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Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Review

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G takes much of its inspiration from the Galaxy S21 and it works. This is a great phone for the price.

Verdict

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Trusted Reviews Recommended

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is an easy recommendation if you’re not bowled over by the flashier flagships and their high prices.

Pros

  • Great screen
  • Long battery life
  • Years of support
  • OIS is welcome

Cons

  • Design is a bit basic
  • Secondary cameras aren’t good

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £399
  • 6.5-inch 120Hz OLED
  • Snapdragon 750G
  • 6 or 8GB RAM
  • IP67
  • 4 x rear cameras
  • 32MP selfie camera
  • One UI 3.0

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is the latest member of the supremely popular A series family of devices and it’s hard to knock for the price.

While the Samsung Galaxy S21 and its S series siblings get all the hype, it’s really the A series that gets the big sales worldwide. There’s a good reason for that too, as these phones tend to compete very well against the other best cheap phones and best mid-range phones we test.

The A52 5G is the latest edition to the line and it’s a great choice if you just want a cheaper device that plays games well, takes good photos and doesn’t run out of battery in a few hours.

Design and Screen – The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has a basic look and a fantastic display

  • 120Hz OLED is great for the price
  • Simple design that isn’t shy about being plastic
  • It has a headphone jack

It’s worth noting right off the bat that while the A52 and A52 5G are similar in name and design. There’s more than just 5G that separates them. The one I have had in my pocket for the last week is the 5G model and all of my views relate to it alone. Keep that in mind when you’re looking for deals in the future.

There’s very little to dislike about the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G’s look. It’s not flashy like the Poco X3 Pro and eschews needless branding for a simple look. It’s not going to turn heads in the same way as the metal and glass-clad Galaxy S21 but it doesn’t feel cheap.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

This phone is made of plastic and it isn’t trying to be anything else. This isn’t Samsung trying to pass off plastic as ‘glasstic’ and it’s all the better for it. It feels strong and durable in a way that glass phones don’t and at 189g it’s not too heavy given its overall size.

Unlike the Galaxy S21 series, there’s room for a 3.5mm headphone port on the bottom for your wired cans and it keeps this while still having an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. This is a feature often dismissed on phones at this price-point, especially from Chinese firms like Xiaomi and Oppo, but I think it should be seen as vital at any price.

You’re not going to find me saying the A52 5G is particularly inventive with its styling. It’s basic, with a flat front and back and very few visual flourishes. The camera module isn’t as in-your-face as the S21 and the black coating on my review unit is a smudge magnet even though it’s a matte finish. 

There are a few other colours available, all of which have been given ‘Awesome’ branding by Samsung: blue, white, violet and black.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

If you look really close at the seems you can see that this doesn’t have the same high-end finish as higher-priced S series phones. There are small gaps where the plastic meets and over time these might be great places for dust and whatnot to get stuck. You’ll also get a very plasticky, hollow sound when you tap the back. Is that going to put many off buying this? It really shouldn’t.

I’ve been continually impressed with the phone’s 6.5-inch display, even though I moved across from the fantastic OnePlus 9 Pro. That’s big praise for a device with this RRP.

Like the pricier Samsung phones, you’ve got a 120Hz OLED panel (though it will stick at 120Hz, rather than adapt) with an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution. 

That high refresh rate means the screen refreshes twice as often as a 60hz device – let’s use the iPhone 12 as an example – and as a result, everything looks a lot smoother whether you’re scrolling or playing games.

I have often found cheaper devices with more modest chipsets struggle to keep up with these refresh rates, leading to random stuttering and slow-down. That’s not the case here and I haven’t had any issues with smoothness at all. As I feel like I say in every review; once you’ve tried a 120Hz phone, it’s hard to go back.

I fired up Netflix to give the phone’s display a runout and was impressed with the results. While it seems HDR support is lacking, the OLED tech gives fantastic contrast in dark scenes and Samsung once again impresses with punchy colours. It’s bright too, even when you’re outside.

Pop it next to the S21 and you will see some differences, especially in the range of colours visible. The S21 also gets brighter and is easier to read in direct sunlight. The screen on the A52 5G feels more comparable to the one on the Galaxy S20 FE and considering I am a huge fan of that phone this is no bad thing.

The final trick of the display is the embedded fingerprint scanner. It’s fine and does unlock without much hassle most of the time. However, it required a few attempts to actually get my digit registered and it feels a bit finicky every now and then, especially when used in the rain.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Camera – Surprisingly capable multi-sensor setup

  • 64MP main sensor
  • 32MP selfie camera on the front
  • Generally good performance but there are a few pointless additions

The biggest differentiator between the cheaper phones and the best phones is the camera. The Pixel 4a remains the only true mid-range phone that can compete with the best camera phones around and if you want a truly great Samsung shooter that’s reliable in all conditions you’ll want to pay more.

With that being said, I have enjoyed using the A52 5G and I have little criticism when it comes to daylight or even evening photos.

On the back you’ll find four cameras, but only two of them are worth using. There’s a main 64MP sensor with OIS that’ll capture 16MP images and an ultra wide 12MP sensor. The other two comprise a 5MP macro and a depth sensor.

Colours are punchy

Well lit shots look good

I can only imagine the addition of these latter two cameras is for marketing and there’s some telling research that implies more people will buy a phone that has four cameras over two. The macro camera is useless and the depth sensor has no obvious benefit to my eye.

The addition of OIS (optical image stabilisation) is the big one here and it helps out no end with low-light shots. Samsung’s scene optimiser does a good job too, taking some of the heavy lifting away from the sensor. 

The 16-megapixel pictures here might not match those taken from the S21 in anything but ideal lighting, but they’re good. Colours are nice without looking garish, shadow detail is strong and you can even capture some good photos in low-light – as long as movement is kept to a minimum.

The ultra wide camera gives you some versatility

The zoom skills are quite poor

The ultra wide camera is ok and a ‘nice to have’ addition that adds a bit of variety. It’s a little lighter on detail and the colours aren’t as pleasing as the main sensor. The only zoom here is the digital kind, where the camera crops into images taken from that 64MP camera. Results are mushy and lack detail and probably should only be used sparingly.

Flip the phone over the 32MP selfie camera again feels very mid-range. Skin tones aren’t the best and I think many will be fooled into thinking all those megapixels will do a good job.

Video tops out at 4K 30fps. You can also capture 120fps footage at 1080p. The footage looks ok and the stabilisation works well – just don’t expect too much.

The final word on this camera is that it is good for shooting daylight and some low-light snaps. If you pay more you get more versatility with additional focal lengths, superior secondary sensors and better colour profiles.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Performance – All you need

  • Capable Snapdragon chipset with 5G
  • Expandable storage
  • Up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage

Wherever you buy the A52 5G you’ll find a Qualcomm chip under-the-hood, rather than Samsung’s own Exynos alternative. 

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip used here is supremely capable for a phone at this price and for most people it should offer enough grunt.

Throughout my week with the phone I didn’t run into any issues with my usual selection of apps and I was surprised by how capable this phone is for gaming. 

Graphically intense titles, I used Genshin Impact as a test, run well and they’re perfectly playable. Yes, pop it next to the Galaxy S21 and you’ll be met with a couple more dropped frames and slower load times – but this phone is far cheaper and the results aren’t that far apart.

There are even some areas where the A52 5G beats out the S21, like the Micro SD card slot for beefier storage expansion. It seems odd that features like this, and the headphone jack, are now becoming far more associated with cheaper phones.

You can notice the Galaxy A52 5G’s cheaper price in certain performance areas. The vibration motor, for instance, is harsh and shrill. If the phone was on a table and rang, the noise it sent out was far from pleasant. The speakers too are merely fine, and the microphones pick up a lot more wind than I would expect on calls.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

The software is pretty much the same across the whole Samsung line

Samsung’s software will be familiar if you’re upgrading from another A series device and it gets the job done. I don’t personally love the look of One UI, but it is full of features including excellent battery saving modes and lots of customisation options. It’s also great if you have other Samsung gear, as it pairs smoothly with the Buds Pro, Smart Tag and other accessories.

I do have to praise Samsung for its promise of four years of security updates, something barely seen at all at this end of the market. It’s also one of the most bug-free software experiences you’ll find, more than so than even the Oppo Find X3 Pro and OnePlus 9.

Battery Life – Big battery but no wireless charging

  • 4500mAh cell offers good endurance
  • 15w charger bundled

I was a little wary that in light of the phone’s 120Hz display, endurance might be a weak point here, but, thankfully It is not.

I’ve been using the Galaxy A52 5G as my main phone for the past week and I have been easily averaging seven hours of screen on time. That will get even the heaviest of user through the day and the average should go nearly two days between charges.

This is with the 120Hz mode enabled and brightness consistently pushed to the higher-end of its maximum setting.

Where the battery does struggle a little more than flagships with more efficient chipsets is when you’re gaming. I found the battery drained in various titles a lot faster than on the S21 I was using as a comparison.

The phone comes with a 15w charger (and supports up to 25w) however I wasn’t provided with an official charger for the review. I juiced it up with a regular 25w Samsung brick and managed to get 50% in roughly 35 minutes. There is no wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is an easy recommendation if you’re not bowled over by the flashier flagships and their high prices.

It has a good camera, snappy 5G chipset and a lovely 120Hz display. There is competition though, with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro lacking 5G but offering a great camera at £100 less and the Pixel 4a coming in a much smaller size.

You should buy the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G if…

  • An affordable phone is key

The price here is great, especially when you consider what’s on offer. Getting a Samsung 120Hz OLED without paying more is welcome and if you’re familiar with the Samsung UI you’ll feel at home.

  • You want big battery life

I achieved some impressive battery stats with the A52 5G, getting through a day with ease and well into day two with more moderate use. There’s a charger in the box too.

  • You want 5G

5G isn’t completely common at this price, so if you want some faster data speeds this is a good choice.

You shouldn’t buy the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G if…

  • You like flashy phones

The Galaxy A52 5G isn’t a particularly standout phone for its design. It’s boxy, basic and functional. Something like the Redmi Note 10 Pro and even the Poco X3 Pro offer more visual flair.

Specifications

UK RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours

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