Samsung’s new midrange phones: Better features, lower price

The A-series phones include IP67 ratings, great cameras, expandable microSD storage and much more

Samsung tends to use its splashy Unpacked events to show off the newest high-end gadgets in its Galaxy S, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Z families of phones. But it's the company's midrange A Series, which last year started at $110, that took the center stage at its 2021 big product event. 

So, to begin with Samsung's new mainstream phone lineup has arrived, with three models: the A52, A52 5G and A72. The new devices boast some higher-end specs but cost less than their Galaxy S siblings, something that will likely make them attractive to a wide range of buyers. While the company isn’t sharing US pricing or availability yet, it has confirmed European pricing: €349 for the A52, €429 for the A52 5G, and €449 for the A72.

"This is a competitive price point considering the amount of tech they have," Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi told CNET.

"And for the cost, consumers are getting the bells and whistles they really need. This is not a compromised experience," she added. 

Key specs across all of the three models include IP67 water and dust resistance, brighter AMOLED screens with faster refresh rates (90Hz for the A52’s display, 120Hz for the A52 5G), and a 64-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilisation. 

Speaking of cameras, all three have a 32-megapixel front-facing camera and four rear-facing cameras, including 64-megapixel main lenses, 12-megapixel ultrawide lenses and 5-megapixel macro lenses. The A52 models also have 5-megapixel depth cameras and have digital zoom up to 10x, while the A72 has an 8-megapixel telephoto lens capable of digital zoom up to 30x and optical zoom at 3x. 

Each of the newly presented phones is also built on an unspecified octa-core (dual 2.3GHz + hexa 1.8GHz) processor and storage variants of 128GB and 256GB will be offered for all models, with RAM configurations that will vary by region. The three devices have also new stereo speakers that can increase volume up to 43% from older models. 

Moreover, all three new phones have big batteries, with the A52 models sporting 4,500-mAh batteries and the A72 packing in a 5,000-mAh battery. By comparison, the Galaxy S21 includes a 4,000-mAh battery, while the S21 Ultra has a 5,000-mAh battery. 

Also, compared with the Galaxy S21 lineup, the new Galaxy A series phones all come with features dropped from the company's high-end devices that many consumers love: headphone jacks, MicroSD card slots to expand the memory up to 1TB and chargers in the box (Thank, GOD!).

But overall, Samsung's bigger push with the A series this year reflects the reality we're all living in. Phone designs aren't changing much from year to year, and consumers are holding onto devices for longer, about three years in the US versus two in the past. At the same time, the pandemic has hurt millions of people financially. While high-end specs and cutting-edge features are nice for attention and buzz, people still care about what they're spending on phones - especially right now. And with the new A series, Samsung seems to realise that. Which in return, turns out the new phones into the right ones for the times.

"The Galaxy A series is designed to make Samsung's latest cutting-edge product more accessible to a wider audience than ever before," TM Roh, the head of Samsung's mobile business, said in an FAQ provided to reporters ahead of the event. "Price point shouldn't be a limiting factor when choosing technology."

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