If you’re in the market for an inexpensive Android phone with 5G, Samsung has your back with the Galaxy A32 5G ($279.99). Excellent battery life, solid performance, and years of promised Android upgrades and security updates mean this inexpensive phone should keep you happy for a long time. A low-resolution display aside, there’s very little to dislike about the Galaxy A32 5G; it’s an excellent value and a winner of our Editors’ Choice award for budget-friendly 5G phones.
Low-Res Never Looked So Good
The Galaxy A32 5G is a handsome phone. It has a plastic back panel and chassis, but it doesn’t look like the cheap budget phones of yesteryear. In the US, the phone has a glossy gray finish. Unfortunately, it quickly collected fingerprints and hairline scratches in testing.
The phone measures 6.5 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches and weighs 7 ounces. That’s a typical weight for a handset with a 6.5-inch display, but the Galaxy A32 5G’s slippery finish makes it more susceptible to accidental drops than models with textured backs. The phone slid out of my hands on a few occasions while I was testing it. Fortunately, its plastic body and Gorilla Glass 5 display withstood these fumbles.
SAMSUNG GALAXY A32 5G SPECS
|Operating System||Android 11|
|CPU||MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G|
|Dimensions||6.5 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches|
|Screen Size||6.5 inches|
|Screen Resolution||1,600 by 720 pixels|
|Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing)||48MP. 8MP, 5MP, 2MP; 13MP|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||13 hours, 1 minute|
SAMSUNG GALAXY A32 5G Pros And Cons
- Handsome design
- Durable Gorilla Glass 5 display
- Capable cameras
- Long battery life
- Impressive performance for the price
- Excellent software upgrade policy
- Low-resolution display
- Mediocre speaker
- Back panel scratches easily
The front of the Galaxy A32 5G is dominated by a 6.5-inch LCD with a teardrop notch and slight bezels. The resolution clocks in at 1,600 by 720 pixels, for 270 pixels per inch. The display is bright and vivid, and you’ll be hard-pressed to notice any pixelation without close examination. That said, it doesn’t compare with the less-expensive OnePlus Nord N200 5G’s 6.49-inch, 2,400-by-1,080-pixel 90Hz display.
Instead of the protruding camera module you see on most Samsung phones, the Galaxy A32 5G has three discrete sensor bumps vertically stacked in the upper left corner of the back panel. To their right is another sensor that’s flush with the phone, along with the flash. A Samsung logo and microscopic regulatory information are located on the bottom third of the back panel.
The top of the phone is bare, and the USB-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and speaker grille fill the bottom of the chassis. On the left side, you’ll find the SIM/microSD slot. The right side is home to the volume rocker and a power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor. The sensor is fast and accurate, and the buttons provide a satisfying tactile feedback when tapped. The volume rocker is difficult to reach if you have small hands.
Durability is a mixed bag. The Galaxy A32 5G lacks an IP rating, and I couldn’t find any mention of water resistance on Samsung’s website. I did wind up outside in a heavy storm while using the phone and didn’t notice any damage to it, but if you drop it in a pool, all bets are off.
Otherwise, the plastic body and chassis should handle minor dings and drops without much damage. So should the Gorilla Glass 5 display panel, which is uncommon for phones in this price range—most use the significantly inferior Gorilla Glass 3.
Samsung sells the Galaxy A32 5G both online and through AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone also works on Verizon and has solid LTE and sub-6GHz 5G band support.
Note that if you’re an AT&T customer, you shouldn’t buy the unlocked version of the Galaxy A32 5G. According to AT&T, “Any version of the Galaxy A32 5G made for our network will continue to work after our 3G services end on February 22 . There are, however, some versions of this device brough to our network from other carriers that will be impacted. In this instance, we are offering eligible customers free replacement phones.”
I tested the phone on T-Mobile’s 5G network in Chicago and recorded impressive results. Speeds averaged 141.9Mbps down and 42.8Mbps up. Those numbers slightly trail the Nord N200 5G’s average speeds of 154.2Mbps down and 46Mbps up, but there are dozens of variables that could account for the difference. These numbers don’t compare with the super-fast speeds you’ll get on a flagship phone with mmWave connectivity, but they’re brisk for a budget phone.
Call quality is superb. The earpiece’s 86dB maximum volume is loud enough to hear on busy streets. Test calls were clear and noise cancellation worked perfectly.
The single, bottom-firing speaker fails to impress. At its peak volume of 92dB, there’s noticeable static. Lower volumes are tolerable, but the mids are brassy and lows are nonexistent. Unless you’re planning to use the speaker for a quick call, we recommend a good pair of headphones.
Dual-band Wi-Fi is on board, though Wi-Fi 6 is not. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 for wearable connectivity and NFC for mobile payments.
Battery Life for Days
The Galaxy A32 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chipset along with 4GB of RAM. There’s 64GB of storage, with about 46GB available out of the box; if that’s not enough, you can add up to an additional terabyte of external storage with a microSD card.
Overall performance is good. Apps open quickly and there’s almost zero lag with screen transitions. Multitasking doesn’t slow the phone down either. The initial boot-up process takes a beat longer than it does on the Nord N200 5G, but the difference is hard to notice unless you’re paying close attention.
If you’re a casual gamer who plays Candy Crush on your morning commute, the Galaxy A32 5G will be just fine. Hardcore gamers, however, will find the phone to be a poor fit. If you’re shopping for an inexpensive gaming phone, your best bet is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.
I tested the phone with Genshin Impact, the most resource-intensive game in the Google Play Store, as well as the less processor-hungry Alto’s Odyssey. On Genshin Impact, I encountered long load times and a few crashes during an hour of gameplay. Alto’s Odyssey performed fine for the most part, though I noticed several skipped frames.
On Geekbench 5, a benchmarking test that quantifies raw computing power, the Galaxy A32 5G scored 501 single-core (SC) and 1,678 multi-core (MC). The Nord N200 5G eked out 508 SC and 1,588 MC on the same test. Despite the difference in their multi-core scores, the two phones perform about equally well during everyday use.
The 5,000mAh battery should yield a few days of moderate use between charges. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the Galaxy A32 5G shut down after 13 hours and 1 minute. If you need a quick boost, the phone supports 18W fast charging; an adapter is included in the box.
The rear camera stack consists of a 48MP primary lens with an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 5MP macro lens with an f/2.4 aperture, and a 2MP depth sensor. There’s also a 13MP front-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture.
Like most phones in this class, the Galaxy A32 5G takes solid pictures in good light. Test photos with the primary lens were crisp and vivid with a natural depth of field. The ultra-wide lens does an admirable job as well, but I noticed some minor background noise in several photos.
With good light and a steady hand, the Galaxy A32 5G’s macro lens can take a decent shot. My best test photos, captured after lots of trial and error, were flat with some loss of fine detail. The worst were a gauzy, impressionistic mess.
For low-light photos with the primary lens, the Galaxy A32 5G surpassed the Nord N200 5G. I noticed noise and some loss of fine detail in most of the test shots, but there was less blur and better color accuracy.
Test shots with the ultra-wide lens were noticeably better on the Galaxy A32 5G than on the Nord N200 5G. My test shots had intermittent light flares, but background detail was superior and there was far less distortion when viewing similar shots on the two phones.
The selfie camera performs well in all but extreme low light. My test shots were crisp and vivid with natural depth. A little noise seeps in in low light, but the test photos were neither muddy nor flat—two common issues we notice with budget phones.
Portrait mode works surprisingly well on the Galaxy A32 5G. My test shots, with the default settings, had a natural-looking bokeh without any object mapping. If you prefer either more or less blur, there’s a slider in the app that allows you to make immediate adjustments. Portrait mode improves exponentially every year, and among current phones in this price range, the Galaxy A32 5G does an excellent job.
Upgrades for Years to Come
The Galaxy A32 5G ships with Android 11 along with One UI 3.1. Samsung’s custom skin continues to improve with each update, and its latest brings deep integration with Microsoft Office as well as an updated camera app, an improved Eye Comfort Shield mode that automatically adjusts the screen’s display throughout the day, and the option to switch out Samsung Daily on the home screen with Google Discover.
In addition to all of One UI’s customization features, Samsung includes a suite of productivity apps. For the most part, these apps are extraneous, since similar options are already baked into Android, but if you use Office 365 or just want to avoid Google apps, you’ll appreciate the Samsung options.
If you purchase an unlocked version of the Galaxy A32 5G, you’ll find it ships without bloatware. Carrier versions are a different story. Our T-Mobile review unit shipped with Spotify and a handful of T-Mobile apps. AT&T adds dozens of extra apps to the mix. Fortunately, most of these bonus apps can be uninstalled.
Samsung’s upgrade policy is what sets the Galaxy A32 5G apart from the Nord N200 5G and most budget phones on the market. The Galaxy A32 5G will get two years of OS upgrades, three years of monthly security updates, and one additional year of regular security upgrades. The Nord N200 5G will only get an upgrade to Android 12 and regular security updates for two years.
Excellent 5G Value With One Compromise
For its price, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G checks off nearly all the boxes for what we want in a budget phone. It handles all basic tasks with ease, has excellent battery life, will receive multiple Android upgrades, and has a decent camera stack. Its performance is almost at the level of the much more expensive Galaxy A52 5G. Its only real weak point is its low-resolution display, but unless you’re a gamer or planning to use your phone for Netflix binges, that likely won’t bother you. The screen is vivid and bright, and you won’t notice any pixelation unless your nose is up against it.
If you’re looking for a budget phone with a higher-resolution display, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G is a great choice, though its camera isn’t as capable as the Galaxy A32 5G’s, and it will only get one Android upgrade. That means you won’t find a better sub-$300 5G phone than the Galaxy A32 5G, and for that it earns our Editors’ Choice award.