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Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review: A is for awesome

Samsung's software experience with an LG Velvet-esque design feels like a winning combination.
Reviews
By
November 22, 2021
Galaxy A32 against books
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Samsung's Galaxy A32 5G is one of the best value phones in the company's budget-friendly portfolio. It offers solid speeds, competent cameras, and a sleek, flagship-aping design. Just make sure to buy a case before it goes sliding away.

What we like

Large Gorilla Glass 5-protected display
Impressive budget cameras
Classy design
Affordable 5G

What we don't like

Extremely slippery
Runs hot under pressure
Slow to charge

Samsung’s Galaxy A lineup often includes some of the most popular budget and mid-range phones of the year. While most of the praise lands on the Galaxy A50 series and A70 series, there are many more devices to consider. One such option is the Galaxy A32 5G with its large display, smooth refresh rate, and flexible camera setup. Let’s see if the phone is worth your money in our Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
$279.99 at Samsung

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

galaxy a32 5g on a table
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

 

  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G (4GB RAM 64GB): $279 / €279 / £249
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G (4GB RAM 128GB): $299 / €299
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G (6GB RAM 128GB): £299

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G landed as a successor to the Galaxy A31 in January 2021. It slots in just below the Galaxy A42 5G and Galaxy A52 5G in Samsung’s line-up, and ahead of more budget fare like the Galaxy A12. It launched in early 2021 and is available from Samsung, Amazon, big-box retailers, and many carriers globally, including T-Mobile, US Cellular, AT&T, and Verizon in the US.

It comes in four convenient configurations, starting with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (expandable via microSD in the second SIM slot). There’s a spec’d-out version with 8GB of RAM, but the more commonly available versions in the west stick to 4GB or 6GB RAM as standard. Regardless of what’s inside, you can choose between four colors to grace the outside of your Galaxy A32 5G — Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, and Awesome Violet. Unfortunately, those colorful finishes don’t bring an IP rating with them, so you’ll have to steer clear of water and dust.

Rather confusingly, Samsung also sells a non-5G version of the phone — the Galaxy A32 — that has a weaker processor but has higher resolution main and selfie cameras, and a more pixel-dense, AMOLED display. Because of Samsung’s big push for 5G, however, that model is much harder to find in most markets.

Our Samsung Galaxy A32 5G showed up with Android 11 onboard and Samsung’s One UI 3.1 skin right out of the box. Samsung has promised three full Android version updates for the Galaxy A32 5G and four years of security patches. That should keep the phone afloat through early 2025 with up to Android 14. Even if it’s not at the front of the line for most updates in Samsung’s portfolio, this is the best update support promise you can get in this price range by quite some margin.

See also: The best Samsung phones

Hiding behind Samsung’s adequately protected Gorilla Glass 5 display, you’ll find MediaTek’s Dimensity 720 chip hard at work. Samsung made the most of the space behind its 6.5-inch HD+ display, adding a hefty 5,000mAh battery to the mix. You’ll find a 13MP selfie lens tucked away in an Infinity-V notch to complete your budget-friendly setup.

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G comes in at just under $300, but it faces some stiff competition in its price range. Motorola’s Moto G Power is a close rival for $249 that sacrifices 5G speeds in the name of savings. You can also look at the OnePlus Nord N200, which comes 5G ready for $240 but doesn’t come close to matching Samsung’s update prowess.

What’s good?

An image of the Galaxy A32 in hand showing cameras and buttons
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

There’s something minimalist and classy about the Galaxy A32 5G’s almost LG Velvet-esque design, and it’s best exemplified in the camera array. Samsung has had no trouble slapping hefty camera bumps onto devices, yet the Galaxy A32 5G is slimmed down to simple rings around each lens. It gives the device a streamlined look, and Samsung’s logo itself almost blends right into the Awesome Black finish on the unit we tested.

Mentioning the cameras, the Galaxy A32 5G delivered reasonably impressive results from top to bottom. The 48MP primary camera is especially crisp in good lighting, though the images bin down to 12MP by default. It’s easy to adjust for the full resolution, though you’re limited to the 4:3 ratio. You can check out some of the differences between the two shots in the slider image in the camera samples section later in this Galaxy A32 5G review.

The Galaxy A32 5G's camera suite leaves a lot of the super-budget-friendly competition in the dust.

Samsung’s ultra-wide camera offers some impressive angles, even if there’s some distortion around the edges. While still not the most useful camera to have on a phone, the 5MP macro shooter also beats a lot of the budget competition’s 2MP shooters by a mile. The pink flower seen in the gallery later in this review might be the best macro shot I’ve captured through all of my budget-friendly camera experiences.

I also found the phone’s 5G connectivity up to the task on Verizon’s network. There’s ample access to the 5G network in my area, and the Galaxy A32 5G had no problem maintaining its connection. It did come up short on a weekend trip to watch a football game, but it’s never been easy to get reception surrounded by quite so many people. Otherwise, I had no problems with call clarity, and the mono speaker worked well for my occasional speakerphone needs. There’s no mmWave support here for the very fastest 5G speeds, but this is typically reserved for flagships and mmWave coverage is still scarce (and practically non-existent outside the US).

Related: The best 5G phones you can buy

Some of Samsung’s One UI features also shine on a device this large. The Galaxy A32 5G packs a 6.5-inch display that’s nearly impossible to reach across with one hand, so I found myself scrolling most apps into one-handed mode for easy access. The display is bright enough for most conditions, though it can be a little dim in sunlight. It’s also kept up-to-date thanks to the aforementioned excellent software support promise that’ll keep it protected until at least 2025.

Samsung moved from an in-display fingerprint reader in the Galaxy A31 back to a side-mounted option for the Galaxy A32 5G, and it’s a decision that pays off, even if it seems like a downgrade on paper. It unlocked quickly when I pulled the phone from my pocket, even if the positioning on the side is only suitable for a few fingers. Otherwise, you can try out the software-based facial recognition for an easy unlock, though it’s far less secure.

Samsung’s choice to use a Gorilla Glass 5 display on the Galaxy A32 5G has been a lifesaver so far for me. This phone is extremely slippery (more on that in a minute) but the tough glass has absorbed the tumbles and falls without so much as a crack. Considering some phones at this price opt for Gorilla Glass 3, it’s good to see Samsung go an extra step.

The hefty 5,000mAh battery has been excellent, too. I’ve regularly pushed it well beyond a day of usage, and often close to a second day.

What’s not so good?

Samsung Galaxy A32 camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

For every design choice that Samsung got right on the Galaxy A32 5G, it got one significant choice wrong. This is an extremely slippery phone. The back panel may look great with its “Awesome” finishes and minimalist style, but it’s practically running away from you as soon as you set the phone down. A case can solve this issue, but without one, holding the Galaxy A32 5G is like trying to keep a firm grip on a baby seal.

You may have guessed as much based on the glossy plastic finish, but it’s nigh-impossible to keep the Galaxy A32 5G squeaky clean, too. Anything as simple as picking up the phone will leave behind smudgy fingerprints.

The Awesome Black finish looks great, but it's as slippery as a baby seal.

While Samsung’s 5,000mAh battery is excellent, its 15W wired charging isn’t the fastest. That’s especially true in Europe where rival phones from OnePlus, Realme, and Redmi offer more than double peak speeds. Once I finally drained the battery, it took 30 minutes to reach a 27% charge with the in-box charger, and a total of just over two hours to get back to full strength.

Check out: Here are the best Samsung Galaxy chargers

Samsung’s One UI is one of the best Android skins out there, but Samsung devices still arrive with loads of duplicate apps due to brand partnerships. Notably, the Galaxy A32 5G comes with a complete set of Microsoft apps to go with the Google and Samsung options. You’re looking at both OneDrive and Google Drive right out of the box, as well as both Gmail and Outlook. On the bright side, you can uninstall most of the extras right away, but there’s a lot of app redundancy out of the box.

I generally saw good performance from my Galaxy A32 5G in day-to-day usage, though there were a few hiccups. The phone tended to heat up if I had it connected to my car via Bluetooth for GPS directions. It cooled back down relatively quickly, but it may not be great for long navigation trips.

The Galaxy A32 5G’s mono speaker is also fine for the price, but also suffers from some distortion when you crank the volume, though that’s not uncommon for cheaper devices.

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G camera samples

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G specs

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
Display
6.5 inches
TFT
720 x 1,600 (20:9)
Processor
MediaTek Dimensity 720
RAM
4GB
6GB
Storage
64GB
128GB
Cameras
Rear quad camera:
48MP wide (f/1.8)
8MP ultra-wide (f/2.2)
5MP macro (f/2.4)
2MP depth (f/2.4)

Front:
13MP wide (f/2.2)
Battery
5,000mAh
15W wired charging
IP Rating
None
Software
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Dimensions
6.46 x 3.00 x 0.36 inches
(164.2 x 76.1 x 9.1mm)
7.23 oz (205 g)
Colors
Awesome Black
Awesome White
Awesome Blue
Awesome Violet
Security
Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Facial recognition

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review: Should I buy it?

Samsung Galaxy A32 display and google apps
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re in the market for a 5G-ready device with a strict $300 budget, the Galaxy A32 5G is well worth your consideration. It offers a great budget camera setup, excellent battery life, a classy design, and Samsung’s smooth, well-supported One UI software. As long as you’re ready to do battle with a slippery phone that easily gets covered in fingerprints, there’s not much missing at $279. Those things that are missing — mostly an IP rating and fast charging — aren’t necessarily dealbreakers considering this price tag.

The Galaxy A32 5G brings impressive value to the Galaxy A range, and it's a great way to dip your toe into 5G.

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is far from the only name in the sub-$300 game. OnePlus’s Nord N200 ($239) is another budget-friendly gateway to 5G, though it doesn’t offer the same update longevity. You can give the Motorola Moto G Power ($249) a look, but know that you won’t get the same software support, 5G speeds, or NFC.

For those happy to spend a little extra, the Galaxy A42 5G ($399) offers a power boost and an AMOLED display, while the Galaxy A52 5G ($499) is an even bigger upgrade that ups the ante with its superior camera suite and is capable of faster charging. There’s also the Google Pixel 5a ($449) which is again quite a bit pricier, but you get plenty of bang for your buck with the top-class camera performance.

Samsung Galaxy A32 upright samsung apps
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
Tap into Samsung's feature-rich Galaxy without making your wallet tap out. The Galaxy A32 5G packs an impressive camera setup, minimalist design, and more for under $300.