There are a lot of phones in Samsung's Galaxy A range, all with a focus on mid-range pricing. The Galaxy A52 5G is the cream of the current crop -- a 5G handset with IP67 certification against dust and water ingress. Then there's the 6.5-inch screen's 120Hz refresh rate, and twin speakers for stereo sound. All of this comes in at a SIM-free price of £349, or $349.99 in the US.
The Galaxy A52 5G has an interesting chassis design. Its back is made from plastic, and the almost opaque, matte finish is visually appealing. Importantly it doesn't collect fingerprints and is not slippery. Despite this, the handset just failed my 'chair test': it slid off the arm of my sofa a couple of times, but was better at clinging on than many. The edges are a shiny chrome, and look a bit out of place against the backplate's matte. Samsung has decided all four backplate colours are 'awesome', so your choices are Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue and Awesome Violet. As noted, the Galaxy A52 5G has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
The back is punctured by a raised camera housing. This is shallower than many, but its location on the top right edge when the handset is sitting on a desk means that prodding the screen on all but the very bottom of the left side makes the phone rock around.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy A52 5G with a 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom edge, which many will welcome.
The Galaxy A52 5G measures 75.1mm wide by 159.9mm deep by 8.4mm thick and weighs 189g. The screen is a 6.5-inch super AMOLED pane that sits in noticeable, but not huge, bezels. The top and bottom bezels are a couple of millimetres deeper than those on the long edges, and the screen-to-body ratio is 84.8%. The tiny cut-out in the top centre of the screen that accommodates the front camera is barely noticeable when the phone is in use. The fingerprint sensor is an efficient and reliable in-screen type.
The 6.5-inch screen delivers clear, bright and sharp content at FHD+ resolution (2400 x 1080, 405ppi), with a couple of screen mode settings -- Vivid and Natural -- available. If you opt for Vivid you can adjust the white balance, even controlling red, green and blue values separately in 'Advanced settings' if you wish. There is also Samsung's usual Eye Comfort mode, which reduces blue light and can be always on, or scheduled to kick in either at set times or to toggle at sunrise/sunset. Again, you can customise this setting's colour temperature.
As on more expensive handsets, the screen's refresh rate can be set to 120Hz or 60Hz, although there doesn't seem to be a facility for the phone to switch between the two settings dynamically depending on what you're doing. My review was completed entirely with the 120Hz setting, and if I were a regular user I probably would ignore 60Hz completely.
The excellent screen is complemented by a strong stereo speaker setup, sending sound out of the top and bottom of the phone. Gamers will appreciate the rich audio quality, as will anyone listening to music or watching video without headphones.
You can't expect a £/$350 handset to run on a flagship chipset, but the Galaxy A52 5G's Snapdragon 750G 5G mobile platform, supported by 6GB of RAM, delivered decent Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 642 (single core) and 1659 (multi core). For comparison, the £329 OnePlus Nord N10 5G, which is based on the Snapdragon 690 platform, scored 608 and 1866 respectively.
This 5G handset can accommodate two SIMs, but if you want to augment the internal storage, one SIM will need to make way for a MicroSD card. There is 128GB on-board, of which 26GB is used out of the box, leaving 102GB free. That 26GB is occupied by Android 11, the Samsung One UI 3.1 overlay and a bevy of additional apps.
Samsung's overlay adds some useful features to the settings area, but you also get several apps that duplicate those provided with Android. If it's too much, a hard reset will allow you simply not to install whichever of the Samsung apps you don't want. There's also a bunch of third-party apps, including Spotify, Netflix, Facebook and TikTok, plus Microsoft Office, OneDrive, Outlook and LinkedIn. You can always uninstall any you don't want if you haven't ignored them during setup.
There are four rear cameras, with the main one having a 64MP sensor, an f/1.8 wide-angle lens and optical image stabilisation (OIS). This is complemented by a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle (123°) camera, a 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor and a 5MP f/2.4 macro camera. The front-facing camera is a 32MP f/2.2 unit.
Point-and-click shooting with the main and front cameras was fine: colours were accurate and photos were pleasing. But point-and-click is really about the limit.
Zooming is digital (there's no telephoto camera), and so fidelity disappears rather quickly as you head towards the maximum 10x. The macro lens is frustrating as it lacks autofocus and must be held 3-5cm from the subject -- you'll need a steady hand, and it doesn't get close in enough to pass as a good macro camera. The depth sensing camera is limited in use and might as well not be present. So, two of the four rear cameras are good, but zooming is digital only while the macro and depth cameras are largely superfluous.
The Galaxy A52 5G's 4500mAh battery easily kept the handset going for a day under normal use, lasting for 11 hours 58 minutes under the PCMark for AndroidWork 2.0 battery life test. It also has pretty good stamina for video viewing, delivering three hours of YouTube video from a fully charged battery with a loss of 18%. Fast charging (25W, 50% in 30 minutes) is supported, but there's no wireless charging.
Samsung's Galaxy A52 5G offers a good set of features at a mid-range (£/$350) price point. A distinctive chassis design with a nice matte finish to the backplate, IP67 dust/water resistance, a 3.5mm headset jack and 6GB of RAM plus 128GB of internal storage give it broad appeal, with dual SIM, 5G and MicroSD support adding to the mix. Add in the Super AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and decent performance from the Snapdragon 750G chipset, and you're looking at an attractive package.
But don't be fooled by the quad-camera array at the back. There are two decent cameras (64MP wide angle, 12MP ultra-wide-angle), a disappointing macro camera and a depth sensor that might as well not be there. Point-and-shoot snappers will be fine, but more demanding photographers might want to look elsewhere.