This Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review is aimed at those who want one of the best Samsung phones without having to spend an eye-watering amount of money. While it may not be quite up to the same level as the best phones in the world, it’s a great alternative that doesn't make too many sacrifices.
New for 2022, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G follows on from last year’s Samsung Galaxy A52 which was, and still is, excellent value for money. When I reviewed it, I was particularly impressed with its point-and-shoot photography, the large display and its long-lasting 4,500mAh battery. It was one of the best Android phones at the time for a tight budget.
This newer model is largely the same but it has made some improvements to keep it up to date and in line with the competition.
In this Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review you can find out everything you need to know including more on the design, display and camera system as well as details on the performance and the improved battery life.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: price and what’s new
You can go out and get the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G right now. If you buy it directly from the Samsung store, it’ll set you back $450 in the US, £399 in the UK and AU$699 in Australia - that’s similar to what its predecessor was at launch.
Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where else you can pick up the handset as well as the best deals on it from across the web right now.
There are a few small differences between the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and last years’ Samsung Galaxy A52. While its size and shape are almost identical, the design has been tweaked with a new camera module and some fresh colourways to choose from.
Under the hood, the hardware has been upgraded from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G to the Exynos 12980 although you’ll still get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The screen tech and camera system are also the same but the battery has been boosted to 5,000mAh from 4,500mAh.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: design and display
Following the trend set by the rest of the Galaxy family, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is a phone with a completely flat screen. At 6.5-inches you get plenty of display real estate to play, watch or read on. The bezels have shrunk in this latest addition to the lineup, so you’ll now get an 85.4% screen to body ratio making the handset look much more up to date than it did before.
The display uses Super AMOLED tech with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 (FHD+), 800 nits peak brightness and a 120Hz refresh rate so it looks and feels fantastic to use. It’s sharp, bright and colourful with silky smooth scrolling, swiping and tapping. I thought it was just as well suited to streaming Netflix as it is to online shopping or catching up on emails.
All of the colourways you can buy it in are named ‘Awesome’ which is a telltale sign that the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G isn’t a super-serious smartphone. You can buy it in a standard black or white, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, it’s also available in a light blue or peach.
I tested out the peach model and I loved it. Unlike some phones, you won’t need to cover up the cool design with a case because the matte plastic back seems very unlikely to break and it manages to avoid fingerprint marks as well.
That’s contrasted with the matching shiny frame around the edges of the phone. Everything is as you expect it to be there with a power button, volume rocker and USB-C port to charge it. Samsung has done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack though so you’ll either need an adaptor or Bluetooth buds to listen to your music.
Measuring 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is slimmer than the A52. Because it only weighs 189g, it’s also very comfortable to hold and use one-handed.
Another change is the layout of the three-lens camera system, it is now completely integrated into the body of the device so the module curves upwards as opposed to being stuck on. I think it looks great.
Like the phone that came before it, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is IP67 water and dust resistant which means it’ll be able to withstand being submerged in 1m of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. That will give you peace of mind when you're using it out and about.
To unlock the display you get the usual choice of pin, pattern or password as well as facial recognition or your fingerprint. The fingerprint sensor works well, it’s fast and accurate although I do think it’d be better placed slightly further up the screen to match where your thumb naturally sits.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: camera system
The camera setup on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is identical to the A52, and while it’s always nice to see upgrades, there’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken.
On the back, the system is made up of a 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 5MP macro lens and a 5MP depth sensor, you’ll also get a 32MP front camera for your selfies.
There’s no telephoto lens here so you’ll have to rely purely on the digital zoom to snap objects that are far away. It’ll be able to blow up the image to 10x zoom but as you can see below, you won't get particularly good results. Most people will be perfectly fine with that but if you do use your smartphone camera’s zoom a lot then you might want to look towards a different, perhaps pricier handset.
On its default point-and-shoot settings, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G did a fantastic job at capturing colours and detail. Photos look natural without any oversaturation, they won't quite compare to shots taken by high-end smartphone cameras but for a phone that costs this little, I was impressed.
As you would expect, it coped best on bright sunny days but even on a dreary day, I managed to take some decent-looking shots that balanced light and dark areas of the scene well. You do sometimes have to readjust the focus point yourself to get the lighting right but when you do the results are great. Take a look at the gallery below to see some examples of photos I took on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.
While the camera gives you plenty of bang for your buck, it's not all good because the Macro mode isn’t quite as impressive. I found that it sometimes struggles to focus and even when it does, you don’t get the same level of detail as you'd get elsewhere. It also seems to darken the colours a little.
But the biggest downside to the camera system is the lack of 40K video at 60fps, even though it can shoot 4K video at 30fps. While you won’t get this feature in many other phones at this price, some do have it which is why it feels like a disappointment in an otherwise fantastic camera.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: performance and battery
Powering the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is Samsung’s own Exynos 12980 5G processor along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage which can be expanded using a MicroSD card.
This phone feels perfectly fine to use for browsing the web, scrolling through social media and answering your messages, but do bear in mind that it’s not going to be anywhere near a powerhouse piece of kit so you might have problems with large apps and games like Call of Duty Mobile.
On Geekbench 5, it scored 741 in single-core and 1,898 in multi-core which is about the same as the A52 5G - that's not mind-blowing. It sits around the same level as other similarly priced phones like the OnePlus Nord CE 2 and the Realme 9 Pro.
When it comes to performance you can’t expect an affordable phone like the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G to live up to flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or even more mid-range devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
To keep you up and running throughout the day, you get a 5,000mAh battery that Samsung claims will last up to 2 days of use or 18 hours of video playback. I put that to the test by running a video on full brightness over two hours. In that time the battery level only dropped by 8% which suggests it would have lasted 25 hours in total, which goes above and beyond most other phones I’ve tried out, even the most expensive.
Charging it back up again took me over two hours though which is a long way off the 20 minutes offered by some devices. Unfortunately, you’ll only get a USB-C cable in the box so you will need to buy a 25W charger separately if you don't already own one. The Samsung Galaxy A53 doesn’t support wireless charging.
Behind the scenes, you'll find Samsung’s One UI 4.1 which is based on Android 12. In my opinion, it’s one of the best versions of Android there is. It’s colourful and intuitive with easy-to-digest menus and Google’s apps come pre-loaded onto the device. You’ll get loads of personalisation as well like the ability to match the theme and colour palette to your wallpaper.
The only niggle I have with this operating system is how many Samsung apps they’ve stuck on there, you might have to spend some time going through and deleting them if you miss that stage of the setup.
One of the most useful parts of Samsung’s One UI is how well it works with other Samsung devices. An example of this in action is when you’re watching a video on a Galaxy Tab and a call comes through on the phone, your Galaxy Buds will automatically switch over the audio. You’ll also be able to link the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G to Windows so you can access your phone’s messages, notifications and files from a PC.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: verdict
If you’re totally snap-happy and you want an affordable new phone, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G will be a great choice. It’s one of the best cheap phones for point-and-shoot photography, you'll be hard-pushed to find any others with such an accomplished camera system below $500 / £400.
Granted there are some downsides. The most damning is its performance, it lacks power which will be frustrating for those who spend a lot of time flicking through their phone. You might also struggle with the slow charge times and the lack of wireless charging. But if those are things you can look past then it will be worth it, especially if you already own other Samsung Galaxy devices.
To sum things up, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G has a great screen, a killer camera, easy-to-use software, incredible battery life and it’s all packed into an up-to-date phone that looks the part as well. It’d be hard not to recommend to anyone on a budget. The only reason I would tell you not to buy this is if you already own the A52 because it’s not different enough to justify the upgrade.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: also consider
If this phone is about the right price for you, then another one to consider is the OnePlus Nord 2. Its performance is marginally better which will suit mobile gamers or anyone else who tends to use a lot of more extensive apps. In comparing it to the A53, there are two downsides, the lack of a MicroSD card slot and the fact that it’s not completely waterproof.
For fans of iOS, the Apple iPhone SE is the best cheap phone you can buy because it has fast performance, 5G and a strong camera. But there are some quite significant limitations too, like the fact that the design is a little outdated, you only get one rear camera and there’s no Night mode.