Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Review: A Midrange Upgrade at a Price
Samsung owns the title for most popular premium Android smartphones in Canada, but its midrange devices have also created waves in the last few years. The new Galaxy A52 5G unites premium Samsung features, good performance, and a sub-$1,000 price tag for the Canadian market.
WhistleOut compared all four Samsung A-series smartphones released last year and found each to be a good value for the price, but the Galaxy A52 5G is priced higher. We test out the new upgrades and decide if the Samsung A-series still exhibits the same level of value it once did.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G at a Glance
What we love
- Great camera performance
- AMOLED 120Hz display
- Two-day battery
- New IP67 dust/water resistance
What we don’t like
- Subpar 3D gaming
- Ads in some pre-installed apps
- Price hike over last year’s model
Is the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G a Good Phone?
What Are the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Specs?
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Performance
There’s not much that stands out about the Galaxy A52’s performance, but that’s fine for many cell phone users. The Snapdragon 750G processor is commonly used for midrange smartphones and offers just enough speed to make it a worthy upgrade from your old premium smartphone. Scrolling through apps and social media feeds is smooth, and web pages load quickly.
However, we found that it underperformed compared to the TCL 20 Pro 5G一which uses the same CPU. Although the full HD AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate will attract gamers (we go into more detail about the display below), our testing with 3D gaming showed the processor couldn’t keep up. Even 2D games like Alto’s Odyssey and Among Us struggled to maintain 120 frames per second (fps). These games looked silky smooth after we disabled the high refresh rate setting and dropped it to an industry-standard 60Hz.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Cameras
Samsung is well known for its intelligent camera software and real-time effects. Owners enjoy a premium camera experience on this midrange smartphone. There are many premium camera features available on the Galaxy A52 5G for avid photographers, including:
- 4K video recording at 30fps
- Low-light capture
- Optical image stabilization (OIS)
- Ultra-wide and macro lenses
- High pixel count camera sensors
Some flagship smartphone features like 100x zoom and 8K video are absent. Still, any casual photographer will enjoy professional-quality photos that combine Samsung’s unique expertise and the Galaxy A52’s relatively low price point.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Display
The display is often one of the most attractive features of any Samsung smartphone, and that’s certainly the case for the Galaxy A52 5G. We like the large 6.5” screen with FullHD+ resolution and AMOLED display technology for high-quality colour reproduction. At maximum brightness, the screen shines at 800 nits, which is good enough to see it when outside on a sunny day, although you may need to shade the display to see detail.
Samsung includes an ultra-fast 120Hz refresh rate for buttery smooth scrolling but no HDR support for the premium display. As noted in the performance section above, the CPU isn’t fast enough to fully utilize the fast refresh rate in games, and the camera software only takes videos at 30fps-60fps. There’s little reason for this phone to have a 120Hz refresh rate, and we found performance and battery life improved when we disabled it in the settings.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Battery Life
Accompanying the large display is an equally large battery. The Galaxy A52 5G’s battery features a 4500 mAh typical capacity, which is one of the larger options on the market, especially at this price. With moderate use, it’s even possible to get a second day out of the battery. While testing, we found that the battery drained normally under regular use but used almost no power while the screen was turned off. That’s nice if you often forget to charge your phone or spend a lot of your day moving about.
It’s quick to charge the Galaxy A52 5G with 25W Super Fast charging, but you’ll need to buy a compatible charger separately; the one included in the box is only rated for 15 watts. Wireless charging is not available. That remains a feature more common on premium flagship smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Connectivity
As the name implies, Samsung’s new midrange smartphone supports 5G wireless service. That means Canadians can connect with new radio networks from Telus 5G, Rogers 5G, Bell 5G, and Videotron 5G. Our tests show that download speeds aren’t significantly faster than those reachable on existing 4G LTE networks. However, it is comforting to know that a midrange cell phone bought in 2021 will still be considered current technology two or three years down the road.
Other connectivity options betray this phone’s sub-premium price tag. The USB Type-C port on the bottom is only rated for USB 2.0 speeds. The Galaxy A52 5G offers up Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) instead of the more futureproof Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6. On the bright side, it does include an analog 3.5mm headphone jack so you can hook up your best headphones; that’s something even premium smartphones don’t usually offer.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Additional Features
Samsung has included some outstanding premium smartphone features on the Galaxy A52 5G. Like last years model一the Galaxy A51一there is an in-screen fingerprint reader and Samsung Knox to provide security for your sensitive information. The Galaxy A52 5G adds IP67 dust and water resistance and stereo speakers with good frequency response. These are all premium features that make it easy to forget this is only a midrange smartphone.
The One UI interface is a familiar experience for many long-time Samsung consumers, and exclusive features like Eye Comfort Shield intelligently adjust the screen to reduce blue light. New users may experience a slight learning curve as Samsung replaces critical apps like the internet browser and texting app with its own home-brewed versions. Even Google Assistant and Google Pay are replaced by Bixby and Samsung Pay alternatives. The Google versions of these apps are still pre-installed, but there’s no easy way to fully replace Bixby with Google Assistant as the default voice assistant. It can take some time for new users to love Samsung’s alternatives.
We need to talk about the ads. The U.S. versions of current Samsung smartphone models (including the Galaxy A52 5G) include a lot of in-app ads. There are stronger laws in Canada protecting consumers from this kind of advertising, but they are still in there, and some are unavoidable. For example, the Samsung weather app features a clean interface with all relevant information easily accessible, but at the top is an ad taking up almost one-quarter of the display. Although you can disable targeted advertising, there’s no way to turn off ads completely.
The new Galaxy A52 5G impressed us with several key features, including a great display, long battery life and high-quality cameras. Performance is suitable for most common uses, but gamers attracted to the 120Hz refresh rate may want to look elsewhere as the processor just wasn’t able to keep up. Although your purchase is future-proofed with 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 are noticeably absent.
The Samsung One UI interface and exclusive apps are great for long-time Samsung users, but Android users coming from other branded smartphones should expect a bit of a learning curve. Even so, Samsung’s synchronized hardware and software provide a unified and secure experience.
Samsung included some valuable premium features on the new Galaxy A52 5G, but not enough to justify raising the price more than 50% over last year’s model. If 5G isn’t crucial, you may consider finding a deal on the discontinued Galaxy A71, which matches many hardware specs while carrying a lower retail price.