Samsung is the only smartphone brand in India with a product line-up covering almost the entire price spectrum. Though the company is competitive in the premium market, it lags behind others in the midrange and budget segments because its smartphones are generally on the expensive side when you look at the price-specifications ratio. The South Korean electronics maker has taken steps to make its affordable offerings as competitive as premium ones, and the efforts are seen in the company’s recently launched Galaxy A52 midrange smartphone. It is loaded with premium features, including a sAMOLED screen of 90Hz refresh rate, stereo speakers, 64-megapixel-based quad-camera array on the back, and a water- and dust-resistant design.
There is a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy A52 based on what it offers on paper. But is the smartphone that good in real life? Khalid Anzar finds out:
The Samsung Galaxy A52 looks different, and attracts attention thus, which does not always translate into liking because of a cheap plastic construction. While there are many smartphones with a plastic construction that look good and premium, including Samsung’s own, but the Galaxy A52 looks dull simply because it lacks the usual bells and whistles like a gradient finish and dual-tone colour theme. The phone is not a looker but it does not feel bad in hand. It has a compact form factor and lightweight build for a good in-hand feel and ease of use. Its plastic back cover has a textured finish, which aids handling and reduces the chances of accidental drops. Not to forget, the Samsung Galaxy A52 is IP67-rated for protection against minor water and dust damages – something that most of its peers lack.
Display and audio
Audio and visuals play a big role in influencing user experience, and the Samsung Galaxy A52 impresses on both fronts. It sports a 6.5-inch sAMOLED screen of fullHD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. The screen is bright and remains legible under bright outdoor conditions. It is set to render vivid colours by default that can be changed to natural, if preferred, from the phone’s display settings. Besides, the screen’s colour profile can also be personalised by manually tuning the white balance and red, green and blue colour intensity. To reduce eye fatigue, the phone ships with an ‘Eye comfort shield’ built in the operating system; it adjusts the screen colour temperature (limiting the blue light) based on the time of day. There is also an option to custom-set the screen colour temperature here. As for responsiveness, the screen is smooth and works fine in everyday use.
Complementing the display are the stereo speakers, which are loud and clear. The speakers support Dolby Atmos to amplify the quality of audio outputs. As a result, the speakers offer a top-notch user experience, especially while playing games and streaming music and videos online. There is also a 3.5mm audio jack for wired audio output.
The Galaxy A52 is the first one in Samsung’s affordable range to feature the optical image stabilisation in its primary 64-megapixel sensor of an f/1.8 aperture. Other than OIS, the entire rear and front camera array of the Galaxy A52 is similar to the one available in other Samsung midrange smartphones. The other three sensors on the back are the 12MP ultra-wide sensor of an f/2.2 aperture and 123-degree field-of-view, a 5MP depth sensor, and a 5MP macro sensor. On the front, the phone has a 32MP sensor for selfies and videos.
The phone’s primary rear camera takes detailed shots in all light conditions. The sensor uses the pixel-binning technology to reduce the output size without compromising much on quality, and the result is apparent on captured images. It, however, misses some details in the process; you get to see these only if you compare the shot with one taken using a dedicated 64MP mode. Though the phone lacks a dedicated telephoto sensor, the pixel-rich primary sensor allows up to 2x digital zoom on the subject without losing much detail, especially in good light.
As for the ultra-wide sensor, it takes good shots in daylight but struggles in dark environments. In daylight conditions, it takes detailed shots with a good colour accuracy, enhanced highlights and shadows, and a decent dynamic range. The macro sensor is good but not the best in its segment. It works fine in day light but not in lowlight conditions. The depth sensor complements the primary sensor’s performance, and it works well for the bokeh effect and camera filters.
It is good to see Samsung bringing some of its premium camera features to affordable midrange smartphones. Like the Galaxy S21 series, you can pull out a high-resolution (8MP) screen grab from 4K videos. Besides, there is a manual mode named ‘Pro’ for both still imaging and videos. Other Samsung-exclusive features like ‘Single Take’ is also available here. This feature utilises the phone’s available optics and their value-added features at once to capture frames in multiple formats and shows them all at one place. You can select the best shot, and delete the rest, keep all of them, or delete them all. Aside from all these, Samsung has integrated Snapchat Lenses right into the Galaxy A52 camera user interface. This is new and currently exclusive to the new Galaxy A-series smartphones.
As for the front camera, it is also a capable one and supports some software-based optimisation, such as the portrait mode, live focus selfie videos, night mode, etc. The ‘Single Take’ feature is also available for the front camera and it works equally well, given there is good lighting to support it.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G system-on-chip, paired with up to 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The phone boots Android 11 operating system-based OneUI 3.1. The phone’s performance matches its midrange pricing. It handles everyday operations with ease and does a decent job with regard to heavy-duty tasks. Gaming performance is also good but some graphic-intensive gaming titles are best played in medium graphics settings. As for the user interface, it is a familiar one that ships with other recently launched Samsung budget and midrange smartphones. There is a lot of preloaded bloatware, including some that cannot be uninstalled from the phone.
And, if the bloatware was not annoying enough, the Galaxy A52 gets constant notification from the ‘AppCloud’ service to complete the device set-up. Once you click on the notification, it redirects to the ‘IronSource’ app store, which asks for your permission to install and make recommendations on new apps of interest. Surprisingly, you cannot bypass this part of set-up as the notification keeps popping up until you approve the permission. Moreover, the set-up compels you to download and install more junk in the smartphone in the name of recommended apps. There is a way to not do so but it is not direct and can only be done if you have time and patience.
The Galaxy A52 is powered by a 4,500 mAh battery, which is good for a day’s on-battery time with the screen set at 90Hz. The on-battery time reduces to around 10 hours on heavy usage like gaming, video recording, multimedia editing, video streaming, etc. The phone supports 25W fast wired charging but comes with a 15W charger, which takes about two hours to replenish the battery fully.
Priced Rs 26,499 onwards, the Samsung Galaxy A52 is an all-round midrange smartphone with something in store for everyone. It boasts a good sAMOLED display of 90Hz refresh rate, loud and clear stereo speakers, 3.5mm audio out port for wired earphones, a capable camera system, and sleek performance. Except for the IP67 protection and camera system with OIS, there is nothing new that the Galaxy A52 brings to the table when compared with other smartphones in the midrange segment. Therefore, it might not be the best midrange smartphone but the best in Samsung's line-up.