We get pretty aroused when a replacement , premium smartphone shows up. And I’d be lying if I said twiddling with expensive hardware wasn’t one among the simplest parts of this job. It’s especially nice because, more often than not, the last item i would like to try to to is buy a number of the items we test.
Which brings me to a crucial question: what proportion should anyone actually distribute for a replacement smartphone? The short answer is “as very much like you’re comfortable with.” Thankfully, companies are working to form their cheaper devices flashier than ever. Case in point: I’ve spent a couple of days with Samsung’s new A52 5G, and while it'd not satisfy those with flagship tastes, it gets pretty close sometimes.
You’d expect a $500 smartphone to be rife with compromises, and you’d be right. While Samsung’s cringe-worthy launch event showed off the A52 5G during a few “awesome” hues, only the plain black model is coming to the US, and its mostly plastic body doesn’t inspire plenty of confidence. Granted, it packs a refined aluminum frame and it’s rated IP67 for water and mud resistance, but that matte black finish picks up fingerprints like no one’s business. And I’ve already put a couple of distracting nicks into its cover slip . There’s no wireless charging here either, and therefore the pack-in power adapter is restricted to charging speeds of 15W. That’s great , but you’re certain a wait once you plug this thing into the wall.
But in other ways, the A52 5G manages to punch above its weight. For one, it's a correct headphone jack, a feature about extinct in additional expensive models. The clearest example here, though, is Samsung’s choice of screen: a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED panel running at 1080x2400. Beyond the immediate benefits an enormous screen offers, it had been generally bright enough to be visible under the tough Oakland sun. That said, this screen is super-reflective, so some people will have trouble seeing it well no matter brightness.
Like a number of Samsung’s costlier displays, it features a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz for ultra-smooth action on screen. That said, it doesn’t pack an equivalent clever on-the-fly refresh rate switching you’ll find in devices just like the Galaxy S21 series. It’s set to the complete 120Hz out of the box, but you'll manually dial it right down to a more commonplace 60Hz for improved battery life. Oh, and there’s not much to stress about if you’re wary of massive cut-outs for front-facing cameras either; the opening Samsung wont to accommodate its 32-megapixel sensor is pleasantly tiny.
Speaking of cameras, the A52 also features a flexible quad-sensor array sitting high on its back. You’ll probably spend most of some time with the 64-megapixel main sensor which, in typical Samsung fashion, produces vivid, eye-catching 16-megapixel stills when shooting in bright conditions. (If you actually wanted to, you'll shoot 4:3 photos at 32-megapixels but it’s usually not worthwhile unless you propose to tweak the image in post and print it out.) Thankfully, low-light performance has been surprisingly solid too, and Samsung’s Night mode generally does an honest job combating noise.
Now, I didn’t have my complement of comparison devices to check the A52’s, and that’s partially why I don’t consider this a full-fledged review. Still, considering its mid-range ambitions, the A52’s primary sensor hasn’t left me wanting. Of course, tons of that boils right down to personal preference.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand Samsung’s aggressive approach to colours , and as was common , the A52’s photos are punchier and more contrasty than real world . Photographers who’d prefer a more neutral approach may walk off disappointed, but i think most of the people buying phones on a budget won’t mind an excessive amount of .
That said, there are still a couple of other cameras we'd like to speak about. The 12-megapixel ultra-wide does a commendable job capturing more expansive scenes, but the sensor’s limited resolution means you almost certainly won’t find much within the way of fine detail. It’s especially bad in low-light. Samsung’s image processing expertise couldn’t prevent noise from creeping into images shot in the dark .
Rounding out the package may be a solid 5-megapixel macro camera for shooting exceptionally close images (though, I don’t know anyone who uses features like this regularly) and a 5-megapixel sensor for capturing depth data. You can’t shoot directly thereupon depth camera; instead, Samsung uses it to raised isolate people from the background for portrait photos. It also plays a crucial role within the camera’s “Fun” mode, which you'll use to color people in photos with layers of virtual makeup and accessories. All of the Snapchat-developer filters I’ve tried thus far do exactly what they promise, but let’s be real — this feature is clearly for the young and young-at-heart. (Unfortunately, i'm neither.)
Ultimately, none of this is able to matter if the A52 ran sort of a dog, but Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G chipset does a good job keeping everything running at a solid clip. That said, i think the 6GB of RAM Samsung went with here holds things back a touch . Jumping between apps and minimizing YouTube videos is usually interrupted by noticeable lag. On the entire , though, the A52 has been quite competent at maintaining with my frenzied Slacking and prolonged periods of playing Lichtspeer poorly.
With that in mind, Samsung’s software continues to be a source of confusion. I don’t mean that One UI is difficult to wrap your head around — it isn’t. Really, it’s the small things that still feel unpleasant and bizarre . nobody wants ads in their stock weather app, as an example , but Samsung shoves them in there anyway. And while using the A52’s big screen to its fullest about demands gesture navigation, it isn’t on by default — you’ll need to jump into the phone’s settings to modify faraway from Samsung’s classic (and arguably dated) three-button navigation scheme.
Normally, this is often where I’d moan about Samsung’s lackluster long-term software support, but a minimum of that's changing. the corporate confirmed earlier this month that, like its portfolio of premium phones, the A52 5G will get three years of full Android updates — meaning this Android 11 phone should get the Android 14 update. Well, eventually anyway. (Compared to other smartphone makers, Samsung remains pretty slow at producing those updates and getting them certified and distributed.)
Now, because I’ve only had the A52 for a couple of days, there are some things I haven’t been ready to test as thoroughly as I’d like. For one, the phone’s 4,500mAh battery has been quite enough to urge through full working days — even with the screen’s refresh rate set to its full 120Hz — but I’m waiting to urge a far better sense of how far I can push the phone before it conks out. And if I’m honest, testing 5G within the Bay Area hasn’t been great either. this is often a purely sub-6 5G device, which isn’t unusual for phones during this price range, but quite a couple of times I struggled to seek out a 5G signal outside San Francisco proper.
Ultimately, how impressive the A52 5G really is quite depends on what you’re comparing it against. Apple’s answer to those sorts of high-powered, low-cost Android phones is that the 2020 iPhone SE, which pairs a design straight out of 2016 with one among the company’s most powerful mobile chipsets, the A13 Bionic. What the iPhone SE lacks a la mode it makes up for with nearly flagship-grade performance that the A52 5G simply can’t match. but , it’s hard to argue with Samsung’s big, excellent screen and therefore the bevy of cameras around back. It’s a really flexible package for the worth , and deserve serious consideration if you’re of the Android persuasion.
And in fact , there’s our favourite inexpensive Android phone of the instant , Google’s $350 Pixel 4a. It too is sort of a touch smaller than the A52 5G, but its pair of rear cameras still shines because of Google’s well-honed computational photography chops. If it were me, I’d personally persist with a Pixel due to its remarkably clean software, but there’s still tons to love in Samsung’s maximal approach to its One UI interface.
So, supported these first impressions, would I actually buy an A52 5G? Honestly, probably not — and that’s all due to Samsung. i actually enjoyed last year’s S20 Fan Edition, with its high-powered Snapdragon 865 chipset and a camera setup copied almost directly from the remainder of the S20 lineup. The A52 would be an entire lot more tantalizing if deals thereon higher-performance device were hard to return by, but they’re not. As I write this, the comparable unlocked S20 FE sells for just $100 quite the A52 on Amazon, and you'll score even more significant savings if you had an old phone you don’t mind trading in. Like i discussed much earlier, it's worth buying the simplest phone you'll comfortably afford, and during this case the S20 FE's extra performance is nearly certainly well worth the splurge.
All told, the A52 is one among Samsung’s strongest mid-range options so far , and is certainly deserve your attention if you continue to shudder at the thought of dropping four figures on a phone. If you're fairly sure this phone goes to be your next purchase, just remember that point is your friend — the A52 may be a solid value buy now, but that deal will only get sweeter over time.