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Samsung Galaxy A32 review

One of the best budget phone buys

Samsung Galaxy A32
(Image: © Samsung)

Our Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A32 does a lot of things right, and very little wrong. It's a very solid budget-priced phone and sports a superior AMOLED 90Hz screen and a new quad sensor camera array which produced consistently great photos. Battery life is also well above average, although its processing power is merely adequate, but nothing special.

For

  • AMOLED screen
  • Great cameras
  • Long battery life

Against

  • Boring design

Two-minute review

Arguably the Samsung Galaxy A32 is the true entry point to the Samsung universe; all A-series models below this are inevitably compromised and seem to exist only to make sure no other brand can squeeze into the market by besting Samsung on price. 

As the entry to Samsung's galaxy proper the A32 is a fully loaded budget phone.

That begins with an exceptional 6.4-inch AMOLED screen that's FHD+ and refreshes at 90Hz, characteristic of more upmarket phones like Samsung's S range. Stare at the 411ppi pin sharp display for a few minutes and every other budget phone ends up looking somehow inadequate.

But there's a bunch on ancillary benefits too. The thinness of AMOLED means Samsung can pack in an under-screen fingerprint sensor. With a one-second pause to unlock this worked about as well as most other budget phones, although we still find a fingerprint sensor embedded in a recessed power button to be our personal preference.

The AMOLED screen might also be a factor in the low weight of the handset. At just 184g the A32 weighs in as one of the lightest budget phones, pipped only by the Nokia 5.4 at 181g, and that's with a sizeable 5000mAh battery.

Battery life was also very impressive. The A32's 5000mAh battery, is now pretty standard on budget phones, and in one of our real-world experiments of mixed usage our A32 review unit ran for three full days. That's hard to top.

Results from the rear camera array were consistently great across the 64MP main sensor, the 8MP ultrawide and the 5MP macro. In our budget phone camera shootout only one phone: the Huawei P40 Lite, fared better.

The only drawback is also the most unmissable. With a dark plastic frame and a flat, grey plastic back plate its styling is pretty conservative, verging on boring. Of course, that will matter less if your A32 is in a protective case.

Samsung Galaxy A32

Samsung Galaxy A32 (Image credit: Samsung)
Spec sheet

Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Samsung)

CPU Mediatek Helio G80
GPU Mali G52
Screen 6.4" FHD+ Super AMOLED, 90Hz screen (1080x2400px)
RAM  4GB
Storage 128GB
Front Camera 20MP
Rear Camera 64MP + 8MP ultra-wide + 5MP macro + 5MP depth sensor
Battery 5000mAh
Size 158.9 x 73.6 x 8.4 mm
Price R5000

Release date and price

  • ZAR5000, fits the budget category
  • Lots of competition

Released in South Africa in March 2021 the Samsung Galaxy A32 is a fairly minor update on the Samsung Galaxy A31 and at ZAR5000 (£250) Samsung have lowered the price substantially from last years' model. This places it squarely in the middle of the budget phone price band where it competes directly against the Oppo A53, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 , the Huawei P40 Lite , the Huawei P Smart 2021  and the Nokia 5.4.

Design

  • All plastic body
  • Uninspired design

The A32 is not the most striking phone. In fact, it errs on the side of looking plain boring. The charcoal plastic frame is burnished to a high gloss finish and saves it from looking cheap. Unfortunately, the grey plastic backplate on our review unit is a bit of a let-down, although it does pass for glass at a glance. 

The rear sensor array has a pronounced ridge around each of the three camera lenses. This does stop them getting scratched when laying the phone on rough surfaces, but here it is also used a design feature which does add some character. 

What is irrefutable is Samsung's build quality which keeps it ahead of the competition. Despite its low weight of just 184g the A32 feels wonderfully solid and reliable in hand which helps you look past its all-plastic build.

Display 

  • Fast refresh AMOLED screen
  • Middling specs, still looks great

Its a credit to Samsung's dominance in both phones and screens that they are the only manufacturer able to boast an AMOLED display in a budget phone. While its the same 6.4-inches as the year-old A31 Samsung have added 90Hz refresh to enable smoother scrolling on social feeds, playlists and long web pages. Unsurprisingly there's no HDR on offer. 

While screen sharpness and colour balance were a full head and shoulders above it's nearest budget-priced rival, the higher screen refresh rate was not without its limitations. Scrolling speed was still impressive even when compared side-by-side with a high-end flagship phone also running at 90Hz. 

Fortunately, with the screen set on 90Hz we didn't notice a big impact on battery life.  

Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Samsung)

Cameras

  • Quad camera setup
  • Great pictures from all sensors

Almost the biggest upgrade on the A32 over its predecessor is the improved camera setup. The main shooter goes up from 48MP to 64MP and, together with improved AI scene recognition and HDR effects, produces excellent photos with no extra tweaks required. Across our tests the photos were consistently sharp and colour rich, with great HDR light balance in complex shots.

The 8MP wide angle and 5MP macro lens also do far better than simply hold their own. Some of these results were on par with phones costing far more.

Overall, the A32 delivered a very strong camera performance ensuring it a podium place finish amongst its budget priced competitors.

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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

  • Mediatek Helio G80 CPU is average
  • Long battery life

CPU & GPU: Another change from the A31 is the powerplant which is now the Mediatek Helio G80. This is certainly adequate for all standard phone functions but probably offers no more than that. Apps loaded fast enough, with a second or two hesitation when flipping between apps, but we noticed no slowdowns in performance with larger and graphics-heavy apps. 

The G80 is paired with the Mali G52, which is a standard and predictable configuration. As a result, gaming performance is middling, although for gamers the top-notch screen and long battery life of the A32 might offset its lack of processing chops.

Battery life:  By far the most impressive feature, for us, was the extraordinary battery life achieved by the A32. In our real world test with the phone on default settings (this means the screen refresh is at 60Hz, like most other budget phones) and doing messaging, social feeds, multimedia and general workday tasks it ran for 56 hours between charges. That's well over two days, a feat not accomplished by any other budget phone (although the Huawei PSmart 2021 came close) we have tested. 

The A32 comes standard with a 15W fast charger in the box. 

Should you buy it?

Samsung Galaxy A32

Samsung Galaxy A32 (Image credit: Samsung)

Buy it if...

You want quality on a budget

It's a well-built handset with no real corners cut, and very well priced against other budget phones.  

You're an amateur photographer

The camera set-up is excellent, with lots of versatility from AI scene recognition to full manual control.   

Don’t buy it if... 

You're a power user 

There's nothing exciting about the CPU and GPU used here. It gets the basics done, but no more than that.

First reviewed: 28 April, 2021