With 5G connectivity, a 120Hz display and solid performance, the Galaxy A52 5G is Samsung’s best-value smartphone yet
- Almost half the price of Galaxy S21
- Excellent 120Hz display
- Huge performance uplift
- Slightly cheap design
- Chunky bezels
The brand-new Galaxy S21 isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to generational upgrades, despite what Samsung would have you believe. The company’s own mid-tier offering has also received a fresh lick of paint for 2021, and the Galaxy A52 5G could be just the ticket if your smartphone buying budget doesn’t stretch very far.
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Sure, its name might be a bit of a mouthful, but the Galaxy A52 5G intends to plug the ever-widening gap between the top and bottom ends of the phone-buying scale. However, with seven Samsung phones already launching in the UK since the beginning of the year, does the Galaxy A52 5G have what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: What you need to know
At almost half the price of the Galaxy S21, there’s a good chance you’re thinking that the Galaxy A52 5G is only half as good. However, Samsung’s newest mid-ranger has plenty in common with its own flagship lineup, as it turns out, including a 120Hz screen, a quad-camera array and 5G connectivity at no extra cost.
Of course, Samsung has made some savings in the design department, with a plastic rear and reasonably thick bezels, and it also uses a weaker Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chipset as well. But with Android 11 out of the box, IP67-rated waterproofing and a large 4,500mAh battery, there’s not much else you could possibly want from a new smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Price and competition
Especially when that new smartphone only costs £399. By comparison, the Galaxy S21 starts at £769, so you’re saving a decent chunk of cash (£370) if you decide to buy the Galaxy A52 5G instead. As for contracts, you can expect to pay between £22 and £30 a month with a small upfront cost, depending on how much monthly data you want.
You might have also heard that there’s a slightly cheaper non-5G version (€349), but sadly this isn’t available to buy in the UK at the moment.
The A52 also launched alongside the Galaxy A72, which adds a 3x telephoto zoom camera, a slightly bigger 6.7in display and a larger 5,000mAh battery for an extra £20. There are a handful of caveats, though: the A72’s screen is 90Hz, it doesn’t have 5G and it uses a not-so-powerful Snapdragon 720G processor.
Unfortunately, there’s already plenty of competition in this price bracket. Apple’s 2020 iPhone SE (£399) sits at the top of the pack, although the Pixel 4a (£349) isn’t far behind, with its as-yet-unmatched camera. There’s also the OnePlus Nord N10 (£329) to consider, as well as the Moto G 5G Plus (£299).
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Design and key features
Design-wise, the Galaxy A52 5G certainly looks the part, although you can tell that it isn’t quite as lavishly furnished as the Galaxy S21 on closer inspection. It has a soft-textured plastic back, with a slim camera housing and a shiny aluminium frame and is available in four colours; “Awesome Violet”, “Awesome Black”, “Awesome White” and “Awesome Blue”. I was sent the latter for review. Awesome.
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It isn’t quite as eye-catching as its predecessor, though, lacking the Galaxy A51’s dazzling multi-coloured pearlescent finish and subtly curved sides, but it’s still a rather snazzy look. The front of the phone is reasonably unassuming, too, with a simple hole-punch notch in the top-centre portion of the screen, and fairly chunky bezels on all four sides.
A nice addition, however, is the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the screen, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, which sits next to the phone’s USB-C port and speaker grille. The A52 5G is also IP67-rated for water and dust protection, which is another added bonus.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Display
The A52 5G’s Super AMOLED screen measures 6.5in from corner to corner, with an FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution and a not-so-bad pixel density of 405ppi. Unlike last year’s A51, this new model also supports a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz.
In testing, I found that the ‘Natural’ mode most closely matched the sRGB colour space, with a coverage of 99.8%, a total volume of 146% and an average Delta E (colour accuracy) of 2.11. Sure, there are few minor inconsistencies with some colours – red and light green tones are a touch oversaturated – but generally speaking, this display looks pretty darn good for the price.
The screen’s max brightness isn’t too bad, either, peaking at around 449cd/m² in auto mode with a torch aimed at the A52 5G’s ambient light sensor. As this is a Super AMOLED screen, contrast is effectively perfect, too.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Performance and battery life
The Galaxy A52 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 processor, which is an octa-core chipset clocked at 2.2GHz with an embedded Adreno 619 GPU for graphics processing duties. The UK model also has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which can be expanded via microSD.
As for performance output, the Galaxy A52 5G is a significant step-up over its predecessor. In the Geekbench 5 single-core CPU benchmark, the Galaxy A52 5G almost doubled the performance of last year’s Galaxy A51, and it’s roughly 50% faster in multi-core processing as well.
Looking at the comparison graph, the Galaxy A52 5G is just as powerful as its equally-priced competitors, although it falls flat when placed next to the iPhone SE (2020) and its flagship A14 Bionic chipset.
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It’s a similar story in gaming terms. The Galaxy A52 5G’s average frame rate of 45fps in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 on-screen test matches the performance of the OnePlus Nord N10, Pixel 4a and Moto G 5G Plus, but the iPhone SE (2020) is on an entirely different level in terms of graphical output.
Where the iPhone can’t compete, however, is in the stamina department. Running for 18hrs 23mins in our in-house battery test, the Galaxy A52 5G lasted almost seven hours longer than Apple’s newest mid-ranger. Again, though, it mostly matched its rivals, with only the Moto G 5G Plus stretching out a bit of a lead.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Cameras
The A52 5G’s camera arrangement is mostly the same as before, with a 12MP (f/2.2) 123-degree ultra-wide camera working with a 5MP (f/2.4) depth-sensing unit and a 5MP (f/2.4) macro camera for up-close photography. However, the main camera is now a 64MP affair – an increase from 48MP – complete with a wider f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation.
Quality-wise, I have no major complaints about the cameras. Images look pretty darn good, for the most part, and the A52 5G even manages to hold its own against the terrific Pixel 4a in some instances. Pictures are filled with detail, it does a good job at cutting through the darkness in low-light conditions, and HDR worked without a hitch. It did have a tendency to increase the exposure a bit too much for my liking, though, but this isn’t something that the on-screen slider couldn’t fix.
There are a couple of areas where the Pixel 4a manages to pull ahead, however. In particular, the A52 5G’s portrait modes aren’t anywhere near as crisp, with softer background blur, even at max level. I also preferred the video stabilisation on the Pixel 4a at 1080p 60fps (4K is limited to 30fps on both phones).
Even still, the Pixel 4a only has a single camera, so the A52 5G is a much better pick if photographic versatility is at the top of your phone-buying agenda. It’s also received a few upgrades on the software front, too, including 4K video snap, which allows you to grab a still image from previously recorded 4K footage.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Verdict
This, among other things, is one of the reasons why the A52 5G might actually be a more well-informed pick. The Pixel 4a, as much as it’s an astonishing mid-range handset in a bunch of areas, isn’t quite as versatile in the camera department. Don’t forget that it also has a smaller (60Hz) screen, no expandable storage and a slightly weaker processor, too.
If you’re weighing up your options in the mid-range space, then the Galaxy A52 5G has absolutely scaled the ranks, disrupting the recent tradition of “Pixel is best”. As long as you can afford the extra £50, then you really can’t go wrong with picking up a Galaxy A52 5G instead.
|Samsung Galaxy A52 5G specifications
|Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G (2×2.2GHz, 6×1.8GHz)
|2,400 x 1,080
|Screen refresh rate
|64MP (f/1.8), 12MP wide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4), 5MP depth (f/2.4)
|Dust and water resistance
|3.5mm headphone jack
|USB connection type
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|Yes (shared with microSD)
|160 x 75 x 8.4mm
|Android 11 (One UI 3.1)