Galaxy A53 5G review: This impressive $500 Android phone could kill the flagship for you

While the flagship smartphones seem to get the most attention, the mid-range market has made great strides over the past couple of years, thanks to technological advancements and better support for long-term software updates. After spending a few weeks with the new Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, I can obviously continue to work fully with a mid-range phone and save hundreds of dollars on what I now spend on flagships.

Samsung’s recent year commitment to software upgrades, including the Galaxy A53 5G, is an important reason to consider the A53 5G over the Google Pixel 5A 5G. Samsung has been providing more support than Google for one year, and over the past two years has already proven that they are serious about Android security updates in a timely manner. Personally, I am not a fan of Google Pixel devices due to device failures, errors, and substandard cellular reception. On the other hand, Samsung phones have some of the best reception of any phone, advanced software features are included as part of OneUI, and Samsung offers a near-flagship experience for the same price.

Like

  • reasonable price
  • Strong battery life
  • Reliable cellular performance
  • nice offer
  • Good camera results

You do not like

  • occasional delayed performance

While Samsung’s flagship phones double the price of the A53 5G, the S21 FE only increases it by $150. For a price hike, you get a better processor, more cameras, and Samsung DeX while foregoing the 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 mid-range phones under $500. There are some other great options, but Samsung’s commitment to software support is something other smartphones in this price range can’t offer.

also: Best Samsung phone: Discover a new Galaxy phone

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G devices

The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a manageable size with its 6.5-inch Infinity-O AMOLED display. Something a little rare in a phone under $450 is the support for a screen refresh rate of up to 120Hz so you can experience smooth scrolling on the phone. The 32MP front camera with a central hole is placed in the display with minimal bezels on all four sides so that you can easily carry and use the phone.

A glossy black plastic bezel encases the phone with the power and volume buttons on the right, USB-C port, speaker, and microphone on the bottom, and a microphone hole on the top. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack, but there is a microSD card slot with the SIM card tray on the bottom.

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Matthew Miller / ZDNet

The back features a beautiful matte finish in a cool black color scheme. Fingerprint smudges will appear on the back panel, but they wipe off easily, too. There is also a simple Samsung branding on the back. There are four camera holes and a flashlight on the back in the upper left corner. The back panel seamlessly transitions up from the flat back and around the cameras, giving it a sleek, finished look. Samsung calls this design feature the Ambient Edge.

Starting at the top left and working down a column, Samsung offers a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 64MP main camera, and a 5MP depth sensor. We find a 5-megapixel macro camera with LED flash below it to the right. The camera performance was solid, and I especially like that the depth sensor supports portrait mode shots without having to turn away from the subject. Macro shots also look great from the Galaxy A53.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a large 5,000mAh battery, and when combined with a Samsung processor, getting a two-day battery life from the phone is a likely outcome. Wireless charging is not supported, but 25W fast charging with the appropriate charger. Note that there is no charger included in the box with the Galaxy A53, which is another way Samsung was able to save some money.

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Matthew Miller / ZDNet

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 this area, and if staying connected in poor coverage areas is important to you, then you should consider a Samsung phone.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G specifications

  • Healer: Samsung Exynos 1280
  • main screen: 6.5 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels, Super AMOLED Infinity-O with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Operating System: Android 12 with OneUI 4.1
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • storage: 128GB internal storage with microSD card slot
  • cameras: 12MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera, 64MP f/1.8 wide angle, 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor, 5MP f/2.4 macro camera. 32 MP f / 2.2 front camera.
  • Connection: 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 sensor, proximity sensor, RGB light sensor
  • Dust/Water ResistantRating: IP67
  • battery: 5000 mAh non-removable with fast charging support.
  • Dimensions: 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm and 189 grams
  • the color: cool black

The phone also has dual stereo speakers that sound surprisingly great with amazing volume and clarity. This is one of those areas that are usually hacked on a mid-range phone. These specs show a very capable option with some rarely used functions, such as ultra broadband and Wi-Fi 6, that are missing from the list when compared to the latest flagship.

also: Galaxy S21 FE 5G review: Key specs, excellent reception, and Samsung merchandise

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 available in 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’m looking forward to trying 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 than the standard Google apps. Microsoft apps, including Office, OneDrive, Outlook, and LinkedIn, are also installed on the A53 5G by default.

With Samsung Calendar, you can make Google Calendar, Outlook, and other calendar services all appear on one unified calendar interface. The Internet offers a better overall browsing experience than Google Chrome. Samsung Gallery lets you quickly and easily create a custom photo collage while Google Photos places the photos where Google wants them to be placed.

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Matthew Miller / ZDNet

The camera software is the most important Samsung app on the A53. There are plenty of settings, options, and modes for you to explore. Shooting modes include fun, single shoot, portrait, night, photo, video, pro, pro video, food, panorama, super slow motion, super slow motion, 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 a lot, hold down the mode and drag it to the quick access menu so that you don’t have to first tap on the More option to view all the modes.

Also: Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Anything more perfect, the iPhone 13 Pro Max would be

Filters, aspect ratios, timers, flash settings, scene optimizer and more are designed to help you capture the best possible content with the Galaxy A53. You can switch between shot suggestions to help guide you, and this is a great option to help you learn the best way to use phone cameras.

Daily experiences and conclusions

When I saw the announcement of the Galaxy A53, I wasn’t excited because I didn’t expect a Samsung phone under $450 to be worth considering. After a few weeks of using the phone, I’m now wondering why I’m spending twice the price, and even more, on the latest flagship phones. Granted, the image quality is better with the high-end flagship, but I only take pictures and share them with family and friends as a hobbyist. I have limited shooting skills and won’t win any shooting competitions, so I don’t really care about having the ultimate shooter on my hands.

While the screen’s high refresh rate is great, I do see some lag in content showing up on screen and when switching between apps from time to time. It only really bothers me if I hop on the flagship and can see the differences, but for the low $450 price tag, it’s clearly an acceptable compromise and most owners aren’t likely to notice.

One of the functions that annoys me on my iPhone 13 Pro Max is that I have to stand 20 feet away from someone to get a good picture outside. The depth sensor on the Galaxy A53 supports staying close to the subject for decent portrait shots. In addition, there are many shooting modes to help you get creative with your photography, even if you are not a professional.

If you’re looking to save some money on a smartphone and want an option that helps you get work done and have fun, then the Samsung A53 5G deserves your attention. The comfort of knowing you can count on years of software updates is a huge plus and something that sets Samsung apart in the mid-range market. Capable specs, expandable storage, and quality build make this phone perform well for years.

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