With Huawei no longer being an option if you’ve entrenched yourself in the Google and Android ecosystem – at least for now – and LG exiting the smartphone business, where is one to turn for affordable smartphones that are well made and provide a brilliant performance?
The answer, after spending more than a month with the Samsung Galaxy A32, is Samsung. We can comfortably and in good conscience recommend this handset to anybody with a budget of R5 000 because for the money you’re getting an incredible experience.
Let’s get into the dirty details.
Under the hood
The SoC in the Galaxy A32 is not Samsung’s own silicon oddly enough but a Mediatek Helio G80 which sports an octa-core processor running at a peak of 1.9GHz and a Mali-G-52 MC2 GPU helping drive things along. For memory our model had 4GB to make use of although there is an 8GB model if you don’t like the performance figures you see below. This model also houses 128GB of storage with a dedicated microSDXC slot.
In terms of raw horsepower, the Galaxy A32 doesn’t have that, but it does run incredibly well. Apps launch quickly and run very well.
What really makes the experience great is the fact that the 6.4inch AMOLED display has a 90Hz refresh rate. It does drain the battery slightly faster than the 60Hz option but at least the option is there and it really does make for a great, premium feeling experience.
Where the Galaxy A32 struggles, even at 60Hz is gaming. In the 3DMark Slingshot benchmark with refresh rate set to 90Hz we noted an average refresh rate of 18.8fps. That number is bumped up by the physics score though and the overall experience is terrible.
At 60Hz our result was 18.9fps so your display’s refresh rate shouldn’t affect overall performance.
In GeekBench benchmarks we recorded a score of 355 and 1309 for single and multi-core tests respectively which is, low. A Samsung Galaxy S10+ for instance scores 822 and 2170 for single and multi-core tests but that device is using Samsung’s own silicon and retails for R14 899. For a third of that price you’re getting over half of the performance which isn’t all that bad.
Once again however, when it comes to gaming you may want to steer clear of graphically intense titles like PUBG Mobile or Asphalt.
Fitted with a 5 000mAh battery we struggled to run this battery down. On average we went two days between charges and on the days where our smartphone usage was low it wouldn’t be strange to find the Galaxy A32 still plodding along with 40 – 50 percent charge.
Even on days where we called people, browsed the internet and spent hours on instant messaging we had enough juice left in the Galaxy A32 to last an hour’s drive in traffic.
The battery here is incredible and while we expect its life to vary depending on usage, it’s nice to know Samsung invested in this handset’s battery tech.
There are four sensors at the rear of the Galaxy A32 namely:
- 64MP, F/1.8, wide
- 8MP F/2.2, ultrawide
- 5MP F/2.4 macro
- 5MP f2.4 depth
Up front there is a single hole punch shooter with a 20MP sensor.
The snaps from these sensors are decent. They aren’t going to be as pristine as higher end smartphones, but at least they will look good on social media where everybody has to contend with compression.
We should point out that image quality takes a leap off of a cliff as you zoom in on a subject as you can see in our gallery below. The shooters also struggle with dynamic range and as a result the sun can really ruin some shots
For video the highest setting possible is 1080p at 30fps (for both front and rear cameras) so you can get a decent picture out of the cameras for things like Tik Tok or if you’re vlogging and need a shooter in a pinch.
Once again it’s not a groundbreaking camera but it is decent for a smartphone with this price tag.
Usually we talk about bloatware here and while we would still love if Samsung didn’t try to push a Samsung account in our face at every opportunity, there are some things we love about this the Galaxy A32 that are worth a mention.
For one, there is a charger in the box. Yes, the Galaxy A32 features a USB Type C cable and the accompanying wall charger which has been removed from premium smartphones.
There is also a 3.5mm jack for headphones although none are included in the box here.
Something that is lacking is the plastic cover that Samsung used to include in its packaging. The glass back panel of the smartphone is rather sturdy but it will get scratched up over time so we recommend getting a cover if you want to keep your handset in as new a condition as possible.
Finally, a nice touch albeit hit and miss is the in-display fingerprint scanner. We aren’t fans of this solution but it is where the industry is headed so we’d rather have it than not have it.
While the recommended retail price of the Galaxy A32 is R4 999, we’ve seen this price dip as low as R4 000 flat at some retailers.
Even at R4 999 though, the Galaxy A32 is a great handset that offers up long battery life, pairs it with decent performance and an average camera experience.
We rather enjoyed our time with the Galaxy A32 and if you’re shopping for a decent smartphone that won’t break the bank, this is definitely worth a consideration.
DISCLAIMER: The Samsung Galaxy A32 was sent to Hypertext for purposes of a review. The device will now be sanitised and returned to Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy A32
There is little to fault this affordable smartphone on. At a push we might enjoy a CPU upgrade and a more refined camera but overall we're very pleased.