On paper, The Galaxy A72 feels like an outdated phone with specifications similar to last year’s Redmi Note 9 Pro Max but specifications are only half the story.
The A72 sets itself apart with a unique design, an excellent screen, and an overall more premium experience. The question is whether that premium is worth the experience? Let's find out.
The Galaxy A72 is a very striking phone, especially so in the violet colour of our review unit. The design feels remarkably like the Galaxy Note line of phones with a very deliberate, boxy design that stands out amongst the competition. The steel frame around the phone has a very considered curve, one that snuggly fits into your palm without digging in. There is a very distinct separation between the steel frame and the polycarbonate back that creates an illusion akin to a closed book when viewed from the side.
The large, curved borders around the screen do not distract too much since the sides mostly disappear, making it feel like you are holding just the display in your hands. I would assume the effect is even more striking on the black variant of the phone. On the right-hand side is the volume rocker and Bixby/power button. Both feel rugged and clicky with enough press that will ensure you do not accidentally turn your screen on when the phone is in your pocket.
At the bottom of the phone is a speaker grill, mic, 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port. On top is the SIM Card/microSD slot, another mic and one more speaker. The front facing camera is placed in the centre of the display near the top and looks like a small dot on the 6.7-inch panel.
Display and performance
There is no mistaking it, the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED continues Samsung’s tradition for high quality screens. The colours are vibrant with deep blacks that really stand out, especially in dark mode. The details are also sharp and viewing videos and images on this screen is a delight.
What is not a delight is Samsung’s OneUI 3.1 based on Android 11. The main problem is the number of duplicate apps and pre-installed bloatware. Even if you choose not to select many of the apps that are shown to you during the initial set-up, it still goes ahead and installs several useless apps that never left the misc. folder I put them into on the home screen. What is worse is the actual performance impact that the OneUI has, just to compare I installed a couple of third-party launchers like Hyperion and Nova. The small micro-stutters and random slowdowns when switching apps within OneUI were almost completely gone with third-party launchers, letting the 90Hz refresh rate on the screen really stand out.
I also found the in-display fingerprint reader to be really hit and miss. It would catch my print and immediately unlock the screen 70 percent of the time. The front-facing camera with face unlock is thankfully much better and switching over to it seems like the ideal solution.
If you look past the OneUI problems, the performance here is rather good with only the occasional stutter or the odd slowdown here and there. It is a very fluid experience that really showcases Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 720G SoC. The default RAM and storage configurations are generous too, with the base variant starting at 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.
The gaming performance here is swell too with demanding games like Call of Duty Mobile, Elder Scrolls Blades or Genshin Impact able to run smoothly at mid to high settings.
It is kind of hard to miss the quad camera module on the back, but I would really call it a triple camera module because the 5-megapixel macro sensor honestly just feels like a throwaway. Its okay in a pinch but is just there to fill out the quad camera quota on the spec sheet.
The 8-megapixel telephoto sensor fares much better with 3x optical zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. You will start losing sharpness at anything over 4x zoom and the sensor seems to work best in bright, outdoor environments or well-lit indoor ones.
It is kind of baffling that Samsung has not included the Zoom Lock feature found in its more premium flagships. What zoom lock allows you to do is to hold the frame steady at higher magnifications which is otherwise a pain to do. I found the sweet spot of this sensor to be around 5x zoom with good lighting, anything above that seems to introduce a lot of noise and loss of sharpness.
The 12-megapixel ultrawide camera is good too, capable of some great shots with the right lighting. Both the telephoto and ultrawide struggle in low-light but it is not too much of a deal breaker since you will not be using these much in low light anyway.
The primary 64-megapixel sensor is good, capable of some stunning shots when given good lighting and can hold its own in low light too. The colours are bright and punchy but can seem a little unrealistic at times, especially when it comes to reds and greens. However, it is a good camera overall, capable of some great photos given the right conditions.
The 5000mAh battery is capable of lasting two days with light use on a single charge. Light use here signifies the occasional gaming session, keeping Gmail, WhatsApp and Slack locked in the RAM and of course, some phone calls and light browsing. With heavy use, the phone still impressed and was able to last an entire day filled with a 2-to-3-hour gaming sessions, high quality videos and as many apps as I could open and keep locked in the background.
There is a 25W fast charger included in the box but calling it fast is a bit of a stretch and it took me little more than an hour for a full charge.
On paper, there are tons of devices that offer better value than the A72 with decent specifications and at half the price but none of them have the considered, striking design of the phone or the more premium screen. Ideally, I would love to have seen Samsung slot in a more powerful SoC than the same one it provides on the Galaxy A52. I would have also loved a 120Hz refresh rate, considering that there are phones out there that give you that for half the price.
What you are really paying for here is the experience and if you really enjoy the one Samsung provides on its phones, then this is a no-brainer. If you are looking for something that is more value for money, then this is not it.
Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this phone, it gets a lot right with a unique design and a great screen paired with good battery life and performance.