May 7th, 2021

We’re slowly creeping up on the halfway mark into 2021, but we’ve already seen some incredible flagship tier phones for the year. But while those phones might grab the headlines with their insane spec sheets, this phone here will likely outsell most of them, by a lot.

Say hello to the Samsung Galaxy A52, the successor to last year’s A51 which was the second most popular phone around the globe last year, right behind the iPhone 11.

It may not be fancy or have a high-powered chipset on the inside, but let’s take a look at what it has to offer and see if the upgrades it offers are enough to make it a chart-topper this year as well.

Specification & Price

  • Display: 6.5-inch, 1080p AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragong 750G
  • Memory: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal & microSD card slot
  • Cameras: 64MP (main), 12MP (ultrawide), 5MP (macro), 5MP (depth), 32MP (selfie)
  • Battery: 4500 mAh with 25w charging
  • Size & Weight: 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm and weighing 189 grams
  • Dust/water resistance: IP67

Design

If you don’t know this by now, I’m a stickler for good design. I’m a big fan of the new look Samsung has given to the S21 lineup this year, but when it comes to the A52, I’m not that impressed. I’m perfectly fine with the choice of going with an all-plastic back and frame, I just wish they would have leaned into it a bit more.

The camera bump looks a bit awkward, though I do appreciate the metal accent rings around each of the four cameras. That being said, if you’re planning to stick a case of this phone, the look of the back shouldn’t bother you much. One last thing to note here is that the A52 offers IP 67 dust and water resistance, something that’s not often found on mid-range devices.

Performance

Next, let’s jump into the performance of this phone which I think is one of the most compelling aspects of the A52. This is the US variant, so it’s running a Snapdragon 750 with 6GB of RAM which may not sound terribly impressive, but unless you’re pushing your phone to the breaking point with a few select games, I’d say that this mid-range device will make most people quite happy.

6GB of RAM is adequate for some decent multitasking and the chipset is more than capable of delivering a great user experience when it comes to gaming. While playing Call of Duty Mobile, you’ll be able to set graphic and frame rates to very high without the phone breaking a sweat. If you’re a Genshin Impact fan, you’ll definitely notice choppy performance when cranking the graphics settings to high, but with a bit of tweaking you can pull out quite an enjoyable experience at 30 fps.

As for smoothness in the UI and other various apps, I really can’t fault the A52 at all. Sure, there are a few minor blips from time to time when jumping back to the home screen from a game or switching between apps, but nothing that’s a deal-breaker.

Display & Audio

The display, while limited to just 1080p, is still quite impressive for a mid-range device. The AMOLED panel delivers an adaptive 120 Hz refresh rate which adds to the gaming experience but also makes media consumption quite enjoyable whether you’re watching video or scrolling through your social media feeds. It even offers 800 mids of peak brightness which is quite commendable for devices in this category with very little color distortion at extreme viewing angles. You will catch a few people complaining about the thicker bezels, but I honestly could care less since I didn’t have any of the miss-taps you typically get with thin bezel devices while typing or with gesture navigation.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how good the speakers on the phone are. You actually get stereo audio here with a speaker on the bottom edge and a front-firing speaker next to the display. The audio isn’t as rich as what you get out of Samsung’s Galax yS series phones, but it’s still pretty good. And then there’s the 3.5mm headphone jack, a nice touch since it’s something that Samsung has dropped from its more expensive devices.

Software

Software on this phone is the same as what Samsung gives you on their high-end devices. It’s running Android 11 with One UI 3.1. Now, there are a lot of mid-range devices out there that get left behind when it comes to software updates, but Samsung has recently pledged to deliver 4 years of security updates along with two major Android updates over the next two years.

It’s good, but not great. Personally, I’m not a fan of Samsung’s design choices, the built-in ads and because the phone I have is a carrier variant, it has a crap ton of bloatware which include nine AT&T specific applications, six different games, and four music and video streaming apps on top of the three Microsoft apps that you gen on every Samsung phone these days. Right out of the box, the preinstalled apps take up 7GB of the phone’s storage.

AT&T and other service providers are offering some incredible deals on this phone, just keep in mind that those discounts come at a price.

Thankfully, even with all the bloatware, the 128GB of internal storage on the A52 is plenty and if you need more, there’s a microSD expansion slot as well that gives you the opportunity to add up to 2TB of additional storage, even though those cards technically don’t exist yet.

Cameras

Being a mid-range device, I really wasn’t expecting much from the cameras on this phone. Like pretty much every other cheap phone out there, you get a useless macro camera and a dedicated depth sensor rather than a zoom camera. That being said, the 64MP main camera and the 12MP ultrawide manage to deliver some impressive shots when compared to other devices within the category.

I was actually surprised to see that the dynamic range in the shots captured by the main camera matched what you can get out of the Galaxy S21, brightening up the shadows significantly while still keeping the highlights in check. That’s definitely something you don’t see that often in a phone at this price point unless you’re walking about the Pixel 4a 5G.

The OIS on the main camera helps out quite a bit in low-light situations, but I don’t recommend using the ultrawide camera in the dark unless you have a tripod to set it on. Its performance admirably in well-lit conditions and its 123-degree field of view can capture some pretty dramatic shots.

For video capture, the two cameras on the back max out at 4k/30, but Samsung did also throw in their Super Steady video recording using the ultrawide camera which practically eliminated and camera movement, even while running.

As for the 32MP selfie camera, I was quite impressed with the results even in low light conditions and Samsung somehow manages to pull off 4K video capture with the front-facing camera as well, a feature that most $1000 smartphones are still lacking these days.

Battery life

Battery life is pretty good with the 4500 mAh cell delivering between 6-8 hours of screen on time on a full charge. Most days I still had about a 25% charge when plugging the phone in at night. Those who use their phones less could squeeze out a day and a half of use if needed.

The phone does support 25W fast charging, but the included charger is limited to 15w which will get it from zero to 50% in about 45 minutes or a full charge in 100 minutes.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, I’m pretty impressed by what the Galaxy A52 has to offer. Sure there are quite a few smartphones from Chinese brands that deliver better specs at the same price, but if you’re in the US, the only real option that might be better at $500 is the Pixel 4a 5G.

There’s a noticeable gap in performance and camera quality between this phone and the Galaxy S21, but the $300 price difference definitely makes up for it, especially when you consider the improvements the A52 offers over last year’s model.

Samsung Galaxy A52 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50 (4.4 / 5)

The Good

  • Display
  • Rear Cameras
  • Battery life
  • Software updates

The Bad

  • Design
  • Selfie camera
  • Software experience

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy A52 doesn’t have the best cameras or performance within its category, but it’s an incredibly balanced device that delivers great value for buyers who simply want a device that will get the job done.