Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G full review

The Samsung A52s is the follow-up phone to the mid-range A52, which was released back in spring 2021. Whilst it is nearly identical to its sister handset in its exterior appearance, it has an upgraded chipset which Samsung claims improves the performance and battery life.

But how does this translate to daily use? I have spent some time with the mid-range Samsung Galaxy A52s, seeing how it fairs and compares to rivals of a similar price, including this phone's successor, the A53 5G. Our device sample was supplied by Box

Design and build

  • Design doesn't match the high standards of rivals
  • IP57 rating
  • Four colours on offer

To keep costs down, mid-rangers always have sacrifices when compared to flagship models. For the A52s, this is in the build quality. It is quite bland and feels cheap in your hand, like the standard A52. The bezel around the screen is also quite thick, so it doesn't feel as slim or sleek as other phones. The upside is that at a weight of 189g, this phone is lightweight and easy to port around.

I tested the black model, but you can also get it in purple, white and mint. The rear s plastic rather than glass and picks up fingerprints quite easily.

Samsung A52S

To power off the phone, you must press the dedicated Bixby button and the volume button at the same time. I would prefer that that there was a dedicated power button instead, as I barely use Bixby Voice Assistant – which doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Google Assistant or Siri.

The A52s has a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as space in the SIM tray for a microSD card slot, should the internal storage not be enough for what you need. If you don't add storage, you can instead pop in a second SIM, but can't have both dual SIM and extra storage.

It's great to see an IP57 rating. Many phones of this price point forgo any kind of water-resistance. The stereo speakers produce loud audio, but the lack of any additional audio processing makes it sound tinny.

Samsung A52s

Display

  • 6.5in FHD+ display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Fingerprint sensor and face recognition software is dicey

Whilst the design is nothing to go crazy over, the display on the Samsung A52s is impressive. It has a 6.5in Super AMOLED Full HD screen, with a 120Hz refresh rate and 800 nits max brightness. It's also protected by Gorilla Glass 5.

In plain English, that means a bright, colourful and responsive display, even when used under bright sunlight. Plus, the addition of the small 'waterdrop' in the top of the screen for the front-facing camera hardly interrupts the picture at all.

Samsung A52s

There is no variable refresh rate on the phone, but it is possible to switch it to 60Hz instead of the 120Hz default. Regardless, the battery still manages to last an entire day, even if you leave it set to 120Hz.

The display is flat rather than curved and Samsung claims an 84.9% screen-to-body ratio. That's not bad for a mid-range phone, and while this isn’t the largest display on a phone, it is still great for watching videos.

I wasn't particularly impressed by the in-display fingerprint sensor, or the face recognition using the front camera. Both worked inconsistently, and I ended up resorting to using a password pattern more than I would have liked.

Specs and performance

  • Snapdragon 778G processor
  • 6GB RAM and 128GB storage
  • Great for standard day-to-day use and light gaming

One of the biggest differences between this model and the A52 is the upgraded chipset. The A52s opts for a Snapdragon 778G processor, which has 5G support. This is paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. Whilst these are not the highest numbers, you can add in a microSD card to expand storage by up to 1TB. 

In comparison, the A52 runs an older Snapdragon 750G chip, and you can see from our benchmarking tests how the A52s not only outperforms the older model vastly but keeps up with mid-range heavyweights like the OnePlus Nord 2 in some areas.

In real-world use, performance is absolutely fine. You can multi-task with ease, watching videos while browsing the internet with no stutter or lagging. 

There is some gaming potential, but  high-performance titles like Genshin Impact work best on the lower settings and drain the battery rather quickly. You will need either a dedicated gaming phone or a flagship for heavy-duty games with high graphics output. 

Samsung A52s

Camera

  • Rear camera is very impressive
  • Front camera performs best in outdoor daylight
  • Macro camera is a waste of time

The Samsung Galaxy A52s features a quad-camera set-up, which compromises of a 64Mp main lens, a 12Mp ultrawide lens, a 5Mp macro lens and a 5Mp depth lens. The latter two feel like they're there just to make up the numbers, though.

The photos taken on the main camera are impressive. Colours are bright and contrasting, but still true to life, unlike some rivals which often overblow shades. The inclusion of OIS (optical image stabilisation) means that photos are less likely to be blurry, especially in dim conditions or at night.

Samsung a52S

The depth sensor does have a benefit: you can control the strength of the bokeh effect (those blurry backgrounds that make it look like you took the photo using a DSLR) both before shooting, and after. If you are not happy with the amount of blur, you can edit this by pressing ‘change background effect’.

Shots on the 12Mp ultrawide lens don't have so much fine detail, nor do colours look as rich and cheery.

The 5Mp macro lens is just a gimmick really. I found it awfully hard to get an in-focus close-up shot of a stationary subject.

On the front, there's a 32Mp selfie camera. Shots on this are really impressive in bright daylight. Again, you can edit the bokeh effect on portrait mode both pre and post-shooting, allowing for flexibility. And that's despite the absence of a front-facing depth sensor. There’s also a wide-angle mode, useful for group shots.

Samsung Galaxy A52s camera test

That said, the quality of the photos declines when you take snaps indoors. You can see in the test shots how the colour of my hair looks noticeably duller, and textures don’t pop in the same way that they do in the outdoor shots. This will be noticeable if you are looking to take selfies in darker environments, such as a bar at night.

The Samsung Galaxy A52s can shoot video in 4K up to 30fps. I shot a video in a darker environment, and detail were surprisingly clear. However, the built-in microphones aren't the best. 

Battery life

  • Up to a day-and-a-half battery life depending on use
  • Upgraded processor doesn't improve battery life from A52
  • Slow charger included in the box

The Samsung Galaxy A52s has a 4500mAh battery. While the upgraded processor was meant to improve the battery life of the phone, the numbers didn't show this. The A52s managed 9 hours and 6 minutes, whilst the A52 lasted 11 hours and 3 minutes.

Despite being outperformed by the A52 in our PCMark battery test, it still managed to hold up well day-to-day. I used this phone for audiobooks, Twitch streams, Twitter and taking photos – and it lasted over a day and a half.

Samsung A52s

Charging is quite slow, though. In 30 minutes, from empty, it managed a measly 34% with the included 15W charger. The phone does support charging up to 25W, but you will have to purchase a higher-power charger separately. 

Granted, mid-range phones don't all have fast-charging tech – but Samsung is vastly outpaced in this area by brands such as Realme and OnePlus. At least there's a charger in the box - the flagship S series doesn't include one any longer. 

The A52s doesn't have wireless charging. That's not a common feature on mid-rangers – but that's one area where the new iPhone SE beats the A52s.

Software

  • Android 12 and One UI 4.1 upgrades are available
  • Users reported bugs with One UI 4.0
  • One UI offers good photo editing software

When I received the device, it came with Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI 3.1 layered on the top. However, my review unit got the Android 12 with One UI 4.0 and 4.1 upgrades during testing, so whilst it may not come with 12 straight out of the box, expect an update before too long.

Samsung A52s

When you get the update to Android 12, the phone may change to One UI 4.0 rather than 4.1. I recommend manually updating the phone to 4.1 by searching for 'Software Update' - Android Police reported that users suffered performance issues, overheating and camera quality declines on version 4.0.

Version 4.1 includes a patch update to resolve these issues, and I can attest that I had no problems on my phone. 

Samsung does include some pre-installed app bloat, like booking.com and Samsung Global Goals – though you can uninstall these if you want to declutter your homepage. There's also a push towards Samsung versions of Google software, including the browser, calendar and notes. 

That aside, Google users will find a similar experience to stock Android. One major plus for Samsung is the editing features on the gallery, which other phones in the space don't match up to. On the drop-down menu, there are also shortcuts for SmartThings, Samsung's smart home app, and Music Share for quick Bluetooth connection when playing tunes. 

Samsung A52s

Price & availability

The Samsung Galaxy A52s is priced at £409/$450. You can currently buy it from Box, Samsung, Amazon and John Lewis in the UK. The A52s is not available from carriers in the US, but you can buy a region-unlocked version from Amazon or Aliexpress.

As is common with Samsung phones, many retailers offer discounts off the RRP, and at the time of review, Box is knocking £60 off its previous price of the A52s, bringing it down to just £319.99 or just £299.99 if you're happy with the phone in white.

If you are trying to decide between this phone and the A52, then you get more bang for your buck with the A52s and its upgraded processer - a feature that may matter in the long run.

Samsung A52s

But what about the brand new A53 5G which has just gone on sale? To be honest, there's really not a lot of difference between it and the A52s. Upgrades include a 5000mAh battery and a new Samsung Exynos 1280 chip.

But at £399/$450, it's not quite as tempting, despite the new colours on offer.

There are of course plenty of other options from other brands which have similarly impressive cameras such as the OnePlus Nord 2.

You can see how more rivals compare in our list of the best mid-range phones. We also have a roundup of the best Samsung phones if you're a loyal fan.

Verdict

There is no question that the Samsung A52s is better value than the older A52. It still retains the same dazzling screen, decent rear camera and user-friendly UI – but it bumps up the performance to truly compete with other mid-range models.

The build quality is not the flashiest out there, and the 15W charger included in the box means it can't match some rivals which charge much quicker. Plus, there's no noticeable improvement in the battery life from the A52.

However, this is still a decent mid-range offering from Samsung – especially if you can get it for a much cheaper price now that the new A53 has hit shelves.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G: Specs

  • Android 11 w/ One UI 3.1 (upgrade to Android 12 available)
  • 6.5in, FHD+, Super AMOLED, 120Hz, flat display
  • In-display fingerprint sensor
  • Gorilla Glass 5 (front)
  • Plastic frame
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128 storage, microSD slot
  • 64Mp, f/1.8, main camera with OIS
  • 12Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide camera
  • 5Mp, f/2.4 macro camera
  • 5Mp, f/2.4 depth camera
  • Up to 4K @ 30fps rear video
  • 32Mp, f/2.2 front-facing camera
  • Up to 4K @ 30fps front video
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual-SIM
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4500mAh battery
  • 25W charging
  • 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm
  • 189g
  • Launch colours: Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Violet, Awesome Blue