[Review] A Mid-Tier Device with Some Top-Tier Perks: The Samsung Galaxy A52
Ahhh, smells like good value.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 is part of the brand's new mid-tier lineup, placed between the more affordable A32 and the higher-end A72.
Save for the chipset and build, the A52 offers many features that flagships usually enjoy, including a smooth 90Hz display, IP67 ingress protection rating, and up to 4 years of guaranteed software support. For the price point, the Galaxy A52 is a decent option for those seeking a great user experience without blowing the bank.
Unlike its more expensive flagship cousins, the Galaxy A52 features a simple plastic back. It has a matte texture with a grainy feeling that feels surprisingly nice to touch. It also has the added perk of staving off fingerprints and providing some extra grip for those who prefer to use it without a case (I'd still recommend one though).
The camera bump is located on the top left, with a similar camera layout to the S series. There are a total of 4 lenses, which will elaborate about more in the camera section. Overall, the bump is pretty unobtrusive and allows the phone to sit relatively flat on surfaces.
The edges of the phone are clad in a metallic plastic finish, which offers a nice contrast against the pastel matte back. On the bottom edge, you'll find a 3.5mm jack (yay), the USB-C charging port, a microphone, and a speaker grille. There's another microphone on the top along with the SIM tray, while the volume rocker and power button are located on the right. The left side of the phone is completely empty.
Overall, while it doesn't exude the superior quality of a flagship phone, it has a decent heft to it and feels good to hold.
The 6.5" Infinity-O display is made out of Gorilla Glass 5 and features a FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, which offers great vibrancy and contrast. One thing that I feel could be improved are the thickness of the bezels - they aren't incredibly distracting, but are definitely noticeable. The selfie cam is a punch hole located in the middle, which is quite common nowadays.
One thing that really stands out on the A52's display is the 90Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling and browsing a much smoother and more pleasant experience. While it doesn't offer a variable refresh rate like some higher-end models, you can choose to lock it at 60Hz to conserve battery if you wish.
You can choose from natural and vivid screen mode, and there are options to further tweak the white balance and RGB levels to your liking. There's also the eye comfort shield feature to reduce strain over long hours of use. It can be set to adaptive mode where it will automatically adjust according to the time of day, or set to custom mode where you can schedule a timetable and tweak the colour temperature manually.
Similarly, dark mode can be either manually toggled or scheduled. As for overall screen brightness, while it isn't outstanding, it fares well in all but the most direct sunlight, so you won't have to squint and get premature wrinkles just trying to read your messages.
I really appreciate the presence of an under-display fingerprint scanner. While it works pretty well, it's definitely a little on the slow side, and I would have preferred it to be placed a little higher so I can easily reach it without stretching.
The power button and volume rocker are nice and tactile, and are placed within easy reach for my grip, so no complaints there. One thing to note is that the audio is not balanced - one side has a proper speaker grille while the other is just the speakerphone.
It was not bothersome to me, but I tested it around the office and some people mentioned that it was obvious enough to be annoying. If you watch videos in landscape mode a lot, it's something you should take note of. Personally, I'm more of a vertical browser so it didn't bother me.
On the bright side, it boasts an IP67 ingress protection rating, which is pretty nice to see on a mid-tier phone. It gives you that little extra assurance that it will survive simple spills and brief submersions (though I wouldn't recommend you to intentionally drown it just for the lulz.)
Another great thing about this phone is that Samsung has promised a minimum of 3 major OS updates and 4 years of security patches, so you know your device will stay up-to-date for at least that long, which is a usually a privilege reserved for higher-end phones only.
Inside, you'll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor with Adreno 618 graphics, along with a comfortable 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage. It runs on One UI 3.1 which is based on Android 11.
In terms of performance, basic tasks like social media and browsing websites were perfectly smooth and responsive. While I wouldn't tax the A52 with known phone fryers like Genshin Impact, it'll do well for a spot of casual games.
One of the more important things to consider when choosing a phone is its battery life. After all, we'd prefer to not carry a power bank out with us if possible, so at least 1 full day of battery life is preferable.
The A52's battery life is good by current standards. I find that it lasts an entire day with the usual amount of Facebook browsing, texts, and calls, so you'll only need to charge it a maximum of once a day and you're all set. If you're the type who rarely spends time on social media and doesn't game, it might even last you 2 days (but I'd still recommend charging it at the end of the day for peace of mind).
Although it supports 25W charging just like their flagship S series, they've only included a 15W charger in the box. (At least there IS a charger, ahem.)
Now, for the cameras - arguably an indispensable feature nowadays. One may expect a mediocre camera for a mid-tier device, but the A52 performed surprisingly well.
The quad camera setup consist of the following:
5MP (F2.4) macro
12MP (F2.2) ultra wide
64MP (F1.8) OIS main camera
5MP (F2.4) depth camera
The interface is nothing new - everything is clearly labeled and easy to understand. On the bottom you'll find zoom toggles, the mode carousel and the shutter button, while the top houses the settings, flash, timer, aspect ratio and filter buttons.
As for the zoom, you can go from 0.5x (wide) all the way to 10x, though anything beyond 4.0x starts to get fuzzy. Colours are pretty vibrant and natural (it was a pretty grey day), and there's a good amount of detail.
Apart from the basic snapper, there's also pro mode, fun mode, single take mode, and more.
As usual, pro mode allows you to take detailed settings into your own hands, allowing you to adjust ISO, shutter speed, temperature, levels, et cetera.
Fun mode allows you to place a selection of Snapchat filters over your shots, which can be...wait for it...fun (ha ha).
Single take mode enables you to take a short video, and then creatively (or more like randomly) edits a bunch of photos and clips for you. It's pretty random, sometimes slapping on a filter or cropping your photo 'artfully' - it can even create boomerang-style clips.
The selfie camera is pretty aggressive on the beautification, though you can toggle the level or simply turn it off completely in the settings. Leaving it on will help you conform to modern society's beauty standards, including a sharper jawline, larger eyes, and a snowy white complexion.
One thing I found pretty cool was Bixby Vision, which scans your viewfinder for objects of interest, and helps you search for more information about it on the internet. It's a hit or miss, but I must admit that the results look uncannily similar to the object scanned, even if it mistook a water bottle for a wall sconce more than once.
All in all, the camera features and performance is extremely satisfactory, especially at this price point.
Buy or no buy?
For RM1,499, the Samsung Galaxy A52 is a great mid-tier phone that offers a wide range of perks. It has decent build quality with cameras that are better than expected. Although the design is relatively simple, I've grown to like it over time (though I'd still prefer the Awesome Violet colourway any day).
Sure, I wouldn't say it was the best in its class - the bezels could be whittled down further and the audio definitely can be improved, but it's a great all-rounder that will give you good bang for your buck.
In addition, the 90Hz display, IP67 rating, and 4 years of guaranted support are huge bonuses for a phone in this tier, allowing me to easily recommend the A52 if you're in the market for a phone within this price range.
For specs and more details, you can check out the official product page here.