The best cheap Android phones have a battleground right at the top of their price bracket, around $500, where it's just starting to get into flagship territory. And, it's at this price point that the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and the TCL 20 Pro 5G face off. Both phones are bringing some extra-premium features to the table that would be lacking on sub-$300 smartphones, and one of those notable features is 5G connectivity. Since both phones are offering 5G, it's worth looking at everything else they're offering.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. TCL 20 Pro 5G: Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and TCL 20 Pro 5G are available now for $500. However, Samsung has a much more prominent market presence. You'll be able to find it at a ton of major retailers, direct from Samsung, and also from mobile carriers who tend to provide incentives that let you get a discount on the phone or at least break it up into interest-free installment plans. The TCL 20 Pro 5G is not so widely sold. You can find it on Amazon at retail price, but we haven't seen carriers offering it.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. TCL 20 Pro 5G: In-depth specs
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and TCL 20 Pro 5G fit into the same smartphone category, so it's not too surprising to see they are fairly evenly matched when it comes to specs. Both phones come running on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chipset that brings 5G support along with it.
|Samsung Galaxy A52 5G||TCL 20 Pro 5G|
|Operating System||Android 11||Android 11|
|Display||6.5-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED 2400x1080 (20:9) Gorilla Glass 5||6.7-inch AMOLED 2400 x 1080 (20:9)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 750G||Snapdragon 750G|
|Rear Camera 1||64MP||48MP|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP ultra-wide (123-degre)||16MP ultra-wide|
|Rear Camera 3||5MP macro||5MP macro|
|Rear Camera 4||5MP portrait||5MP depth|
|Security||In-display fingerprint||In-display fingerprint, face unlock|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Ports||USB-C 2.0||USB-C 2.0|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack||Bottom speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Battery||4,500mAh, 25W charging||4,500mAh, 18W QC3.0 charging, 15W Qi charging|
|Dimensions||159.9x75.1x8.4mm||164.2 x 73 x 8.8mm|
|Material||Metal and plastic||Metal and glass|
|Colors||Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, Awesome Violet||Marine Blue, Moondust Grey|
The memory and storage configurations are a minor difference, with the Samsung offering 6GB or 8GB of memory to go with the respective 128GB or 256GB storage options. Meanwhile, the TCL 20 Pro 5G offers just one option with the lesser 6GB of memory but greater 256GB of storage. Both phones will let you add extra storage with a microSD card, though.
The Snapdragon 750G is an efficient chip, which allows both phones to get plenty of life out of their 4,500mAh batteries.
The Snapdragon 750G is an efficient chip, which allows both phones to get plenty of life out of their 4,500mAh batteries. The TCL 20 Pro 5G may drain its battery faster with a lot of screen time, given it has a bigger 6.7-inch AMOLED display, but the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has just as good a chance to use the power given its 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display can run at an increased 120Hz refresh rate.
The screens do set the phones apart by a small bit, as TCL goes bigger and Samsung goes smoother, but both offer the same resolution. Once the batteries are drained, Samsung's can recharge faster with 25W charging. TCL's phone tops out at 18W charging, but it does have the added perk of supporting 15W Qi wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. TCL 20 Pro 5G: Design and camera
The phones share some similarities design-wise, including metal frames, USB-C ports, headphone jacks, and under-display fingerprint sensors. But, TCL actually pulls ahead in aesthetics using a glass back where Samsung uses plastic. Plus, the TCL includes a curved-edge display where Samsung stuck with flat.
Samsung may have an edge where it's more critical, though, as the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has an IP67 rating against water and dust while the TCL 20 Pro 5G has a meager IP52 rating. This means the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is safe from dust and can even withstand some submersion in water. Sadly, the TCL 20 Pro 5G is not fully protected against dust and only offers minor water protection.
Just as Samsung's water protections may help the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G live longer than the TCL 20 Pro 5G, so too may its software updates. Both phones come running Android 11 out of the box. While TCL has stepped up its game by promising at least two years of updates for the phone, Samsung has promised three Android version updates for its phone as well as four years of security updates.
On paper, even the camera systems are a close match. Surprisingly, based on our testing, the TCL system may have the advantage. Both offer quality shots in good lighting conditions, but where Samsung falters quite a bit in darker settings, the TCL 20 Pro 5G's main camera can still provide some serviceable shots with its Night mode. That said, both phones fall short of the Pixel 4a 5G in the camera department.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. TCL 20 Pro 5G: A connectivity fight
The hot new feature touted by both phones right in the name is 5G. That said, neither phone is promising the fastest 5G speeds, which are found using the elusive mmWave at the moment (and may eventually come from C-Band). Instead, both phones are offering more modest Sub-6 connections. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G could have the leg up here as it supports a larger number of 5G bands than the TCL 20 Pro 5G, at least in the US. That said, the international model of the TCL 20 Pro 5G has more comparable 5G band support.
Both phones stick with Wi-Fi 5, somewhat disappointingly when Wi-Fi 6 is becoming more established. But, there are two other connections where they set themselves apart. The TCL 20 Pro 5G has a special Bluetooth trick up its sleeve called Super Bluetooth. This allows it to connect to four Bluetooth audio devices simultaneously and synchronize the audio. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has NFC to enable tap-to-pay features.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G vs. TCL 20 Pro 5G: Which one to get?
Both the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and TCL 20 Pro 5G have some notable advantages. TCL steps ahead when it comes to offering a premium-looking design, but Samsung plays it safe by offering more protection against water and dust. The bigger screen from TCL may make a small difference, but some of the screen will be less useful because it curves at the edges, and Samsung makes up for the slightly smaller screen with a faster refresh rate. Meanwhile, the internals and camera systems remain comparable.
In the end, we lean toward Samsung in this contest. Knowing the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G will come with longer support from Samsung via updates is a major plus and can help stretch its value out over more years. Plus, Samsung's prevalence in the market makes it easy to find carriers offering deals that lower your upfront cost well below $500. That said, once you get into the $500 ballpark, it's just a small step up to $600, which can get you a superior ASUS ZenFone 8 or even a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE when there's a discount (which are frequent).
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Well rounded and safe
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G should run just as fast and work as well as TCL's option, but it comes with the peace of mind that comes with dramatically improved water protection and more extensive software/security updates. And, even though both phones retail for $500, it will likely be easier to pick up Samsung's with some carrier incentives that bring your upfront price down well below $500.
TCL 20 Pro 5G
Style with some compromises
TCL manages to offer a more premium-looking package than Samsung for the price. The bigger display has stylish, curved edges, and TCL has used glass on the back as well. There's even a Qi wireless charging built-in. If that classy look and charging convenience are a priority, the TCL 20 Pro 5G has some legs to stand on.
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