Samsung held an "Awesome" Unpacked event early Wednesday morning, where the smartphone maker announced a trio of new phones. All three phones, the Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G, and Galaxy A72, are successors to last year's A models, adding new features and capabilities while retaining a mid-tier price.
We don't know when Samsung will launch the new phones in the US, nor do we know US pricing yet, but we can get a rough estimate based on the European pricing. The Galaxy A52 will cost €349 (about $415), the Galaxy A52 5G is €429 (about $510), and the Galaxy A72 is €449 (about $534).
All three models are less expensive than Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup, which launched in January and start at $799 for the Galaxy S21, $999 for the Galaxy S21 Plus, and $1,199 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Galaxy A line has always filled the role of a less expensive alternative to Samsung's flagship line without sacrificing too much when it comes to performance. To account for the price difference, Samsung has typically made concessions when it comes to hardware. Whether it was the display, processor, or camera, corners were cut.
But when looking at the spec sheet of the new crop this morning after they were announced, it's getting harder to see which corners, if any, Samsung has cut. Sure, two of the three new phones lack 5G, but for some, that's a moot point.
It actually looks like Samsung has cut corners on its flagship suite of phones, now. Take the S21 and its lack of expandable storage with the removal of the microSD card slot as an example. That's been a feature that Samsung users and fans have clung to, not only as a useful tool but as a talking point when comparing Samsung phones to Apple's iPhone or even competing Android phones.
All three new A-series models still have microSD support, letting you add up to 1TB of additional storage.
Or how about the fact that Samsung no longer includes a charger with the Galaxy S21 lineup? Guess what comes with the Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G, and the Galaxy A72? That's right, a charger.
Samsung Pay on the Galaxy S21 lost its exclusive and useful MST feature, allowing the phone to trick credit card readers into thinking a card was swiped. Instead, Galaxy S21 owners will only have access to NFC terminals.
That's not the case for all three A-models announced today, each of which has NFC and MST listed on the specification sheet as a mobile payment option.
It's puzzling to me that Samsung decided to ditch some of the features that made its Galaxy S-series phones so appealing, and yet the company has left those same features in its lower-end, more affordable offerings.
Granted, we aren't sure what the spec sheet will include when Samsung announces these three phones for the US market, but it's hard to imagine they'll vary significantly. If anything, I'd imagine MST would be missing, but microSD support and a charger stick around. Or maybe MST does as well -- it's hard to say.
One thing is clear to me, though. Samsung's smartphone lineup was already confusing based on the sheer number of phones it sold. The Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G, and Galaxy A72 only added to that, but not only because they're yet more phones in the lineup, but because of the experience they offer.
I still have questions about performance and picture quality that can only be answered by going hands on with the new phones, but I also find myself constantly asking another question: Why would anyone buy a Galaxy S21 over any one of these new phones?
And I can't come up with a good answer.