Why Samsung's 2021 Galaxy A series is more important than the Galaxy S
Samsung is the world's largest smartphone manufacturer by some margin; in Q1 2021, the South Korean manufacturer sold 76.1 million phones around the world and had a 22% market share. While Samsung traditionally relied on its flagships for a bulk of the revenue from its mobile business, it is increasingly turning to the mid-range and budget segments to bolster growth.
The Galaxy S21 series was well-received following its debut earlier this year, but there won't be a Galaxy Note this year, with Samsung shifting focus to foldables, like the upcoming Z Fold 3.
Looking back at the ten best-selling phones last year, Samsung did not have any Galaxy S or Note models in the list. However, it did have four models in the Galaxy A series, with the Galaxy A51 narrowly losing out to the iPhone 11 as the best-selling phone of 2020. That particular device was joined by the budget-focused Galaxy A01, A11, and A21s.
Back in 2019, Samsung overhauled its budget phone strategy. The company used to market budget phones under the Galaxy J and Galaxy C series, but it instead folded these options into the Galaxy A lineup, which was previously aimed at the mid-tier segment. In doing so, Samsung massively increased the reach of the Galaxy A series.
Devices in the Galaxy A series always sold well, but the decision to expand this lineup to include budget and entry-level phones was a masterstroke. It allowed Samsung to market the budget phones much more effectively, and the result is clearly evident — the Galaxy A series now accounts for a bulk of Samsung's phone sales, and that momentum is set to continue in 2021.
Like other manufacturers, Samsung is betting on affordable 5G phones as a key sales driver this year. The Galaxy A52 5G illustrates this point perfectly: the phone has considerable hardware upgrades from its predecessor, including a 120Hz AMOLED panel — just like the flagship Galaxy S21 series — beefier chipset with 5G connectivity, and better cameras. The A52 5G even gets IP67 water resistance, a feature that was traditionally limited to Samsung's flagships.
The Galaxy A52 5G is one of the best Android phones of 2021, and a big part of what makes the phone so alluring is the software updates. Samsung will deliver monthly security updates and three guaranteed Android updates to the Galaxy A52 5G, so in this area it is on an equal footing to Samsung's flagships. That's a big deal considering most phones in the budget and mid-range segments do not get the same level of attention with regards to updates as flagships.
Alongside phones like the Galaxy A52 5G, Samsung is offering devices that lower the barrier to entry for 5G. Looking through the Galaxy A buyer's guide, Samsung has three 5G-enabled models for sale in the U.S., and the most affordable option — the Galaxy A32 5G — comes in at just $280.
Sure, the Galaxy A32 5G misses out against the A52 5G — it has a 720p LCD screen — but the hardware itself is robust, and the fact that Samsung is selling a brand-new 5G phone for under $300 is a huge deal as customers start making the switch to the new cellular standard. While 5G initially gained momentum with high-end phones, we need affordable phones for the standard to go mainstream, and Samsung is leading that charge in 2021 with the Galaxy A series. It's no surprise, then, that the Galaxy A32 5G is already sold out.
With the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung is highlighting its latest hardware innovations. The Galaxy A series, meanwhile, takes that same design aesthetic and key features — like high refresh rate displays and 5G connectivity — and makes them accessible to a wider audience. Phones like the Galaxy A52 5G are proof that you don't actually need to pay over $500 to get a great overall experience in 2021, and that should be welcome news to anyone looking to upgrade to a 5G phone this year.
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Everything you need
The Galaxy A52 5G has a 120Hz AMOLED screen, robust internal hardware with 5G connectivity, three guaranteed Android updates, standout cameras, and stellar battery life. There really isn't anything missing here, and when you consider how much the device costs, you are getting a great overall value.
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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.