The Pixel 6a is the Google budget smartphone for 2022, and at $450, it has serious competition in the form of the identically-priced Galaxy A53 5G from Samsung. The Pixel 6a was announced at Google I/O 2022 as the affordable sibling to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro flagships released in late 2021. It arrived as the sixth smartphone in the Pixel A series since its debut in 2019.
The Galaxy A53 5G is one of three mid-range Galaxy A series smartphones Samsung released in the first quarter of 2022. It sits in the middle of the cheaper Galaxy A33 5G and the more expensive Galaxy A73 5G. However, only the Galaxy A53 5G is sold in the United States of all three phones.
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Google and Samsung have adopted different designs for their respective phones. The Pixel 6a, which shares a similar but not identical appearance with that of the Pixel 6, has a hole punch in the middle of the Gorilla Glass three-covered display and a protruding black horizontal camera bar on the back. On the other hand, the Galaxy A53 5G’s display, which also has a centered punch hole, is covered with a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5. Its quad-camera array is arranged vertically on a slightly protruding rectangular island. Both phones have a plastic back and are rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, but the Pixel 6a has a tactile alloy frame while the Galaxy A53 5G’s frame is plastic.
The Pixel 6a will appeal to those who prefer small phones as it has a 6.1-inch display. Unfortunately, the FHD+ OLED panel refreshes at 60Hz, which is a bummer for an upper mid-range phone released in 2022. In contrast, the Galaxy A53 5G’s FHD+ Super AMOLED panel is not only bigger at 6.5 inches but has an impressive 120Hz refresh rate for fast and smooth scrolling. This is even higher than the 90Hz of the flagship Pixel 6. Google has equipped the Pixel 6a with the same 5nm Tensor chipset found in the Pixel 6, a pretty powerful processor, and it is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage. The Galaxy A53 5G has the Exynos 1280. It also has a 5nm chipset, but it is less powerful than the Google Tensor. There is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (U.S. version), and unlike the Pixel 6a, there is a MicroSD card slot to add up to an additional 1TB of storage.
Pixel smartphones are known for their camera performance, and the Pixel 6a is expected to keep the tradition. On its rear is a dual-camera setup — a 12.2MP f/1.7 primary sensor with OIS and a 12MP ultrawide angle camera with a 114-degree field of view. There is also an 8MP camera in front. Samsung is not known to shy away from packing its phones full of cameras, and the quad-camera setup on the back of the Galaxy A53 5G reaffirms that. The primary camera is a 64MP f/1.8 sensor, and it has optical image stabilization. There is also a 12MP ultrawide angle camera with a 123-degree field of view, a 5MP macro camera, and a 5MP depth sensor for bokeh effects. Samsung has also added a 32MP sensor to the front for selfies and video calls. Both phones have Bluetooth 5, NFC, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and stereo speakers but lack an audio jack.
In addition, the Pixel 6a has dual SIM support (nano-SIM and eSIM), while the Galaxy A53 5G has a single nano-SIM slot in the U.S. and a hybrid dual SIM in some other markets. Another significant difference is their battery capacities. The Pixel 6a has a 4410mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging, while the Galaxy A53 5G packs a 5000mAh battery with support for 25W fast charging. Neither devices have support for wireless charging, nor do they come with a charger in the box. Samsung and Google ship their phones with Android 12 out of the box. Furthermore, the Galaxy A53 5G is confirmed to get four OS upgrades and five years of security updates, while the Pixel 6a will receive three OS upgrades and five years of security updates.
Both phones offer a lot of value for $450. However, they have their strengths and weaknesses. The Pixel 6a has a unique design, a flagship processor, and several camera features such as Magic Eraser and Real Tone. However, its lack of a high refresh rate is upsetting. The Galaxy A53 5G’s design is a generic one that Samsung has overused, but asides from that, it packs a good display, a better refresh rate, higher resolution cameras on both sides, a bigger battery capacity, and faster charging. It also has better software support, allowing owners to hold on to their phones for a more extended period. Samsung is also selling the phone with a free pair of earbuds worth over $100 ($169 at launch). On the other hand, Google hasn’t announced any perks for those who pick up the Pixel 6a.