The Galaxy S22 Ultra may be Samsung’s most technically impressive phone of 2022, but for most people, the Galaxy A53 5G is the one they should actually buy. Like any company, Samsung’s flagship Android handsets are what get the most attention. Everyone wants to know how good the S22 series is — and some people are already looking forward to the S23 series. It’s nothing surprising, but that only looks at one aspect of Samsung’s entire smartphone business.
Just as important as the Galaxy S lineup — if not more so — are Samsung’s Galaxy A phones. They’re ones you don’t hear about nearly as often, but they’re the Samsung phones that most people are buying. And they aren’t just Samsung’s best-selling phones. Galaxy A handsets are also among the best-selling Android smartphones. Period. The Galaxy A10 was the best-selling Android phone of 2019, the Galaxy A51 took that title in 2020, and the Galaxy A12 secured the top spot in 2021.
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Looking to keep that momentum going in 2022, Samsung announced an onslaught of Galaxy A handsets for this year — among them being the Galaxy A53 5G. While there’s no doubt that the A53 5G will also sell in truckloads, it’s not just exciting from a sales perspective. The A53 5G also looks to be one of the best Android values for anyone trying to spend $500 or less on a new phone. It has a clean design, an impressive display, tons of cameras to play with, and unmatched software support. Does all of that make the Galaxy A53 5G worth $449 out of your wallet? For the most part, yes.
Design & Display
Visually, the Galaxy A53 5G looks like any other modern phone. It has a hole-punch cutout in the display, a matte backside, and a glossy frame. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, it also manages to be extremely comfortable and functional. The A53 isn’t the lightest phone available at 189g, but the added heft makes it feel nice and substantial. And while the plastic frame and back may not appear all that durable, the metal frame underneath all of that adds ample durability. That’s further complimented by clicky buttons and an IP67 dust/water resistance rating. And there’s support for expandable storage! A rarity in 2022, but it’s alive and well on the A53 5G (supporting microSD cards up to 1TB). My only real design complaint is that the back of the A53 attracts fingerprints much too easily. I thought the matte finish would prevent this, but strangely enough, fingerprints are quite common on the phone.
Taking up almost the entire front of the Galaxy A53 5G is a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display. It’s no secret that Samsung phones often have the best displays on the market. This is true of the company’s flagship handsets, and as the A53 5G handily proves, it also applies to Samsung’s more affordable devices. The AMOLED panel on the A53 5G kicks out vibrant colors, deep blacks, and great viewing angles. Not only is that AMOLED screen paired with a 2400 x 1080 Full HD+ resolution, but the A53 5G bolsters all of that with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Like the iPhone 13 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra, the 120Hz screen on the A53 5G is a joy. Scrolling is smoother, animations are more fluid, and it adds a sense of responsiveness typically not seen on smartphones in this price range. This would be a great display on a $449 smartphone even without the 120Hz goodness, so having it on top of everything else makes the whole thing that much sweeter.
Performance & Battery
Unfortunately, that optimism decreases significantly when talking about the A53 5G’s processor. While most Samsung phones in the U.S. have a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, the Galaxy A53 5G is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 1280 chip. On paper, the Exynos 1280 should be an excellent bit of silicon for a sub-$500 smartphone. The 5nm chipset has an octa-core design with two Cortex-A78 chips clocked at 2.4GHz, plus six Cortex-A55 chips at 2.0GHz. In reality, the Exynos 1280 often makes the Galaxy A53 5G feel like a sluggish beast.
Related: Why It’s Time For Samsung To Put Exynos Out Of Its Misery
Just about everything you do on the A53 5G feels slow. Apps take an extra beat to load, scrolling through Twitter and email apps can be choppy, and even dismissing notifications often comes with a touch of lag. The A53 5G does everything you ask it to and eventually gets where you want it to go. It just takes a bit longer than you’d probably expect. I certainly don’t anticipate the same performance out of a $450 smartphone that I do a $1000 one, but even with expectations set accordingly, I can’t help but feel that the A53 5G should be faster than it is.
While the A53’s sluggish performance is annoying, it’s easy to forgive when the phone’s battery life is so outstanding. Inside the A53 5G is a 5000 mAh battery — 500 mAh larger than the battery in the Galaxy S22+. That translates to ridiculously long endurance. On a 13 hour day with the A53 5G, I cranked out more than 6 hours of screen-on time — including over 3 hours of watching Twitch, 1 hour and 20 minutes of watching Discovery+ shows, following a recipe on Dinnerly for over 45 minutes, sporadic use of Twitter, Reddit, YouTube throughout the day, and a constant connection to AT&T’s 5G network. At 11:26 PM, the Galaxy A53 5G still had 26 percent battery remaining. You can kill the A53 5G in a single day if you’re actively trying to, but this is easily a two-day smartphone with ‘normal’ use.
The only downside is the A53’s limited charging options. The phone gets up to 25W wired charging speeds, but like its more expensive S22 siblings, there is not a charger included in the box. Furthermore, the Galaxy A53 5G doesn’t support wireless charging. None of that matters if you just want to plug your phone in at night on your bedside table, but it would have been nice to see more progress on this front.
Next, let’s talk cameras! Around back of the Galaxy A53 5G are four sensors to play with — featuring a 64MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 5MP depth sensor. The 64MP camera is the one you’ll be using the most on the A53 5G. Thankfully, it holds its own quite well.
Pictures captured with the 64MP camera look very good. They have Samsung’s famously vibrant colors, sharp details, and are generally very pleasing to the eyes. The above photo is a great example. The vibrant green/yellow of the budding tree stands out distinctively against the deep blue sky. It’s a bit more saturated than how it appeared in real life, but it’s a good-looking photo nonetheless.
I’ve also been impressed with the A53’s ultra-wide camera. While photos obviously aren’t as sharp as ones taken with the 64MP sensor, the wide 123-degree FoV fits a lot more of the scene into your shot. Above is a small pond taken with the 64MP primary camera…
…and this shot was taken in the same spot with the 12MP ultra-wide camera. The colors don’t match up exactly, but you get a significantly broader view without having to move an inch.
The A53 5G also surprised me with its macro camera. While it’s not the best I’ve ever seen, it works much better than I expected for a mid-range handset. It’s easy to use, opens up a new door of possibility for the types of pictures you can take, and it’s just fun to have. Just make sure there’s enough lightning when you’re using the macro camera. Otherwise, the lack of optical stabilization makes things quite shaky.
The Galaxy A53 5G is capable of taking good photos. But it doesn’t always do that. Once again, sluggish performance from the Exynos 1280 puts a damper on the A53 5G. From opening the camera app, switching camera modes, or pressing the shutter button to snap a picture, everything in the camera app feels slow and choppy. Even worse, it often results in blurry photos or missed shots entirely. I wouldn’t go as far as calling the slow camera performance unusable, but it sure isn’t fun to deal with.
And, finally, there’s the Galaxy A53’s software. The A53 runs Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1 interface out of the box. While it’s a far cry from the simplistic Pixel software I personally prefer, Samsung’s take on Android 12 is hard to dislike. It has Google’s Material You wallpaper-based theming, built-in Link to Windows connectivity, robust home screen customization options, and a whole lot more.
Related: How Many Software Updates Will The Galaxy A53 5G Get?
But that’s not the best part about the A53’s software experience. Samsung promises four years of major updates for the Galaxy A53 5G — meaning it’ll keep getting Android OS upgrades through March 2026. That’s better software support than the new Moto G Stylus 5G, the Google Pixel 5a, and even flagship phones like the Pixel 6 and OnePlus 10 Pro. Four years of major updates aren’t something you see on mid-range Android smartphones — so to see Samsung offer that kind of commitment to the A53 5G? It’s honestly kind of magical.
Should You Buy The Galaxy A53 5G?
The Galaxy A53 5G feels like a perfect device by almost every account. The design? Functional. The display? Excellent. The cameras? Solid. The battery? Never-ending. The software? Unmatched. So much about the Galaxy A53 5G works so incredibly well. Unfortunately, it’s a prime example of how important choosing the right processor is. I’m thoroughly impressed with most of the A53’s execution. However, when the phone starts lagging in Gmail, or I miss a great picture because the camera was slow to register the capture button, reality quickly sets in.
But the reality of the Galaxy A53 5G is that it’s still a fantastic phone for the money — even with the lacking horsepower. $449 is an amazing price for everything the A53 brings to the table. And combined with rampant deals from Samsung and carrier partners, it’s not difficult to get the phone for even less. The Galaxy A53 5G isn’t the Samsung phone everyone’s talking about this year, but it’s the one that they should be.