Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Review: Great for your wallet 

Mid-range king

The Pros

  • Affordable
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Good battery

The Cons

  • Lacks wireless charging
  • Cameras aren't great
  • Occasionally apps load in a bit slowly

Each year, Samsung launches a variety of handsets in Canada, including flagships like the Galaxy S series, Note series and foldables, along with more affordable devices like the Galaxy A series. While it might sound surprising, the difference between some of the smartphones in these two lines can sometimes be quite negligible.

The South Korean company is rumoured to have plans to get rid of its Note series this year, which, in some ways, is a positive move for the company since the S series is so similar. However, Samsung’s A series mid-range offerings are getting better every year, making it confusing for Canadian consumers to decide what Galaxy handset to purchase.

Samsung’s Galaxy A52 5G is its latest mid-range smartphone, and for the affordable price of $659.99, it’s the ideal handset for anyone who wants a stellar smartphone experience but also aims to save money.

Samsung S21-like design

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G looks like a mixture of its predecessor, the Galaxy A51, and the higher-end Galaxy S21.

Despite the A51 featuring a 6.5-inch display, the A52’s 6.5-inch panel is slightly larger, the bottom bezel is bigger, and the handset is a bit thicker. Further, the A52 5G is 0.17g heavier than the Galaxy A51. This could be because of the Galaxy A52 5G’s bigger 4,500mAh battery.

Otherwise, at least from the front, the handset looks roughly the same as the A51. The most significant difference is the device’s rear.

Similar to the Galaxy S21 and the Note 20, the A52 5G features a polycarbonate (plastic) backing.

Also on the rear is the smartphone’s quad-camera setup with four sensors and an LED flash. There isn’t anything striking about the camera setup; the sensors are large, but not garish, and I think it makes the mid-range device look stylish.

On the bottom of the handset, there’s a USB-C port, a single speaker grill and a very welcome 3.5mm headphone jack. I don’t even own a pair of wired headphones anymore, but for those who still do, it’s great to see Samsung is keeping the port around in its mid-range lineup. It also makes sense for Samsung to keep the headphone jack around on its mid-range smartphone line-up.

The A52 5G comes in an ‘Awesome Black’ colour in Canada that I prefer over the ‘Prism Crush Black’ colour the A51 series is available in.

120Hz mid-range screen

Flipping back to the device’s front, there’s the handset’s 1080 x 2400-pixel resolution display. The A52’s Super AMOLED panel offers deep blacks and bright whites, with both videos and images looking great. Its display is a good offering among other devices at its price range, especially considering its vibrance, clarity, detail, and 120Hz refresh rate.

That’s right, Samsung managed to add a 120Hz refresh rate to its mid-range smartphone this year, and at least in Canada, there are no mid-range phones with that refresh panel. The higher refresh rate makes scrolling and playing games a smoother experience and isn’t something you’d typically see in lower-priced handsets, especially not in Canada.

The most well-known mid-range smartphone that I can compare to the Galaxy A52 is the Pixel 5 and its 90Hz refresh rate, so Samsung’s handset has one up on Google’s flagship.

The mid-range-flagship experience

The Galaxy A52 features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G 5G upper mid-range processor, like the Motorola Moto G. I found that the phone was snappy and able to handle any task I put it through with ease, including scrolling through Instagram, writing notes in Keep, watching videos on YouTube, Netflix and Crunchyroll.

It’s surprising how good the experience is, and I could barely tell the difference between the A52’s Snapdragon 750G and the Galaxy S20+’s more powerful Snapdragon 865 processor.

Thanks to its 8GB of RAM, I don’t seem to have any issues with multitasking. Once in a while, an app will take a bit of time to launch, but for the most part, the experience is pretty quick and seamless.

I played a couple of rounds of League of Legends: Wild Rift without the device warming up or having any issues. It’s worth noting that the game only runs at 60Hz, so it doesn’t use the phone’s full capabilities.

Additionally, I ran some benchmarking on the A52 5G, and it received a single-core score of 637 and a multi-core score of 1834. To compare with the Pixel 5, and it only offered a single-core score of 589 and a multi-core score of 1603.

Samsung’s handset also features outstanding battery life. It’s worth noting that I only used the A52 5G on its 120Hz display refresh rate setting; therefore, I could have likely yielded better results if I switched it to its 60Hz. That said, with automatic brightness and playing a game or two of League of Legends: Wild Rift, watching a few videos on YouTube, and browsing through Instagram, reading tweets and answering text messages, I easily got a day of usage with some battery to spare.

If you’re going to be out the following day, I would recommend charging at night if you’re a heavy user. That said, overall, the Galaxy A52 features a very dependable battery.

Plus, if you’re not someone who cares for higher display refresh rates, you’ll experience better battery life. Unfortunately, the A52 5G lacks wireless charging but comes with a 15W charger that can charge about 50 percent of the handset’s battery within 35 minutes.

The A52 5G’s speakers can also get pretty loud. I can easily hear the mid-range device clearly in my room and even listen to music while washing the dishes. The phone typically peaks about 70-72 decibels, which I measured with the Sound Meter app. This is quite a bit louder than the Pixel 5, which typically piqued around 52 decibels. That said, the A52 5G’s stereo speakers still sound hollow and decidedly mid-range, but that can be said about plenty of smartphone speakers.

Less than stellar camera

The Galaxy A52 5G sports a quad-camera setup with a 64-megapixel primary shooter, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 5-megapixel macro lens and a 5-megapixel depth camera.

With the primary shooter, I found image oversaturated and not true-to-life, but that’s Samsung’s specialty in the camera space, and I’m sure some people have come to like this style of these images. This oversaturated look is especially noticeable in photos that feature the sky.

I find that details are also occasionally lost in images. You’ll notice that the leaves in trees or brickwork look too sharp, which indicates the lack of detail and the software trying to replicate it. This problem reminds me of LG’s flagship smartphones from 2020, like the LG V60 ThinQ, for example.

Ultrawide angle pictures lack detail as well. It’s not horrible, but in comparison to images from the Pixel 5, the A52 5G’s shots don’t look as good. What actually helps these images is how oversaturated they are because it distracts from the lack of detail. Some users will really dislike this look, but others might not have an issue.

The A52 doesn’t feature a telephoto camera, similar to the Pixel 5. It’s worth noting that anything more than a 2x optical zoom is abysmal, but even without a telephoto lens, 2x zoom is passable.

Further, the A52 5G also sports a depth and macro shooter. These cameras work well and allow users to get really close to a subject or hide the background in an image.

Depth-wise, I’d say the Pixel 5 is better at understanding the picture’s focus and perfectly setting the depth-of-field in the background. The Galaxy A52, however, snaps more vibrant pictures, but unlike the Pixel 5, it sometimes uses the depth effect on the edges of the picture’s subject.

The low-light camera experience wasn’t great on the device as images look abnormally bright, and not very realistic. If you turn off the scene optimizer when taking images at night, it seems to make the picture look less enhanced and artificial.

Bang for your buck

Samsung’s Galaxy A52 5G the definition of a bang for your buck smartphone at $659. It features good battery life, operates smoothly and quickly, includes a flagship-level design and a 120Hz refresh rate display.

Comparing it to the Pixel 5 -- another very reasonably priced option -- the A52 offers a larger display and a higher display refresh rate. However, the Pixel 5 gives the user a better camera experience, its Gorilla Glass 6 display feels better to the touch compared to the Gorilla Glass 5, and wireless charging.

If you’re looking for a smartphone that’s great for your wallet but still offers a good experience with decent specs and has a headphone jack, Samsung’s Galaxy A52 5G might be the device you’ve been waiting for.

"If you’re in the market for an affordable smartphone and not looking for the best specs or features, the Galaxy A52 5G might be the device you’re looking for"