Subscribe to Radio Times
Try 10 issues for £10!
On the hunt for an affordable mid-range phone? The new Samsung Galaxy A53 could be the perfect fit.
After launching at £399, the Samsung Galaxy A53's price has tumbled and made it one of the best value budget smartphones there is. Of course, some cost-cutting has taken place in building the phone but what we're left with is a very well-rounded device that offers 5G connectivity, a smooth user experience and some fantastic features, all wrapped up in a sleek and tactile design.
Samsung make some of the very best Android phones on the market, notably the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra — which our reviewers gave 4.5 stars — but if you're looking to bag a great Samsung phone without spending so much, then the all-new Samsung Galaxy A53 could be the perfect handset for you.
At just £399 it sits comfortably in the mid-range smartphone bracket but offers a good feature set for the price, as well as reliable performance and a smooth user experience.
But is it the right mid-range phone for you? Read on for our in-depth test, or take a look at our best mid-range phones guide to check out the alternatives.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 mixes top-of-the-range features with some lesser components, resulting in an appealing cocktail of value, performance and design.
Right now, you can pick up the Samsung Galaxy A53 with a great 28 per cent discount - it’s down from £399 to £288.99.
Samsung Galaxy A53 | £399 £288.99 (save £110.01 or 28%) at Amazon
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is a well-rounded mid-range offering from Samsung, with plenty of notable features, solid performance and a subtly appealing look.
It mixes top-of-the-range features with some lesser components, resulting in an appealing cocktail of value, performance and design.
Read on for our full conclusions about the phone's display, battery, features and more. Or take a look at our recent review of the Honor X8 if you're looking for something more budget-friendly.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is a new mid-range smartphone from Samsung. It's the successor to the A52, which was a highly-rated mid-ranger that wowed fans and reviewers with a pleasing mix of performance and value.
The idea behind the A52 and A53 is to offer some top-end features alongside one or two compromises to help keep the price down.
We were hugely impressed by the S22 Series, but given that the base Samsung Galaxy S22 phone starts at £769, they won't be for everyone.
That said, if you're looking for Samsung phones and you do have a larger budget, you'd best check out our Samsung Galaxy S22+ and S22 Ultra reviews. By our reckoning, the Ultra is one of the very best Android phones out there right now, if not the best.
Equally, if you want to go a little cheaper, the new Samsung Galaxy A33 is just £329.99.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 comes in at a much more modest £399. That's almost half of the S22 starting price.
That puts it in the same price bracket as the £399.99 Motorola G200 5G, which we gave four stars in our review.
At time of writing, there are some great deals on the A53.
Other options include the £449 Honor 50, which can now be found slightly cheaper if you shop around. Take a look at the best deals below.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is reasonably feature-rich for a £400 phone. It's especially well equipped in terms of its display and battery, both of which will be discussed in more detail later.
The camera offering is solid and easy to use. Though the 5MP macro lens didn't add much we found it simple to take appealing photos with the main camera array, which is led by a 64MP main camera. The phone's image processing rendered them in the bright, colourful style that's typical of Samsung phones.
It's powered by an Exynos 1280 chip — a new 5nm processor from Samsung that seems to fit the bill very well. Alongside that there's 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. If you'd like more storage than that, you're in luck! The A53 is expandable up to a whopping one terabyte of storage, using a MicroSD.
There's also a 'RAM Plus' mode, which allocates some storage to be used as RAM, speeding up and smoothing out the phone's ability to multi-task. However, we're not entirely sure this feature made too much of a difference.
In terms of bloatware, Samsung doesn't throw too much at you, but the duplicate apps that are there are annoying. For instance — why would anyone want the Samsung Messages app in addition to the standard Messages app? Samsung's own voice assistant 'Bixby' can be a little in-your-face too, when most Android phone users will likely prefer Google's voice assistant. For example, holding the power button down doesn't give power-off and restart options for the phone — it opens Bixby. That was an irritation and seemed like Samsung trying to force its own voice assistant on users. That said, it did little to dent the overall experience of using the A53.
Getting a 6.5-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate for this price is pretty good. Of course, there is a small compromise in that the 120Hz refresh rate isn't adaptable, so if you switch on the highest setting the battery will drain faster.
The bezels are perhaps a little wide and noticeable but that's only a minor complaint and one that — by and large — comes with the territory price-wise.
Generally though, we found the display was a pleasure to use and worked perfectly throughout all the streaming, scrolling and downloading we put it through.
The A53 comes with a solid 5000mAh battery but no plug adaptor in the box. Instead, there's a USBC to USBC cable, so you'll have to use a plug you've already got, or plug it into a USBC port on a laptop. Samsung's argument for not supplying a charger is seemingly environmental. The company operates on the presumption that everyone probably has a suitable plug, or wire, from another device. If you don't though, this is sure to be an irritant.
When it comes to battery performance though, we were impressed. The A53 stood up well in testing and showed a good level of battery life durability. For example, an hour and a half of continuous video streaming drained the battery by 10% and more moderate use cases saw the A53 sip at its battery power pleasingly frugally.
Samsung claims the battery lasts two days and that seems more or less correct if you're only a moderate to light user. During our tests, we were impressed with the Samsung's battery life and it was able to flick between tasks easily, without draining the battery too much.
The A53 packs a solid camera array, housing a 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide and a 5MP macro camera. Add to this a 5MP depth sensor and a flash and you've accounted for all five features on the array.
As per usual, for a Samsung phone, the camera delivers pleasing but very, very colourful shots. The phone's image processing delivers brighter-than-reality images which look great but are an acquired taste. If you want sheer realism and accuracy, Samsung cameras aren't the pick for you. That said, we thought the images taken on the A53 were impressive by and large.
The camera does lack a telephoto zoom function but has a fairly capable — if modest — 2x digital zoom. Finally, the 5MP macro sensor is a little underwhelming but does little to detract from the overall package.
The A53 is sleek and tactile, with a pleasing matte finish on the back. It's a shame it's mainly made from plastic, but seemingly that's one of the necessary sacrifices Samsung made in production to keep costs down. In all fairness — while it is largely plastic — it doesn't feel as 'plasticy' as some plastic-built handsets.
The phone is available in blue, black, white and peach and all the handset colour options have that matte finish on the reverse.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is the best sub-£400 mid-range phone on the market right now, by our reckoning.
It's an accomplished handset with across-the-board offerings. From its battery life to its camera, design and display — Samsung has squeezed as much as possible into this £400 phone.
It's worth noting too that — at time of writing — there are some good deals available on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. If it drops into your budget, it's worth considering over the A53.
For the latest news, reviews and deals, check out the RadioTimes.com Technology section. Want a handset for an older relative? Read our guide to the best smartphone for older people. Why not sign up for our tech newsletter.