It’s been a little over six months since Samsung’s Galaxy A52s 5G (Review) launched in India, and it is still a capable premium smartphone if you are looking for a device with an IP rating under Rs. 40,000. Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy A53 5G is essentially the same smartphone but with a new Exynos SoC instead of one from Qualcomm. This has led to some noticeable performance differences between the two phones, and makes us keen to figure out whether the new model is a worthy upgrade.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G price in India
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is available in two variants in India, both of which have 128GB of internal storage. The 6GB RAM variant is priced at Rs. 34,499, while the 8GB RAM variant is available at Rs. 35,999. Of the two, the higher RAM variant is the one to go for as it offers better value. The Galaxy A53 is available in four finishes: Light Blue, Awesome Black, White, and Orange. I received the 8GB RAM variant in Light Blue.
Samsung’s Galaxy A53 5G design
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G builds on the design of the Galaxy A52s 5G and incorporates some elements from the new Galaxy S22 series (Review). Its overall design looks contemporary and refreshing. The mid-frame is still made of polycarbonate but it is broader with flatter sides, similar to the Galaxy S22 devices. The rear panel retains the look of the Galaxy A52s 5G with a matte-finished polycarbonate back panel that feels smooth and premium, and also rejects fingerprints and smudges well.
The rear camera module on the Galaxy A53 5G merges with the back panel but barely protrudes from it since this phone is thicker than its predecessor. The blacked-out inserts for the camera lenses look striking.
The 6.5-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G remains unchanged from the Galaxy A52s 5G. The flat display is made of Gorilla Glass 5 for scratch protection. The left and right borders are relatively slim but the top and bottom are noticeably thicker. A fingerprint reader is embedded in the display. It works as expected and is reliable. I like how Samsung has hidden the slit for the earpiece between the display and the frame at the top, as it is barely visible. Just like the Galaxy A52s 5G, the Galaxy A53 5G has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
Samsung Galaxy A53 specifications and software
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G borrows heavily from the Galaxy A52s 5G in terms of hardware. This year, Samsung has used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G from the Galaxy A52s in the more expensive Galaxy A73 5G, and the Galaxy A53 5G gets a new in-house Samsung SoC called the Exynos 1280.This is the same SoC that also powers the lower-priced Galaxy A33 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G supports 5G, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and the usual satellite navigation systems. The Galaxy A53 5G loses the 3.5mm headphone jack of the the previous model and doesn’t come with a USB Type-C audio adapter in the box either. The phone supports dual-5G standby, and the hybrid dual-SIM tray can accept a microSD card of up to 1TB.
Samsung’s refreshed One UI 3.1 software makes it to the Galaxy A53 5G. It’s based on Android 12 and is one of the best custom Android 12 experiences out there. The theme engine can change the colours of the interface and app icons depending on the wallpaper selected for the home screen. What I did find missing was the conversations widget usually found on Android 12 devices, which lets you pin important chats and conversations to the home screen. This phone is unfortunately loaded with plenty of bloatware, including a long list of apps from Samsung, plus some from Microsoft and other third-party ones. Thankfully, you can uninstall most of them.
Samsung Galaxy A53 performance
Samsung’s decision to reserve the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC for the Galaxy A73 5G does not seem to be a very smart idea. Samsung’s Exynos 1280 SoC, as tested in the Galaxy A53 5G, feels snappy enough with regular use but benchmark numbers did not reflect an improved experience. The Galaxy A53 5G managed 498 and 1,806 in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively, and it scored 3,72,582 points in AnTuTu. These scores are closer to what you’d expect from lower-cost smartphones, which shows that the Galaxy A53 5G is underpowered for its price segment. In comparison, the older Samsung Galaxy A52s scored 739 and 2,733 points in Geekbench, making it more powerful than its successor.
Graphics quality in Call of Duty: Mobile maxed out at ‘Medium’ with the ‘Max’ frame rate. It was playable at these settings on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G but lagged from time to time during matches. The display’s touch sampling rate wasn’t the best, but this did not hamper gameplay too much. The game ran best at the ‘Low’ graphics and ‘Medium’ framerate settings, which is a little disappointing for a premium smartphone. I did also notice the phone heating up after about 10 minutes of Call of Duty: Mobile gameplay, but with no drop in performance. Asphalt 9: Legends ran smoothly at the default (medium) graphics settings.
The display’s refresh rate alternates between 120Hz and 60Hz. During the testing period, I noticed that it stayed at 120Hz even when browsing Web pages or Instagram feeds, or streaming videos on YouTube. The screen refresh rate dropped to 60Hz only when playing games or using the camera app. The Super AMOLED display looks good with the typical punchy colour tones that this type of panel is known for, and is legible even in bright sunlight. HDR is missing, but video streaming content looked good, with deep blacks. The stereo speakers sounded well balanced and got quite loud.
Battery life is one area in which the Galaxy A53 5G fares better than its predecessor. Its larger 5,000mAh battery added four hours to the runtime of our HD video loop test, clocking an impressive 19 hours and 44 minutes. With everyday usage, the phone lasted two full days, which is quite good. Samsung does not offer a charger in the box, so I plugged the Galaxy A53 5G into my own 61W USB PD charger. This phone supports 25W charging, and managed to get to 100 percent from empty in 1 hour and 51 minutes, which isn’t bad, but still not as quick as some of the competition.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G cameras
The cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G are identical to what its predecessor has. The rear camera setup consists of 64-megapixel primary, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 5-megapixel macro, and 5-megapixel depth cameras. A 32-megapixel front-facing camera is in charge of selfies. The layout of the camera app is customisable and there are plenty of shortcuts in the viewfinder.
Photos captured in daylight were impressive and showcased plenty of detail and good dynamic range. Like the Galaxy A52s 5G, the colours in photos came out a bit oversaturated and had a mild bluish tone. The macro camera was quite useful, as images had good detail. Portrait photos shot using the selfie camera looked crisp and clear with good detail and dynamic range. Edge detection in these photos was also accurate.
Shooting in Auto mode in low light, the camera’s performance was decent with good dynamic range, but I did notice some noise. Details took a bit of a hit. Using Night Shot mode, the camera took a second longer to capture shots, and they looked brighter, but at the cost of lower detail. The standard Night mode also took a few seconds to capture low-light landscapes but managed the best quality. Selfies taken in low light looked blurry and noisy even after switching to Night mode.
The ultra-wide-angle camera shot decent images in daylight but objects looked blurry and stretched towards the edges. Low-light shots were much lower in quality and looked soft at best.
1080p 30fps videos shot in daylight appeared well-stabilised and had good dynamic range. However, footage shot at 1080p 60fps looked shaky. Videos captured at 4K had the best detail but lacked any stabilisation whatsoever. When shooting in low light, video quality took a nosedive. The video recorded at 1080p 30fps looked blurry and had a nasty shimmering effect. The primary camera has a noticeable focus hopping issue when recording video at night, so the autofocus system went crazy quite often, especially when panning.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is a capable premium smartphone but falls short compared in terms of raw performance. This is mainly due to the new SoC, which seems as though it would be a good enough fit for the budget Galaxy M33 5G (Rs. 18,999), but not for a phone that costs Rs. 35,000. Daylight camera performance is quite good, and this is the only phone we’ve reviewed in this segment with an IP67 rating. Unfortunately for the Galaxy A53 5G, the Galaxy A52s 5G (Review), its predecessor, offers better gaming performance, has a headphone jack, and comes with a charger in the box. It also costs a bit less (around Rs. 32,499) which makes it the better buy.
As for competition from other manufacturers, the iQoo 9 SE (starting at Rs. 33,990) is the Galaxy A53 5G’s biggest potential competitor. We are yet to review this phone, but it has a better Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC and you get a 66W charger in the box. The base variant also has 8GB of RAM, so even just going by specifications, it poses a threat. Those looking for a leaner Android experience can also look at Motorola’s Moto Edge 20 Pro (Review), which features a Snapdragon 870 SoC and a 108-megapixel primary rear camera.