Flagship smartphones over your budget? Consider the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G instead. This mid-range model will satisfy you in most scenarios. It also has similar features as Samsung's top S23 phones, such as water and dust resistance, and a bright 120Hz OLED screen. But the A54's performance (camera and processor) is not quite flagship-worthy. However, it almost looks like a top phone, especially this year's version, which shares a similar design as the S23 phones.
- 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display (2,340 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz)
- Samsung Exynos 1380 chip with 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB storage
- 50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 32MP front
- 5,000mAh battery (with 25W fast charging)
The new Exynos 1380 chip in the A54 is an upgrade over last year's A53. But that's not saying a lot. In fact, the Geekbench 5 scores (2,713 multi-core) for the A54 are similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip (2,701 multi-core) in 2021's Galaxy A52s. In short, Samsung has not improved the performance since 2021. Which feels like a deliberate choice to keep the A54 in mid-tier phone territory. In everyday use, the A54 feels a fraction slower than flagship phones. The in-display fingerprint sensor, for example, is just not as quick to unlock the device. To its credit, the A54 was very consistent in the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test. It may not be quick, but it maintained the performance throughout the test without throttling. Temperatures also remained comfortably cool at between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius.
By taking its design cues from the Galaxy S23 series, the A54 further blurs the line between Samsung's mid-range and flagship offerings. Take the S23 phones, add a few metaphorical grams, and you'll get the A54. Notably, the single camera bump on the A53 is gone. Instead, the A54, like the S23 phones, has three smaller camera protrusions for each of its rear cameras. The display is similar to its predecessor's (1080p OLED with 120Hz refresh rate), but it's a bit brighter now. While the A54 retains the plastic body and frame of the previous iteration, the back now uses Gorilla Glass 5 glass for a more premium feel. This may have increased the weight (189g for the A53 compared with 202g for the A54). The good news is that the A54 continues to have microSD card (up to 1TB) support, and IP67 certification.
The quad-camera system on the A53 has been scrapped for the A54's triple-camera version. I think that's fine since the two 5MP cameras on the A53 weren't any good. More importantly, the 50MP main camera on the A54 has optical image stabilisation and a slightly larger sensor. Both features are useful for shaky hands and low-light conditions. Images taken in good lighting look sharp and detailed with good dynamic range. The A54's digital 10x zoom is usable — if all you want is to read a far-off signboard. Low-light performance is middling, and clearly where the A54 falls way short of flagship phones. Photos are noisy, though the processing does brighten up by the images.
Battery life is fantastic. The A54 lasted 20hr 18min in a video playback test at maximum brightness. It also lasted over a day of use for me. With each iteration since the Samsung Galaxy A52s, it's starting to look like the A52s was an outlier when it comes to hitting the sweet spot between features, price, and performance. Make no mistake, the new A54 is a solid mid-tier smartphone. And few phones at this price are IP67 certified. But Samsung is playing it safe here with minor, iterative upgrades. For those who want a phone that's much more affordable than a flagship phone, while having 75% of the performance and features, the A54 is it. The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G (from S$588 for 128GB) is available now on Shopee or Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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