Samsung Galaxy A52 review

GSMArena Team, 25 March 2021.

Android 11 and One UI 3.1 on top

Samsung clearly understands that in order for great hardware to shine, it needs proper software backing it up. In keeping with its new "Awesome is for everyone", the Korean giant is stepping-up its software game significantly with this new Galaxy A family of devices.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

For starters, the Galaxy A52 is launching with the latest One UI 3.1 and Android 11 combo out-of-the-box. Sweetening the deal further, the A52, along with its A72 sibling have been promised 3 major OS updates, as well as 4 years of security patches. Theoretically, your Galaxy A52 should get Android 14 in 2023. That's a great commitment to support if we've ever seen one.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

This is a relatively new move from Samsung, as well, with many recent models that have passed through the office for a review, like the Galaxy A02s launching on One UI 2.5 and Android 10, without any major long-term support promises. 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.

Samsung Galaxy A52 review

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.

Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Lock screen - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
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.

Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
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.

Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Notifications and quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Notifications and quick toggles

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.

Smart pop-up view is one of One UI's lesser-known proprietary features. In the pre-Bubbles days, it used to add the chat head functionality to any application of your choosing. Tapping the hovering 'head' icon opens the app in a floating window, which you can further maximize to fullscreen or minimize it again to an icon. Sort of like Bubbles, only slightly different.

Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Floating notifications

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 A52 review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Media controls

Samsung's Music Share is just one example of a fairly-advanced software feature that originally launched as a flagship one and is now bringing a lot of added value to the mid-range. Understandably, Samsung PR has picked up on the "trendy" nature of Music Share, in particular, and the way it allows you to play music through Bluetooth accessories connected to a friend's Samsung phone. Hence, the feature is being prominently marketed on the Galaxy A52. We have to say it's pretty nifty.

Samsung Music Share - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Music Share - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Music Share - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Samsung Music Share - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Samsung Music Share

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.

Share options pinning and permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Share options pinning and permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Share options pinning and permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Share options pinning and permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Share options pinning and 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.

Settings UI - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Settings UI - Samsung Galaxy A52 review Settings UI - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
Settings UI

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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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. 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.

One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review One UI 3.1 and navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A52 review
One UI 3.1 and navigation options

Like we already mentioned, the Galaxy A52 has a surprisingly-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.

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Additional software features

Samsung still elected not to include some of its more advanced features on the Galaxy A52, 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

Samsung chose what can probably best be described as the "sensible" route for the chipset on the Galaxy A52. And in fact, the galaxy A72, as well. The Snapdragon 720G is just "good-enough" to provide the "oomph" to power its feature set and does so it a very smooth manner, as per our testing. We are also sure than many of the "pickier" users out there will appreciate the choice of a Qualcomm chip this time around, instead of an Exynos, like on the previous-gen Galaxy A51 or a MediaTek unit, like on the A32 and the A41.

Of course, a more cynical view on things brings some other interesting handsets into the comparison, like the Galaxy M51 and its Snapdragon 730G chipset or the two included OnePlus Nord models, with a Snapdragon 690G and 765G, respectively, that are priced kind of similarly to the Galaxy A52.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2009
  • OnePlus Nord
    1953
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    1910
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    1848
  • Realme 7 Pro
    1811
  • Realme 7 5G
    1794
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    1774
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    1694
  • Google Pixel 4a
    1626
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    1577
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    1374
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    1294
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1277
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    1261
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    1175
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    1100
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1034

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    661
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    643
  • OnePlus Nord
    610
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    608
  • Realme 7 5G
    598
  • Realme 7 Pro
    576
  • Google Pixel 4a
    553
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    546
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    525
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    521
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    361
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    349
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    347
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    315
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    309
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    184
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    169

The 2x2.3 GHz Kryo 465 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 465 Silver CPU setup on the Galaxy A52, while far from chart-topping clearly holds its own. Again, better than most Galaxies from a generation ago, not rocking Qualcomm silicon.

Though, that being said, there are still some interesting comparisons here potentially worth pondering upon. For instance, the MediaTek Dimensity 800U, as found in the Realme 7 5G and its surprisingly-potent CPU, as well as overall performance, as per AnTuTu, which is a much more-compound benchmark, that takes into account things like memory and storage size and speed. For the record, our Galaxy A52 review unit is the highest-tier 8GB/256GB model.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    324686
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    318882
  • Realme 7 5G
    318535
  • OnePlus Nord
    312794
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    279579
  • Realme 7 Pro
    278414
  • Google Pixel 4a
    268714
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    266620
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    261282
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    253271
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    187863
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    182875
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    175363
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    174332
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    170044
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    107189
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    107157

Moving on the GPU tests and the Adreno 618 GPU, things aren't looking overly impressive. Naturally, we ran all of the on-screen runs at 90Hz in hopes of seeing some FPS counts above 60. Unfortunately, even in the lowest-intensity OpenGL ES 3.1 Manhattan scenarios we still run, the Galaxy A52 didn't even come close.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord
    55
  • Realme 7 5G
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    46
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    45
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    41
  • Realme 7 Pro
    41
  • Google Pixel 4a
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    39
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    33
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    12

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    59
  • OnePlus Nord
    50
  • Realme 7 5G
    48
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    39
  • Google Pixel 4a
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    37
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    37
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    36
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    35
  • Realme 7 Pro
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    19
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    15

Looking at the numbers next to the Realme 7 Pro, which is rocking the same Snapdragon 720G chipset, it is encouraging to see that Samsung is not leaving any major potential performance on the table. Consistency is probably the best thing one can see within these otherwise purely theoretical benchmark tables, which are otherwise not representative of real-world scenarios anyway.

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord
    21
  • Realme 7 5G
    20
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    19
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    19
  • Realme 7 Pro
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    17
  • Google Pixel 4a
    17
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    17
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    9.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    8.1
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    7.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    6.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    6
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.3

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    33
  • OnePlus Nord
    19
  • Realme 7 5G
    17
  • Google Pixel 4a
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    15
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    15
  • Realme 7 Pro
    14
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    13
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    8.1
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    7.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    6.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    5

Unsurprisingly, the Adreno 618 doesn't suddenly find its hidden stride and excel at the harder Aztek runs with the Vulkan API.

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    23
  • OnePlus Nord
    13
  • Realme 7 5G
    11
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    10
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    9.9
  • Realme 7 Pro
    9.7
  • Google Pixel 4a
    9.6
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    9.2
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    8.7
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    8.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    6.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    4.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    3.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.8
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    3.5

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    21
  • OnePlus Nord
    13
  • Realme 7 5G
    12
  • Google Pixel 4a
    11
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    10
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    10
  • Realme 7 Pro
    9.7
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    8.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    7.1
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    5.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    5
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    4.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    4.5

Same goes for the 3DMark runs, which are arguably even a bit kinder and more generous towards the Galaxy A52.

3DMark SSE ES 3.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord
    3285
  • Realme 7 5G
    3163
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    2819
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2789
  • Realme 7 Pro
    2541
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    2529
  • Google Pixel 4a
    2487
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    2474
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    2467
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    2166
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    1574
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1323
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    1186
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    1149
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    1092
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    888
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    365

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1.0 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord
    3067
  • Realme 7 5G
    3028
  • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
    2609
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
    2595
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
    2406
  • Realme 7 Pro
    2358
  • Samsung Galaxy M51
    2290
  • Google Pixel 4a
    2275
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
    2248
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    2012
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    1554
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1371
  • Samsung Galaxy A41
    1161
  • Motorola Moto G9 Power
    1125
  • Samsung Galaxy M31s
    1013
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
    901
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    612

Circling back to the important bits here, though, the Galaxy A52 runs One UI 3.1 perfectly smooth and chews through daily tasks and the most popular apps with relative ease. We are confident that the Snapdragon 720G provides perfectly adequate performance for 90%, if not more, of the prospective buyers of the A52. The additional features packed inside the Qualcomm package are not a hindrance to the overall feature set of the phone in any way. Samsung has still managed to provide things like the 90fps operation on the UI itself. Plus, other things like 4K video capture on both the main and ultrawide cameras, excellent video stabilization, both of which we will cover in the camera section. Not to mention 25W charging support.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 03 Jan 2023
  • tZj

Mime to also after 1.5 years the back glue is melting and can open , the bad thing is yesterday i got notification ask me to update phone but after i update the new version my phone cannot start alrdy it show running at the 1st page Samsung and and...

  • Anonymous
  • 06 Dec 2022
  • Py$

Try the one plus 9

  • Elsan
  • 27 Nov 2022
  • fuZ

After being convinced with my friend, i was approaching to buy A52,but after seeing these contravecial comments,am so disappointed and forced to wait and re-think again about my choices since am not good on selecting phones (what to be my guidelines ...