Most of the products that I review on this site are sent to me for free. While I objectively review these items and evaluate the value they provide, there isn’t the same emotional attachment as I have when I dig into my own pocket to purchase an item. When my previous smartphone unexpectedly died a couple of weeks ago, I had to rapidly assess the budget midrange offerings and make a choice. That choice was the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G. So why did I choose to spend my hard-earned on this phone over the (extensive) competition?
Disclosure – Blog of Dad has previously worked with Samsung products, but Samsung did not provide the Galaxy A52 4G for this review.
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G
The A52 4G is a wonderful device that has completely altered my perception of the budget-friendly Galaxy A-Series. Samsung have done an excellent job balancing quality features that combine to represent value that is hard to beat!
Solid camera performance
Extended software and security updates
Great battery life
Smooth Samsung Software with One UI 3.1 (Android 11)
No wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Budget and Value
The budget end of the midrange Android market is my hunting ground and it has served me well for many years. Like many dads, I have neither the money, nor the inclination to spend thousands of dollars on a flagship phone. With the current economic situation and covid-induced job uncertainty that has dominated much of the past two years, the desire for many to find a phone that offers true value is stronger than ever.
Mobile phone makers have responded to increasing demand in this segment by releasing increasing impressive Android handsets at increasing impressive prices. To say there is plenty of choice is an understatement! As always, when there is an abundance of choice, heads begins to spin as shoppers try to wade through an overload of specifications and sales pitches.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G isn’t the cheapest phone in this segment. Nor does it offer the best specifications (on paper). In fact, for a long time I have personally viewed the Samsung Galaxy A-Series as overpriced and underwhelming. So what made me change my mind and fork out a few extra dollars for the new A52 over the competition?
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Specifications
Specifications in this price range are all about balance. With a lot of handsets, I was wowed by one particular feature (the camera, for example), only to notice that another feature was less-than impressive (often the CPU, RAM or display).
While the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G isn’t necessarily a leader in most of its specifications, the following items combine to make one of the most well-rounded offerings in the segment.
Processor and RAM
The Snapdragon 720G isn’t the most powerful processor available in budget midrange handsets, but it is an intelligent option for this well-rounded smartphone. This octa-core chip packs 2x Kryo 465 Gold running at up to 2.3 GHz. These high powered chips do the heavy lifting, while the 6x Kryo 465 Silver at up to 1.8 GHz ensure a smooth and efficient experience with other tasks. The 8nm Samsung architecture provides solid performance with great power efficiency.
Graphics on the Snapdragon 720G are powered by the Adreno 618 – a respectable GPU that has been around for a couple of years in upper mid-range devices.
During my use I have found the 720G snappy and responsive in all of my real-world testing. This has included web-browsing, infinite social media scrolling, writing this article, a variety of app use, camera use and mobile gaming.
Scrolling is smooth and switching rapidly between apps doesn’t faze the phone, nor does an extended period gaming in Call of Duty Mobile. Occasionally I notice a small amount of lag when quickly scrolling through websites, but this could be down to my internet connection as much as the CPU.
The processor doesn’t work in isolation and it is the balance with other components that ultimately produces such a smooth experience. The 8GB of RAM certainly does its part in delivering the snappy performance and ensuring apps open quickly. In fact, the class-leading RAM allocation of the A52 4G was a key factor in my purchasing decision. I believe this places the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G in a strong position to last the 3-4 years – a lifespan that I expect from my mobile phones.
Samsung know a thing or two about making quality displays and their know-how is on show with the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G. Where much of the competition in this price range packs decent FHD+ IPS displays, Samsung have stepped things up a notch with a beautiful 6.5 inch, 1080 × 2400 (FHD+) Super AMOLED offering. Up to 800 nits brightness is very welcome on a phone in this range and it all makes for a thoroughly enjoyable screen experience.
AMOLED displays are commonplace in the top end of town and it is nice to see it in an affordable mid-range option. On the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G, the AMOLED provides pleasing vibrant colours and deep blacks. It certainly feels like a step up from my previous IPS display.
Text on websites and in documents is crisp and easy to read. Photos are bright and vibrant, even in outdoor use. Video content is also a joy to view on this screen, with YouTube trailers for the new Top Gun and The Batman movies looking fantastic! The only minor issue that I noticed was a bit of reflection off the screen when viewing some dark content in certain light but it wasn’t enough to significantly annoy me or ruin the experience.
The 90Hz “Real Smooth” speed of the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G display is another great feature at this price point. Again, there are others at this price point with up to 120Hz, but they don’t offer the same brilliant AMOLED display of the A52. The balance of features on this display is excellent!
The touch overlay is responsive and accurate. My only issue has been learning the layout of the Samsung keyboard, which differs slightly to my previous stock Android 10 experience. I actually like the layout, but for some reason I tend to hit the full stop button when aiming for the space bar. I am slowly learning, but it has made writing this review take a little longer! Otherwise, I find typing fast and accurate on the A52 display.
I enjoy photography and have invested a significant amount in a multi-lens DSLR system over many years. While it goes without saying that a smartphone is not a DLSR, I find the big bulky camera rarely finds its way out on family outings.
A smartphone camera is just so convenient! Especially when it comes to juggling the amount of gear that is part of any outing with two small children. Over the past five years I have found myself more and more willing to sacrifice some photo quality for the greater convenience. As it is now effectively the primary shooter for recording precious family moments, a quality camera setup is an attractive feature that I look for in my phones.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G packs an impressive array of lenses into its rear camera. There is a 64MP main lens with a F1.8 apature and optical image stabilisation. The ultrawide camera is an impressive 12MP F2.2 lens, which should offer a great step up from the underwhelming ultrawides that have plagued the midrange for the past few years.
A 5MP F2.4 macro lens is an intriguing inclusion, while a fourth 5MP lens acts as a depth sensor for implementing Samsung’s depth AI enhancements.
The front camera packs an impressive 32MP, which blows my mind just a little bit! Of course, pixel counts are just a number and what matters is what the phone does with them…
The following photos have been resized for publication, but are otherwise unedited unless stated.
The main camera takes detailed and vibrant wide photos. In my test photos, I was impressed by the quality on offer. Zooming in on these photos reveals some signs of processing and sharpening, but overall the result is very pleasing!
The lighting was definitely favourable during my outing, which helps to produce impressive photos. But the main camera of the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G is also impressive in less than ideal conditions. Inside photos under artificial lighting came out better than expected, and certainly better than my other phone cameras in the past. They aren’t all amazing, but the potential is there for family album-worthy photos (see piano key photos below).
64MP might not be the highest available in the mobile phone market, but in this price range it is above average. Samsung’s flagship phones have a strong reputation for impressive mobile photography and it is great to see their hardware and software know-how trickling down to the budget mid-range!
I was particularly impressed with the 2x digital zoom quality. One advantage of having so many megapixels to play with is digital zoom that still looks good! Even the 4x zoom is reasonable in the right conditions, while the 10x zoom is definitely pushing it. In real world use, I can see myself using the 2x zoom quite a bit.
The ultrawide button switches lenses to the 12MP shooter. On screen I didn’t notice a significant drop in quality (as has been the case on other smartphones). In fact, the image produced is quite pleasing!
The 123 degree angle is great to have. It makes framing great landscapes easy, but with a little practice it is also awesome for capturing the kids in the foreground while also showing the background. I really love capturing moments such as playing on the beach in this way. While the unedited photos are pretty impressive on their own, I did find that a few minor adjustments could be applied to really make them pop!
Macro photography is an artform that that requires practice and great patience. I have owned a DLSR macro lens for several years and it is without doubt my hardest lens to master. That being said, I love what macro photography can achieve and there is something extremely satisfying in getting it right!
The inclusion of the macro lens on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G is something I am really excited about, but I also think it may be a source of frustration for many users. Working with a narrow depth of field is tricky enough through a viewfinder, so don’t expect to nail every attempt when using a phone screen!
The results, when done right, are surprisingly good! The detail on some of the tiny flowers (above) was well beyond what I could easily perceive with the naked eye. Samsung have tried to assist photographers by providing on-screen distance guidance, but practice will make perfect when it comes to understanding just how close 1-5 cm is!
On some occasions, the main shooter ended up being the better option for capturing crisp, detailed images of plants. This amazing plant growing out of a bed of moss (Google tells me it might be carnivorous) was far easier to capture with the main lens.
Front Facing Camera
32MP seems like a ridiculous amount for a front facing camera, but I guess some people use theirs a whole lot more than I do. I’m also not a fan of the unnecessary smoothing effects that are often automatically applied these days, although on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G the default settings are reasonably subtle.
With all filters off I am really happy with the quality on offer. Selfie photos of just me come out with a pleasing amount of detail and sharpness in moderate light.
In Full mode, the camera has a neat trick whereby it automatically expands the field of view when there are more people in the photo. This is useful when my children decide to join the shot, or for taking whole-family snaps. In reality, it is just some clever auto-cropping software and neither view is taking full advantage of the 32MP on offer. I prefer to keep my front camera set to the highest quality image. It is a better quality photo and I can always crop it later.
Samsung have included a wealth of settings and features to explore in the phone app and, to be honest, I’m probably just scratching the surface. I have had some fun quickly looking through some of the other modes, but in my experience the basic features mentioned above are the way I will shoot 99% if the time. I am very impressed with what I have seen so far – especially considering that the A52 is a budget mid-range phone!
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Sound Quality
Mobile phones are not exactly renowned for the sound quality of their built-in speakers, nor are they expected to be. Most people use headphones (thankfully there is still a wired headphones input on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G!) for any meaningful listening, but there are still occasions when the speakers come in to play.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G uses a stereo setup (top and bottom speakers) to produce a pleasing listening experience. I used free Spotify to test the sound quality, as this likely reflects the listening experience for most users.
Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) the dock of the Bay came through in surprisingly pleasing fidelity at personal listening volume, with both the voice and instruments sounding crisp and clear. Even the ocean sounds in the background of the track came through nicely!
INXS can rattle a few speakers, but New Sensation could be set to a reasonable volume before significant distortion crept in. The speakers of the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G even did an admirable job of presenting Cry Baby, with Janis Joplin’s high notes coming through loud and clear over the top of some enthusiastic drums.
Obviuosly the speakers of the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G aren’t out to rival dedicated speakers in terms of bass, range or volume, but for personal listening to music, movies or games they have exceeded my expectations. It is good enough to not immediately reach for the headphones whenever I sit down to relax, which is refreshing!
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Phone Call Quality
Call me old fashioned, but the number one thing that frustrates me about smartphone reviews these days is that call quality rarely gets a mention. Now, I know that the kids of 2021 have shunned verbal communication in favour of interpretative dance via dubious forms of social media and that a ringing phone is met (somewhat ironically) with fear and deep distrust, but for us old-timers actually speaking to someone on a phone is important! Back in my day, THAT’S ALL A PHONE DID!
Old man rant out of the way, the call quality on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G has been excellent! With lockdowns in full swing over the past few weeks, I have relied heavily on making voice calls for both work and keeping in touch with family. The A52 seems to maintain a stronger connection than my previous phone and both the microphone and speaker come through crystal clear.
My previous phone also had an incredibly annoying quirk where it would lag when a call came through. The result was that, by the time I had coaxed the phone into reaching the call screen, more often than not I had missed the chance to actually answer it. The software on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G is silky smooth and has given me no such dramas.
Frankly, it is nice to have a phone that functions properly as a phone!
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Video Call Quality
My kids love using Google Duo to see their grandparents every few days and I think it is a fantastic app! The front-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G provides a crisp, clear picture and the large AMOLED display means we can all get a clear view.
One quirk of Duo is that it seems to behave slightly differently on each handset. It is packed full of Augmented Reality goodies on the A52 and my kids love using them with their grandparents! It is a great feature and one that helps us feel a bit closer while lockdowns keep us from physically seeing each other.
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Gaming and General User Experience
I use my phone for a lot of different things. These include work (I am writing this review on it), internet scrolling, various apps and gaming.
Apps consistently open quickly and run smoothly. The processor might not be from the top end of town, but when combined with a generous 8 GB of RAM it consistently serves up a very pleasing experience. Hats off to Samsung’s excellent interface, which seems to have refined the Android 11 experience into something particularly polished. After a year-and-a-half on an Android One-based handset, I am Impressed by how much better the Samsung experience is!
Flicking quickly between apps is fast and smooth, to the extent that I find it really hard to imagine paying more than double for a flagship experience.
Gaming is equally impressive. The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G connects quickly to my GameSir X2 Bluetooth controller and the large AMOLED display running at 90Hz is glorious! The experience genuinely feels like a premium handheld console and, for someone who has been hand-held gaming since the Game & Watch days it is mind-blowing!
My latest addiction, Call of Duty Mobile, is incredible fun and it runs beautifully on the A52. The smooth game play offered by the A52, combined with the excellent controls of the GameSir X2 Bluetooth, sure does feel like it gives me a competitive advantage!
Another thing to consider is the great levelling effect that cloud gaming may have on mobile gaming more broadly. The Project xCloud beta has blown my mind in terms of what mobile gaming can be, and a powerful device isn’t required to take full advantage of the service. A 90Hz FHD+ AMOLED display, however, can make that cloud-based content look spectacular!
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Battery and Charging
I charged the battery to full last night. It is now 8 p.m. and I am sitting on 52% charge. It has been a lazy, rainy Saturday at home, so my phone use has included a couple of solid hours of internet and social media browsing, writing a good chunk of this article, online shopping in eBay, Amazon and Ikea apps, some Spotify music control (via a Google Assistant Speaker), messaging, controlling the robot vacuum and one or two other things that I have probably forgotten.
On work days, where I spend far less time on my phone, two days from a full charge is no only quite possible, it is a regular occurrence!
4500mAh isn’t quite class leading, but it is big and the efficient Snapdragon processor of the A52 means that it lasts. Samsung also have some clever battery optimisation built in to their operating system, which helps the juice go even further.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G is capable of fast charging of 25W fast charging, although the included charger doesn’t actually reach those lofty heights. Again – charging speed is not class leading, but it is certainly good enough for my needs. This is especially true as the A52 battery lasts so long, which means I haven’t found myself in need of too many emergency to ups.
The one charging feature people might miss is wireless charging. The lack of it makes little difference to me as I have no problem with plugging in the USB Type-C cable whenever necessary, but I do recognise that it might bother some. When I consider the price of the Galaxy A52, it’s a compromise I’m happy Samsung made.
Samsung Galaxy A52 4G – Longevity
This was the part that really got the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G over the line. As I have mentioned above, I purchase phones with a view to 3-4 years of enjoyable use. If it lasts longer – great! But phones that fall short of three years usability leave a bad taste in my mouth. It’s bad for the environment and bad for my hip pocket.
Previously I had opted for a phone from the Android One program (not to be confused with the excellent Samsung One UI), which promised big things regarding system updates, but in reality fell well short. I still had not received an update to Android 11 by the time the phone died – an operating system that was released a year ago and is about to be superseded.
Samsung, on the other hand, have a reputation for both timely updates and a refined Android experience.
Furthermore, Samsung have recently made commitments to provide three generations of Android updates to selected Galaxy models. This includes the A52. Security updates will be available for a further year, giving a total of four years support. That is outstanding, especially in an Android environment where OS updates in the midrange are extremely hit and miss. Some competitors commit to just one generation of OS updates, while others still make it near impossible to find this information.
In addition to the excellent software longevity, Samsung have included an IP67 water resistant rating. Again, this is unusual at this price point, but very welcome! The Samsung Galaxy A52 4G also comes with a pre-applied screen protector. This is a nice touch and it saved me the tedious task of having to apply my own.
If I think about it, there are aspects of this phone that I haven’t even touched on yet. The storage size is good, the USB Type-C connectivity is good, One UI is fantastic, the Wi-Fi connectivity is robust… the list goes on. I could happily talk about this phone all day!
What I have presented in this review are the characteristics of the Samsung Galaxy A52 4G that helped it to stand out in a crowded field and convinced me to purchase it. The A52 4G is a wonderful device that has completely altered my perception of the budget-friendly Galaxy A-Series. I am thrilled with my purchase and look forward to many years of enjoyable time with the Galaxy A52 ahead!