Samsung Unveils New 5G Smartphone for Less Than $300

The Galaxy A32 5G rounds out a new budget-friendly lineup featuring five models priced between $100 and $500

Samsung A32 5G phone
Samsung's new Galaxy A32 5G smartphone will arrive Friday with a starting price of just $280.
samsung

Samsung is rolling out a new lineup of lower-cost smartphones, including its first 5G model priced under $300.

The Galaxy A32 5G will start at $280. And while it’s not fancy by any stretch of the imagination, it does pack in a lot of the basics many consumers want, including a big battery, fast charging, and multiple cameras.

And it comes at a time of strong demand for Samsung’s mid- and low-priced models. The company says sales of its A-Series phones more than doubled last year, a jump it partially attributed to the ongoing global pandemic.

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With its budget-friendly pricing, the A32 5G could bring 5G connectivity to a new group of Samsung customers. Right now, the only similarly priced 5G phone on the market is OnePlus’ Nord N10 5G, which costs $300.

The South Korean tech company also on Wednesday announced the slightly fancier and more expensive Galaxy A42 5G, along with the Galaxy A52 5G, which appears to be a largely incremental update of last year’s A51 5G.

Outside of the 5G sphere, Samsung introduced the Galaxy A02s and A12, which will retail for $110 and $180, respectively.

We’ll have full test results on some of these phones a few weeks after they arrive in stores. The A42 5G will be available Thursday, while the Galaxy A52 5G, A32 5G, and A12 go on sale Friday. The Galaxy A02s reaches retailers April 29.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at how Samsung’s new phones stack up against the competition.

Galaxy A32 5G and A42 5G

Samsung A42 5G  multiple colors
The Galaxy A42 5G phone starts at $400 and features an OLED display.

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For the price, the A32 packs in decent features. In addition to its 5G abilities, it boasts a 6.5-inch LCD display that refreshes at a respectable rate of 90 hertz, along with an ample 50,000-milliamp-hour battery that’s fast-charging-capable.

There’s a quad-camera setup that includes a 48-megapixel main camera. And the phone can shoot video in ultra-high-definition 4K.

On the downside, storage is limited to a modest 64 gigabytes, but there’s a slot for a microSD card, which allows you to expand the volume at a low cost. And while Samsung’s more expensive phones come with Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, this one is powered by a more modest MediaTek 720.

The A32 will be available through the budget wireless carriers Metro by T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless, which is part of AT&T.

The A42, available through Verizon, starts at $400 and upgrades you to an OLED display, known for providing very deep black levels and almost unlimited viewing angles. It’s just a hair bigger than the A32’s LCD screen, but it has a slower refresh rate of 60Hz, which isn’t ideal for gaming.

There’s a Snapdragon 750G processor, and your storage doubles to 128GB. And while the phone has a three-camera setup, Samsung says it’s powered by artificial intelligence designed to help you take better photos and videos.

So how do those compare with similarly priced 5G phones made by other companies? The truth is, there just aren’t a whole lot of other 5G options in this price range.

But the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, which costs $300 and is available unlocked or through T-Mobile, is comparable in many ways. It has a 6.5-inch LCD display, just like the A32.

There are four cameras, with the main one boasting 64 megapixels, though it’s worth mentioning that they didn’t score particularly well in our testing, receiving okay ratings overall.

But you get 128GB of storage, as well as the ability to expand it with a microSD card.

And while the battery is smaller at 4300mAh, it lasted a great 41.5 hours in our testing. The phone works with OnePlus’ Warp Charge system, which is exceptionally fast at powering up compatible devices.

Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung A52 5G phone back front
The Galaxy A52 5G, which starts at $500, has a 6.5-inch OLED display and a four-camera setup on the back.

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For $500, the A52 5G offers a bit more. And it needs to, because there are a handful of 5G models from other companies at that price.

It features a 6.5-inch OLED display with a 120-Hz refresh rate similar to the one used on the slightly more expensive Galaxy S20 FE, which earned an Excellent rating from our testers.

There’s a quad-camera setup that includes a 64-megapixel main camera. And it’s the first A Series phone to feature optical image stabilization—a feature that can go a long way toward keeping your snapshots sharp, even if you don’t hold your phone completely steady.

The 128GB of storage and Snapdragon processor are the same as those used in the A42, but this phone adds IP67 water resistance and stereo speakers. It’s available unlocked, as well as through AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular.

If you’re looking to spend $500 on a 5G phone, there are a few other options, including the Google Pixel 4a 5G. (We didn’t test that one, but we do have lab results on the 4G model.)

The 4a 5G, which went on sale in the U.S. late last year, features a 6.2-inch OLED display, a 3885mAh battery, 128GB of storage, and a Snapdragon 765G processor. The three-camera setup on the back includes wide and ultrawide cameras.

And you get stereo speakers, along with a real 3.5-mm headphone jack.

Motorola also sells a handful of midpriced 5G phones, including the Motorola Edge and the Motorola One 5G. We haven’t tested the One, but the Motorola Edge did fairly well, receiving a Very Good rating overall.

The Edge, which also sells for $500, received Very Good ratings for its rear cameras, as well as an Excellent score for performance. The battery lasted a decent 34 hours in our testing.

And if you’re willing to spend a little more, it’s worth mentioning that you could potentially pick up one of Samsung’s older flagship 5G phones on sale. Either way, it never hurts to shop around.


Bree Fowler

Bree Fowler

I write about all things "cyber" and your right to privacy. Before joining Consumer Reports, I spent 16 years reporting for The Associated Press. What I enjoy: cooking and learning to code with my kids. I've lived in the Bronx for more than a decade, but as a proud Michigan native, I will always be a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan no matter how much my family and I get harassed at Yankee Stadium. Follow me on Twitter (@BreeJFowler).