REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A52
Putting the 'A' game into the budget smartphone category
When Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 FE last year, that was a signal that they were more than happy to strip down their flagship but leave a few cool features in order to reach a wider market. With their A series, Samsung wants to go a step further — or lower, from a budget point of view.
Which brings us to the Galaxy A52, one of Samsung's new trio of offerings that fits the bill (pun intended), along with the A52 5G and A72.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Pound-for-pound, the differences are sparse. And yeah, Samsung has already offered a quad-camera phone at this price tag for a while.
At this point in time, we can subdivide Samsung's mobile offerings into four categories line-ups, priciest first — the Z (Folds), Note, S and A series. (This could go down to three if — and that's a big if — Samsung does decide to ditch the Note later this year to focus on its Zs. Stay tuned.) The As are, obviously, the entry-level devices, taking over the J series. Samsung's known for offering an army of smartphones in its Galaxy brand, and names were both simple and fun (Ace, Appeal, Avant, C, Core, Discover, Express, Fame, Feel, Folder, Gio, Grand, K, Light, Mega, Mini, Neo, Nexus, On, Pocket, Precedent, Prevail, Pro, Reverb, Round, Rush, Spica, Star, Stellar, Trend, V, W, Win, Young and a 2011 version of a Z. Did we miss anything?).
Anyway, the A52 has a 6.5-inch FHD+ screen, has 800 nits of brightness and isn't much of an eye-strainer, and it boasts some really smooth scrolling thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate. It has a garden-variety rounded frame with rather thick bezels, noticeable especially if you're used to higher-end, real end-to-end screen devices.
Go right behind and here's where opinions will diverge: The A52 has a plastic case that has a matte-ish finish, and rubbing your fingers on it or giving it some gentle taps makes you feel it. This means that you'd better take good care of it because one wrong drop could mean some serious dents. Samsung's phones are tough, but still; at least it isn't slippery to hold. Looking at it seems like looking at a toy, and we find it really cute (and befitting) that the colour codes have 'Awesome' as their prefix (we have the cool-to-the-eyes Awesome Blue variant).
Volume rocker and side button's on the right, 3.5mm audio and USB-C ports are below and the SIM tray is above, and there's an in-screen fingerprint scanner. Notice we didn't mention a power button because, by default, pressing and holding that side button will summon Bixby. To refresh you, there are multiple ways to shut down the device — either press and hold the volume down and side keys, tap the button on the quick panel (swipe from the top twice to reveal it) or just tell Bixby to switch it off. But the easiest is to just configure the side button to shut it down. Really. Seriously.
Inside the A52's hood is a Snapdragon 720G chip, the same you'd find in a number of its contemporaries from the likes of Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Realme. It's a processor built for mid-range devices and good enough for gaming, which means the A52 has some serious business to offer.
The first thing you'll notice when you fire it up is that the display is sharp and, with its 120Hz refresh rate, things would go smoothly. The only instances where it would hound you with some lags is when you wake it up then start using it (think waking up in the morning) or when there's stuff being downloaded (updates, especially). Otherwise, it's very good to go.
As usual, you can choose either those default virtual buttons or swipe gestures to navigate through the phone. Our only beef with the whole operating thing is that when you swipe from below to access recent apps, it sometimes takes multiple tries before they pop up. We observed that this likelihood is greater if you begin swiping from the bezel instead of the actual screen, theoretically meaning the device didn't recognise enough of your gesture for it to push through, or if you swipe too fast. Switching from app to app also didn't really show any issues.
Bundled with the A52 is a quad-lens setup, headed by a 64MP snapper. We also appreciate that the camera block behind isn't thick.
Samsung stacked its shooter with the usual suspects, plus a promise of crisp shots. Let's see.
We'll give it a thumbs-up for capturing all the colours in their most natural state, unlike other devices that overexpose stuff.
You get a maximum of 10x digital zoom, and understandably, the farther you go, the mushier things get. You're still assured of decent quality in the 4x-5x range.
Now, if we were alright with the lighting earlier, here's where it gets a bit, well, 'exposed'.
Left shot was taken with standard mode, while the one on the right used night mode. Either way, both are overexposed from our vantage point, considering this was a dark alley. Now this metric is tricky since, yes, you do need some more light in dark situations. So the judgment will, as always, be completely up to the user and situation.
Here's a good example of where it works well:
Fairly-lit area plus right amount of light brought in by the sensors equals a rather balanced shot.
And, as an added bonus, take a look at this gorgeous Lego creation we stumbled upon in time for the season:
Colours and sharpness are never a problem with the A52.
Meanwhile, its 32MP selfie camera is another snappy feature.
No complaints here, with a wide-angle option, detailed colours (and skin) and less of those 'beauty' shenanigans. That last photo was actually taken with the lights off, with the only light coming through a frosted-glass wall, showing how much it's able to fire things up in darker situations. It does, however, smudge your looks a bit.
Battery's always a big deal regardless of category, and the A52 is right up there among the better ones. In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the device lost a very decent nine per cent. It has the ability to last until late-afternoon the following day, and some little adjustments to your use will allow you to drag it until the evening.
Charging, on the other hand, is fair but could've done better. It has a 4500mAh battery and has a 15W charger packed in; and here's how it ended:
Not even three-fourths of the way in an hour. This is quite disappointing, especially if you consider that several brands out there are able to zip through charging quicker. It does, however, support 25W charging, but obviously you'll have to buy it separately.
The A52 does look its price, but don't be fooled: It's a packed smartphone. The blips are minor and there's really nothing much to complain about.
However, bear in mind that this is the non-5G version; you can get that for more cash at Dh1,649. That's a rather big difference, and goes to show how much of a premium it would cost you to use a device for a mobile standard that's pretty much still in its infancy.
But if you're the type who tilts more towards the overall functionality rather than speeds (for now, at least), this is quite a steal.
GOODIES: Good battery, IP67 rating, very capable cameras
GOOFIES: Plastic build, non-5G, charging a bit slow with in-the-box charger
EDITOR RATING: It’s a Samsung, with these features, at this price. We’re just really concerned about that plastic build. 4.5/5
'WATCH' OUT FOR NEW MAJOR HEALTH FEATURES
Alright, this is the first time we're going overtime with this format, but it's about something that's really useful (and quite related).
While the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 isn't at all new (it was launched alongside the Note20 series last August), there are two new key features that were recently launched in the UAE — the ability to measure blood pressure and take an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading.
So the drill is simple: Pair up your Watch3 (or any other compatible Samsung wearable) with your Samsung phone, install the Health Monitor app from the Samsung Store and you're good to go.
For blood pressure, you'll have to do some tinkering: You need to hook up an actual BP device to your arm while the app is running in order to calibrate the latter to ensure optimum results. You'll need to do this three times before the watch can independently take readings. For the ECG, it's ready to use from the get-go.
Of course, all results will be instantly reflected on the Health Monitor app on your phone. It's also important to note that the results from these two apps are basically for reference, "providing insight" to your health, as Samsung puts it. As always, if you feel something funny or worse, the best course of action is to see a health professional (the ECG app doesn't detect a heart attack). You can share the results on the app with your doctor, too.
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