Samsung packed smoother screens into its newest A-series phones

Yet another flagship feature making its way to mid-range devices.

Samsung’s latest Unpacked event has just kicked off, and just as a bevy of leaks predict, there’s nary a flagship phone in sight. Instead, Samsung will use its second major live stream of the year — or third, if you count its CES keynote — to show off a refreshed line of mid-range smartphones, including the Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G, and Galaxy A72.

Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t provide US pricing for these new phones by the time of publication — we’ll update this story once we know how much everything costs. We do know that in the UK, the Galaxy A52 5G will cost £399, roughly $550, while the Galaxy A72 is priced at £419 (around $583).

We haven’t gotten to try one out yet, but the new Galaxy A52 seems well-equipped to take over from its predecessor. For one thing, it’s ever-so-slightly larger than the A51 and Samsung has made the most of that extra space by adding a more capacious 4,500mAh battery that supports 25W wired fast charging, dual SIM support, and an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. Once again, Samsung went with a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED screen running at 2400x1080, but this year’s panel should look a lot smoother thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate.

The upgrades don’t end there, either. Samsung went with a quad-camera system around back that includes a 64-megapixel main sensor with optical image stabilization and an f/1.8 aperture, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a pair of 5-megapixel cameras for macro and depth photos. Meanwhile, a 32-megapixel front-facing camera is wedged into a tiny cutout in the display to provide some perhaps-too-details selfies. (Hopefully, some of the improvements Samsung made to the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera software made the leap here.) Rounding out the package is one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 720G chipsets, along with either 4, 6, or 8GB of RAM and either 128 or 256GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards as large as 1TB.

So, what about the A52 5G then? Physically, it’s identical to the standard A52, but it does pack a few interesting twists. The reason it can play nice with sub-6 5G networks is the still-pretty-new Snapdragon 750G chipset inside, which has the added benefit of performing slightly faster than the 720G despite a lower max clock speed on its high-performance CPU cores. Speaking of speed, the A52 5G’s 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display has a slightly faster, 120Hz refresh rate, making it the most buttery-smooth panel in all of the phones Samsung announced today.

And then there’s the Galaxy A72, which is basically just a larger version of the A52. (Knowing Samsung, you can expect a 5G version to launch a little later this year.) The main differences include a slightly bigger 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5,000mAh battery, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with a 3X optical zoom range in place of the A52’s macro shooter. Otherwise, Samsung’s biggest new phone uses the same chipset, front-facing camera, fast charging support, and memory and storage configurations — the only change is that there won’t be a version of the A72 with 4GB of RAM.

If it wasn’t already clear, all three of Samsung’s phones have plenty in common — all three come in the same black, white, and purple colorways, for instance, and they all have cleaner, more seamless looking backs that seem to draw inspiration from this year’s Galaxy S21 line. They all also pack stereo speakers — a hardware feature that’s unfortunately uncommon in many mid-range smartphones — and will come with AC chargers along with USB cables. As usual though, the A-series phones’ shared foundation extends into software too. All of these new devices will ship with Samsung’s One UI 3.0 interface, which includes features like Private Share and SmartThings Find. And perhaps most importantly, all three phones will receive three generations of Android software updates, along with security updates “for a minimum” of four years.

While it might seem a little strange to put on a highly-produced streaming launch event for mid-range smartphones, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Samsung took a similar approach with last year’s Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, a device that was fast-tracked in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately became one of the company’s best sellers. And because of their affordable ambitions, Samsung’s A-series devices have significant pull with audiences whose wallets can’t handle flagship prices. Remember: The Galaxy A51 was the top-selling Android phone in the world for a brief spell last year, and the lower-end A21s, A11, and A01 joined it in research firm Omdia’s tally of best-selling phones in 2020.

On paper, this trio of new phones seems like serious value contenders. What remains unclear for now, though, is whether Samsung can sell as many phones — mid-range or otherwise — as it did in 2020. According to a late-night report from Bloomberg, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh confirmed during the company’s annual shareholder meeting that he expects to face supply issues next quarter stemming from the ongoing global chip shortage. So far, Samsung has seemingly weathered the storm without issue, but Koh warned despite relatively smooth sailing so far, “it’s hard to say the shortage issue has been solved 100%.”

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