Samsung Galaxy A52 review

GSMArena Team, 25 March 2021.

Brighter and faster 90Hz, 6.5-inch AMOLED display

The Galaxy A52, as well as this year's A32 and A72, for that matter, all offer solid display upgrades over their predecessors. Samsung has brought out all of the stops this time around for its budget lineup. High refresh rate is making a debut in the Galaxy A family, and it's not just limited to one device either. All of the above models have new, smooth 90Hz panels. That includes the 6.5-inch one on the Galaxy A52.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

Not only is the panel faster, but it is significantly brighter, as well. Samsung advertises a sunlight brightness of 800 nits on the A52. While we didn't quite match that, we came very close with our standardized tests, which utilize 75% of the display area.

The A52 is thus comfortably usable outdoors, even in sunny weather.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy A32 (Max Auto) 0 814
Samsung Galaxy A52 (Max Auto) 0 794
OnePlus Nord (Max Auto) 0 756
Samsung Galaxy M51 (Max Auto) 0 677
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G (Max Auto) 0 642
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite (Max Auto) 0 596
Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite (Max Auto) 0.455 596 1310:1
Realme 7 Pro (Max Auto) 0 585
Realme 7 5G (Max Auto) 0.667 571 856:1
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G (Max Auto) 0 570
Moto G9 Power (Max Auto) 0.325 521 1603:1
Realme 7 5G 0.376 484 1287:1
Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite 0.348 476 1368:1
Realme 7 Pro 0 459
Moto G9 Power 0.259 435 1680:1
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite 0 424
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G 0 410
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G 0 395
Samsung Galaxy A32 0 393
Samsung Galaxy A52 0 386
Samsung Galaxy M51 0 373
OnePlus Nord 0 323

In terms of colors, there are two profiles available on the Galaxy A52 - Vivid (default) and Natural. The former comes with a color tone slider, as well as custom white point adjustment.

Display color settings - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Display color settings - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Display color settings - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Display color settings

Natural, as is typically the case on Samsung devices, targets sRGB accuracy and does so very well on the A52. It can be considered perfectly color-accurate.

As great as the new generation of a fast and bright panel on the Galaxy A52 is, it does lack HDR capabilities, or at the very-last HDR certification. Still, on the plus side, the phone has Widevine L1 support, which means that services like Netflix offer up FullHD resolution to properly make use of the FullHD panel.

Netflix resolution screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Netflix resolution screen

Samsung has also included blue light protection, called Eye comfort shield. It has an adaptive setting that gradually adjusts colors throughout the day, if you are into that, as well as a simpler schedule option. You can also have Dark mode on a schedule.

Eye comfort shield - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Eye comfort shield - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Eye comfort shield

High refresh rate handling

90Hz is pretty-much the "entry-level" high refresh rate option on a modern smartphone. Even so, the extra smoothness and responsiveness it offers, particularly with scrolling, is tangible and much appreciated. And even if it is on the low end of the refresh rate scale, you still want it handled properly, both so you can get the most out of the experience and not waste any unnecessary battery life in the process.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

Samsung hasn't promised any advanced refresh rate behavior on the A52 like the one it has on its flagships and, indeed, the 90Hz refresh rate mode mostly sticks the panel to 90Hz and leaves it there.

We tried apps such as the default Gallery app and video player, Google Photos, Gmail, Drive, and Play Store - they all run at 90Hz. YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat as well.

Apps that specifically mandate 60Hz operation for one reason or another would of course run at the lower refresh rate, but they are the exceptions to the rule. Notable examples include Google Maps and the Camera app, as well as other apps that use a Maps UI component or call up a camera viewfinder.

This cements our conclusion further that what Samsung is calling "High" Motion smoothness mode on the A52 just means 90Hz mode. In all fairness, there isn't any mention of the word "adaptive" or anything to suggest that throughout the UI, so we can't complain too much.

As far as wasting battery through high refresh rate goes, 90Hz is a mild offender over 60Hz, as you will see in the battery test section. We just remain hopeful that Samsung will eventually inject some extra "smarts" into the system via software updates.

Finally, we naturally tried some games on the Galaxy A52 that are known to support higher refresh rate panels. However, the thing is that often anything past the 60fps mark is a big ask for the Adreno 618 GPU inside the phone. Even with the help of the performance optimizations and resolution scaler offered by the Samsung Game Launcher.

Samsung Game Launcher - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Game Launcher - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Game Launcher - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Game Launcher - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Samsung Game Launcher

Still, it is at least encouraging to see that the Galaxy A52 runs these titles with 90Hz enabled on its panel, instead of dropping down to 60Hz. Of course, that is not to say that it always manages 90fps to saturate said refresh rate. Still, if you keep the games fairly simple and light, there are plenty of titles that can run at a smoother-than-60 refresh rate on the Galaxy A52 and provide a superior experience.

Games running at 90Hz - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Games running at 90Hz - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Games running at 90Hz - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Games running at 90Hz - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Games running at 90Hz

Battery life

Samsung managed to pack a respectable 4,500 mAh battery inside the 8.4mm, 189-gram body of the Galaxy A52. That's less than the 5,000 mAh housed within the similarly sized Galaxy A32, but also a nice bump up from the 4,000 mAh in the last-gen Galaxy A51.

As per our typical practice on devices with high refresh rate displays, we made sure to do our on-screen video and web browsing testing at different refresh rates. In the case of the Galaxy A52 - at 90Hz and then at 60Hz.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

Starting at default 90Hz "High smoothness" mode, the Galaxy A52 managed a respectable 105 hours of endurance in our battery testing. That's about what we have come to expect out of a battery this size in a phone with the Snapdragon 720G chipset and an OLED panel.

You can check the Realme 7 Pro for reference. It has similar hardware though, it is worth noting that it only has a 60Hz display instead of a 90Hz one.

While on the topic of consistent chipset performance, the Snapdragon 720G managed respectable and consistent, as per our database, numbers for both call testing and standby. Naturally, if you go for the Galaxy A52 5G model, with its Snapdragon 750G chipset, instead of the LTE variant we are testing today, you can expect lower numbers in both tests.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

With the newfound 90Hz panel on the Galaxy A52, one thing worth exploring is just how much more power the display uses at its maximum refresh rate compared to 60Hz. As we have proven repeatedly, the jump in power draw from 60Hz to 90Hz on a modern OLED panel isn't all that much and makes the extra smoothness well worth the compromise.

We specifically went out of our way to playback our offline video in 90Hz mode for the 90Hz testing, which is an outright waste. About an hour and a half of waste, to put it in numbers, which you can and should save yourself by just switching to 60Hz for video consumption.

The web browser delta is a lot smaller, which makes sense since adjusting the refresh rate does nothing for the Wi-Fi modem power consumption, which is a substantial chunk of the equation. Whereas video decoding on a modern smartphone is a low-effort task for an ARM hardware video decoder, leaving the display and speakers as the main power consumers in this scenario.

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

All test results shown are achieved under the highest screen refresh rate mode. You can adjust the endurance rating formula manually so it matches better your own usage in our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we've tested.

Charging speed

Like we mentioned in the unboxing section, the Samsung Galaxy A52 ships with a tried-and-true 15W (9V@1.67A) Adaptive Fast Charging adaptor (Quick Charge based), that even uses an older-style USB Type-A to Type-C cable. This is all in the name of cutting costs. But, a new addition for this generation of Galaxy A devices is 25W PD charging support. To get that to work, you do have to buy a 25W PD charger separately, though.

We did have one so the test charts below will show you the results with both chargers, clearly outlining the benefits of the more powerful charger. We are a bit sour that Samsung didn't include the 25W charger outright, but we guess the company is eager to pump up its charger sale volumes this year, so we are left with no choice but to go with the flow. Who said you need to buy your more powerful charger from Samsung anyway?

30min charging test (from 0%)

  • Realme 7 Pro
    94%
  • Realme 7 5G
    57%
  • Realme 7 5G
    57%
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    54%
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 (25W)
    52%
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    51%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    50%
  • Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
    39%
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    35%
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    34%
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    27%
  • Poco M3
    25%
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    25%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

  • Realme 7 Pro
    0:37h
  • Realme 7 5G
    1:06h
  • Realme 7 5G
    1:06h
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    1:12h
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    1:21h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1:21h
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 (25W)
    1:30h
  • Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
    1:30h
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    2:01h
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    2:03h
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    2:14h
  • Poco M3
    2:30h
  • Xiaomi Redmi 9T
    2:30h

Even so, the potential bump in charging speed is there, tangible and very much appreciated as a small, but nifty generational upgrade.

Speaker test

Speaking of small, but nifty generational updates that pile up nicely on the Galaxy A52, it now gets the benefit of a stereo speaker setup. It is not a "proper" one per say, since the phone only one bottom-firing proper speaker, with an amplified earpiece acting as the other channel. Even so, it makes a noticeable difference in multimedia consumption, which is greatly appreciated.

Overall, it's not the loudest nor the cleanest speaker setup around, by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, it manages to outpace a lot of competitors in the mid-range space, managing a "good" loudness score for its -27 LUFS of loudness in its default mode. That is to say, with Dolby Atmos turned off and the Equalizer set to normal. Turning Dolby Atmos On expectedly lowers maximum volume a bit, down to -29.3 LUFS.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

That's actually worth pointing out, as well - not only does the Galaxy A52 have a stereo speaker setup, but it also has a Dolby Atmos implementation. One that includes presets for movies, music and voice, as well as an automatic option. As a nifty bonus on top of that - Dolby Atmos for gaming specifically picks-up and optimizes certain sounds, like footsteps in-game, for a slight competitive advantage.

Dolby Atmos, equalizers and Adapt sound on the Galaxy A52 - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Dolby Atmos, equalizers and Adapt sound on the Galaxy A52 - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Dolby Atmos, equalizers and Adapt sound on the Galaxy A52 - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Dolby Atmos, equalizers and Adapt sound on the Galaxy A52 - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Dolby Atmos, equalizers and Adapt sound on the Galaxy A52

In our testing, Dolby Atmos managed to offer slight improvements in frequency response in the extreme lows without really altering the rest of the curve in any substantial way. If you elect to leave it off, you will get more loudness overall, though that is hardly vital for multimedia consumption when the phone is typically going to be quite close to your ears. In any case, it is better to have the option and potentially elect not to use it than not have it at all.

Rounding off the audio section, the Galaxy A52 also has an advanced equalizer, as well as Samsung's Adapt sound system, which can tune the audio profile to your specific personal needs and preferences.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Reader comments

  • Paul

Got it and really unhappy. At 189 g its a HEAVY phone. Should have gone for the A51. It's like carrying a lug in your pocket. Samsung STOP making phones over 175G weight! Very dissapointed.

  • enomismile

Is there any chance that Samsung will fix the poor depth camera quality with a future update?

  • Anonymous

I don't know, depends on Are You Ready to Leave the Premium phone and Downgrade to MidRanger phone? You will lose Wireless Charger, Glass Metal Body, Regular Update, Standard Audio Settings, Standard Amoled Settings, and everything is standard i...