Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review: Don’t call it an upgrade
It wasnt the best mission range phone you could buy in 2021, but thanks to a responsive display and versatile camera, it had the potential to become something more now. The galaxy a53 5g is here and its not a drastically different device from its predecessor. Samsung has made a handful of tweaks, but at best most of them feel like window dressing worse. The phone feels in some ways like a step back Music lets start with what hasnt changed. The a53 features a 6.5 inch super amoled display with a 1080 by 2400 resolution, 800 nits of peak brightness and a 120 hertz refresh rate. The screen is the main reason you want to buy the a53, its big, vibrant and fast. It doesnt support, hdr or offer a variable refresh rate like some of samsungs. More expensive phones do but thats not much of an issue plus thanks to its big 5000 milliampere battery, an efficient 5 nanometer processor. It lasted two full days of moderate use and some like gaming. The a53 also comes with the same quad camera system as the a52 5g. The standout here is the 64 megapixel main sensor with an f 1.8 aperture lens and optical image. Stabilization. On a sunny day, the camera and samsungs imaging software consistently capture photos with vibrant colors. Its also surprisingly good at preserving both shadow and highlight detail in high contrast scenes. It struggles when there isnt a lot of light, producing images with a noticeable amount of noise, but thats, something you see on a lot of mid range phones.
Supporting a 5 megapixel depth sensor helps the a53s main camera take pleasant portrait shots. The a53 also includes one of the better macro modes, ive used on a mid range device thanks to an interface that makes it easy to ensure youve nailed. The focus on your subject for ample light. The 32 megapixel selfie camera is likewise capable of capturing flattering shots by default. Samsungs beauty filter applies a moderate amount of smoothing which you can adjust by tapping the magic wand icon at the top, then theres a 12 megapixel ultra wide camera. That feels like an afterthought. It does a decent job of capturing scenes that are too big for the main camera, but theres a noticeable drop in quality due to the lower resolution sensor. One quirk i noticed across all of the a53 cameras is that theyre not great at adjusting for color temperature. Many of the shots i took showed a noticeable green or purple tint. That was easy enough to fix with an editing app like snapseed, but not everyone has the patience for that. Overall, the a53 features a decent camera system, but i think its a missed opportunity with the a52 5g samsung was already behind the curve. Sure it offered a versatile set of cameras, but phones like the pixel 5a could take consistently better photos. The a53 does nothing to change that and by buying the a53 youre putting money into a camera that is likely to feel even more outdated when devices like the pixel 6a come out later this year.
Okay lets move to what samsung has changed, starting with the exterior of the phone. The company has shaped 0.3 millimeters off the a53 to make it 8.1 millimeters thick. At the same time, it has removed the headphone jack. As of this review, samsung is offering a free set of galaxy buds live when you buy the a53 through its website. So at least the company is helping ease the transition to wireless earbuds, still its a shame to see the headphone jack go because it was a feature that made the a52 5g unique. What makes the exterior tweaks even more disappointing is that samsung hasnt addressed any of the issues we had with the a52s finish. The material on the back of the phone is still a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. Also in the us, samsung is only offering the phone in boring black. I could overlook samsung, removing the headphone jack and leaving the camera, as is if the a53 was fast. Mediocre performance was one of the reasons we didnt recommend the a525g and the one notable update the a53 brings to the table is a new chipset. Samsung has equipped this years model with its own exynos 1280 soc its by far the most disappointing aspect of the phone. Simply put its not much of an upgrade over the a52 5g snapdragon 750g. In my testing, the a53 frequently stalled. When i tried to switch between apps, there was a consistent stuttering in regular use.
It was also slow to launch and operates the camera app with a seconds long delay between my pressing the button and the camera. Firing is even worse. When i tried to play games samsung claims the exynos 1280 offers up to 33 of faster graphics performance than the snapdragon 750 g, but i saw regular in frame rate drops in games like league of legends, wild rift and genshin impact. I suspect some of the a53ds performance was boils down to the phone only coming with six gigabytes of ram. Unfortunately, samsung doesnt offer an eight gigabyte variant of the in the us. The a53 comes with android 12 and the latest version of one ui, along with a promise of four years of platform updates and five years, security fixes thats among the best software support youll find on a device at this price point and samsung should be applauded. For that, but i have my debts you want to hold on to this device for that long. I can see myself getting fed up by this slow processor in one year, not to mention four. Finally lets talk price. The a53 starts at 450 dollars, which is 50 less than the a52 5g. In addition to the galaxy buds lives promotion i mentioned earlier. The company is currently offering up to 100 off the phone. If you trade in your existing device, bear in mind that, while the a53s lower price seems like a bonus, it doesnt come with a bundled power.
Adapter anymore, you need to pay an extra 20 to buy a 25 watt wall charger. Still. The a53 is good value compared to similarly priced phones like the pixel 5a, but i would rather buy the pixel for its cleaner version of android, faster updates, as well as its headphone jack and more consistent camera. If youre set on a samsung phone, though a device like the galaxy s21 fe, is a better deal at 700, it was overpriced, but nowadays you can regularly find it for about 550. It offers a much faster processor with wi fi stick support. Those are things that make you want to keep the s21 fe for longer had samsung done more to future proof, the a53. It would be easier for me to recommend, but with a middling chips and a camera that feels stuck in the past youre, better off spending. Your money on a phone that youll be happy with for years to come. If you enjoyed this video, consider subscribing to the engadget youtube channel either way.