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Fantastic value and high-end specs: what more could you want?
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The phone fits nicely in the pocket and is comfortable in the hand
Most of the time, you get what you pay for. Samsung’s top-tier phones offer real quality, but like all models at that end of the market, the prices can be eye-watering.
These phones win most of the headlines, but there’s an ever-growing bubble of mid-range smartphones from a whole host of companies that are beginning to offer some flagship features for a cut price.
When it comes to the mid-range, it seems like Apple and Google hog much of the attention. Google’s Pixel series is famous for its fantastic camera quality and purest Android experience, while Apple is… well, Apple. But all that could change with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, the company’s latest phone from its middle-ground A series.
Its specifications sound appealing: a sizeable battery, solid camera setup, a clean Android 11 interface and IP67 water- and dust-proofing certification. It all seemingly adds up to make one of the best mid-range phones out there. But is this the reality when you open the box?
We approached the A52 5G the same way we would any smartphone, judging its performance regarding processing power and speed, gaming capability, sound, screen, connectivity and battery life.
We also focused on the A52’s general feel – did it give the impression of being a premium phone? How did it feel in the hand? One major question remained in our minds throughout: is it a handset that we could see ourselves using for a prolonged period?
The A52 comes in four colours: “awesome black”, “awesome white”, “awesome blue” and “awesome violet”, in Samsung’s ambitious naming convention. We were sent the “awesome blue” version, which turned out to be a lovely pastel-toned handset. “Awesome” is pushing it, but it’s certainly an attractive finish – we’re also happy to report that smudges aren’t a problem.
The A52 is on the lighter side for a smartphone of its size, coming in at 189g, but manages to retain a sense of sturdiness. It is slightly chunky: the bezels could definitely do with being cut thinner, as their size detracts from the sophisticated look of the phone, and the rear camera setup is oddly organised, taking up quite a wide space. The phone fits nicely in the pocket, however, and is comfortable in the hand.
It’s also IP67 rated, meaning that it’s water-resistant up to 1m for 30 minutes, along with being impervious to dust. We assume you won’t be trying to take calls in the pool, but the extra peace of mind this grants you is a bonus, and something that’s getting more affordable as time goes on.
The A52 looks fun and feels perfectly sturdy, which sets the tone for the phone in general.
The Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate is exceptional for the price. It’s among the clearest screens we’ve ever seen at this level of the market, with an impressive performance across the board, from video to gaming. You could quite comfortably use the phone for a prolonged period without too much strain (not that we’d recommend that) – something that isn’t a given even at this price point. The refresh rate makes gaming, in particular, a pleasure, and puts the A52 almost on a par with many flagship models.
The sound, funnelled through Dolby Atmos speakers, feels as close to true stereo as you could hope for at this level, with a clarity that took us by surprise. Samsung has also included a 3.5mm headphone jack, which many higher-end phones have now done away with but is still handy to have.
The A52 is easy to navigate and snappy to use: the Snapdragon 750G chipset does more than enough in terms of a fluid phone experience, helped in part by the 120Hz refresh rate. Using the A52 is a close-to-premium experience.
Samsung’s One UI 3.1 software works on Android 11, and the interface is clean and straightforward for any regular Android users – it’s also not much to get used to for those making the switch.
The A52 comes both with and without 5G, but it’s probably now worth your next phone having the capability: coverage is growing all the time, so investing now could save you some money in the near future. The A52 5G is a solid choice for a relatively futureproof phone.
Read more: Apple iPhone 13 pro and iPhone pro max review
The phone comes with a 4,500mAh battery, which is a decent size for a phone with this amount of processing power. We managed to comfortably get a day out of it with normal usage, as long as you’re not doing hours of streaming.
Samsung’s A series has traditionally not had a particularly high-performing camera module. The brand has changed tack with the A52, providing a 64MP main rear camera, complemented by 12MP ultra wide and 5MP macro cameras for the whole gamut of photography. The rear set is good enough for most users, albeit not quite on the same level as something as triumphant as the Google Pixel 4a, but you’ll achieve crystal-clear shots in normal conditions nonetheless.
The A52 also offers plenty more options than the 4a’s single camera, which, for us, makes it a rival. The main 64MP lens itself offers range and versatility, handling various lighting scenarios and focus issues with ease, while the macro camera produces a good natural bokeh (that nice fuzziness around a subject) in most close-up shots.
The Samsung A52 is a great Android experience (besides oddly making you download TikTok on setup) and is fantastic value for the price, with higher specs than you’d expect in a sub-£400 smartphone. It hovers around flagship status in some aspects, such as the impressive display, and would perform strongly for the majority of phone users. It’s a bright, fun, quick phone, and Samsung’s best-value handset. For Galaxy enthusiasts in particular, this is far and away the best mid-range smartphone you can get, with that all-important 5G capability.
For the latest discounts on phones and other tech offers, try the links below:
We’ve also put the Samsung Galaxy S21 head to head with Apple’s iPhone 12 – here’s what we thought
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
David RS Taylor
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