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

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 making 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 also 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.

Specs

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
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay
Processor Snapdragon 750G Snapdragon 765G
RAM 6GB, 8GB 6GB
Camera 64-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth rear, 32MP front 12.2MP, 16MP ultrawide rear, 8MP front
Video

4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 120fps

4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240fps
Bluetooth version 5.0 5.0
Ports USB-C, headphone jack USB-C, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, on rear
Water resistance IP67 No
Battery 4,500 mAh

Fast charging (25W)

3,885 mAh

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
Prices $499 $499
Review score 4.5 stars out of 5 News

Design, display, and durability

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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 provides better battery life, with its 4,500mAh cell offering two days of normal use before requiring another charge. By contrast, the Pixel 4a 5G’s 3,885mAh battery gets you through one day but can’t quite make it through the second.

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. Combined with the superior longevity, this is enough to give the Galaxy the win in this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Cameras

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 just about 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. It does take decent, shareable photos, as our review found, but they aren’t quite as impressive as those taken by the Pixel. At the same time, its extra lenses aren’t quite as accomplished and useful as its main lens, so you may find that it isn’t quite as versatile as the multi-lens setup would have you think.

As such, we’re giving this round to the Pixel.

Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Software and updates

Google Pixel 5 Folders
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.

Winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G

Special features

5G feature image

You may not be surprised to learn that the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and Google Pixel 4a 5G both support 5G. This is great news for anyone who wants faster download speeds, yet the A52 5G doesn’t support the faster mmWave band of 5G, while the 4a 5G supports it only if you’re on Verizon.

As for other special features, the Pixel 4a 5G offers a Hold for Me feature that has the Google Assistant take over for you as you wait on hold for customer service and notifies you when an agent has come on the line. It also offers a number of A.I.-powered special features, such as the very helpful Call Screen, which lets you know when an incoming call is spam.

The Galaxy A52 5G is a little light on special features. Still, its Camera app does include a number of interesting quirks, such as its Fun Mode, which adds various augmented reality (AR) filters to photos and videos. This isn’t much, but then again, the Pixel 4a 5G doesn’t provide too many special features either, so this round is a draw.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G starts at $499 and can be ordered directly from Samsung’s own website. You can also find it through most major retailers, and it’s supported by all the major carriers.

The Pixel 4a 5G is now available from Google, most major carriers, and most major retailers. It will cost you about $499.

Overall winner: Google Pixel 4a 5G

There isn’t a large difference between the two phones, but the Pixel 4a 5G just about beats the A52 5G. It boasts a superior camera, better update support, and mmWave 5G (if you buy the right Verizon model). It also offers very similar performance to Samsung’s phone, as well as a display that’s nearly as sharp and good battery life.

That said, the A52 5G looks beautiful, and it also brings a superb display (and great battery stamina), so if you prize looks over camera performance, it may be a better bet.

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