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Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review

OIS, a great screen and striking looks save Samsung's A53 5G from mediocrity

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
(Image: © Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

With its improved screen, fancy new water-resistant design, 64MP camera with OIS, and solid spec sheet, the A53 5G should be a knockout 5-star phone. That said, it's sluggish sometimes, even when doing simple tasks. So while Samsung's made a cracking camera phone at a reasonable price, performance stumbles hold it back from greatness.

Pros

  • +

    Striking design looks great

  • +

    Impressive imaging for the price

  • +

    Great-looking screen

Cons

  • -

    Sluggish performance for the price

  • -

    Plastic build won't be for all

Launching alongside the Galaxy A33 5G, the Galaxy A53 5G packs the same power and many of the same specs, but features a superior camera system and display. Starting at just $450 / £399, while you can get faster charging, higher-resolution cameras, and glass and metal design for less, it’s exciting to see Samsung dial back its normally premium pricing.

Also exciting is the fact the Galaxy A53 5G isn't light on specs, with an Exynos 5nm chipset, under-display fingerprint scanner tech, a large 5000mAh battery, and a quad-camera system. 

With a smooth, 120Hz screen and Samsung’s reliable interface, One UI 4 – trickled down from the flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra, there’s every chance the Galaxy A53 5G could be the new mid-range phone to beat. 

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G design and screen

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
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With a FullHD+ screen measuring 6.5 inches, the Galaxy A53 5G is larger than the Galaxy S22 (opens in new tab), but smaller than the S22 Plus (opens in new tab). Available in Awesome Black, White, Blue, and Peach – the version we're testing, the phones appear to take a leaf out of OPPO’s Find X3 Pro playbook, with a smooth curve rising to meet the flat camera bump. 

Both the A33 and A53 are thinner than their predecessors and pack water and dust resistance, rated up to IP67. This is great going at the price and should help give anyone who lives in especially rainy climes a bit of extra peace of mind. 

In addition to weather and water sealing, the A53 5G also features Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, set against a plastic frame and back. While some phones from Xiaomi do introduce glass backs or metal frames without costing more, we nevertheless really like what Samsung's doing with the design of its A-series. It's fun, while still looking sophisticated and considered. 

As for the screen, the A53 5G’s boasts Super AMOLED technology. While it might not pack all the screen credentials of the S22 line, in person, it still looks vibrant and bold. 

With a max brightness of 800 nits, it's easy to view in all but the sunniest spots, and its silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate also helps the display look and feel more like a flagship than last year’s 90Hz A52 5G. 

Samsung loads up plenty of modes in the display settings, so you can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rates, change the screen color mode, and activate the always-on display.  

While there’s no headphone jack, the phone packs stereo speakers, a USB-C port for wired audio, and of course, Bluetooth, so it will work with wireless headphones. 

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G camera

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

The Galaxy A53’s quad-camera setup features a 64MP main camera with OIS and an f/1.8 aperture. The Samsung sensor measures 1/1.7 inches – smaller than the sensor found on the cheaper Realme 9 Pro Plus. Nevertheless, the secondary cameras are where the A53 5G pulls ahead on paper.

With its high-resolution 12MP fixed-focus ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 lens, the A53 5G packs a relatively capable secondary camera. There's also a 5MP depth sensor, and a 5MP fixed-focus macro camera – a significantly more powerful offering than the 2MP option found on many budget camera phones today.

The front camera is also specced out, with its 32MP resolution, f/2.2 aperture, and 26mm wide-angle. The1/2.8-inch sensor size and 0.8µm-sized pixels aren't bad going considering this front camera pixel bins, so takes 8MP photos by default. 

Shooting modes include all the usual suspects like Photo, Video, Pro, Panorama, Portrait, and Slow Motion, but there are also some standout modes at the price. Fun mode lets you capture photos with a host of filters applied that go beyond the typical mediocre overlays found on most phones. There's also a Pro Video mode for manual video capture, Single Take, which takes multiple clips and photos from a single point and shoot, as well as Super Slow-mo and Hyperlapse. 

The 2022 A-series phones also bring some of Samsung’s Snapchat enhancements to the line too, as introduced in the S22 series.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G camera review

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G's camera is its saving grace in the face of sluggish performance – more on that later. Photos captured across all three of its cameras look good in bright scenes, with Samsung's trademark liveliness shining through moderate sharpening, contrast, and saturation. This might not be ideal for pro photographers, but for the A53's likely buyer – a social media user who wants a reliable point and shoot, it's perfect. 

Pictures are loaded with detail, focus is generally accurate, and even when the lights drop, the A53 5G isn't afraid of the dark. Its night mode is powerful, and as long as your subject or scene is still, delivers a long exposure that ekes out detail and color from all but the most dimly lit environments. 

Generally, the wide and ultra-wide cameras do a good job of matching one another's color and exposure profiles, though in backlit scenes, the A53 5G can miss the mark slightly. Its HDR effect isn't as strong as flagships like the Google Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 Pro, so objects in the same frame as bright light sources can appear a touch dark. 

We also enjoyed the Galaxy A53 5G's macro camera. At 5MP, while it doesn't deliver as high-resolution photos as the primary or ultra-wide cameras, the phone's macro camera out performs all the 2MP macro sensors we've tested, and is usable indoors, though we'd suggest you feed it daylight when possible. 

Sharp but flattering selfies, and high-quality, well-stabilized videos are the final part to a very pleasant camera story told by the A53 5G. In fact, the worst thing about the A53 5G's camera is the fact that it's slow to process photos, switch camera, and occasionally take a photo. This is unfortunately not what we'd expect for a phone of its price in 2022. 

Additional specs

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

With an Exynos 1280 chipset, the A53 is Samsung’s first Exynos-powered phone to feature 5nm tech since the Galaxy S21 5G. For a mid-ranger, all this means it should be pretty nippy. Sadly, this isn't the case.

We experienced more slowdown in day-to-day use when swiping and tapping through the Galaxy A53 5G than we did on much cheaper phones from Realme, Redmi, and Poco.

With 6GB RAM, the A53 5G gets Samsung’s new RAM Plus feature. This uses up storage memory and adds it to your RAM, supporting up to an additional 6GB, which should, in theory, help with heavy multitasking. That said, not even this saves the Exynos chip from frequent hanging and unresponsive behavior. 

Running Android 12 with OneUI 4.1 over the top, app support is excellent, and Samsung's interface is incredibly fully featured. However, this swollen interface is just a bit too much for the phone's hardware to cope with – or Samsung needs to tighten up optimization to smooth things out with an update. 

Storage shouldn’t be a concern for most with 128GB on board. The fact the phone supports microSD card expansion up to 1TB is an added bonus.

Despite this disappointing day-to-day performance, the A53 5G is a competent gaming phone, able to play most modern titles without too many dropped frames at their default graphics settings.

With its large 5000mAh battery, the Galaxy A53 5G enjoys the same battery capacity as the flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra, and also supports fast-charging up to 25W (fast charger sold separately). While it won’t compete with the Realme 9 Pro+’s 65W fast charging, this does mean you can power the phone up from zero to 50 percent in 30 minutes, and the A53 5G comfortably makes it through a full day.

Verdict

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
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With competition from Realme, Redmi, and Xiaomi getting so fierce in the past couple of years, Samsung has had to up its game when it comes to value. It started on a great footing with the Galaxy A52 5G, and the A53 5G is very close to being a winning camera phone. 

We love the A53 5G's screen, its design looks great and with an ample battery, the phone makes it through a full day. It's such a shame that all of that – and its impressive camera system are held back by something we seldom these days – a laggy interface. 

So while Samsung's midranger is definitely one of the best budget camera phones of 2022, it isn't as easy to recommend as some other options in its price range like the OnePlus Nord 2 (opens in new tab) and Poco F3 5G (opens in new tab).

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Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there he headed up Btekt as a director and then Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 


His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.