While flagship smartphones seem to be getting all the attention, the mid-range market has made huge strides over the past two years, thanks to advances in technology and better support for long-term software updates. After spending a few weeks with the new Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, it’s clear that I could still fully function with a mid-range phone and save hundreds of dollars on what I’m currently spending on flagships.
Samsung’s recent public commitment to software upgrades, including for the Galaxy A53 5G, is an important reason to consider the A53 5G over a Google Pixel 5A 5G. Samsung offers a year longer of support than Google, and it has already proven over the past two years that it takes timely Android security updates seriously. Personally, I’m not a fan of Google’s Pixel hardware due to device failure, bugs, and subpar cellular reception. On the other hand, Samsung phones offer one of the best receptions of any phone, advanced software features are included in OneUI, and Samsung offers a near-flagship experience for the same price.
- Affordable price
- Solid battery life
- Reliable cell performance
- Nice display
- Good camera results
Do not like
- Occasional lag in performance
While Samsung’s flagship phones cost double the A53 5G, the S21 FE is only $150 more. For that price increase, you get a better processor, more cameras, and Samsung DeX while you give up a microSD card slot. The A53 is a great option under $500, and I would personally choose it over the Google Pixel 5a, TCL 20 Pro, and other midrange phones under $500. There are other great options, but Samsung’s commitment to software support is something other smartphones in this price range can’t offer.
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Samsung Galaxy A53 5G hardware
The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a manageable size with a 6.5-inch Infinity-O AMOLED flat display. Something a little rare on a sub-$450 phone is support for up to 120Hz screen refresh rate so you can enjoy smooth scrolling on the phone. A 32-megapixel center-punch front camera is positioned over the screen with adequate minimal bezels on all four sides for you to hold and use the phone with ease.
A glossy black plastic edge wraps around the phone with power and volume buttons on the right, a USB-C port, speaker and mic on the bottom, and a mic opening on the top. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, but there is a microSD card slot with the SIM card tray at the bottom.
The back has a nice matte finish in the Awesome Black color scheme. Fingerprint smudges will show up on the back panel, but they also wipe off easily. A simple Samsung branding is also located on the back. Four camera openings and a flashlight are on the back in the top left corner. The back panel transitions seamlessly from the flat back and around the cameras, giving it a sleek, finished look. Samsung calls this design feature Ambient Edge.
Starting at the top left and moving down a column, Samsung provides a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 64MP main camera, and a 5MP depth sensor. We find a 5MP macro camera with the LED flash below on the right. Camera performance was solid and I particularly like that the depth sensor supports portrait mode shots without having to move away from the subject. Macro shots are also superb from the Galaxy A53.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a large 5000mAh battery and when combined with the Samsung processor, the phone is likely to get two days of battery life. Wireless charging is not supported, but 25W fast charging is done with the right charger. Note that there is no charger included in the box with the Galaxy A53, another way for Samsung to save money.
5G is supported, including mmWave support, and in my testing I was able to experience solid cellular performance and fast download/upload speeds. Samsung leads the way in this area, and if staying connected in low-coverage areas is important to you, you should consider a Samsung phone.
Specifications of the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 1280
- Main display: 6.5 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, Super AMOLED Infinity-O with 120 Hz refresh rate
- Operating system: Android 12 with OneUI 4.1
- RAM: 6 GB
- Storage: 128 GB of internal storage with microSD card slot
- Cameras: 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 64MP f/1.8 wide-angle, 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor and 5MP f/2.4 macro camera. 32MP f/2.2 front camera.
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS/Galileo/GLONASS, NFC
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Effect Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
- Dust/Water Resistance: IP67 rating
- Battery: 5000mAh non-removable with fast charging support.
- Dimensions: 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm and 189 grams
- Color: Superb black
The phone also has dual stereo speakers which sound amazing with great volume and clarity. This is one of those areas that is usually compromised on a mid-range phone. These specs show a very capable option with some seldom-used features like ultra-wideband and Wi-Fi 6 missing from the list compared to the latest flagship.
As well: Galaxy S21 FE 5G review: flagship specs, excellent reception and Samsung goodies
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Software
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G launches with Android 12 and Samsung One UI 4.1. The April 1, 2022 Android security update is present on our review unit. Samsung’s new software upgrade policy means you’ll likely receive up to four operating system upgrades and five years of security updates. The company has a proven track record of regular security updates and I look forward to extended support for Samsung phones.
Personally, I find value in some Samsung apps, such as Internet, Calendar, Gallery, Samsung Notes, and Samsung Health. They are installed by default and offer a slightly different experience from standard Google apps. Microsoft apps including Office, OneDrive, Outlook and LinkedIn are also installed by default on the A53 5G.
With Samsung Calendar, you can bring Google Calendar, Outlook, and other calendar services into one consolidated calendar interface. The Internet provides a better overall browsing experience than Google Chrome. Samsung Gallery lets you quickly and easily create a custom collage while Google Photos places photos where Google wants them.
Camera software is Samsung’s most important application on the A53. There are a ton of settings, options, and modes to explore. Shooting modes include fun, single shot, portrait, night, photo, video, pro, pro video, food, panorama, super slow motion, slow motion, hyper-lapse, and macro. This is the first time I’ve seen fun mode on a Samsung phone, and it seems to bring effects from Snapchat lenses. If there are modes you use often, press and hold the mode and drag it to the quick access menu so you don’t have to tap the More option first to see all of them. the trends.
Also: Galaxy S22 Ultra review: More perfect, and it would be an iPhone 13 Pro Max
Filters, aspect ratios, timers, flash settings, scene optimizer and more are designed to help you capture the best content possible with the Galaxy A53. You can turn on shot suggestions to guide you, and it’s a great option to help you learn how to best use the phone’s cameras.
Daily experiences and conclusions
When I saw the Galaxy A53 announcement, I wasn’t so excited because I didn’t expect a sub-$450 Samsung phone to be worth considering. After a few weeks of using the phone, I now wonder why I am spending twice the price, and more, on the latest flagships. Sure, photo quality is better with high-end flagships, but I’m just capturing and sharing photos with my family and friends as a hobbyist. I have limited photo skills and won’t win any photo contests so I don’t really care about having the ultimate shooter in my hand.
While the high screen refresh rate is fantastic, I do notice a slight lag in content appearing on screen and when switching apps from time to time. I only really mind if I upgrade to a flagship and can see the differences, but for the low price of $450, it’s clearly an acceptable compromise and one that the majority of owners probably won’t notice.
One feature that bugs me on my iPhone 13 Pro Max is that I have to stand 20 feet away from someone to get a good portrait outdoors. The Galaxy A53’s depth sensor allows you to stay close to the subject to capture decent portraits. Plus, there are multiple shooting modes to help you get creative with photography, even if you’re not a professional.
If you’re looking to save money on a smartphone and want an option that will help you work and play, then the Samsung A53 5G deserves your attention. The comfort of knowing you can rely on years of software updates is a major benefit and something that sets Samsung apart in the mid-range market. Powerful specs, expandable storage, and a high-quality build make this a phone that should perform well for years to come.