Samsung Galaxy A52 5G – key specs
Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm
Screen: 6.5 inches Super AMOLED (120Hz)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G
GPU: Adreno 619
Rear cameras: 64MP, 12MP, 5MP, 5MP
Front cameras: 32MP
Battery: 4,500 mAh
OS: Android 11, One UI 3.1
To summarise this Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: this is a mid-range Android handset that doesn’t skimp on its main camera. It may not be the most powerful but it does include some high-end features you wouldn’t expect to see on an affordable Samsung phone.
Samsung is a trusted smartphone manufacturer renowned for its innovative flagship handsets with powerful performance, clear as day camera systems and stunning displays. However, their top-of-the-line devices come at eye-watering prices.
To cater for those who aren’t willing to spend an arm and a leg on a smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G offers that familiar Android experience paired with more modest specs, for much less money.
In 2020, T3 reviewed its predecessor the Samsung Galaxy A51, and it’s safe to say that we were impressed. The previous iteration of this phone featured in our guide to the best cheap phones you can buy, so I expected to see great things from the new and improved version.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: price and availability
Direct from Samsung, you can pick up the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G for $349.99 in the US, £399 in the UK and AU$749.00 in Australia. It’s available from retailers like Amazon too, so take a look at the widgets for the best deals available now where you are.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: what’s new
Samsung has made some serious improvements to the phone, so how is the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G a step up from the Samsung Galaxy A51?
To name a few of the changes: the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has an updated processor, IP67 water resistance, more RAM, a new 64MP main camera lens, a bigger battery and 25W fast charging. Following the market trend, it even has a 120Hz refresh rate. They’ve also made 5G the standard as opposed to being optional.
I’ll go into more detail about the differences later on in this Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: design and display
Sporting a 6.5-inch display, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has the same rectangular shape as what came before it, it’s available in four colourways: black, blue, white and violet. You’ll find the power button and volume controls on the right-hand side of the frame, with a USB-C port on the bottom, sat alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack. The back of the phone has a smooth matte plastic casing, the camera module merges really well with the overall design, despite sticking out a little. An unexpected benefit of this phone is that it’s IP67 spill, splash and dust resistant, giving you peace of mind.
Looking much like its pricier flagship sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S21, there are a few design aspects that give it away as being a cheaper alternative. For one, the bezels are thicker with 84.1% screen-to-body ratio, which actually means they’re thicker than on the A51 as well. Secondly, the hole-punch camera on the front is framed by a small silver circle, making it blend in less naturally with the screen. Third, measuring 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm. It’s significantly thicker than a lot of other handsets. I have small hands and found that my thumb couldn’t quite reach the other side of the display, making using it with one hand a bit tricky. It still has a MicroSD card slot for those who need it.
The Super AMOLED display is largely similar to the Samsung Galaxy A51, it’s the same size and has the same 1080 x 2400 FHD+ resolution. One big change is the refresh rate, Samsung have upped it to an impressive 120Hz giving a silky scroll and for mobile gamers, in particular, a much smoother experience. You could be fooled into thinking the display belongs to a much pricier device. It has 800 nits brightness, making it look bright and vibrant. In looking more closely, you’ll see that it’s not as sharp or clear as top-tier flagships, despite that I found it to be sufficiently detailed to comfortably watch videos or browse the web. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G also now has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 so will be more drop resistant than its predecessor.
To unlock the handset, you can choose between password, pin, pattern, face unlock or fingerprint. The in-display fingerprint sensor was pretty reliable, it didn’t work every single time but on the whole, it did work quickly. One niggle I had was that it was placed a little too far down the display, not at the height your thumb would naturally sit.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: camera
An impressive array of cameras, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has a 64MP main lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 5MP macro lens and a 5MP depth sensor as well as a 32MP selfie camera.
For a mid-range handset, I was blown away by the quality of shots using the default point-and-shoot settings: they looked sharp, had bright colours and an excellent balance between light and dark areas – my shots looked lovely. Then, I tried out the macro mode, the camera struggled to focus on the subject. When it finally figured out what I was trying to capture, the result was actually quite good. Admittedly, the camera system was less impressive using the ultrawide mode and digital zoom, matching up more to other similarly priced handsets. On both of those modes, it lost out on detail and struggled more with contrast. To see how the camera fared, take a look at the gallery below.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has plenty of camera modes to try out, including the Single Take mode which takes a variety of clips and photos from the scene so you can pick the best one to use. Other camera modes include a food mode, macro mode and night mode. The night mode did a good job to brighten the scene, though didn’t quite manage the level of detail you would get from other phone cameras.
Video can be filmed in resolutions up to 4K at 30fps, I tried it out with the Super Steady video mode. Lacking sharpness, video footage wasn’t quite as effective as still shots, yet it does do a great job to prevent shaky hands from ruining your filming.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: performance and battery life
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G uses the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, alongside 6GB RAM and 128GB of in-built storage.
After having tested this phone out for a while, I noticed that despite coping well with everything, it wasn’t as fast as the highest-performing handsets. Opening large apps wasn’t always instantaneous and games took a bit longer to load, for instance. On Geekbench 5, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G scored 645 in single-core and 1,919 in multi-core, clearly showing that spending less money does ultimately mean you get less power. Comparing it to other affordable phones, it roughly matches up to handsets like the TCL 10 5G or the OnePlus Nord.
With 5G packed in, you’re guaranteed fast internet speeds outside the house, if you live in an area supporting it. Surprisingly, it runs on Wifi 5, so you won’t make the most of a Wifi 6 router with this phone if that’s what you have at home.
Running on Android 11 with One UI 3.0, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G uses a colourful Android skin with larger icons. My personal opinion is that it feels more childlike than straight Android, yet that does make it incredibly easy to navigate. As you would expect from any Samsung phone, it is a smooth overall experience.
A 4,500mAh battery means that you get long-lasting usage from the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. I ran a video on full brightness for two hours, in that time, the phone’s battery dropped by 14% meaning it would have lasted over 14 hours in total. Good going for a mid-range device. It supports 25W fast charging however you will have to buy the right charger to make use of that if you don’t own one already.
In T3’s review of the A51, we had noted that the phone’s speaker was ‘a bit of a let-down, creating a tinniness that is especially jarring at higher volume’. Another area with a massive improvement, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G uses a dual stereo speaker as opposed to the single speaker on the previous iteration. It meant the audio quality was massively improved, I happily used it to watch video content, and didn’t find it distorted the sound at all.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: verdict
Everyone knows that if you want a phone that has it all, you’ll need to spend big. But what if you just want some of it? Although the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G may not give you best-in-class performance or a completely bezel-free display, it does deliver some unexpected top-tier features including water resistance, 120Hz refresh rate as well as a 4,500mAh battery.
For point-and-shoot photography, it was superb. Granted ultrawide shots weren’t so impressive but as I say you can’t have it all for less than $350/£400. It’ll be well suited to those who want to take decent shots of people, landmarks and landscapes without the hassle of switching between camera modes. Plus, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G will be a good choice for those who want a large screen and long battery life for the daily commute.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: also consider
The best cheap phone for most people will still be the Apple iPhone SE (2020) which delivers fast performance and a near-flagship camera system. If you aren’t an iOS lover, then other phones to consider could be the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G or the Google Pixel 4a both of which feature in T3’s guide to the best Android phones and have excellent cameras too.