Flagship killer. Flagship killer Android phone. A term that started out denoting a very noble mission. Of phones attempting to bring a premium Android smartphone experience at a price significantly lower than what flagship phones have comparatively always cost. Yet, flagship killer as a term has been grossly misused off late. Phones which have no business to be in this honorable category are being labeled as such. A bit like how the term SUV is being abused by car makers, who are selling jacked up hatchback and calling them micro-SUVs and mini-SUVs and whatnot. And then there is the polar opposite. The Samsung Galaxy A52, which has pretty much every ingredient possible to be categorized as a genuine flagship killer Android phone. Yet, it doesn’t bother making that noise. Playing it cool.
Let us start with the price first. There are two variants of the Samsung Galaxy A52 that are on sale in India. You will spend around Rs 26,499 for 6GB+128GB variant of the Galaxy A52 while you’ll be spending around Rs 27,999 for Galaxy A52’s 8GB+128GB variant. At well under the Rs 30,000 price point, there is a much wider demographic that the phone appeals to, particularly the audience that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new Android phone but still would like to have a slick user experience. Not one that betrays cost cutting and breeds a feeling of inadequacy every time you hold your new phone in your hand. There is absolutely no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy A52 gets into an immediate battle with the OnePlus Nord, a very capable Android phone that is priced Rs 24,999 onwards, and both phones are there and thereabouts on the spec sheet—give or take something.
A well-designed phone isn’t just cool to look at, but it gives that consistent stream of a good feeling every time you pick up the phone. If a phone has a shoddy design, the colours start to fade and the panel gaps start to creak and show, you will soon start hating the phone you may have splurged on a while ago. The Samsung Galaxy A52 is indeed ticking off all the boxes on the checklist. It looks great, is quite well balanced to hold, has ergonomics well dialed in and the colour options too add some sparkle to the overall package. What should stand out is the IP67 rating of the phone, which means this can be submerged in as much as 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. If I’m not mistaken, that makes the Samsung Galaxy A52 one of the most affordable phones with this rating, if not the most affordable. There’s a pretty interesting play with the colours too. You’ll get both variants in the Awesome Black option, something that is necessary to tick off the conventionality and agreeability checklist. Then your options are Awesome Blue, Awesome White and Awesome Violet, the last one being pictured here.
Mind you, this isn’t a metal build and there isn’t a layer of glass on the back. What you instead get is a polycarbonate finish that feels good to hold and the phone is built well. The contours and the in-hand feel are very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in a lot of ways. Colours have a very subdued feel, and the violet share in particular isn’t catching fingerprints or showing off dust too much either. This tips the scales at 189 grams but feels lighter than that in the hand.
This is a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 resolution), which is a smidgen bigger than the OnePlus Nord’s 6.44-inch real estate. It’s a bright display, so much so that reflections are well and truly taken care of, and bright sunlight in the summer sun won’t be much of a bother. This display does the 90Hz refresh rate as well and ticks off the modernity checklist too. The blacks are fairly deep, albeit not the deepest but that means the Dark Mode looks good enough. You can choose between the maximum refresh rate of 60Hz or 90Hz, depending on how you prefer to see certain content. Though I didn’t find the option for dialing down the display resolution—that’s something that I’d noticed with the Galaxy S21 series of phones as well. All said and done, the Samsung Galaxy A52’s display does well on pretty much every front, be it sharpness and readability, the colour settings (you can choose between Natural and Vivid with the latter getting advanced controls too) and the touch response remains accurate all through. There’s Gorilla Glass 5 and what is best described as a punch-hole selfie camera.
It is interesting to be using a Samsung phone that is not using their own Exynos series processor but instead has a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. This doesn’t happen often, which makes the Samsung Galaxy A52 a bit more unique. It is the Snapdragon 720G and that’s an 8-nanometer chip we have also seen in a few other phones. This is an octa-core processor as well, albeit with slightly lower clock speeds and core variations than the Snapdragon 765G that powers the OnePlus Nord. Yet, paired with 8GB RAM, this does a pretty solid job of being the phone you wished for when you plonked down the cash for the Galaxy A52. It is snappy, it is quick and remains smooth for the most part. There’s enough headroom for multi-tasking too and carelessly leaving apps running in the background, and yet the new apps won’t really struggle to do what they are supposed to do. In case you’re wondering how 6GB of RAM would do, I don’t have any specific observations since I haven’t experienced that variant, but on paper 6GB is a lot of RAM. If you feel 128GB storage isn’t enough, there’s the microSD slot up to 1TB that you’ll find quite useful. While it is a pretty consistent and rosy picture on the performance front and is expected to stay that way for a while, you’ll always have this thought in the back of your mind that the Snapdragon 720G is half a step behind the Snapdragon 765G in the scheme of things. I don’t foresee any issues on the performance front, but you might have a differing view on the futureproofing, based on how aggressively or actively you use the phone. The 4,500mAh battery also lasts almost a day and a half on a single charge when used fairly actively—something that we as reviewers do. You can pretty well imagine this phone will not give you battery anxiety every evening.
The quad cameras at the back really are as good as they come, and most rivals should be seriously worried. There’s the 64-megapixel main camera working with a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 5-megapixel macro camera and a 5-megapixel depth camera. There’s digital zoom up to 10x but as is the case with digital zoom most of the time, less used the better—get closer to the subject, for best photos. The results, I have to say, are absolutely fantastic, low light or daytime. This captures really high-quality photos and manages ambient lighting as well as light sources very well. Detailing is extremely good, photos are crisp and there’s very little noise reduction happening, which means the finer aspects still come through nicely and don’t become a casualty to image processing algorithms. Low light is what’s really impressive. Even with the night mode turned off, this camera setup still pulls in a lot of light that livens up photos. In some instances, I did notice that actually you didn’t need to have the low light mode turned on anyway. If you are to switch that on too, it’ll simply guarantee and even better lit frame. Between the two, mind you, there’s a smidgen bit more noise reduction happening in the former when the low light mode is off, just for what I suspect is a failsafe.
The Last Word: The Samsung Galaxy A52 Is Much Better Than You Expected
The Samsung Galaxy A52 really comes across as an Android smartphone that is very much likeable. There’s something really warm and agreeable about the design, the colours add some vibrancy and variety, the screen is a very good canvas to work with and the cameras really deliver photography better than any of its rivals. The Samsung Galaxy A52’s only perceptible weak-ish link, that too in the long run, could be the processor—but that would be subjective too, depending on what apps you intend to use, gaming and multitasking. The Samsung Galaxy A52 is most certainly not an affordable flagship phone. And neither is it really a flagship killer—that would perhaps be its more expensive sibling, the Galaxy A72. The Samsung Galaxy A52 is exactly what it is, a higher mid-range Android phone that is better than most of its rivals, if not all.