Samsung's first 5G smartphone under $300 could be a game changer

When people think of Samsung smartphones, it's normally Galaxy S devices, Notes and foldables. Now, the unsung heroes of the portfolio are getting a chance t...

Posted: Apr 7, 2021 8:22 PM
Updated: Apr 8, 2021 9:41 AM

When people think of Samsung smartphones, it's normally Galaxy S devices, Notes and foldables. Now, the unsung heroes of the portfolio are getting a chance to shine.

The company announced Wednesday that it's doubling down on its mid-range Galaxy A Series smartphone line in the United States — an effort that includes its first 5G device under $300.

Samsung's Galaxy and Note flagship smartphones have long overshadowed its A Series devices. But amid the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the more price-friendly line made up 70% of the company's total smartphone shipments — and 60% in the United States — in 2020, according to data from IDC Research.

Samsung told reporters ahead of its US launch that the line grew 169% last year, leading it to do a bigger push this year. Last month, it held an Unpacked event — typically reserved for its Galaxy and Note devices — in South Korea to drum up excitement.

Now, the same devices are launching in the United States: three new 5G devices — the Galaxy A52 5G ($499), A42 5G ($399) and A32 5G ($279) — and two 4G models, the A12 ($179) and A02s ($109). The Galaxy A42 5G will be available in the US starting April 8 and the others launch on April 9.

While price is a major selling point, the specs are solid, too: edge-to-edge screens, feature-packed cameras, powerful processors, a sleek design and, on some models, 5G. As IDC Research analyst Ramon Llamas puts it, "It's a high-end phone masquerading as a mass-market device."

"This is not going to be the one that brings all the recent bells and whistles because that's what the Galaxy S is all about," he added. "But if you're comfortable with having a 'good enough' phone that will do what you need it to do, then this is something to look at."

Perhaps the most intriguing device in the new lineup is the 6.5-inch A32 5G ($279), one of the most affordable 5G phones in the United States. Pricing the model this low is a big win for the 5G industry, which has suffered from slow user adoption due to network challenges and costly devices needed to run on it. For example, the 5G-enabled iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G start at $799.

The A32 essentially removes the pricing barrier from a 5G-capable device, allowing users to focus more on the specs they want than the connectivity. The device also features an HD display with a battery that promises to last all day, 64 GB of internal storage and support for a micro SD card.

Samsung's A Series expansion in the United States is a way for it to dive deeper into the budget-conscious smartphone category. Apple now offers several tiers for the iPhone 12 and continues to build out its more affordable iPhone SE line, whch starts at $399. The move also primes customers to upgrade to flagship devices later on, according to Llamas.

The timing for Samsung's expansion is fortuitous, too. Earlier this week, LG announced it is exiting the mobile market after years of losses, marking the end of an era for a trailblazer in the Android world.

"With the expected demise of LG, which is the third largest vendor in the US, Samsung will no doubt fill the void it leaves behind in the mid-range," said David McQueen, a research director at ABI Research. "I doubt Apple will hit the same price points -- plus it's not Android."

The new 5G models let users grab high-resolution still photos straight from 4K videos; provide a scene optimizer to automatically detect what's in frame and enhance exposure, contrast and color; and tout a built-in augmented reality lenses from Snapchat.

A step up from the A32 is the 6.6-inch A42 5G, which offers a fingerprint scanner for security and artificial intelligence baked into the camera — a feature brought down to the A Series from its flagship devices, providing a variety of styles, angles, and formats, such as GIFs and filter effects, in one shot.

At the top of the lineup is the A52 5G, which has a 64 megapixel high-resolution camera, tools such as the new pro video mode to adjust details in videos, and a high refresh rate to make gaming, browsing and social feeds look smoother.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 704632

Reported Deaths: 13211
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion961411718
Lake51322943
Allen39040670
Hamilton34368405
St. Joseph33865539
Elkhart27197431
Vanderburgh22050394
Tippecanoe21725212
Johnson17475374
Porter17240298
Hendricks16754310
Clark12663190
Madison12321337
Vigo12172244
Monroe11417166
LaPorte10841204
Delaware10325184
Howard9629211
Kosciusko9098113
Hancock7954139
Bartholomew7867155
Warrick7680155
Floyd7543176
Wayne6887198
Grant6773171
Boone6524100
Morgan6379138
Dubois6074117
Marshall5770108
Dearborn568576
Cass5678102
Henry5569100
Noble539383
Jackson492869
Shelby478295
Lawrence4336118
Gibson427789
Harrison427570
Clinton417753
Montgomery417286
DeKalb407984
Huntington377480
Whitley376339
Miami371765
Knox365789
Steuben363357
Putnam352360
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Scott260853
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Washington230631
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Starke202652
Owen191956
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Jay185829
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Rush170624
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Pike130234
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1050112

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1219281356
Cuyahoga1067232069
Hamilton780741168
Montgomery49976996
Summit45252909
Lucas39984765
Butler37678570
Stark31385895
Lorain24111473
Warren23864293
Mahoning20869583
Lake19963362
Clermont19423229
Delaware18002130
Licking16109207
Fairfield15676197
Trumbull15553460
Medina14839259
Greene14643236
Clark13602293
Wood12733185
Portage12353196
Allen11312229
Richland11025198
Miami10525214
Muskingum8702127
Wayne8556209
Columbiana8535226
Pickaway8429121
Tuscarawas8370240
Marion8365135
Erie7554154
Hancock6694123
Ross6693146
Geauga6532146
Ashtabula6470165
Scioto6286101
Belmont5610158
Union557447
Lawrence5465102
Jefferson5303147
Huron5298114
Darke5268121
Sandusky5171120
Seneca5108120
Washington5073107
Athens500656
Auglaize475184
Mercer471184
Shelby455890
Knox4380108
Madison421559
Putnam420799
Ashland412688
Fulton409167
Defiance400896
Crawford3866101
Brown386055
Logan372876
Preble369898
Clinton360560
Ottawa356578
Highland346359
Williams324974
Champaign319257
Jackson307951
Guernsey306149
Perry289649
Fayette277348
Morrow274639
Hardin264164
Henry263566
Coshocton258857
Holmes253099
Van Wert238862
Gallia233346
Pike232931
Adams227852
Wyandot226953
Hocking208959
Carroll189147
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105236
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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