezels on the A52 are generally larger than the S21, but the most noticeable aspect is the chin; the A52’s chin is very prominent compared to the side and top bezels of the phone.

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Samsung Galaxy A52 screen

At the end of the day, comparing the A52 and S21 seems unnecessary. The two devices have marginal differences in display quality, and if you end up going with the A52, you won’t be disappointed; the Galaxy A52’s display is very responsive, vibrant, and has the same Samsung expertise most people have come to love. If you watch movies, play games, and use your device to edit photos, the display on the A52 is one of the best you could ask for at this price range. The only competition here is with Samsung’s own devices.

Cameras

When it comes to the cameras, I think Samsung did a great job balancing the feature set for this price range. The Galaxy A52 comes with a standard 64MP wide, a 12MP ultrawide, a niche 5MP macro camera, and a wasteful 5MP depth sensor. There is also a 32MP selfie camera.

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Samsung Galaxy A52 in hand

The standard 64MP camera captures 16MP photos in the regular shooting mode, and it delivers useable images that maintain detail, even when there is less than desirable lighting. It’s also stabilized with OIS, and the videos coming out of this device are only second or third to something like the iPhone SE (2020) or the Pixel 4A.

Image Gallery (5 Images)

The 32MP selfie camera is another excellent aspect of this camera experience; you’re getting usable photos that retain a good amount of detail; the main issue is Samsung’s software. The front camera has face-smoothing, and it can give off some unnatural-looking photos at times.

When it comes to the ultrawide, you’re going to get usable results, but it lacks the consistency of its flagship counterparts, specifically in color. The sensor does well when you give it lots of light, but it can’t keep up when you’re in dimmer or harsher environments. The difference in HDR, colors, and detail is noticeable compared to the standard wide camera.

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Image Gallery (3 Images)

When it comes to the 5MP macro camera and the 5MP depth sensor, these cameras feel wasteful on a price-conscious device like the A52. For one, the 5MP sensor on the macro lens doesn’t play well in challenging lighting, but more importantly, not many people are looking for a macro camera on a device aimed at delivering essential features. The depth sensor supposedly improves portrait mode, but its main purpose is to make the camera module look busier.

The difference in focal length between the macro camera and the standard wide lens is very small, and you’ll get a much sharper, more detailed image if you use the main sensor.

Image Gallery (4 Images)

I think Samsung should have just invested in a more reliable ultrawide sensor than putting in two additional sensors that appeal to a very slim user-base.

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Samsung Galaxy A52 cameras

Overall, the Galaxy A52 delivers an adequate camera experience, but I recommend you stick with the standard 64MP sensor if you want to maximize the output of this camera system.

Performance and Battery Life

When it comes to performance, the A52 is a worthy contender; of course, it can’t match the speed of something like the iPhone SE (2020) or the Galaxy S20 FE, but the Snapdragon 720G has enough power to make sure this phone lasts at least 2-3 years of use, and for the vast majority of people who pick up this device, that’s going to be enough. The device comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and that’s a great configuration at this price point.

In day-to-day use, the Galaxy A52 just felt a beat or two slower than the Galaxy S21, but the high refresh rate display and RAM will make sure this device stays relatively snappy for a while.

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Samsung Galaxy A52 back 2

The two things that plague the usability of the A52 are its slow in-display fingerprint scanner and its sub-par vibration motor. For some reason, the optical fingerprint scanner on the A52 is just slow compared to the scanners on other mid-range devices, and this poorly reflects what this device is capable of; it takes a good second or two for the device to log you into the phone.

The vibration motor is another deficiency of this device; compared to the S21, the vibrations on the A52 feel loose and janky, but that’s one of the trade-offs Samsung decided to make.

When it comes to battery life, however, the A52 is probably the best device in this price range to choose if you want a true two-day phone. Samsung packed a beastly 4,500mAh cell on this phone, and with its 1080p display and lower wattage processor, the A52 delivers the most consistent battery life across the board.

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Samsung Galaxy A52 back

On typical use, you can expect to use this phone well into the next day without plugging it in, and even with every battery-hungry feature enabled like max brightness and 120Hz, it still took me much effort to kill this device in a day; it’s that good.

Overall, the Galaxy A52 is a usable mid-range device that can consistently deliver adequate power for daily use. The 120Hz panel helps give off the impression of a more powerful device; coupled with its large battery, most users are going to love using this phone.

Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G?

For the most part, Samsung pulled the right strings in making the A52 an excellent midrange device; the screen is large, vibrant, and snappy, the battery life is just plain incredible, and the camera delivers sufficient quality that rounds out this phone’s experience.

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The main competitor of this phone isn’t from another brand, but from Samsung itself. The Galaxy A52 exists in a space where you can still pick up the S20 FE, and if the rumors are true, Samsung is set to release the Galaxy S21 FE later this summer, and the price difference between the S20 FE and the A52 is marginally thin, especially if you consider the promotions Samsung and its carriers run all year-round.

Samsung Galaxy A52 screen

I recommend the Galaxy A52 for what it delivers at this price point, but you would have to be constrained to this device’s specific pricing to consider it over Samsung’s other offerings—like the S20 FE—which is arguably more competitive.

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