Bottom line: The Galaxy A72 nails the basics: you get a sublime 90Hz AMOLED display, minimal design with pastel hues, robust hardware, reliable cameras at the back, a 5000mAh battery, and long-term software updates. But the fact that there's no 5G here makes it a non-starter in global markets, and you also have to contend with a lot of bloatware.
- Gorgeous design
- Sublime 90Hz AMOLED display
- Two-day battery life
- Reliable cameras
- IP67 dust and water resistance
- Three years of Android updates
- Costly for what you get
- No 5G option
- Plenty of bloatware
- No 4K 60fps video
The Galaxy A71 did particularly well last year because it had more to offer than the Galaxy A51 — it featured a higher-resolution camera, larger screen and battery, and a chipset that was significantly faster. The Galaxy A51 just didn't pass muster on the hardware front, and that allowed the A71 to shine.
Things are different in 2021. The Galaxy A52 delivers much-needed improvements on the hardware front, including a 90Hz AMOLED display, a much more powerful Snapdragon 720G chipset, 64MP camera at the back, and 25W fast charging as standard.
As for the Galaxy A72, Samsung decided to play it safe. The phone is identical to the A52 in terms of the internal hardware, with the only differences being a telephoto lens at the back, a larger 6.7-inch display, and a 5000mAh battery. Unlike the A52, there's no 5G variant of the A72 at this moment. With the regular 4G model retailing for roughly $100 more than the A52 in most global markets, it is a less compelling option if you're looking to maximize value.
That said, it does stand out in a few key areas over its predecessor, so let's take a look at what you're getting with the Galaxy A72 and whether you should pick up the phone.
Samsung Galaxy A72: Price and availability
The Galaxy A72 was unveiled on March 17 alongside the Galaxy A52 and A52 5G. The phone is now up for sale in India and most European countries and is scheduled to make its way to the U.S. sometime later in April. The Galaxy A72 is sold in four color variants: Awesome Blue, Awesome Black, Awesome White, and Awesome Violet.
The Galaxy A72 is available in two configurations in India: an 8GB/128GB version that retails at ₹34,999 ($475) and an 8GB/256GB model that is available for ₹37,999 ($520). The phone is sold in a single 6GB/128GB edition in European markets that costs €449 ($530).
Samsung Galaxy A72: Design and display
Samsung overhauled the design of its Galaxy A series devices this year, with the A72 featuring attractive pastel color schemes. The design makes the phone stand out from the usual metal-and-glass sandwich aesthetic that has been a mainstay in this industry for the last four years, and the matte finish makes it a delight to hold.
Like the Galaxy A52, the A72 is made out of polycarbonate, with a metal mid-frame. The matte texture at the back does a great job hiding the fact that the phone is made out of plastic, and the pastel colors give it a fresh look. The camera housing itself is similar to what you'll find on the Galaxy S21 series, but it doesn't protrude as much from the chassis.
The large rings for the camera housing gives the phone some visual flair, and the design contrasts well with the pastel paint job. Elsewhere, you'll find the volume and power buttons on the right, SIM tray at the top, and a 3.5mm jack as well as the primary speaker at the bottom on either side of the USB-C port.
Samsung offers a dual-SIM card tray by default in most global markets, but the phone is likely to be sold as a single-SIM option in the U.S. It's good to see that there is a MicroSD card slot and a 3.5mm jack on the A72, and while the phone weighs 203g, it doesn't feel bulky or unwieldy at all.
Overall, Samsung nailed the design brief with the Galaxy A72. The phone is essentially a larger version of the A52, and the shift to a minimal design language with pastel hues and a matte finish make it stand out from its predecessors. If you weren't a fan of the flashy gradient designs over the last two years, you will like what Samsung has done here.
The biggest change with this year's Galaxy A72 is the 90Hz AMOLED display. Samsung always offered high-quality AMOLED panels on its Galaxy A series, and this year it has switched to 90Hz displays as standard across the range. The high refresh rate immediately makes a difference in day-to-day use — everything you do on your phone feels smooth, and if you're coming from a regular 60Hz phone, you will love the changes.
The Galaxy A72 has a 6.7-inch display with an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution and 800 nits of maximum brightness. I had zero issues with the screen even under harsh sunlight, and the AMOLED panel has vibrant colors out of the box. You're limited in terms of customizability — you can choose from Vivid or Natural color modes — and you can also adjust the white balance.
The screen itself is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5, and it has thin bezels at the top and bottom. Like the S21 series, you'll find a hole-punch cutout, and the earpiece doubles up as the secondary speaker. The sound isn't as loud or detailed as the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max — which has identical stereo speakers — but it does make a difference when streaming videos.
Samsung Galaxy A72: Performance and battery
Last year's Galaxy A71 featured Qualcomm's Snapdragon 730G chipset, and for the A72, Samsung is going with the Snapdragon 720G. That seems like a downgrade on paper, but there's no difference between the two chipsets in daily use.
|Specs||Samsung Galaxy A72|
|Software||One UI 3.1 based on Android 11|
|Display||6.7-inch (2400x1080) 90Hz AMOLED|
|Chipset||2.30GHz Snapdragon 732G|
|Rear Camera 1||64MP ƒ/1.8 (primary)|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP ƒ/2.2 (wide-angle)|
|Rear Camera 3||8MP ƒ/2.4 (telephoto)|
|Rear Camera 4||5MP ƒ/2.4 (macro)|
|Front Camera||32MP ƒ/2.2|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi ac, BT5.0, NFC|
|Battery||5000mAh | 25W|
|Colors||Awesome Blue, Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Violet|
|Dimensions||165 x 77.4 x 8.4mm|
If anything, I found the Snapdragon 720G to be marginally faster than the 730G at gaming, and that's down to the higher-clocked Adreno 618. The phone has two Cortex A76 cores that go up to 2.30GHz and six energy-efficient cores at 1.80GHz.
The phone holds up just fine for most day-to-day tasks, and you won't notice any lag or slowdown. You will see issues with visually-intensive titles, but performance is adequate for most casual games. That said, the phone doesn't measure up to other devices in this category — most options in the $500 segment are powered by the Snapdragon 765G or MediaTek's Dimensity 800U, and these particular chipsets offer much better performance.
The Galaxy A72 has 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM as standard and comes with 128GB of base storage. It is also available with a 256GB storage option, and both versions feature UFS 2.1 storage modules. The phone has an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and like the rest of the Galaxy A series, it is infuriatingly slow. It takes too long to authenticate, and it has a high error rate — I ended up using the face unlock feature most of the time.
Another area where the Galaxy A72 misses out is 5G connectivity. Most phones in this category now offer 5G connectivity, so for Samsung to not do so limits the potential userbase for the A72.
What Samsung managed to get right is water resistance. The 2021 Galaxy A models have IP67 dust and water resistance as standard, and it makes the A72 that much more versatile. You don't have to worry about taking the phone to the pool or the bathtub, and while it's not IP68 like the Galaxy S21 or the OnePlus 9 Pro, you don't miss out on much here. With an IP67 rating, you can submerge the A72 in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
As for battery life, the 5000mAh battery life easily delivers over a day's worth of use without any issues whatsoever. Even with the screen refresh set to 90Hz, I consistently got two-day usage from the Galaxy A72. And when you do need to charge the battery, there's 25W wired charging. It takes just over 90 minutes to fully charge the battery, with a 50% charge taking 35 minutes.
There is no wireless charging here, but the outstanding battery life combined with 25W wired charging means you don't really miss out all that much.
Samsung Galaxy A72: Cameras
The Galaxy A72 has the same 64MP primary lens as the Galaxy A52, and it shares the same 12MP wide-angle lens and the 5MP macro lens as well. The only difference is an 8MP telephoto lens with up to 3x optical and 30x digital zoom. The zoom lens is an exciting addition, but other than that, the A72 is identical to the A52 in this particular area.
That means you miss out on 4K 60fps video recording here as well. Samsung does let you record 1080p footage at up to 60fps, but the fact that the A72 is also limited to 30fps for 4K makes it a deal-breaker for video. The camera interface itself is unchanged from last year; you'll find all the shooting modes from the viewfinder as well as toggles for HDR, timer, flash, and beauty effects.
The Galaxy A72 does a great job in daylight scenarios, with the images offering great dynamic range and vibrant colors. The zoom lens lets you take detailed shots at up to a zoom factor of 3x without any loss in image quality, and you get usable shots even at up to 10x — with hybrid zoom doing a decent enough job correcting artifacts.
As for low-light shots, the phone shoots at lower ISO levels to minimize noise, and as a result, you get underexposed photos that miss out on finer details. Even then, you can easily make out noise around the edges, and while the resultant photos are usable, the Galaxy A72 does not measure up to its rivals in this area.
Samsung Galaxy A72: Software
As for the software, the Galaxy A72 runs One UI 3.1 based on Android 11 — just like the A52 and the Galaxy S21 series. It's great to see Samsung make positive strides on the software front, and the brand's promise of delivering three guaranteed Android updates makes the A72 an enticing choice.
Samsung will also provide four years of security patches to the phone, outmatching even Google in this area. One UI 3.1 also has a lot going for it, with Samsung integrating all the new features in Android 11 seamlessly. The UI itself isn't too different from last year's One UI 2.1, but it has subtle tweaks that make it more modern.
Samsung offers one of the most feature-rich interfaces you'll find today, and there is a lot to like in One UI 3.1. You'll find options for always-on display, dynamic backgrounds, dual messenger feature that lets you run two instances of an app, plenty of customization options, and Bixby is still around — yes, you can disable the digital assistant easily.
The main drawback here is the sheer amount of bloatware. Samsung continues to push "recommendation" services like IronSource, and you'll get a full-screen interstitial after setting up the A72 that you'll have to navigate before accessing the home screen. IronSource is just one of many ways Samsung monetizes its software; you'll also find ads in the first-party apps. and annoying notifications from the Galaxy Store.
It just isn't a good look for a $500 phone to have this much bloatware. Samsung isn't the only brand that has ads in its UI, but it is the only one that does so even for its mid-range and flagship phones. Xiaomi and Realme limit ads to their budget devices, and for Samsung to do so means the software experience on the A72 is less than ideal.
Samsung Galaxy A72: The competition
With the Galaxy A72 sharing so many similarities with the A52, you're better off picking up the latter. The A52 has the same 90Hz AMOLED panel, and it is also powered by the Snapdragon 720G chipset, has the same 64MP camera at the back and 32MP lens at the front, and comes with 25W fast charging. The A72 has a larger screen — 6.7 inches versus 6.5 on the A52 — and a 5000mAh battery, as well as a zoom lens with 3x optical zoom at the back. If those features are worth $100 to you, then get the A72. Otherwise, the A52 is the better option.
Of course, the OnePlus Nord continues to be a standout option in this category outside the U.S. The phone costs €399 ($470) in Europe for the 8GB/128GB edition and ₹29,999 ($410) in India for the 12GB/256GB model, and you get a 90Hz AMOLED panel, beefier Snapdragon 765G chipset with 5G, 30W fast charging, and great cameras.
In the U.S., Google's Pixel 4a 5G is the obvious choice. The device misses out on a 90Hz display, but you get a Snapdragon 765G with 5G connectivity, outstanding cameras, regular software updates, and a bloat-free UI.
Samsung Galaxy A72: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
You want a large 90Hz display
With a 6.7-inch 90Hz AMOLED display and stereo sound, the Galaxy A72 is a great option for consuming content on the go. Whether you're playing games or streaming videos, the phone has a lot to offer in this area.
You want regular software updates
The Galaxy A72 will get three guaranteed Android updates and four years of security patches, ensuring it will stay current for a lot longer than most phones in this particular category.
You need a phone with water resistance
The Galaxy A72 has IP67 dust and water resistance, which means you'll be able to use it at the pool without any issues. The device has a lot of extras as well — you get a zoom lens with 3x optical zoom, 25W fast charging, and Samsung Pay continues to be a great choice for mobile payments.
You should not buy this if ...
You want 5G connectivity
The Galaxy A72 is limited to 4G, and at this moment, there's no mention of a 5G-enabled version of the device. If you need 5G connectivity and are eyeing the Galaxy A series, the A52 5G is the obvious option right now.
You need a phone with a good value
The Galaxy A72 retails for just over $500 in most global markets, and you don't really get a lot of value for the asking price. The phone has decent hardware, but you will find plenty of other options that give you a lot more for what you're paying here.
You want a bloat-free UI
Samsung made a lot of positive changes to its UI over the last two years, but there's no denying the fact that the A72 has a ton of bloatware out of the box. You will have to disable the pre-installed apps manually, and even then, you'll find ads in daily use.
Samsung could have differentiated the Galaxy A72 by opting for a more powerful chipset or switching to a newer camera module. But as it stands, the phone doesn't really stand out much. Don't get me wrong; the Galaxy S72 has plenty to offer in 2021, and you are getting a lot of new features here: the 90Hz AMOLED panel is a noteworthy addition, the cameras are reliable, and there's IP67 dust and water resistance.
3.5 out of 5
But the lack of 5G makes the phone a non-starter in the mid-range segment, and its similarities to the Galaxy A52 mean you're better off picking up that phone if you're in the market for a new device this year. And if you want a phone that works with 5G, there's always the Galaxy A52 5G.
The Galaxy A72 is by no means a bad phone, but with 5G increasingly gaining momentum, it's hard to justify a $500 phone that's limited to 4G. This device is good if you don't care about 5G and want a phone with a large screen and huge battery, but for what you're ultimately paying here, there are much better options.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
That centered hole punch camera is so hideous, I have no idea why Samsung thinks it looks good. I hate it. The iPhone notch is less distracting and obtrusive. I don't like hole punch cameras to begin with but if you're gonna do it, put it in the corner where it isn't constantly in view when gaming and watching videos.
On the plus side Samsung makes it easy to hide in the settings. By comparison LG makes the UI appear black near the notch but still displays time/date/status (very annoying). Anyone know Motorola behavior?
I have the A71 UW. Great phone. It's weird that they dropped 5G support. I guess they figure most people buying a mid range phone have no need for it and would appreciate a lower price.
Wondering if a Galaxy A72 5G and the S20FE would be too close in specs and price. Very much enjoying my S20FE, but the main camera on the A72 seems like an upgrade, and the 120hz vs 90hz screen/4k60 video are not deal killers.
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