Samsung Galaxy A53 5G First Impressions (Indian unit): iPhone SE's nightmare?

    The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is priced at Rs. 34,499. At this rate, it is more expensive than ever, but is now a solid midrange phone you cannot miss.
    By: AMRITANSHU MUKHERJEE
    | Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 11:11 IST
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G First Impressions: Samsung opts for Exynos power this year, using the Exynos 1280 chip. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G First Impressions: Samsung opts for Exynos power this year, using the Exynos 1280 chip. (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    The Galaxy A series had spawned a commendable bunch of midrange phones last year and for 2022, all eyes were on Samsung to see what it does to take on the vast array of Chinese mid range phones, and the new Apple iPhone SE. Samsung took the wraps off last week and the more popular Galaxy A53 5G seems rather underwhelming this year. Minor updates instead of big upgrades — at least that is way better than Apple's effort for reusing its 8-year-old design for its entry-level iPhone SE 2022. In fact, these minor updates make the Galaxy A53 5G way more tempting than the retro-by-all-means iPhone SE.

    But Android phones are different — the higher the numbers, the better the experience. At its starting price of Rs. 34,499, the Galaxy A53 5G looks vastly underpowered in comparison to the iQOO 9 SE, Xiaomi 11T Pro, and a couple of Snapdragon 870/888 smartphones. Samsung's proposition once again circles solid basics and a couple of high-end features that actually matter to those who do not want a gaming phone always. Is that good enough for you and me in 2022? That will be answered in the full review but for now, let's take a quick look at what you are getting.

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Design

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    If I hold the Galaxy A53 5G next to the Galaxy A52 5G, most of you will be hard-pressed to find the difference. The A53 looks almost the same as its predecessor with flat surfaces, matte rear, pastel colour schemes, flat sides, and a flat display. There are minor refinements though, and these go on to make the Galaxy A53 seem better built over its predecessor. The flat sides are taken straight from the Galaxy S22, while the gradually raising camera hump seems inspired by the Oppo Find X5 Pro. The bezels on the front don't seem to get any slimmer this generation, which is a shame considering other phones at this price offer more screen real-estate.

    And unlike most other flagship killers at this price, the Galaxy A53 has a plastic unibody construction. But this doesn't feel as cheap as the ones you find on Xiaomi or Realme devices. In fact, you will be hard-pressed to figure out the plastic bits. The frame has a metallic lustre while the matte rear imitates the matte glass finish we saw on the Galaxy S22. The whole body is IP67 certified for water and dust resistance, which is still a rarity at this price segment.

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G specs at a glance

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    Samsung retains all the things that made last year's Galaxy A52 a favourite among buyers and critics. It starts right with the 6.5-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Samsung tunes it better this year and hence, the Galaxy A53 5G comes across as one of the best display smartphones in its category. I was hoping to see Samsung put some of that variable refresh rate tech found on the Galaxy S22 series but considering the ever-increasing prices on the A series, it seems fine to be just stuck at 120Hz. The in-display fingerprint sensor also stays, if you were wondering.

    The camera setup also remain unchanged from last year's model. You still get the OIS-assisted 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth camera on the rear; while the 32MP selfie camera stays as well. We expect the camera performance to be segment leading, as was the case with the A52s 5G last year.

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    Now, time for the changes — some good, some worrying, some annoying.

    The battery capacity gets a boost from the 4500mAh unit to a bigger 5000mAh unit, which should help make this an all-day phone even when 5G networks drop in. It supports 25W fast charging as before but you no longer get the charging adapter in the box.

    Then there's the new Exynos chip! Yes, Samsung is back to Exynos for the A53 after last year's Snapdragon fever on the A52 series. The new Exynos 1280 is a brand-new midrange chip and technically, it should compete with the Snapdragon 778G chip. Benchmarks have shown lower scores than the Snapdragon 778G and that has got me worrying about its daily performance capabilities. So far during the initial setup process, the Galaxy A53 5G has shown no hiccups or general performance issues. But is it better than the older phone? Wait for our full review to find out.

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    The biggest change, however, is Samsung's promise of 4 years of Android OS updates and five years of security patches. Since the Galaxy A53 5G already boots One UI 4.1 based on Android 12, you can expect Samsung to deliver up to Android 16.

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G First Impressions

    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Amritanshu / HT Tech)

    The Galaxy A52 was never an exciting phone, and neither were its predecessors. The same tradition continues for the Galaxy A53 5G, which continues to hold on to its “uncle-friendly” image with a sedate choice of specs and basic features. Next to the aggressive iQOO, Xiaomi and Realme phones, you are less likely to be excited for the A53. Having said that, just like the iPhones, the A53 has all the bits necessary to deliver a quality smartphone experience at a reasonable price.

    But does it compare to the new iPhone SE? Does the larger and modern display along with a much bigger battery make this the iPhone SE killer? We will find out soon after our reviews and direct head-to-head comparisons over the next few days.

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    First Published Date: 26 Mar, 10:13 IST
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