If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That seems to be the approach Samsung took with the Galaxy A53 5G. The refreshed version of the A52s 5G — one of my favourite mid-range phones last year — the new A53 has all the upsides of its predecessor, including a smooth 120Hz Super AMOLED screen, IP67 dust and water resistance, and a 64MP main camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS). But the tweaks made by Samsung (larger battery and new processor) are a mixed bag. In short, the A53 5G still offers good value for its price (starts from S$598), but there's a strong case for the older and cheaper A52s 5G.
- 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display (2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz)
- Samsung Exynos 1280 chip with 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB storage
- 64MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 5MP depth
- 5,000mAh battery (with 25W fast charging)
The A53 5G uses the new Samsung Exynos 1280 chip instead of the previous model's Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G. But while I couldn't tell from everyday usage, this Exynos chip is slower in benchmarks. It scored 1,819 in Geekbench 5's multi-core test compared to 2,701 for the A52s. The Exynos is also a downgrade if you have a Wi-Fi 6 router as it only supports the slower Wi-Fi 5 standard. Meanwhile, the battery capacity has gone up from 4,500mAh (A52s 5G) to 5,000mAh (A53 5G). I had no complaints with battery life, which is around 1.5 days. In our video playback test, the A53 5G lasted an impressive 16hr 10min. Unfortunately, the A53 5G still charges at a snail's pace (25W) — even the budget Xiaomi Redmi Note 11S (S$329) has 33W charging. Note that the phone doesn't come with a charger, there's just a charging cable.
Like the previous version, the A53 5G has a solid all-plastic chassis. It's fractionally smaller than the A52s, but the weight remains unchanged at 189g. More importantly, the A53 5G retains the IP67 water and dust resistance, a rare feature at this price point. The display, too, is the same. It's reasonably bright (up to 800nits with high brightness mode) with a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth and responsive scrolling and navigation. However, there's no HDR support. The screen supports Samsung's Always-on Display feature, which is one of the better implementations among Android phones. But the in-display fingerprint reader is a tad slower than the ones in premium phones. I'm also slightly disappointed that Samsung seems to be removing the headphone jack even from its mid-range phones. Is the microSD card slot next on the chopping board?
The A53 5G retains the quad-camera system of its predecessor. That means no telephoto camera, but the presence of OIS on the 64MP main camera puts it ahead of its mid-range rivals. As usual, Samsung's camera processing tends to result in fairly saturated images. On the bright side, there's very little noise in photos taken in good lighting. But shots taken in low light came out a bit noisy and soft. Night mode helps somewhat. For a mid-range phone, the cameras are more than decent, especially if you're not picky.
If you're looking for a good, mid-priced smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G should be on your shortlist. While it's not quite perfect (slow charging and loss of headphone jack), its features remain attractive for its price range. But the older A52s 5G looks like the better deal overall as it's cheaper now, has the headphone jack, Wi-Fi 6 support and comes with a charging brick. Given the lack of significant upgrades in the A53, I hope Samsung will up its game for the next iteration, particularly when it comes to charging speed. The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is available on Shopee or Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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