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Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G Review: A Good Premium Phone, But is it Worth the Extra Bucks?

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: An excellent overall smartphone that delivers on all grounds, minus the price tag.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: An excellent overall smartphone that delivers on all grounds, minus the price tag.

The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is well built, has a great display and decent cameras, and is good on all grounds, but still doesn’t justify the price that it asks for.

The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is a good overall phone, and there are no two ways about it. However, it’s also testament to the idea that not everything that’s good is necessarily recommendable. It is this that makes the Galaxy A52s (referred so, henceforth) a bit of a curveball when you need to explain exactly what is wrong with it, to a potential buyer. You see, if you advise buyers against it, you’d be doing disservice to a genuinely good smartphone. However, if you do recommend it, there’s really only one reason why you may consider doing so.

Before we explain ourselves further, the essentials: the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G SoC. It has 6GB or 8GB of RAM (our variant’s the latter), but only 128GB of storage. There’s a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED FHD+ display with 120Hz refresh rate, which has a drill hole slot that accommodates a 32MP front camera. To the rear, the design closely resembles Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 series, and there’s a quad camera setup with 64MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide, and two 5MP units for macro shots and depth assistance. All of this is powered by a 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging.

Design and build: Reaches for flagship, misses a few cues

Samsung has very clearly taken its flagship phone design to befit the premium segment, and the Galaxy A52s has clear design cues taken from the S21 series. While I’m particularly fond of the matte rear and its block colours, some may find it too plain jane. The steel finished rim does feel a bit inexpensive, though. The display does not sit entirely flush with the side rim, and there is a slightly bevelled edge that juts out towards your grip of the phone.

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Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: The minimalist design looks quite suave on it. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

I’m not particularly fond of how the rear camera setup looks – it feels like the designers stopped short of using the S21 design here because the marketing team needed the two lineups to look different. Build quality wise, things are better with the Galaxy A52s. The power and volume buttons are placed well, the matte rear makes the phone easy to grip, and there is a bottom placed 3.5mm audio port as well for wired IEMs. It’s sleek to hold too, and I particularly like its in-hand feel and light build. Despite its lightness, it still feels like a phone that can take a few bumps and not get damaged.

Display and software: A typical (and good) Samsung experience

The 6.5-inch, full HD+ super AMOLED display is typically Samsung, and its 120Hz refresh rate means that the display too is comparable to the Galaxy S21 series. Put beside each other, if the design of the Galaxy A52s and the Galaxy S21+ are masked, there would be very little to separate the two in terms of the display quality.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: The display is well balanced and crisp, albeit a tad oversaturated. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

This essentially means an inherently smooth display, which produces higher saturation levels than most other phones in the market. Still, you get vibrant and punchy colours, a high contrast ratio to produce deep black levels, ample brightness to render clean whites, and adequate touch response. Everything sums up to make the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G a smartphone that has a wonderful display.

However, do keep in mind that most phones today, especially at the premium price bracket, offer displays that are either very good, or excellent in most cases. The differentiating factor here, OneUI 3.1, is Samsung’s custom take on Android 11 and offers decent ergonomics. If you are switching from a different OEM’s Android phone to a Samsung one, you’ll need some time to get used to it. Apart from this, there isn’t anything that you really miss out on.

Performance: Smooth, fresh and uncluttered

Beyond benchmarks and performance tests, what I truly like about the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is how clean the entire experience is with it. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC is turning out to be an increasingly popular option in the mid-premium smartphone range, and in the Galaxy A52s, it more than does the job with ample smoothness and an air of uncluttered simplicity.

As a result, everyday performance is smooth, and pretty much every regular work app loads without a hiccup. The chipset inside is powerful enough for basic multitasking as well – for instance, I could have Gmail, Drive, Sheets, Outlook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and eight tabs open on the Brave browser, and there were no hints of the phone struggling to keep up. The overall performance remained as smooth as I could hope for, and on spontaneous usage, Samsung does not appear to have a habit of force killing background apps – the 8GB RAM is clearly enough.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: Benchmark scores are about 20 percent lower in multi-core testing, than competing flagships. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

It is for this no-nonsense performance approach that I found myself using the Galaxy A52s increasingly as my everyday work device. Even throwing in the fairly demanding Pokemon Go into the above mentioned mix of apps did not make things sluggish, and the 120Hz display further heightens the sense of smoothness and fluidity. Graphic intensive games such as Asphalt 9 are rendered with ample crispness in details, and only a discerning eye will notice that despite its pretensions, this isn’t a flagship after all.

Benchmark tests via Geekbench 5 reveal a difference of about 30 percent in single-core performance and 20 percent in multi-core performance between the Galaxy A52s, and a more expensive, flagship smartphone. What gives away this difference in real life are actions such as using the app drawer search, which takes a second longer and shows a hint of stutter on this phone – something that you won’t see on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If such minute things, including a few suspended browser tabs when you don’t use them actively, are bothersome to you, it’s the Galaxy S series that you must look at.

For most users otherwise, though, the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is more than sufficient.

Cameras: Not a trendsetter, but good nonetheless

A big part of what makes a phone ‘good’ is how stable and reliable it is in terms of its overall performance. The cameras on the Galaxy A52s are exactly that – not a world beater, but a reliable bunch when you must shoot a spontaneous moment. The smooth performance means that the camera app itself does not take forever to open, and thanks to ample memory and a decent ISP (image signal processor), shutter response and other features of the camera app are smooth enough.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: The cameras are reliable, offering surprisingly decent dynamic range but falling slightly short on details. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

The 64MP main camera is typically Samsung in terms of the colour balance that it produces by default, with slightly oversaturated and heightened colours. Impressively, though, it appears to have good dynamic range, which ensures better detailed shadows and better balanced skies in contrasting photographs. This also helps in a more natural lighting balance in videos, too. The only real criticism that I have is the slight lack in fine details in low light conditions, but apart from that, there’s nothing wrong here.

Macro photography is decent enough with the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G, and the 12MP ultra-wide unit is usable as well. The 32MP front camera produces good skin tones in selfies, but we’d advise against using the filters. Most of the built-in filter options tend to over-soften skin textures, giving selfies an artificial look. If you want a particular colour tone in your selfies, we recommend you to use a photo editing app a la Snapseed.

Battery life: Good enough for a day’s work and play

The 4,500mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is not monstrous, but is large enough for users with medium usage intensity to sail through an entire day’s work with. However, there isn’t a lot of headroom for additional usage – stretch your everyday schedule with an extra hour’s gaming or a couple of episodes of your favourite show, and you find yourself reaching for the charger within about 10 to 11 hours at best.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review: The sleek design gives way to a slightly slimmer, 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging – but it gets the job done. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)

Thankfully, the 25W USB-C fast charger juices up the battery to 50 percent within just over 25 minutes, and full charge comes up in less than one hour. It’s far from the fastest charging standard around, and there are no added features such as reverse or wireless charging. But, just like the rest of the phone, it gets the job done nice and steady.

Verdict: It’s all pretty good, until you see the price

By now, you’ve probably come to gather that we like the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G, and if you’ve come to this judgement, you won’t be wrong. You see, if someone simply gifts you this smartphone without you having to spend a penny on it, we’d say that this is a very nice smartphone to own. It doesn’t try to do flashy stuff, but delivers just the right amount of firepower to take you through the day. For most users, this would suffice.

That is, until you see the price tag. For our variant that bears 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, the Galaxy A52s costs Rs 37,499 (or Rs 34,499, if you have HDFC Bank credit cards). In comparison, for the same chipset, RAM, storage, display smoothness and faster charging speeds on top, we have the Realme GT Master Edition that costs Rs 27,990, the recently launched iQoo Z5 that costs Rs 23,999, and the upcoming Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G, that’s tipped to be priced at around the same point as the Realme GT ME.

Would you voluntarily want to spend almost Rs 10,000 more to get essentially the same experience? The short answer is that unless you are a massive Samsung fan, there’s no reason why you’d do such a thing. If you are, you’ll most likely wait, save up and get a Galaxy S or Galaxy Z series smartphone. It is this final point that makes the Galaxy A52s a rather tedious smartphone to justify as a purchase – even though it is a very good overall device to use.

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first published:September 28, 2021, 17:08 IST