Samsung has revealed the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, the more affordable alternative to the hot-rod Galaxy S21 smartphones. Despite being around $300 cheaper than the standard S21, it doesn’t skimp on noteworthy features. It boasts a gorgeous 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, a 64-megapixel main rear camera lens, a beefy 4,500mAh battery, and, of course, 5G support.
It’s an attractive phone for the price, but it isn’t the only low-cost 5G-compatible Android phone doing the rounds at the moment. Another strong contender is the Google Pixel 4a 5G, which, for $499, will provide you with not only 5G, but one of the best cameras on any phone, as well as some great Google software.
Both phones are enticing, but which one is better for you? We answer this question by putting the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and Google Pixel 4a 5G through a rigorous comparison test. By looking at their specs, performance, displays, designs, cameras, and software, you should helpfully be able to decide which one is the affordable Android for you.
|Samsung Galaxy A52 5G||Pixel 4a 5G|
|Size||159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm (6.30 x 2.96 x 0.33 inches)||153.9 x 74 x 8.2mm (6.06 x 2.91 x 0.32 inches)|
|Weight||189 grams (6.67 ounces)||168 grams (5.93 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.5-inch OLED||6.2-inch OLED|
|Screen resolution||2400 x 1080 (405 pixels per inch)||2340 x 1080 (413 pixels per inch)|
|Operating system||Android 11||Android 11|
|MicroSD card slot||Yes||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Google Pay, Samsung Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Snapdragon 750G||Snapdragon 765G|
|Camera||64-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth rear, 32MP front||12.2MP, 16MP ultrawide rear, 8MP front|
4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 120fps
|4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240fps|
|Ports||USB-C, headphone jack||USB-C, headphone jack|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, in-display||Yes, on rear|
Fast charging (25W)
Fast charging (18W)
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network support||Most major U.S. carriers||Most major U.S. carriers|
|Colors||Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Violet, Awesome Blue||Just Black, Clearly White|
Design, display, and durability
Samsung Galaxy A52
It may be fairly cheap, but the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G looks nothing short of stunning. It’s adopted the revamped rear design of the S21 series, which means its camera module is molded seamlessly into the back of the phones, sloping down in a way that makes the four rear camera lenses (and the flashlight) seem more discreet than they might otherwise have been. The phone also boasts a sublime edge-to-edge display with a punch-hole selfie camera at the top, with its bezels remaining impressively slimline. Basically, it looks more expensive than it really is.
The Pixel 4a 5G also looks nice, but not quite as nice as the A52 5G, with slightly thicker bezels and a cheaper-looking plastic rear. It’s a similar story when it comes to the displays of both phones, with the resolutions of each very close together, at 2400 x 1080 for the A52 5G and 2340 x 1080 pixels for Google’s phone. That said, the A52’s screen is larger at 6.5 inches versus 6.2 inches, while it also uses Samsung’s improved AMOLED technology. This means the colors it can display are a little deeper and richer, thanks to Samsung’s tech. At the same time, it also offers a very satisfying 90Hz refresh rate, something that the Pixel 4a 5G lacks.
The Galaxy A52 5G also has the upper hand as far as durability is concerned, coming with an IP67 rating, indicating it can withstand immersion in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The Pixel offers no such rating, so combined with the slightly superior design and display, this is a win for Samsung’s phone.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Pixel 4a 5G hosts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, as well as 6GB of RAM, making it more than capable of handling most of the latest games and apps. By contrast, the Galaxy A52 5G ships with the Snapdragon 750G, which isn’t quite as powerful as the 765G, although you’ll barely notice a significant difference. The A52 5G also comes with 6GB of RAM as standard, like the Pixel, but you can pay more for the version with 8GB of RAM, which may give you a slight performance boost (although probably nothing too major).
Both phones contain 128GB of internal memory, although the A52 5G includes a microSD card slot in its SIM tray, so you can expand its internal memory if you need extra space. It also appears to provide superior battery life, with its 4,500mAh outsizing the 3,885mAh offered by the Pixel 4a 5G. That said, we haven’t given the A52 a full road test yet, so we will need to hold off before definitively declaring that you’ll get more use time between charges from it.
It’s also worth pointing out that the A52 5G is compatible with fast charging at 25W, while the Pixel 4a 5G goes up only to 18W. Again, this isn’t a major difference, so without having a full A52 5G review, we’re calling this round a tie.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
As a camera phone, the affordable Pixel 4a 5G is virtually indistinguishable from its more expensive stablemate, the Pixel 5. In other words, it boasts a supremely good camera. It packs a 12.2MP main camera lens and a 16MP ultrawide, both of which harness Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) software to provide great shots in most conditions. Meanwhile, software features such as HDR+ with exposure bracketing, Night Sight, and Portrait Light enhance its versatility even further, making its camera even better than cameras you’ll find on phones at double the price.
This likely includes the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. Samsung’s phone flaunts a quad-lens rear setup, including a whopping 64MP wide lens, a 12MP ultrawide, a 5MP macro lens, and a 5MP depth lens. If the A51 is anything to go by, the extra size of the main 64MP lens won’t make for a substantial difference in photo quality. In fact, the A52 may (like its predecessor) potentially suffer in low lighting, while the addition of a macro lens (for close-ups) is something that generally isn’t capitalized on by most users.
As such, we’re giving this round to the Pixel. A review of the A52 5G may end up proving otherwise, but we suspect that the 4a 5G’s camera will be a little more powerful and usable in a wider range of conditions.
Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G
Software and updates
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Both phones use Android 11, although the Galaxy A52 5G will have Samsung’s One UI 3 running over the top. This offers greater customization options than stock Android, while it also arguably looks more attractive than stock Android. Of course, the difference is largely a matter of personal taste, so we’re not going to come down in favor of one rather than the other.
It’s a slightly different story with updates, however, since the Pixel 4a 5G will be much better serviced than the A52. Samsung doesn’t have the best track record in speedily deploying new versions of Android, while it will also put the S21 and Note lines first in the queue to receive Android 12. This round is a win for the Pixel 4a 5G, which will likely receive updates sooner than its Samsung rival.