Samsung Galaxy A52s Review: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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Samsung’s Galaxy A52s is a mid-year upgrade to the Galaxy A52 which was launched in March this year. The GalaxyA52 has so far been a decent mid-range offering, and stands out thanks to its IP67 rating, which most other phones in the mid-range don’t have. With a starting price of Rs. 26,499 for the 6GB RAM variant, the Galaxy A52 still offers decent value even though it isn’t the most modern phone.

Now, with the Galaxy A52s, Samsung has added a couple of improved features and specifications. There’s a 120Hz display, 5G, and a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC, which performs better than the Snapdragon 720G in the A52. While the Galaxy A52s seems like an overall improvement, its higher price means it isn’t a direct replacement to the Galaxy A52 (Review).

Samsung Galaxy A52s price in India

The Samsung Galaxy A52s, just like the Galaxy A52, is available in two variants but they are positioned considerably higher. The base variant has 6GB of RAM and is priced at Rs. 35,999. The higher-end variant has 8GB of RAM and is priced at Rs. 37,499. Both variants have 128GB of internal storage and are available in three finishes: Awesome Black, Awesome White, and Awesome Violet. I received the 8GB RAM variant in Awesome White for this review.

Samsung Galaxy A52s design

The Galaxy A52s is pretty much identical to its predecessor in terms of design. The phone has a polycarbonate back panel with a plastic frame. The frame has a smoky chrome finish, while the back panel has a matte white surface that feels like marble. The matte plastic back panel is good at rejecting fingerprints and gives the phone a premium feel. A design element that stands out is the camera module, which protrudes slightly from the back but features a similar finish and colour. This makes the lens cut-outs stand out, and gives the phone a very modern appearance.

The Samsung Galaxy A52s has a back panel that is made of polycarbonate

 

Unlike most smartphones in this segment, the Galaxy A52s has a 3.5mm headphone jack that is located at the bottom next to the USB Type-C port and the primary speaker. The phone’s earpiece sits in a fine slit between the display glass and the plastic frame that protects it. Apart from being used for calls, it does double duty as a secondary speaker.

Just like the Samsung Galaxy A52, the A52s has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. This is one of only a few smartphones that offer this premium feature, and as per Samsung, the phone can withstand submersion up to 1m in fresh water for up to 30 minutes.

The Galaxy A52s has a 6.5-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display with a cutout for the selfie camera. The display is made of Gorilla Glass 5 and is good at resisting smudges. The bezels appear a bit thicker than on most smartphones in the sub-Rs. 40,000 segment.

Samsung Galaxy A52s specifications and software

The Samsung Galaxy A52s uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G SoC. This mid-range processor is also found in Realme GT Master Edition and the Moto Edge 20, which are priced starting from Rs. 25,999 and Rs. 29,999 respectively. This processor isn’t underpowered in any way, but the Galaxy A52s will be compared against other sub-Rs. 40,000 smartphones such as the Realme GT and the Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro, which are powered by Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 888 processor.

Samsung Galaxy A52s side ports ndtv SamsungGalaxyA52s  Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy A52s has a 3.5mm headphone jack

 

The Galaxy A52s offers up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There is a hybrid dual-SIM tray which can accept microSD cards of up to 1TB. There’s support for Bluetooth 5, Dual-band Wi-Fi 6, NFC, and the usual set of navigation systems. While the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, there is no FM radio app.

Samsung’s One UI 3.1 runs the show on the Galaxy A52s. It’s based on Android 11 and features the recent August security patch. It’s heavily customised and comes loaded with several Samsung-branded as well as third-party apps. The third-party apps can be uninstalled if you don’t need them. Save for the occasional promotional notification from the Galaxy Store, these apps did not interfere with my software experience, which felt fluid and lag-free with regular use.

Samsung Galaxy A52s performance and battery life

The 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate, which is an upgrade from the 90Hz panel on the Galaxy A52. The 120Hz refresh rate is useful while playing fast-paced games, and the Super AMOLED panel with its deep blacks made video content look quite immersive, helped by sound from the stereo speakers. The display is good at rejecting fingerprints and is legible under direct sunlight. What I did miss with the Galaxy A52s is support for HDR10 while streaming video.

Samsung Galaxy A52s front display camera ndtv SamsungGalaxyA52s  Samsung

The Galaxy A52s’ display does not support HDR10 

 

The performance of the Samsung Galaxy A52s’ Snapdragon 778G isn’t bad, but it isn’t on par with competing smartphones at the same price level. With that said, the Galaxy A52s achieved an AnTuTu score of 5,07,534, which is a lot lower than the Realme GT’s score of 8,02,974. Geekbench saw a similar difference, with the Galaxy A52s obtaining scores of 739 (single-core) and 2,733 (multi-core), while the Realme GT managed 1,138 and 3,408 respectively.

Synthetic benchmarks aside, the Galaxy A52s’ gaming performance wasn’t bad. I played Call of Duty: Mobile at the Very High graphics and frame rate settings with no noticeable heating issues or lag. Touch sampling felt a wee bit slow, but I did not lose any matches because of it.

What did annoy me was the placement of the display’s ambient light sensor to the left of the hole-punch camera, which meant that I often ended up blocking it when holding the device horizontally while playing games or watching videos. This led to the display dimming itself frequently when that wasn’t needed. The obvious solution is to flip the phone around, but I ended up blocking the speaker grille when holding it that way. Thankfully, Samsung has a solution. For trouble-free gaming, open the Game Launcher app, tap on ‘Game performance’, then ‘Block during game’, and then flip the ‘Auto brightness’ toggle.

Samsung Galaxy A52s back camera design ndtv SamsungGalaxyA52s  Samsung

The Galaxy A52s has four rear cameras

 

The Samsung Galaxy A52s lasted 15 hours and 43 minutes in our HD video loop battery test, which isn’t bad for a premium smartphone, but is surprisingly lower than what we got with the Galaxy A52. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case with everyday use as the phone easily lasted me a day and half with some gaming, photography, and video streaming. Charging the phone using the included 15W charger took 1 hour and 37 minutes, which isn’t bad. This could be improved if you use your own 25W charger, which this phone will support.

Samsung Galaxy A52s cameras

The Samsung Galaxy A52s has four rear cameras. This setup includes a 64-megapixel primary, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, a 5-megapixel macro, and a 5-megapixel depth camera. Selfie duties are handled by a 32-megapixel front camera. The camera’s interface is typically Samsung, and has all the important controls accessible with a single tap. The camera modes can be customised as well. One detail to note is that the ultra-wide-angle camera only shoots video at 30fps at both 1080p and 4K resolutions.

Samsung Galaxy A52s daylight camera samples. Top to bottom: Close-up, wide, ultra-wide-angle (Tap to see full size)

 

The Galaxy A52s turned out to be quite the performer when taking photos in daylight. These photos came out a bit saturated (which is typically Samsung) but sharp and clear with good dynamic range. Photos shot indoors also came out clear, but this heavily depended on the quality of artificial lighting; the lack of which led to lesser detail. The primary rear camera shoots sharp portraits with plenty of detail and good edge detection. The 32-megapixel front camera also captures some sharp selfies with excellent detail and impressive edge detection.

Samsung Galaxy A52s selfie camera samples. Top: Auto mode, bottom: Portrait (Tap to see full size)

 

Some shots taken with the ultra-wide-angle camera in daylight looked decent, but showed some purple fringing in brighter areas There was also some nasty barrel distortion around the edges of frames, making the photos appear stretched and blurred. Samsung’s ultra-wide shape correction camera feature only made things worse. The 5-megapixel macro camera managed some good close-ups, but details were a bit exaggerated.

Samsung Galaxy A52s low light camera samples. Top: Auto mode, bottom: Night mode (Tap to see full size)

 

Photos shot in low light showed noticeably less detail and sharpness. The Night mode managed to correct most of this but was not very effective in dimly lit scenes, as it only managed to brighten the image without any noticeable gain in clarity or noise reduction. I also noticed a watercolour-like effect in most Night mode photos, with flattened textures which is quite similar to what we observed in our Galaxy A52 review. Low-light selfies came out with lots of noise, even with the Night mode.

Video recorded at all resolutions showed good detail in daylight. However, only video recorded at 1080p 30fps had good stabilisation, while 1080p 60fps and 4K 30fps clips looked very shaky. In low light, the quality dropped quite drastically with blurred textures and limited dynamic range, and stabilisation wasn’t great either.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A52s is a worthy upgrade if you are a fan of the brand or are looking for a premium smartphone with an IP rating in the sub-Rs. 40,000 segment. However, when it comes to value, the Galaxy A52s’ high price sees it getting sandwiched by phones that cost far less or offer superior features and performance.

Motorola’s Edge 20 is based on the same processor but also has a 108MP camera, 144Hz refresh rate display, and a super slim body, all at a lower price (Rs. 29,999), while the Realme GT (Review) offers a Snapdragon 888 processor along with much better low-light camera performance at a similar price (Rs. 37,999). For a few thousand Rupees more, Xiaomi’s Mi 11X Pro (Review) (from Rs. 39,999) has a bigger display, a 108MP primary camera, and HDR10+ video streaming support, but not an IP rating.


This week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, we discuss the Surface Pro 8, Go 3, Duo 2, and Laptop Studio — as Microsoft sets a vision for Windows 11 hardware. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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