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Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: Solid mid-range option for the long term

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The Galaxy A51 was one of Samsung’s most successful smartphones ever released, offering a good price-performance ratio. This idea is supposedly improved upon further with the release of the Galaxy A52 5G, while offering a glimpse into what a future-proof handset would look like. NextPit reviewed this smartphone that promises to come with up to four years of security updates. Find out what we think below.

Good

  • Great looking 120 Hz AMOLED display
  • Good battery life
  • Good main camera performance
  • IP certified
  • 4 years of security updates

Bad

  • Secondary cameras fail to deliver
  • Processor hits a wall quickly
  • Fast charging technology lags behind the competition
  • No telephoto camera

Short conclusion: A solid device but don’t expect too much from it

Good performance, solid build quality, 4 years of security-updates, a really impressive battery life, and an exceptional display — Samsung’s new mid-range star still definitely delivers as a solid all-round performer. However, I’m missing the extra-bit of innovation that would make the Galaxy A52 5G a real insider-tip under $500. With a price-tag of $499.99 it’s not a real bang for the buck as well.

The quad-camera on the back isn’t really helping here as it’s the standard fake-quad-setup we see in many midrangers. The two macro and depth sensors serve very little purpose in everyday use – apart from allowing Samsung to advertise a quad-camera of course. This is pretty much consistent for smartphones that cost $500 or less but Samsung has definitely seen better days with a multi-camera implementation that actually delivers, such as the telephoto lens in the Galaxy A72.

If you’re looking for something exciting and / or a real powerhouse under $500, I’d advise you to keep on searching. The Galaxy A52 5G is guided more towards solid quality and longevity rather than exceeding in Mobile Games or record-breaking benchmarks. This is something most users won’t have a problem but – the only problems in real-life-scenarios occurred while creating Samsung’s AR-Emojis – but I’ll tell you more about that later.

Display and ergonomics

Let us begin with one of the real highlights of the Galaxy A52 5G, shall we? The 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution and a refresh rate of 120 Hertz is nothing to be sneezed at.
Although the display is the same size as its predecessor, the Galaxy A52 5G is still slightly larger overall than the Galaxy A51, measuring 75.1 x 159.9 x 8.4 millimeters. It is also heftier at 189 grams.

What I liked:

  • Super bright and fluid display.
  • Tiny notch.
  • IP67 rating.
  • Solid build quality despite sporting a plastic case.
  • Highly tactile and responsive buttons.

What I didn’t like:

  • Rather bland design.
  • No glass back.
  • Questionable vibration motor performance.

Samsung primarily churns out displays as well as smartphones, having supplied Apple with its OLED panels in the past. This know-how can definitely be seen in Samsung’s range of more affordable handsets. As a result, you’ll not only find high-quality Super AMOLED panels in the expensive Galaxy S21 range, but also in the Galaxy A52 5G.

Thanks to the display technology used, the 6.5-inch display is nice and bright, and is visually on par with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of maximum brightness. While the FHD+ resolution lags behind the Apple flagship, the Galaxy A52 5G scores well with its high refresh rate.

All three of Samsung’s mid-range 2021 smartphones shine in the display department with a 120 Hertz refresh rate, and anyone viewing these displays will experience especially fluid scrolling. Everything that you see, from menus to system animations, is buttery smooth. I adamantly claim to be able to tell a difference between 120 Hz and 60 Hz, this feature remains less relevant to many NextPit readers. Why not check out our Slack Fight:  60 Hz OLED vs. 120 Hz LCD display story?

NextPit Samsung Galaxy A52 side
The Galaxy A52 5G is thicker than the A51 / © NextPit

The display will of course, largely determines the feel of a smartphone. At 6.5-inches, the smartphone retains a good mix of being fairly large yet compact in certain aspects. However, it has gained some thickness, growing to 8.4 millimeters, making it feel rather chunky. The high-quality build and 189 grams of weight do make it feel as though this is a premium handset even when it is not. 

However, this notion of a premium handset is thrown out of the window when you turn on the phone. Samsung used such a powerful vibration motor that I would have preferred to turn it off completely. The buttons on the right side do not exude a sense of confidence when you press them. Another small shortcoming of this handset: if you hold the phone in your hand, you might cover the microphone that is located at the bottom. I had to re-record some WhatsApp voice messages using a different position as a result of the microphone placement.

Finally: The Galaxy A52 (5G) is IP67 certified, letting you use it in the rain or carry out a conversation while you are in the shower, although the chances of both instances happening are rather slim for the Average Joe. Still, it is a useful feature to have, as you can never tell when a glass of water might spill over your handset accidentally.

In summary, the Galaxy A52 offers one of the best displays I’ve seen in the mid-range smartphone segment. While Realme has reduced the high refresh rate in the Realme 8 Pro, Samsung is striking ahead at 120 Hertz. A good decision that is accompanied by a decent build quality and a rather overenthusiastic vibration motor.

Processing power and gaming performance

Samsung powers this 5G-capable model with a Snapdragon 750G chipset, a mid-range SoC from last year that was manufactured using the 8-nanometer process.
This octa-core processor offers a maximum clock speed of 2.3 Gigahertz and is mated to 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of internal storage.

What I liked:

  • 5G ready.
  • Good speaker performance.
  • NFC support.
  • 3.5millimeter headphone jack.
  • Expandable memory.

What I didn’t like:

  • Less than capable performance.
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support.
  • Only Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G also sees action in the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite and the Motorola Moto G 5G, among others. The “G” suffix stands for gaming and should therefore be able to handle mobile games such as PUBG or Call of Duty: Mobile easily. In reality, the SoC hit the limits of its performance capability rather quickly. 

NextPit Samsung Galaxy A52 front camera
The punch-hole of the Infinity-O display is really tiny / © NextPit

For example, I used the Galaxy A52 5G to create a “How To” story on how you can use Memojis on Android smartphones. Because Samsung offers AR emojis, this alone caused the smartphone to hit a performance wall. The AR app stuttered constantly, resulting in a drop in system performance which continued even after killing the app. 

Mobile games like PUBG remain playable, though, but you’ll have to contend with fairly long load times and turn down the graphics settings a notch. Just to get a better idea of its performance and capability, here are some benchmark results.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G benchmark results

Benchmark Geekbench 5 CPU Geekbench 5 Compute 3D Mark WildLife 3D Mark Wildlife Stress Test
Galaxy A52 5G 620 / 1740 1312 1.090 at 6.5 FPS Best run: 1.093
Lowest run: 1,090

Apart from the SoC with its 5G support, Samsung has also included GPS, Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standards. While Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6 are still more likely to be found in flagships, Bluetooth 5.1 would have been a nice addition. However, it is nice that there is an NFC sensor, with which you can also use the Galaxy A52 5G for mobile payments.

The Galaxy A52 5G has one advantage over the Samsung Galaxy S21: Should the 256 GB of internal storage be insufficient for you, there is salvation yet in the form of a microSD memory card slot, paving the way for yet another 512 GB of storage space.

Technically, the Galaxy A52 5G doesn’t really stand out. This is a mid-range SoC with 5G support that is enough for casual mobile gaming. However, the eight processors sometimes reached their limits in everyday use. It is great that Samsung retained the microSD slot in this mid-range handset.

Camera performance: Where’s the telephoto lens, Samsung?

A quad-camera setup with a 64-megapixel main sensor is mounted at the Galaxy A52 (5G)’s back panel.
One highlight to take note of here is the optical image stabilization, but unfortunately, there is nothing else outstanding about it. You get a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor as well as depth and macro sensors at 5-megapixels resolution each, and a 32-megapixel fixed-focus selfie cam.

What I liked:

  • Optical image stabilization.
  • Cool Samsung features such as single take and pro video included.
  • Pretty colors and good HDR during the day.
  • Decent night shots at times.

What I didn’t like:

  • No telephoto lens although the Galaxy A72 has one.
  • The selfie camera has no autofocus.

It’s best not to even look at the camera specifications on mid-range smartphones before taking your first photos. Yes, it’s quite common to trumpet a quad-camera setup by throwing in two main cameras, in addition to low-res depth and macro cameras. But with Samsung, things get depressing with this model. That is because the Galaxy A72 saw Samsung include an 8-megapixel 3x telephoto lens instead of the depth sensor. This is particularly annoying for those who love using 6.5-inch sized smartphones!

NextPit Samsung Galaxy A52 camera
The quad-camera setup at the back / © NextPit

The telephoto lens would have been a nice upgrade to have compared to its predecessor, so I guess users will have to be content with the inclusion of optical image stabilization. However, the best way to find out just how well it performs is by taking photos.

Daytime shots with zoom and HDR shots

The first bunch of shots had a bright start, as bright as the sunshine that casts itself over Berlin in April! Poetic, isn’t it? Indeed, the main and wide-angle cameras in the Galaxy A52 5G left me buzzing with positive feelings. I like what Samsung did with the colors, especially the HDR shots that look great even with a direct backlight.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Zoom Comparison NextPit
There are strong color differences between the ultra-wide-angle camera and the main camera / © NextPit

However, you have to expect a strong color difference when switching to the ultra-wide-angle camera. Take a look at the sky in the picture, it is starkly more blue with the primary camera. Generally, the smartphone draws a white shimmer around buildings, possibly because the sky’s color is changed a bit during post-processing.

I don’t really recommend zooming in with the Galaxy A52 5G. The results might look okay at first glance, but details tend to go missing when you zoom in further.

Samsung Galaxy A52 HDR NextPit
Samsung’s HDR mode once again convinces / © NextPit

The Galaxy A52 5G masters the hugely popular HDR shots rather well. The writing in the picture is clearly legible, even when the sun shines directly into the 64 MP camera.

Portrait mode and night mode

Samsung never fails to impress me with its top-notch portrait mode for non-human subjects. What was excellent in the camera comparison between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Find X3 Pro remains great when shot using the A52 5G!

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Portrait Makro Comparison NextPit
The A52 scores well with portraits (top left). Unfortunately, the night mode isn’t that great / © NextPit

But perhaps the monster in the lower-left corner image caught your eye. Granted, the shot was taken after a super long day including live coverage of the new iPad models and all the other Spring Loaded event highlights. Even so, the front camera’s quality at night still disappoints.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Night Mode Comparison NextPit
Left without night mode – right with! / © NextPit

Basically, the night mode does clean things up a bit. The smartphone captures plenty of details in dark areas such as this streetlamp shot. However, you’ll need to have a really steady hand, as the Galaxy A52 5G does increase exposure for quite a long time.

Samsung Galaxy A52 Night Mode NextPit
Picture mood in night mode / © NextPit

The Galaxy A52 5G is particularly good at creating a good image atmosphere at night. For this, however, you should look for subjects that ideally bring a bit of their light. That will allow the main camera to shine a bit more. If you remember my introduction in the camera section, you’ll have probably figured out why by now: this is where the optical image stabilization kicks in to keep the subject steady for a longer exposure period.

Overall, the 64 MP quad-camera setup in the Galaxy A52 5G is nothing special even with optical image stabilization. You’ll certainly be able to capture a few nice shots with the smartphone, but nothing more. The telephoto lens in the Galaxy A72 is the missing piece of the A52 puzzle! I would have liked to see at least that included in the 5G model.

Battery life: Long runtime with rather sluggish quick-charging

Somewhere in the Galaxy A52 5G lies a 4,500 mAh battery.
This battery can be recharged using a 25 W charger via Quick-Charging, and there is no wireless charging support. Objectively speaking, there is not much to say about this handset’s battery.

What I like:

  • Long-lasting battery even with a 120 Hz display.
  • Fast charging support.

What I didn’t like:

  • The now-outdated 25 W fast charging capability.
  • The lack of wireless charging support.

Time and again, battery life remains a hot topic among reviewers. This is because it’s not possible to an objective statement on a handset’s battery life as each owner’s usage pattern varies, from the casual to the power user. There are other variables to take into consideration including display brightness and refresh rates. 

As for my usage pattern, I normally check for new messages in WhatsApp when I wake up and browse through some news pages via my browser. Throughout the day at work, I snap some photos, enjoy some music streaming, and consistently remain in touch with others via WhatsApp. Winding down in the evening, I indulge in a bit of YouTube and enable GPS to track my jogging route. Referring to my battery log results, it looks like this.

NextPit Samsung Galaxy A52 usb
The Galaxy A52 charges using a USB-C port / © NextPit

I did not run into issues of having to charge my handset halfway through the workday with the Galaxy A52 5G. Normally by 10pm, I still had around 20 percent of remaining battery life. This is good enough for me, taking into consideration the high refresh rate that ran constantly right out of the box.

Device Time Galaxy A52
I bare everything: That’s how much I’m hooked on my phone! / © NextPit

Fast charging at  25 W is considered rather slow by today’s standards, though. Even though quick-charging shouldn’t result in many problems with battery degradation in the first two years of your smartphone’s life, Samsung intends for this handset to last longer by promising up to four years of security updates.

While Samsung technically remains behind other manufacturers with 25 W fast charging support- the Realme 8 Pro with 50-watt SuperDart Charge comes to mind – this approach is definitely more sustainable. However, the charging times do end up relatively longer than usual, requiring up to two hours for a full charge.

The battery in the Galaxy A52 5G easily saw me through a full day of use and even made concessions for “wireless YouTube watching” in the evening when in bed, since there was still less than 20 percent of remaining battery life. Quick-charging isn’t exactly fast, but it’s more than adequate considering the four-year software update guarantee.

Other things that you might be interested to know

Here are a few worthy mentions that I noticed about the Galaxy A52 5G:

  • The stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos do a good job. Kiss goodbye to the Bluetooth speaker in the bathroom, I shower 21st century-style now.
  • Comes in Awesome White, Awesome Black, Awesome Blue, Awesome Violet colors.
  • Has a 3.5 mm jack.
  • The in-display fingerprint sensor isn’t particularly accurate. I often had to reposition my thumb to unlock it.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G technical specifications

At a glance: What’s inside the Galaxy A52 5G

 
Model Galaxy A52 5G
Processor 8 nm Octa-Core processor (2x 2.2Ghz + 6x 1.8 GHz)
Memory 6 or 8 GB / 128 or 256 GB
Expandable memory Yes, microSD up to 1 TB
Connectivity 5G, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Display 6.5 inches, Super AMOLED, FHD+, 120Hz
Size 75.1 x 159.9 x 8.4 mm
Weight 189 grams
Camera Main: 64MP with f/1.8 and OIS / Ultra-wide: 12MP with f/2.2 / Depth: 5MP with f/2.4 / Macro : 5MP with f/2.4 / Selfies: 32MP without AF
Battery capacity 4,500 mAh
Charging technologies 25 W Quick-Charging
Audio Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos / 3.5 mm headphone jack
IP Certification IP 67 rated
Operating System Android 11 with 4 years of security updates
Colors Awesome Violet, Awesome Blue,
Awesome Black, Awesome White
Price $499.99

Conclusion: Is the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G good?

Rarely have I gotten used to a new smartphone as quickly as I did with the Galaxy A52 5G. It simply worked, and at the same time, there was very little on it that I wanted to revisit. YouTube videos: They look just fine. Photos: look pretty good, too. Mobile games: they run perfectly fine. Everything seems to tick the right boxes, for now!

For the Galaxy A52 5G to end up as a kind of “nothing special smartphone”, I find that to be a bit of a shame. After all, the Galaxy A51 seemed so special when it was first released, touted to be the new mid-range smartphone star. I would have liked to see the telephoto lens of the A72 make its way into this model, apart from the 120 Hertz refresh rate (which is only available in the 5G model), the IP certification, and the optical image stabilization in the main camera.

Maybe that would have helped me out better when it comes to figuring where the Galaxy A52 5G fits in the big picture. Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely recommend buying the smartphone. But if you prefer something more exciting and thrilling, then this might not be the ideal device for you. The Galaxy A52 5G is more of an ambassador of “a phone that simply works” in this case.

 

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