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Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: What’s the best 5G phone under $500?

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs Google Pixel 4a 5G
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Tom's Guide)

When you have the new Samsung Galaxy A52 5G go up against the Google Pixel 4a 5G in a head-to-head battle, the final result turns out to be razor thin — just what you'd expect from two Android phones that have a lot in common.

The Google Pixel 4a 5G has been among the best 5G phones since it launched late last year, offering a high-speed connectivity in a well-engineered package for less than $500. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G looks to challenge that by offering far more hardware for the same — or even less — money.

Although Samsung's phone is arguably more generous with features, the Pixel still offers a more refined experience in some areas. In this Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G face-off, we've broken down how the phones compare in their key areas, and tried to figure out which one is the overall best option for a budget phone buyer.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Specs

Samsung Galaxy A52 5GGoogle Pixel 4a 5G
Starting price$499/£399$499/£499
Display6.5-inch FHD AMOLED (1080 x 2400)6.2-inch FHD OLED (1080 x 2340)
Refresh rate60Hz/120Hz60Hz
ChipsetSnapdragon 750GSnapdragon 765G
RAM6GB6GB
Storage128GB128GB
microSDYes, up to 1TBNo
Rear cameras64MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.2), 5MP depth sensor (f/2.2)12MP main (ƒ/1.7 ); 16MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2)
Front camera32MP (f/2.2)8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Operating systemAndroid 11 with One UI 3.0Android 10/11
Battery size4,500 mAh3,885 mAh
Charging speed25W wired18W wired
Water/dust resistanceIP67None; IP52 for Verizon version
Size6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches (159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm)6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches (153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm)
Weight6.7 ounces (189 grams)5.9 ounces (168 grams)

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Price

Both the Galaxy A52 5G and Pixel 4a 5G sit at the upper end of the midrange market — not as expensive as flagship devices from Samsung and Google, but not as cheap as budget models.

British shoppers get a much better deal on the Galaxy A52 5G with costs $499/£399, with for its lone model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Those memory and storage specs are the same for the lone Google Pixel 4a 5G model, which costs $499/£499. (Verizon sells its own variant of the Pixel 4a 5G to work with its high-speed 5G network — that costs $599.) If you're a U.K. customer, then, the Galaxy A52 5G becomes the obvious choice for being £100 cheaper than the Pixel. In the U.S., however, both phones cost exactly the same.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Design

Samsung and Google both opted for monochrome plastic shells for these phones. The Pixel 4a 5G only comes in black however, while the Galaxy A52 offers black plus brighter options like blue, purple and white.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Galaxy A52 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the front, both phones use punch-hole cutouts in their displays to house a single selfie cam. On the back, both phones also use square camera bumps, although the Samsung's cameras rise more gradually from the back than the Pixel's do, giving it a unique single-piece look.

Samsung galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel 4a 5g (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The back of the Pixel also features a fingerprint scanner. Samsung's phone uses an in-display fingerprint scanner instead. 

Another practical point in the Samsung's favor is water/dust resistance. The Galaxy A52 5G is IP67 rated, meaning it is totally dustproof and can survive for 30 minutes under up to 1 meter (3 feet and 3 inches) of water. While the Pixel 4a 5G does have some waterproofing, it doesn't offer an official IP rating. The Pixel 4a 5G UW variant sold by Verizon is rated IP52, meaning it's effectively resistant to penetration by dust and dripping water. However even that doesn't match up to the Samsung's rating.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Display

The Pixel 4a's screen is a 6.2-inch AMOLED panel with an FHD resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The Galaxy A52 also features FHD resolution but blows the other specs away with a larger 6.5-inch display and a faster 120Hz refresh rate.

Google Pixel 4a 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After watching the new trailer for the Mortal Kombat movie, the A52 does perform better, but only subtly. Both phones display the flames, ice and environmental debris from the fight scenes with equally good detail and color. The only thing the Galaxy A52 had in its favor was its increased size, but if the video had supported a higher refresh rate, the A52 would have been an easy winner.

The A52 5G's screen did pick up some scratches in our time reviewing that phone, with the damage with frightening ease. Assuming that was a one-off problem, the Galaxy A52 5G is overall the better phone if you care about watching movies or playing games at their best.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Galaxy A52 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Cameras

The Galaxy A52 packs double the number of rear cameras that the Pixel 4a 5G does. While the Pixel has 12MP main and 16MP ultrawide lenses, the A52 counters with a 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, a 5MP macro camera and a 5MP depth sensor.

Both phones use a single front camera. In the Pixel's case it's an 8MP sensor, while the A52 uses a larger 32MP sensor.

Comparing shots captured by both phones reveals interesting differences in how the A52 and Pixel 4a 5G handle photography. For example, looking at the main sensors' take on this pond scene shows how much brighter the images are from the Samsung's larger sensor.

However that doesn't work so well when in low-light. The Pixel 4a uses Google's excellent Night Sight photography mode, which gives it a more saturated image than the unappealing one the Samsung took of this pub.

The Pixel 4a 5G is much more effective when you employ its ultrawide angle lens. This image looking down from the top of Parliament Hill is brighter than the equivalent from the Samsung.

Turning to the front cameras on each phone, you might expect the larger camera on the Samsung to perform better than the Pixel's smaller sensor. Any advantage the extra megapixels offer is removed with portrait mode turned on however. With Google's software offering better saturation and a smoother texture to hide pores and stray hairs, the Pixel 4a 5G wins out again.

As note above, the Galaxy A52 packs some extra sensors you won't find on the Pixel 4a 5G, such as a macro camera. Sadly like many smartphone macro cameras, the A52's version doesn't take particularly good photos compared to its other sensors.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The depth sensor helps the A52 produce a better-looking blur than the Pixel 4a 5G in this rear portrait mode shot. Although the Pixel's post-processing software is excellent, it can't compete with a dedicated sensor on the Samsung.

While the Galaxy A52 5G doesn't always top the Pixel 4a 5G in direct comparisons, the extra rear sensors give the A52 5G additional versatility that helps make the Pixel's victory a narrow one.

Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Performance

Samsung and Google have used similar silicon in their phones. The Galaxy A52 5G is equipped with the Snapdragon 750G, while the Pixel 4a 5G turns to the Snapdragon 765G. They both use the same amount of RAM too: 6GB.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Galaxy A52 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On benchmark tests, the phones trade blows, with the A52 offering better overall performance according to Geekbench 5. Samsung's phone posted respective scores of 637 and 1,866 in the general performance benchmark's single-core and multicore tests. The Pixel 4a 5G managed 598 and 1,614 scores on the same tests. 

When it comes to graphics, though, the Pixel 4a 5G racked up the better score on the 3D Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited test, scoring 2,959 to the A52 5G's 2,875.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel 4a 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Arguably the A52 can make better use of its performance thanks to its larger, higher refresh rate display. In terms of the numbers though, it's near enough a dead heat.

Winner: Draw

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: 5G connectivity

Each phone supports 5G. However Google has a key advantage.

In the the U.S., the Pixel 4a 5G comes in both sub-6GHz and mmWave versions of 5G (though the Pixel 4a 5G UW sold by Verizon does cost more than the version that uses sub-6GHz 5G). The A52 5G only has sub-6GHz 5G in both the U.S. and U.K. 

This distinction won't make a difference to U.K. customers, who don't have mmWave networks to connect to anyway, but Verizon customers will prefer the option of having a phone that works on their network, even if they do have to pay a little more for it.

Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Battery life and charging

The Pixel 4a 5G contains a 3,885 mAh battery, which lasted 8 hours and 12 minutes on the Tom's Guide custom battery test. That's below the average time of around 10 hours, which is disappointing given how well the rest of the phone performs.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel 4a 5G  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We haven't run our battery test on the Galaxy A52 yet, but based on its larger 4,500 mAh battery, Samsung's phone has the potential to last longer than the Pixel 4a 5G. But larger displays — particularly those with high refresh rates — can be a major power drain, so using the A52 5G with its 120Hz mode active may cause its battery life to drop below that of the Pixel. Our testing will tell the tale.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Galaxy A52 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For charging, the A52 5G comes out slightly ahead of the Pixel 4a 5G. Samsung bundles the phone with a 25W charging brick. (That's a departure from the flagship Galaxy S21 phones, which ship without a charger.) The Pixel 4a 5G comes with an 18W brick.

That said, the Pixel charges faster, reaching 46% full after 30 minutes. That comapres to 34% for the Galaxy A52 5G, though Samsung's phone has a larger battery, which skews the comparison somewhat. Accounting for capacities, the A52 5G charges about 14% faster than the Pixel.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Software

Samsung and Google both use Android, though they implement the software in very different ways on the Galaxy A52 5G and Pixel 4a 5G. 

Google launched the Pixel 4a 5G with Android 10, but the phone has since been upgraded to Android 11. With Google phones getting three years of Android updates, we'd expect the Pixel 4a 5G to get both Android 12 this year as well as an additional update in 2022.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Pixel 4a 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Android experience on the Pixel 4a 5G is also cleaner than what you'll experience with the Galaxy A52 5G, which layers Samsung's One UI 3.0 interface on top of Android 11. That means a lot more custom visuals and many more Samsung-made apps alongside the built-in Google offerings, which makes for a much busier-looking interface.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G

Galaxy A52 5G (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you're a long-time Samsung user, then having the company's custom apps is less likely to pose an issue for you. For the average user however, we think the plainer interface of the Pixel 4a 5G is the more enjoyable to use.

Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G 

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Verdict

The Galaxy A52's series of wins across a number of different categories propels it to a victory in our Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. Google Pixel 4a 5G face-off. The Pixel 4a 5G performed well, but offering less potent hardware seems to have sealed its place as a runner-up.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5GGoogle Pixel 4a 5G
Price (10 points)87
Design (10 points)76
Display (15 points)1210
Cameras (20 points)1617
Performance (15 points) 99
5G (5 points)24
Battery (15 points)119
Software (10 points)810
Overall (100 points)7372

While the results show an overall win for the Galaxy A52, the Pixel 4a 5G may still be the right choice for some users. Its more compact size and wider 5G compatibility in the U.S. are both potential good reasons to pick it instead of the A52. It also remains one of the best camera phones, though the gap with the Galaxy A52 5G's photo-taking abilities is not as wide as you might think.

The Samsung phone is definitely the phone to get in the U.K. where it's significantly cheaper. Pending the results of our battery test, the Galaxy A52 5G also looks like a better bet for a long-lasting device. And it's hard to overlook a fast-refreshing display in a phone that costs less than $500.