While Samsung likes to make a big song and dance over its flagship S-models, there’s a quiet dignity reserved for the A-series. A perfectly decent midrange series of phones, what they lack in raw power they often make up for with a price tag that is usually much more affordable. Such is the case with the Samsung A32 — a device that comes equipped with some surprisingly cool features, considering how much you’re paying for it, but ultimately doesn’t reach the peaks of those aforementioned flagships. That’s not a slight though, we at Stuff are always on the lookout for phones that offer a great user experience for a fraction of the cost of other devices.
Yet while there are aspects to the Samsung A32 that are impressive, it’s also not leading the pack in terms of mid-range budget devices. If you’re committed to the Samsung brand and don’t feel like taking out a loan for the S21, you should definitely give the A32 a look but just be warned that it does have several downsides.
Display and Design
Let’s start with the good stuff first, the best of all being the display. The Samsung A32 is fitted with a 6.4in 90Hz AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution clocking in at 2400 x 1080p which you don’t often see in budget phones. It’s often said that Samsung is the industry leader when it comes to smartphone screens, so this all makes sense.
We’ll be the first to admit that it’s a gorgeous display; crystal clear and smooth as butter when you’re flicking through home pages. Colours pop and images look crispy and sharp in such a way that you’d think you’re looking at a much more expensive model of smartphone. It’s worth noting that if you want that 90Hz refresh rate in action, you need to manually activate it because the A32 is set to 60Hz by default.
As for the actual design of the phone, it’s basic yet effective. If we’re honest, it’s rather unremarkable but at least it’s not ugly. While the phone feels like a premium device and fits comfortably in the hand, it’s worth pointing out that the back of the device is plastic and it’s… well, it’s noticeable to put it kindly. This isn’t to say the build quality is bad but it’s certainly not on par with other mid-range phones of the same price point. What makes it even worse is that the cameras aren’t contained in a raised block with the sensors just sticking out the back of the phone. It just feels… unsafe.
The Samsung A32 comes equipped with four sensors on the rear and a single front-facing sensor, like seemingly every smartphone on the market these days. You’ll be working with a 64MP primary sensor, an 8MP wide-angle lens, 5MP macro lens and a 5MP portrait lens on the back as well as a 20MP selfie cam. Truth be told, they’re not terrible but they’re not the kind to last well into the future. These are very much the kind of sensors that have been downgraded to pick up with this phone’s budget.
Images taken in broad daylight look crisp with minimal visual noise and a decent dynamic range. It also performs remarkably well in low-light situations but that’s certainly not its strong suit. There is a proper Night Mode but it’s… passable. It often misses finer details where other phones might not, with many pictures coming out much grainer than we’d have liked. If you’re not a diehard photographer the A32 should do you just fine but if photography is one of the main draws in a smartphone, there are better options out there.
We mentioned it above but the fact that the sensors stand out from the back of the phone is also rather unappealing. Any photographer knows you need to keep those things safe meaning you’ll need to invest in a cover (there isn’t one included in the box). Trust us, it’s a hassle but for the best.
Remember how we said the Samsung A32 is set to a 60Hz refresh rate by default? Well, there’s a reason for that. The MediaTek Helio G80SoC is a fine processor but it’s also not as powerful as we’d like. Switching to the 90Hz refresh rate there’s a noticeable lag in performance when navigating and switching between multiple tabs and windows. Swapping back down to 60Hz and the performance was rather good even with multiple open programs running in the background.
If you’re looking for a smartphone that can keep up with the game trends, then you might want to look elsewhere. We tested out PUBG Mobile on the A32 to see what kind of performance it could output and the framerate was choppy and often inconsistent. While it was still playable folks looking for a budget gaming phone should maybe stray away from this option.
If you’re worried about storage, you should be okay with the 128GB of onboard storage which can be expanded with up to 1TB of external storage. Not too shabby then!
The Samsung A32 comes equipped with a 5,000mAh battery which by all accounts is a powerhouse. You’ll easily be able to squeeze out a full day’s use with that capacity even when placed under heavy use. With minimal use, you’ll likely be able to get around two days of charge out of the A32, but just barely. Yet while the actual size of the battery is impressive, we were less pleased with the 15W fast charge. Sure, it’s “fast charge” but it’s still rather slow. Compare this with any of Xiaomi’s mid-range smartphones and the A32 would be left in the dust. It takes a while to charge up to full so maybe just leave it plugged in overnight.
Samsung A32 Verdict
Samsung has certainly not reinvented the wheel with the A32. It’s a bog-standard mid-range device with all the year-on-year improvements you’d expect to see over last year’s A31 model. For the price you’re paying, it’s a decent smartphone that just doesn’t reach the heights of some of its flagship siblings. But really, that’s expected. There’s nothing wrong with being average if there’s not all that much expected of you in the first place.
The Samsung A32 is available for R4,500 from Samsung.com/za.