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Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review: The most affordable waterproof 5G phone yet

By The Count - 24 Apr 2021
Launch SRP: S$548

Performance, Battery Life, Conclusion

Performance and Battery Life

To recap, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor. It is one of the newer mid-range Qualcomm chips supporting 5G networks all within its main SoC, though the A52 5G in Singapore only supports sub-6GHz 5G networks, which is what our 5G infrastructure primarily utilises (Singtel does deploy mmWave in limited areas though). The processor itself comprises six 2.2GHz cores and twin 1.8GHz cores. Given that the Galaxy A52 5G is one of the very few new mid-range phones that we can get our hands on this year, we can only benchmark it against other mid-range phones released late last year.

  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Oppo Reno4 Pro Google Pixel 4a Huawei Nova 7 SE Vivo X50 Pro
  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Oppo Reno4 Pro Google Pixel 4a Huawei Nova 7 SE Vivo X50 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From S$548
  • From S$899
  • From S$499
  • From S$528
  • From S$1099
Network:
  • 5G Sub6 FDD, 5G Sub6 TDD, 4G, 3G
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
Operating system
  • Android 11 with Samsung One UI 3
  • ColorOS 7.2, based on Android 10
  • Android 10
  • Android 10 with EMUI 10.1
  • Android 10 with Funtouch 10
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G Octa-core (2x2.3 GHz Kryo 465 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 465 Silver) with Adreno 618 GPU
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G Octa-core (2x2.2 GHz Kryo 470 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 470 Silver) with Adreno 618 GPU
  • HUAWEI Kirin 820 5G octa-core
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.5-inch / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (FHD+) / 120Hz refresh rate / Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display
  • 6.5-inch / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi) / 20:9 ratio / AMOLED Display
  • 90Hz Refresh rate / 180Hz Touch Sampling Rate
  • TÜV Rheinland Full Care Display Certification
  • 5.81-inch / 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (443 ppi) / OLED display
  • 6.5-inches 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (~404 ppi), LTPS LCD
  • Lift-to-wake display
  • 6.56-inch / 2,376 x 1,080 pixels (~398 ppi) / 90Hz refresh rate / HDR10/HDR10+ / AMOLED Display
Camera
  • Rear:
  • Main: 64MP OIS autofocus (F1.8, 0.8µm)
  • Ultra Wide: 12MP fixed-focus (123-deg FOV, F2.2, 1.12µm)
  • Macro: 5MP fixed-focus (F2.4, 1.12µm)
  • Depth: 5MP fixed-focus (F2.4, 1.12µm)
  • Front:
  • 32MP fixed-focus, (F2.2, 0.8µm)
  • Rear: 48MP Main, f/1.7, 26mm / 8MP Ultrawide f/2.2, 13mm, 2MP Macro, f2.4 / 2MP Mono, f/2.4,
  • Front: 32MP, f/2.4
  • Main camera: 12.2MP, F1.7, AF with dual pixel PDAF, OIS + EIS
  • Front camera: 8MP, F2.0
  • Google Night Sight
  • Rear: Quad: 64MP f/1.8, 8MP Ultra Wide Angle f/2.4, 2MP bokeh f/2.4, 2MP macro f/2.4. AI Image Stablisation
  • Front: 16MP f/2.0
  • Rear:
  • 48MP main camera, f/1.6, Gimbal Camera System
  • 13MP portrait, f/2.46, EIS
  • 8MP telephoto, 5x optical zoom, f/3.4, OIS
  • 8MP ultra-wide-angle, f/2.2, EIS
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, MST, GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo, USB 2.0 Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MU-MIMO, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.1, SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX TWS+, dual-band A-GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, QZSS, NFC
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC
  • Glonass, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • NFC
  • USB 2.0 Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 5G NR, 4G FDD LTE, dual-band, hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 5.1, BLE, SBC, AAC, GPS,Glonass, Galileo, QZSS, USB 2.0 Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, A GPS, OTG, Type-C
Storage Type
  • 128GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 1TB
  • 256GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 128GB internal
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Huawei Nano Memory expansion (up to 256GB)
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 4,500mAh
  • 25W fast-charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • 65W SuperVOOC 2.0
  • 3,140mAh
  • 18W Fast battery charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • 40W Huawei SuperCharge
  • 4,315mAh
  • 33W fast-charging
Dimensions
  • 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm
  • 160 x 73.2 x 7.7mm
  • 144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
  • 162.31 x 75 x 8.58 mm
  • 158.46 x 72.8 x 8.04mm
Weight
  • 189g
  • 161g
  • 143g
  • 189g
  • 181.5g

 

JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane. It primarily tests for a system’s and browser’s ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score.

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100.

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. The test's Unlimited mode ignores screen resolutions.

Thoughts on benchmarks

The Snapdragon 750G in the Galaxy A52 5G performs rather decently in the benchmarks, slightly exceeding Pixel 4a’s Snapdragon 730G, the chip it was supposed to succeed. It is expectedly almost on par with its Galaxy A42 5G cousin. The benchmarks also translate well to real-life experience as the usage is so far still smooth. Most games perform decently as well.

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G yields a battery life of over 13 hours in our tests, which is the longest amongst other devices tested in its class - other than its A42 cousin, which is endowed with a slightly larger battery. This translates to real-life usage as well, where I don’t find the need to reach out for the charger at the end of the day (though it’s a good practice anyway).

As iterated earlier, the Galaxy A52 5G supports 25W fast charging, though the charger that comes with the packaging is the normal Samsung 15W fast charger. While it is a pity that Samsung chose not to include a 25W charger inside the box, we are happy to see they are still including capable chargers for mid-range phones. The A52 does not support wireless charging, which is par for the course for phones priced at its tier.

While I didn't have the official 25W Samsung charger at hand, I do have a 100W GaN multiport USB-C charger, in which one of the ports supports USB PPS charging. Using that port, I found the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G charged at “Super fast charging” mode, and it managed to charge the phone from 56% to 90% in just 25 minutes.

 

Conclusion

Samsung’s mid-range phones have been a hit and miss affair in the past, but they have since risen to the competition, starting from last year’s A-series. This year, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G turns up the heat further by incorporating features normally seen on more expensive phones like optical image stabilisation (OIS) for better photo taking and even being able to weather the elements with IP67 water and dust resistance rating. Truly, Samsung’s mid-range has finally become a credible recommendation and not just devices put out by the big blue to fill in different price bins without a thought towards consumer appeal.

It can be argued by some that water resistance is a useless feature since electronics don’t play well with liquids in the first place. However, the fact remains that it is a practical unsung hero when certain scenarios call for it, like being caught in heavy rain, or you really want to bring the phone by the poolside and not worry about it being drenched or splashed upon accidentally.

The Galaxy A52’s camera array, though modest compared to the likes of a Galaxy S21 that costs at least twice as much, still performs rather capably as seen in our unforgiving test shots (no thanks to the weather). If you don’t really care for zoom and other advanced use cases, the camera array on the Galaxy A52 easily fulfils most everyday usage needs. Don’t forget that it also has an ultrawide angle lens to capture those trickier group shots or an expansive landscape scene. 

Apart from these two upgrades for the Samsung A5 series (water resistance and a better camera), other notable enhancements, such as Dolby Atmos audio processing (best used with headphones), 25W fast charging, and speedy 120Hz FHD display, would easily appeal to most users looking for a modern daily driver that doesn’t leave out features that were once the domain of flagship phones. The Galaxy A52 also checks off other practical asks such as a decent 128GB internal storage with expandable storage capability, 3.5mm audio jack and FM radio.

Gaming performance may not rival top-tier phones, but since the phone can play games like Genshin Impact and MLBB comfortably, that level of performance would please most users. Perhaps the only minor disappointment is the lack of a wireless charging option, though that may not be what users are necessarily looking for since such wireless chargers are expensive and there is some efficiency loss compared to wired charging. In fact, the only reason anyone might ask for it is because the phone comes with such a capable feature set that you might associate it with a high-end phone than a mid-range one.

What's even more compelling is that all of what the phone offers come at a very modest suggested retail price of just S$548 (for 8GB RAM and 128 GB storage), or if you prefer more onboard storage, you can opt for the 256GB variant for S$648. Only those who have little time to housekeep content on their phone or install way too many apps and download content will require the higher capacity version. For everyone else, you could easily get by with the much more palatable 128GB edition and there's still microSD expansion if you need more storage. If you're keen to purchase it online, you can make the jump to Samsung's Online Store, Samsung LazMall Store or the Samsung Shopee Mall.

With so much to offer at under $550, phones like the Galaxy A52 and its competitors might start to eat into the appeal that flagship phones once held a strong grip. Is this the end of ultra-expensive phones? Or is this just the beginning as top-end phone models start to explore the realms of multi-displays, foldable display, rollable display and other such leading-edge experiences? We tend to think there’s a push for the latter as more brands are debuting showcase devices that we may one day pine for. Till then, the mainstream audience stands to benefit from the continual process and technological improvements to bring devices like the Samsung Galaxy A52 at ever more palatable price points.

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9.0
  • Design 8
  • Features 9.5
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9
The Good
Waterand dust resistant build
OIS in main camera
120Hz FHD+ AMOLED screen
Reliable in-display fingerprint sensor
Expandable storage
25W fast charging with charger supplied
3.5mm audio jack and FM radio
5G network support
Excellent performance, imaging and battery life
Overall great value
The Bad
Haptic feedback can be better
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