If you're looking for a midrange phone that also happens to connect to a 5G network, Samsung just tripled your options. The phone maker rolled out a revamped Galaxy A lineup, and while the Galaxy A52 5G leads the charge, this $499 phone isn't your only choice when it comes to a low-cost Samsung device capable of working with next-generation 5G.
Also appearing alongside the Galaxy A52 are the Galaxy A42 and Galaxy A32, both 5G phones and both with sub-$400 price tags. In fact, stack all three phones next to each other, and you'd have a hard time telling the difference among the Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G. It certainly doesn't help that Samsung equipped all three phones with equally sized 6.5 inch displays and similar features across the board.
Editor's note (Jan. 2022): The A52's successor, the Samsung Galaxy A53, could be on its way in the next few months.
But there are enough differences that can impact which of these new Galaxy A phones is the right one for you. We'll still need to conduct tests for full reviews of the Galaxy A52 5G, Galaxy A42 5G and Galaxy A32 5G before we can give the definitive word on which phone is best suited for what purpose. But based on a rundown of the different specs for each model, here's where we expect each new Galaxy A model to excel.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: Specs compared
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Galaxy A52 5G
|Galaxy A42 5G
|Galaxy A32 5G
|6.5-inch Super AMOLED FHD+, 120 Hz
|6.6-inch Super AMOLED HD+, 60 Hz
|6.5-inch LCD HD+, 90 Hz
|MediaTek Dimensity 720
|64MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, 5MP macro
|48MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP depth
|48MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The best price
If you're shopping for a Galaxy A phone, chances are you're doing so because you balk at paying flagship prices. Good news, then — no matter which phone you buy, you won't pay more than $499 for a 5G device. That's a very attractive price that puts all three models in elite company.
But one phone has the most attractive price at all. The Galaxy A32 5G costs $279, making it the cheapest 5G phone around. For context, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G costs $299. At T-Mobile, you'll even be able to pick up the Galaxy A32 5G for free when you trade in any phone, though you will have to commit to two years of service with the carrier.
Not that Samsung's other Galaxy A models are that much more expensive. The Galaxy A42 costs $399 while the Galaxy A52 costs $499. Google's Pixel 4a 5G is one of the best sub-$500 5G phones we've tested to date, and both the A52 and A42 either meet or beat that price.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The fastest 5G
5G networks remain a work in progress, as carriers work to build out their coverage and improve performance. At the moment, the fastest speeds come from Verizon's mmWave-based 5G installations in more than 60 cities around the country. And if you want a phone that works with that particular flavor of 5G, you'll need to pick up the Galaxy A42 5G — it's the only one of Samsung's new trio that's compatible with Verizon's high-speed network. Verizon also happens to sell the Galaxy A42 5G, too.
But if you're not a Verizon customer, you can turn to the Galaxy A52 5G or Galaxy A32 5G. Both work with low-band 5G networks that have a wider reach than mmWave, even if the speeds are slower. AT&T plans to sell the A52, while the A32 will be available through its Cricket Wireless discount service.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The best display
At first glance, the displays on these three new phones might look awfully similar, since there are all 6.5-inch panels. But the cheaper Galaxy A32 goes for an LCD screen instead of the pricier OLED panel used on the A42 and A52.
The Galaxy A52 5G is the new midrange Samsung phone to get if you value the display over any other feature on a phone. Not only does it have better resolution than the other two models — FHD+ compared to the HD+ resolution on the A42 and A32 — it has a fast 120Hz refresh rate. That's typically a feature found in much expensive phones, so finding it in a $499 device adds real value.
The Galaxy A32 offers a 90Hz refresh rate, which is faster than most smartphones where a 60Hz refresh rate is more typical. Curiously, even though the Galaxy A42 costs more than the A32, it uses that conventional 60Hz refresh rate.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The best camera setup
Cameras are tricky to analyze from afar, as you really have to put them to the test in person to see how the mixture of hardware and post-processing software combines to produce pictures. Still, on paper, the Galaxy A52 5G seems to offer the most powerful camera array.
Both the A52 and A32 feature the same assortment of lenses — a wide angle shooter that serves as the main camera, plus an ultrawide angle lens and dedicated macro and depth sensors. However, the Galaxy A52 has the higher-resolution sensor as its main camera. It uses a 64MP sensor to the 48MP sensor on the A32. The ultrawide lens is also more powerful on the A52 — 12MP to the 8MP shooter on the A32.
The Galaxy A42 5G lacks the macro lens on the other two Samsung phones. (That's no great loss, if our experience with macro cameras is anything to go by.) It has the same 48MP main camera and 8MP ultrawide shooter as the Galaxy A32.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The best performance
Performance on the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A42 should be similar. Both phones use the same Snapdragon 750G system-on-chip. The A52 benefits from extra RAM — 6GB to the A42's 4GB — so it should have an easier time switching between apps.
The Galaxy A32 5G runs on MediaTek's Dimensity 720 chipset. We haven't had a chance to benchmark either phone, but based on the testing we've seen online, we'd expect the 750G-powered phones to produce better benchmark numbers than the Galaxy A32. That's likely reflected in how Samsung priced its new phones.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The most durable phone
Only one of the new Galaxy A phones carries an IP rating for water resistance. That would be the Galaxy A52 5G, whose IP67 rating means that it can withstand a dunk in up to 3 feet of water. The A52 also has a stereo speaker, if you're on the lookout for ways this device stands out from the other two models.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: The best battery life
We'll need to run these phones through our custom battery test to confirm any Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G differences, but it seems like the Galaxy A42 and A32 should offer similar battery life. Both phones have a 5,000 mAh power pack to keep things running.
The Galaxy A52 5G's battery is only 4,500 mAh. But it has the better charging features of these new phones. The A52 supports 25W charging, compared to 15W charging for the other phones.
Galaxy A52 5G vs. Galaxy A42 5G vs. Galaxy A32 5G: Outlook
On paper, the Galaxy A52 5G has the most impressive specs of the new Galaxy A models — not surprising given that it also has the largest price. The Galaxy A32 5G will appeal to bargain hunters who want an inexpensive 5G phone that — in theory, anyhow — lasts a long-time on a charge and offers a fast-refreshing display. Meanwhile, Verizon customers will want to give a serious look to the Galaxy A42 5G, given its compatibility with Verizon 5G.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.