This is the tale of two smartphones. It was in mid-March when Samsung hosted its ‘Galaxy Unpacked’ event for its two mid-range 'A' series– Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72– smartphones. While the Galaxy A52 starts at Rs 26,499, the Galaxy A72 starts at Rs 34,999.
Let’s go back to last year, the Galaxy A51 was the second-best-selling smartphone in the world and it was easy to see why. It has an appealing retail price, good design, capable cameras and an ever-improving One UI OS, all from a trustworthy brand. The Galaxy A71, on the other hand, was needlessly more expensive without giving the consumer any compelling reasons to shell out that extra dough.
This year, Samsung hasn’t done itself any favours either. A lot is riding on the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 smartphones. The latter though hasn’t gotten off to a good start. Despite both smartphones switching from an Exynos chipset to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 720G platform, the Galaxy A72 has been priced out of what most people would consider a ‘reasonable range’. The switch to a Snapdragon chipset isn’t enough to entice prospective buyers.
Both smartphones feature very different designs when compared to their predecessors. The biggest upgrade is the fact that they feature AMOLED displays (Samsung has the best displays of anyone in the business) with a 90Hz refresh rate. The 90Hz refresh rate technology is finally trickling down to budget smartphones and it’s nothing short of exciting.
On the design front, Samsung has shelved the premium ‘glasstic’ - almost indistinguishable from glass - and gone back to whole plastic. While it isn’t bad per se, it’s not the premium experience we’ve all come to expect from Samsung. It’s a clean design with pastel hues (Awesome Blue and Awesome Violent are the colours of the smartphones I got for review) and a camera setup that blends into the design (ala Galaxy S21 series). The matte coating makes it easier for one to grip the smartphones.
The colours of ‘Awesome Blue’ and ‘Awesome Violet’ do stand out and are less prone to cracking if they do fall to the floor, so that’s a positive.
There are minute differences between the two smartphones. The Galaxy A52 features a 4,500 mAh battery while the Galaxy A72 has a 5,000 mAh battery. The Galaxy A72 comes with 8G of RAM while the Galaxy A52 has 6GB and 8G variants. There’s also one small difference in the quad-camera setups of each smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy A72
The Galaxy A72 comes with a 64MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra wide-angle, an 8MP telephoto and a 5MP macro camera. The Galaxy A52 swaps out the 8MP telephoto for a 5MP telephoto.
Other than that, these smartphones are pretty much equal. From the Snapdragon 720G chipset to the 32MP selfie camera and from IP67 rating (water and dust resistant) to a 3.5mm headphone jack, there’s hardly anything to separate one from the other. This question just begs to be asked; why purchase the Galaxy A72 over the Galaxy A52? If you are asking yourself if the Rs 8,000 premium is worth it.
The answer is simply no.
Both these smartphones are great for daily usage. They perform surprisingly well with the Snapdragon 720G. While there is the occasional stutter when opening an app, and a freeze here and there when multitasking, it doesn’t happen often enough to deter from the experience.
The phones run One UI 3.1 (based on Android 11) out of the box and that’s a huge positive as the OS is clean and comes with a lot of customisation options. There are the usual collection of pre-installed apps (aka bloatware) though, most of which can be uninstalled. Annoying yes, but, Samsung hasn’t mentioned when they’d be moving away from this approach.
It’s the 90Hz AMOLED display that is a breath of fresh air. From browsing to scrolling through social media, the experience is super smooth. The AMOLED display itself is one of the best in the business. Samsung routinely comes out with the best displays and you expect nothing less with the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 devices. Plus, the display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5.
While the Galaxy A52 is good for gaming, it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the other smartphones in its price range. Some of the more visually-taxing games will not play friendly on the device.
Samsung Galaxy A52
The 4,500 mAh and 5,000 mAh batteries on the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 smartphones respectively hold up well but aren’t as good as their predecessors and that’s down to the high refresh panels. The batteries last a good day but don’t expect two days of battery life!
The cameras, though far improved from their predecessors, still lack in overall output quality as opposed to the competition (read Redmi Note 10 Pro Max). The primary lens is good in the daylight, while the ultra-wide has a lot of noise and distortion and lacks details on the edges. The macro lens is more fail than a pass (you need to position it very carefully and have good light).
The portrait shots have decent edge detection and the front camera is strictly good for daylight conditions only.
For a company that has a smartphone in every budget, the 'A' series is mighty important to Samsung’s top-line. It’s the bridge between the 'M' series and the 'S' series.
The Galaxy A52 is a knockout budget (or mid-range, depending on who you ask) smartphone from Samsung. One of the best that Samsung has ever released in India. It’s got a snappy Snapdragon 720G chipset, an outstanding AMOLED display (with 90Hz refresh rate) and a much better camera system than its predecessors. There’s also a good day’s worth of battery life and more future updates promised than other Android smartphones in this category. Along with this, you get IP67 dust and water resistance and the famed 3.5mm headphone jack.
Samsung Galaxy A72 in 'Awesome Violet' and Samsung A52 in 'Awesome Blue'
If you’re yearning for a Samsung smartphone, then the Galaxy A52 is one of the best choices out there.
The Galaxy A72, on the other hand, is almost identical to the Galaxy A52. In many ways, one can mistake the Galaxy A52 for the Galaxy A72 and vice-versa. And does not justify the Rs 8,000 premium. If one is looking to spend on a Galaxy A72, then they should spend a little bit more money and get the Galaxy S20 FE 5G smartphone that Samsung just launched in the country. That is miles better in every department and costs just a few thousand rupees more.
It’s baffling as to why Samsung would want to sabotage the sales of one of its products (Xiaomi does that with Redmi and Poco) but that’s just what has happened with the Galaxy A72.
The bottom line is this: Get the Galaxy A52, as it is value for money, a power-packed performer from Samsung. If you’re even considering the Galaxy A72, don’t. Stretch your budget and get the Galaxy S20 FE 5G or, save a couple of thousand rupees and put it back into your savings account. There are no two ways about this.
All images by Sahil Bhalla.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are the author's own.