Samsung Galaxy A32 review

GSMArena Team, 26 March 2021.

Android 11 and OneUI 3.1, all of the updates

The Galaxy A32 is launching with the latest One UI 3.1 and Android 11 combo out-of-the-box - the same treatment as the A52. Like most other recent Samsungs, the A32 should get 3 major OS updates, as well as 4 years of security patches. Theoretically, your Galaxy A32 should get Android 14 in 2023. That's a great commitment to support if we've ever seen one.

Samsung Galaxy A32 review

To be fair, visually, One UI 3.1 hardly represents a major leap forward compared to 3.0 and even 2.5. Still, there are some subtle differences worth going over. For example, the default lock screen shortcuts - dialer and camera, are now monochrome - they used to match the respective apps' colors. Oddly enough, if you pick different apps, they will keep their colors - it's not a first-party vs. third-party type of differentiation either.

Among the functional changes on the lock screen is the added wellbeing widget - you can now keep track of how much time you've spent on your phone without even unlocking it. Meanwhile, the always-on display settings have been simplified.

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Lock screen

Unlocking the phone is best done using the fingerprint reader embedded in the display. The option is there if you want to use face unlock. It can be more convenient in certain situations, but it generally is less secure since it's just based on the selfie camera. Iris scanners are sadly a thing of the past now, not that an A32 would have gotten one.

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Biometrics and security

Another notable change is that pulling the notification shade covers the entire screen underneath, even if there's just one notification card or none at all. Previously, the portion of the screen below the last notification would remain visible but darkened.

While we're here, the quick toggles can now be edited directly from the plus button at the end of the list instead of going into the menu.

Coming courtesy of Android 11, there is now Notification history, too. It's accessed from the Settings menu, so it's not within immediate reach, but it's there for those occasions when you dismissed a notification too quickly, and you can't seem to find what it was about. Just make sure to enable it because it's Off by default.

All of the standard layout adjustments and toggles for the quick panel and taskbar are accounted for. Android 11 has a new way of handling notifications for instant messenger apps called Bubbles, and One UI 3 adopts it, too. That's in addition to a previously available similar feature offered by Samsung by the name of Smart pop-up view. You'll find these settings under the 'Floating notifications' submenu, where you can alternatively turn both of them off and opt for the old-school cards only interface.

Bubbles is an extension of the Conversations feature, another new development. You tap on an icon in the initial incoming message notification. It turns into a conversation that you can then minimize to a bubble, or what was known as a 'chat head' - originally Facebook Messenger's default way of dealing with chats.

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Notifications and quick toggles

Introduced with Google's latest OS version, the new media controls have been implemented in One UI as well. You get a stack of the active audio playback apps right below the quick toggles and swiping to the side switches between the apps.

The Media screen was already available on One UI 2.5 pre-Android 11, and it offers similar functionality for picking the output device or using Samsung's Music share feature. The volume control panel has gotten a makeover too, and now the four sliders are vertical instead of the horizontal ones of One UIs past.

Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A32 review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A32 review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A32 review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A32 review
Media controls

Yet another of the native Android 11 improvements that Samsung also includes in One UI 3 is the ability to pin apps to the top of the sheet with Share options. It's one of those things that make you wonder how come it had to wait until v11 for us to get there. Things are much better now, but still, we'd like to be able to remove some of the options, too, because that list could sure use some decluttering.

One more thing that Google tweaked in this year's release is the permission handling, and Samsung's implemented it in One UI 3. With this version, you will now see a new prompt for permissions every time an app requests it, letting you deny permission, allow it only while using the app, or just for this one time. If an app requires constant access to permission, you also get a fourth option that takes you to a setting page where you can provide it. This is done to prevent the user from accidentally selecting this option while blazing through the permission dialogs.

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Share options pinning • Permissions handling

The settings menu has seen a subtle but meaningful makeover. Subcategories are made more legible by using a dot separator and extra intervals, while recent searches are now shown as bubbles instead of a list. Additionally, there's a newly added feature to search settings by hashtags - for conceptually related things found in different places in the menu.

The dialer comes with a bunch of cosmetic changes itself. You get to pick one of two layouts for the in-call screen. You can also set up a background image or video for that screen, though it's going to be all the same for all of your calls - you can't have a different one on a per-person basis.

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Settings UI • Samsung dialer

There are plenty of other smaller visual changes scattered all throughout One UI 3.1. Samsung's excellent theme support and rich online selection are present, as well. The same goes for the system navigation options, with a few tweaks and layouts available for gestures, as well as old-school button controls, even the really-old original style, with the back button on the right side.

Similarly to the A52, the Galaxy A32 has a rich selection of additional Samsung software features. Things like the Edge panels interface, Bixby and full integration of the SmartThings platform. There is also Game launcher, the hub for all your games, which also provides options for limiting distraction when gaming is here to stay as well.

Samsung still elected not to include some of its more advanced features on the Galaxy A32, most notably Dex. Even in its absence, though, you can still get a lot of its functionality through the Link to Windows feature that has been implemented in cooperation with Microsoft.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Galaxy A32 has the Mediatek Helio G80 chip inside, an okay performer but one that's going to have a hard time competing with rival offerings in this price bracket. It features an octa-core CPU in a 2+6 configuration (2x2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55) and a Mali-G52 MC2 GPU. A number of RAM and storage options are available, ranging from 4GB/64GB all the way to 8GB/128GB. Our review unit is the 4GB/128GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy A32 review

The CPU does have two Cortex-A75 cores that can put out decent numbers for more demanding operations, but most competitors use designs based on the newer A76, and they're often clocked higher than the 2.0GHz in the G80 chipset. So the Galaxy A32 results are showing it's not quite up there with rivals' results in GeekBench. It's an insignificantly small improvement over the Galaxy A31 and notably behind the A52 and most other phones you can get for the money.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    2196
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2009
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    1980
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    1910
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    1848
  • Realme 7 Pro
    1811
  • Realme 7 5G
    1794
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1780
  • Poco X3 NFC
    1777
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    1775
  • vivo V20
    1686
  • Realme 7
    1681
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    1666
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    1577
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1385
  • Realme 6i
    1349
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1328
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1277
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    1216
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1034

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    661
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    659
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    643
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    608
  • Realme 7 5G
    598
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    595
  • Realme 7 Pro
    576
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    569
  • Poco X3 NFC
    568
  • vivo V20
    554
  • Realme 7
    536
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    525
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    522
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    517
  • Realme 6i
    388
  • Realme Narzo 20
    385
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    361
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    352
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    311
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    169

The Antutu results largely mirror the CPU-only GeekBench ones. The A32 is significantly more powerful than the A12, but it's no match for the Snapdragon 720s or the Dimensity 800s of this world.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    324686
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    318882
  • Realme 7 5G
    318535
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    312461
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    295562
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    295442
  • Realme 7
    292828
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    291407
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    288732
  • Poco X3 NFC
    283750
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    279579
  • Realme 7 Pro
    278414
  • vivo V20
    276006
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    261282
  • Realme 6i
    202275
  • Realme Narzo 20
    193912
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    174332
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    173611
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    151815
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    107189

The Galaxy A32's GPU is struggling a bit with the high-res display, as evidenced by the results in GFXBench.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 7 5G
    35
  • Realme 7
    34
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    34
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    34
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    34
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    33
  • Poco X3 NFC
    33
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    33
  • vivo V20
    31
  • Realme 7 Pro
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    29
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    26
  • Realme 6i
    16
  • Realme Narzo 20
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    13
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    7.7

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    56
  • Realme Narzo 20
    32
  • Realme 6i
    31
  • Realme 7 5G
    31
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    30
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    29
  • Realme 7
    28
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    28
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    28
  • Poco X3 NFC
    27
  • vivo V20
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    26
  • Realme 7 Pro
    25
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    12
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    12

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 7
    20
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    20
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    20
  • Realme 7 5G
    20
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    19
  • Poco X3 NFC
    19
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    19
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    19
  • Realme 7 Pro
    18
  • vivo V20
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    17
  • Realme Narzo 20
    16
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    14
  • Realme 6i
    9.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    9.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    8
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    7.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.3

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    33
  • Realme Narzo 20
    18
  • Realme 6i
    17
  • Realme 7
    17
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    17
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    17
  • Realme 7 5G
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    16
  • Poco X3 NFC
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    16
  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    15
  • vivo V20
    15
  • Realme 7 Pro
    14
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    8.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    7
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    6.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    5

The uphill battle continues in 3DMark, where the majority of competitors score 2x higher than the Galaxy A32.

3DMark SSE ES 3.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    3308
  • Realme 7 5G
    3163
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    3147
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    2819
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    2810
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2789
  • Realme 7
    2709
  • Poco X3 NFC
    2689
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    2683
  • vivo V20
    2593
  • Realme 7 Pro
    2541
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    2529
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    2166
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1400
  • Realme 6i
    1363
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1323
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    1150
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1127
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    365

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1.0 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Reno4 Z 5G
    3180
  • Realme 7 5G
    3028
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
    3003
  • Realme 7
    2772
  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro
    2735
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    2609
  • Motorola Moto G 5G
    2608
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2595
  • Poco X3 NFC
    2495
  • vivo V20
    2451
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    2406
  • Realme 7 Pro
    2358
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    2012
  • Realme Narzo 20
    1382
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1371
  • Realme 6i
    1347
  • Motorola Moto G Pro
    1125
  • Samsung Galaxy A31
    894
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    612

The benchmark scores confirm what we already expected - the Galaxy A32's chipset isn't competitive. The phone isn't slow, strictly speaking, and the 90Hz refresh rate does make for a mostly fluid experience. However, there are occasional hiccups when shuffling through the UI, the unlocking is on the slow side of the spectrum, Night mode processing takes a while and introduces crashes more often than we'd like - overall, the phone would have benefited from a better SoC, but there's only so much you can fit in a certain budget.

Reader comments

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  • Barries

The SAMSUNG A32 is really a poor choice. The only reason why you will think the A32 is a great product, is because you never used a Huawai phone. I made such a big mistake to go from Huawei to Samsung

  • Old Sea Man

Fingerprint reader is for all practical purposes COMPLETELY USELESS. Face recognition is not much better. This means it's a mission to answer calls.