Samsung A53 5G – a decent 5G smartphone for $699 (review)

The Samsung A53 5G is a decent 5G smartphone for $699. It will appeal to those with the cash and who want a well-known brand with a long Android update policy.

We use the term ‘decent’ because while there is nothing wrong with the phone (put positively – everything is right), in some respects, the Samsung A53 5G is not quite as good as the 2021 A52 it replaces. And at the price, it is pretty well the only 2022 phone in the $600-699 bracket.

That begs the question of whether you may get better value in its $599 A33 5G or its $799 A73 5G. Looking at the specs alone, the A33 seems mighty tempting. The A73 has stronger competition with the OPPO Find X5 Lite with 256GB storage (OPPO Find X5 Lite – $799 uber-value (review). Or, for that matter, find the extra and go for the $999 Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Fan Edition (review).

Brief Spec comparison – Samsung A33, A53, A73

ModelA33 5GA53 5GA73 5G
 Price$599$699$799
 ColoursAwesome Blue
Awesome Black
Peach
Same
Same N/A
Awesome Greys Awesome Mint Awesome White
Dimensions and weight159.7 x 74 x 8.1 mm 186 grams159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm 189 grams163.7 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm 181 grams
Display 6.4” 2400 x 1080 Super AMOLED
90Hz
6.5” 2400 x1080 Same 60/120Hz6.7”2400 x 1080 Super AMOLED Plus Same
ProcessorSamsung Exynos 1280, octa-core 2.4 GHzSame
Same
Qualcomm SD778G octa-core 2.4 GHz
Memory6/128 GB microSD slotSameSame
Software Android 12, One UISameSame
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5 AC
Bluetooth 5.2
Same
Same
Wi-Fi 6 AX
Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
SoundStereo Dolby Atmos downmixSameSame
Camera Rear48+8+5+2MP
Bins to 12MP
64+12+5+5MP
Bins to 16MP
108+12+5+5MP
Bins to 12.5MP
Camera FrontFront: 13MPFront: 32MP
bins to 8MP
Same
Battery5000mAh
25W capable
no charger inbox)
SameSame
Additional featuresDual SIM
Single/MicroSD hybrid IP67
SameSame

Better buy genuine, or 5G won’t work

We issue a strong warning that you must buy a genuine model with Australian firmware if you want to use 5G. Read Don’t buy a grey market phone to ensure you get the Australian model.

It is easy to identify the Australian version – usually, under Settings, About Phone, Legal Information, and Regulatory compliance, you will see the Australian RCM C-tick mark.

You can see the Samsung A53 5G models and those not to buy in the table at the end.

New Deep-Dive review format

It is now in two parts – a five-minute overview for most readers and a separate 300+ line database-driven spec including over 70 tests to back up the summary. It also helps us compare different phones and features.

Samsung A53 5G Model 6/128GB Model SM-A536E (Single Sim/microSD) and AM-A536E/DS (dual sim/microSD hybrid)

First impression

I don’t mind plastic backs (or glastic or polycarbonate – whatever you call it), but this matte Awesome Blue is more like a light sky-blue, and it looks inexpensive. It is not so much a fingerprint magnet as a greasy finger magnet.

The chrome-like plastic frame houses the power and volume rocker buttons on the right side. It makes it look thicker than belies the 8.1mm thickness.

6.5” Super AMOLED 60 or 120Hz

The Samsung A53 5G has a 6.5” bright sAMOLED display with accurate colour gamut coverage of the 8-bit, 16.7m colour spectrum. It is daylight readable and flat.

The screen is 60Hz or 120Hz – it is not adaptive. The 120Hz knocks about 30% from battery life in typical use and closer to 50% in streaming video. For 99% of the time, leave it at 60Hz.

Processor – Exynos 1280 is new

While Samsung claims (on paper) that it is 2.1x faster and has more AI than the Qualcomm it replaced in the A52 5G, we just don’t see it in the tests. If anything, it feels slower. We suspect this is more about Samsung trying to achieve better battery life.

Storage is slower at 468/88Mbps – the A52 scored 513/267, but it is fast enough to record 4K@30fps. As usual for Samsung, you can use OTG to access an external SSD, but it won’t run the speed test.

Throttling – reasonably good

With the caveat that we are not gamers – it is only capable of 1080p games at medium or less frame rates.

It drops 16% over 15 minutes – reasonable thermal management.

Comms – No Wi-Fi 6

This has Wi-Fi 5 AC HE80, which means it maxes out at 433Mbps. Signal strength on the 5GHz band was good to 10m.

It has USB-C 2.0 and a maximum data transfer rate of 480Mbps which means <30MBps speeds.

GPS is accurate to about 3m, which is fine for in-car navigation.

Phone – city/suburbs only

It supports all Australian 4G and 5G sub-6Ghz and low bands. The antenna signal strength is good, but it only finds one tower, which seems standard for Exynos modems. The antenna is at the bottom of the device, and your hand can interfere with the signal.

It is only for city and suburbs where you have good tower coverage.

Battery – OK for a day

Overall, we expect it will require daily charging (at 60Hz screen refresh).

First, 120Hz shortens the battery life by 20-50%, depending on the app and use. Leave it on 60Hz. The most typical indicative test is PC Mar 3 Battery, and it gives 13 hours and 52 minutes of screen on time.

Second, it does not come with a charger inbox. If you buy a Samsung 25W charger (read Do you want a charger with that? The demise of inbox accessories (opinion) it will take about 1.5 hours to charge. The trick here is that it charges at 9V/2.77A/24.93W, which the genuine charger supports  – many third-party ones do not. A standard 5V/3A charger takes nearly 4 hours as it only charges at 10W.

If you buy any other charger, ensure that it supports PD 3.0 and that you buy a 3W (preferably 5W) cable.

Sound – OK but a little thin

It has no low/mid-bass and a gradual building of high bass. It has strong mid and treble but weak high-treble. That means it misses the most critical bass where you get all the musically important bass and a sense of sound direction – a reality as though the music were there. The soundstage is narrow and not helped by a perceptible imbalance to the bottom speaker.

Bluetooth supports SBC, AAC, LDAC and Samsung scalable (for Samsung buds) codecs but not Qualcomm aptX. It gives good volume and left/right separation.

Some readers have suggested we are too picky, but we know good sound How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide.

Inbox

Nothing! There is even a video about it.

Missing

  • 3.5mm 4-pole port, but most use USB-C earphones or a USB-C-3.5mm DAC
  • Charger

Operating system – up to four years of upgrades and five years of security patches

Samsung’s policy makes owning one better and more secure for longer. That means Android 12 may reach Android 15!

One UI 4l1 is a light touch over Android and allows for its Samsung customisations. But we are growing more concerned at the need to sign up for a Samsung Account to access anything in its Theme or Galaxy App store – it is bad enough that Google knows all about us.

Our advice is not to use Samsung apps where they substitute for Google ones, especially if you brand swap and want seamless changeovers.

Samsung A53 5G Camera

It is the same camera setup as the 2021 A52 – 64+12+5+5 and a 32MP selfie. Due to the COVID related parts shortage, the sensors can come from Samsung or Sony (our unit).

We can see an improvement over the A52 mainly due to the increased Exynos A1 post-processing power.

Daylight: It would be hard to take a better picture – good detail and slightly saturated colour

Zoom: Excellent results with 1, 2, 5 and 10x zoom with good HDR

Ultrawide: I dislike seeing different colours from the primary lens, but overall, it is not a bad image

Office light: Excellent detail and colour

Bokeh: Try as we may, both the foreground and background were blurred (bokeh), and the mid area was in focus. This is an issue with firmware and the AI looking for a face.

Low-light – <40 lumens: The image was detailed and the colours quite good, but it obviously struggled, causing a lot of noise. The Night mode improved detail and reduced noise at the expense of colours.

Selfie: Excellent

Video: With OIS and EIS, 4k@30fps is stable and sharp. The colours are good. Sound recording was adequate to about 5 metres.

CyberShack’s view – The Samsung A53 5G is a decent smartphone with no downsides

The A-series is Samsung’s bread, and butter as only a small percentage of the world can afford its S-series. The 2021 A52 came of age, and it is a shame that the Samsung A53 5G is, in several ways, not quite as good. But hey, it is a crazy COVID influenced world and the move to Samsung Exynos over Qualcomm was probably more about assuring supply.

So, it is a safe, solid, slightly bland option if you have $699, but its real competition is from its 2021 A52, A33 and A73 because there is not enough user experience difference to count.

Rating

Given it is virtually alone in the $600-699 segment, it is the class leader there. It also meets or exceeds every test (except GFX Bench Manhattan, which usually happens with Exynos chips). And Samsung’s OS upgrade and security update policy and its 24-month warranty – it rates well.

The only slight blemish – the Exynos chip is not a great performer, Wi-Fi 5 (not 6), its phone signal strength is for city/suburbs where you have good tower coverage and np charger.

CyberShack Smartphone comparison v 1.1 (E&OE)

Samsung A53 5G

BrandSamsung
ModelA53 5G
Model NumberSM-A536E
Price Base6, 128
   Price base$699
Warranty months12
 Tier24
WebsiteProduct Page
ManualPDF
FromSamsung Online and approved retailers
Country of OriginVietnam
CompanySamsung
Test date18-23 April 2022
Ambient temp20°
ReleaseMarch 2022
Other models not for Australia (Don’t buy)Any with the letters after A536, including
J, D, U, U1, N, O, OO B, B/DS.
We are not sure if the E/DS is certified for Australia.

Screen

Size6.5″
TypesAMOLED
Flat, Curve, 2D, 3DFlat, centre O-hole
Resolution2400 x 1080
PPI406
Ratio20:9
Screen to Body %0.854
Colours bits8-bit 16.7M colours
Refresh Hz, adaptive60 or 120Hz Fixed
Nits typical test400 (Tested 398)
Nits max, test800 HBM (tested to 730)
ContrastInfinite
sRGBNatural Mode 100%+
DCI-P3Vivid Mode 87*
Rec.2020 or otherNo
Delta E (<4 is excellent)3
HDR LevelHDR10
SDR UpscaleNo
Blue light controlYes
PWM if knownYes
Daylight readableYes
Always on DisplayYes
Edge displayYes
AccessibilityYes
DRMWidevine L1 FOR 1080P SDR
GamingThe screen may be up for it, but the processor is not
Screen protectionGG5
CommentLovely bright Super AMOLED screen

Processor

Brand, ModelExynos 1280 https://semiconductor.samsung.com/processor/mobile-processor/exynos-1280/
nm5
Cores2×2.4GHz + 6×2.0GHz
ModemSamsung Exynos integrated
AI TOPS4.3
Geekbench 5 Single-core747
Geekbench 5 multi-core1897
LikeQualcomm SD695 5G
GPUMail G68 MP2
GPU Test
Open CL2551
LikeSimilar to older SD845
Vulcan2578
RAM, type6 LPRDDR4X
Storage, free, type128 (97GB free)
micro-SDYes, to 1TB (hybrid slot in dual sim version)
CPDT internal seq. Read MBps468
CPDT internal seq. write MBps88
CPDT microSD read, write MBps79/26
CPDT external (mountable?) MBpsRecognised but won’t test
CommentThe write speed is considerably lower than excepted – it should be closer to 250MBps. We can not test the external storage speed, although the file manager identifies it.
Throttle test
   Max GIPS197461
   Average GIPS182848
   Minimum GIPS156784
   % Throttle16
   CPU Temp50
CommentReasonable thermal management.

Comms

Wi-FI TypeWi-Fi 5 AC VHT80 MIM0 2×2
   Test 2m -dBm, Mbps-25/433
   Test 5m-49/433
   Test 10m-56/433
BT Type5.2
GPS single, dualSingle accuracy <3m
USB typeUSB-C 2.0
   Alt DP, DeX, Ready ForNo but can Miracast and Chromecast over Wi-Fi
NFCYes
Ultra-widebandNo
Sensors
   AccelerometerYes
   GyroCombo Accelerometer
   e-CompassYes
   BarometerNo
   GravityNo
   PedometerNo
   Ambient lightTCS3701
   Hall sensorYes
   ProximityYes
   Other
CommentBasic sensor setup, although we suspect the ambient light sensor also measures RGB.

LTE and 5G

SIMThe review Model was E/DS dual/hybrid
E model has a single Sim and microSD
   ActiveOne at a time
Ring tone single, dualSingle
VoLTECarrier Dependent
Wi-Fi callingCarrier Dependent
4G Bands1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 26, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66
CommentAll Australian bands and most world bands
5G sub-6GhzN1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66, 78
CommentAll Australian sub-6GHz and low bands
mmWaveNo
Test Boost Mobile, Telstra
   UL, DL, ms20/15/43ms
   Tower 1 -dBm, fW or pW-83 to -104 38.9fW to 5pW – very variable depending on where you hold it
   Tower 2No
   Tower 3No
   Tower 4No
CommentIt uses a single bottom antenna. While it finds the first tower at quite high strength, it varies, especially if you hold it by the base. City/suburbs phone only where there is good tower coverage.

Battery

mAh5000 – Claim 18 hours
Charger, type, suppliedNo
 PD, QC level25W capable PS 2.0 5V/3A/15, 9V/2.77A/24.93W or 3.3-5.9V/3A and 3.3-11V/2.25A
Qi, wattageNo
Reverse Qi or cableNo
Test (60Hz)
   Charge % 30mins40%
   Charge 0-100%1 hour 37 minutes
   Charge Qi, WN/A
   Charge 5V, 2A4 hours 12 minutes
   Video loop 50%, aeroplane19 hours
Youtube with Wi-Fi and 120Hz 8 hours
   PC Mark 3 battery
Accubattery
13 hours 53-minute
14hr and 34 minutes
   GFX Bench
Manhattan battery
Would not run
   GFX Bench T-Rex373.4min (6.22hrs) 3982 frames
   Drain 100-0% full load screen on5 hours 33 minutes
   Watt full load2A
   Watt idle Screen on300mA
   Estimate loss at 120Hz30% to 50% depending on the app and screen resolution
   Estimate typical useWhile the 18-hour typical use claim is probably accurate, this phone will need charging every day.
CommentTests were at 60Hz screen refresh, and the full load drain at 120Hz gave just under 4 hours.

Sound

SpeakersStereo – top earpiece and bottom down-firing.
TuningNo
AMP2 x TFA9879 MPX Class-D stereo amp and DPS 1.6/2.65W@8/4OHM .2% THD
Dolby Atmos decodeYes, downmix to two speakers
Hi-Res
3.5mmNo
BT CodecsSBC, AAC, LDAC and Samsung Scalable. No Qualcomm aptX codecs.
MultipointShould be
Dolby Atmos (DA)Auto, Movie, Music, Voice
EQNormal, Pop, Classic, Jazz, Rock, Custom
MicsDual
Test dB – all on EQ flat DA off
   Volume max80dB
   Media (music)75
   Ring75
   Alarm75
   Notifications75
   Earpiece53
   Hands-freeVolume is a little low. Dual mics provide some noise cancellation but keep the bottom mic pointed towards your mouth.
   BT headphonesGood sound and volume, although could only get SBC Codec on LDAC capable headphones.

Sound quality

Deep Bass 20-40HzNo
Middle Bass 40-100HzNo
High Bass 100-200HzGradual build
Low Mid 200-400HzGradual build
Mid 4000-1000HzFlattening
High-Mid 1-2kHzFlattening
Low Treble 2-4kHzFlat
Mid Treble 4-6kHzFlat
High Treble 6-10kHzSlow decline
Dog Whistle 10-20kHzSlow decline
Sound Signature typeBright Vocal (bass recessed, mid/treble boosted) – for vocal tracks and string instruments, but can make them harsh
   Soundstageimbalance to the bottom speaker makes the soundstage skewed.
CommentThe sound is OK but lacks punch, definition and depth – listenable for high-mid and low mid-treble vocals.

Build

Size (H X W x D)159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm
Weight grams189
Front glassGG5
Rear materialPlastic chrome finish
Framematte plastic flow over camera hump – attracts grease but not fingerprints
IP rating67 1m for 30min
ColoursAwesome Blue
Awesome Black
Pen, Stylus supportNo
In the box
   ChargerNo
   USB cableYes, 2W (you need a 3 or 5W for a fast charge
   BudsNo
   Bumper coverNo
CommentMore Samsung penny-pinching

OS

Android12
Security patch date1/03/2022
UIOne U1 4.1
OS upgrade policyoriginal plus 3 upgrades
Security patch policy4 years
BloatwareYes. It is mainly Samsung substitutes for Google apps, but increasingly it is driving you to the Samsung Galaxy App and Theme store for even rudimentary fonts and themes. Do you want Samsung to know what you do?
Other
Comment
Security
Fingerprint sensor location, typeOptical under glass
Face IDYes

Camera

Rear PrimaryWide
  MP64MP bins to 16MP
   SensorSony IMX682
   FocusPDAF
   f-stop1.8
   um.8 bins to 1.6
  FOV° (stated, actual)83 (71)
   StabilisationOIS
   Zoom8X digital
Rear 2Ultra-wide
   MP12
   SensorSony IMX258
   FocusFixed
   f-stop2.2
   um1.12
  FOV (stated, actual)123 (104)
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Rear 3Macro
   MP5
   SensorLikely Samsung SK5E9
   FocusFixed
   f-stop2.4
   um1.12
  FOV (stated, actual)N/A
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Rear 4Depth
  MP5
   SensorLikely Samsung SK5F1
   FocusFixed
   f-stop2.4
   um1.12
  FOV (stated, actual)N/A
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Special
   Video max4K@30fps OIS/EIS
   FlashSingle LED
   Auto-HDRYes
   QR code readerYes
   Night modeYes
Front
  MP32MP bins to 8MP
   SensorSony IMX616
   FocusFixed
   f-stop2.2
   um0.8 bins to 1.6
  FOV (stated, actual)83 (71)
   StabilisationNo
   FlashScreen fill
   Zoom4x digital
   Video max4K@30fps
  
CommentDaylight: It would be hard to take a better picture – good detail and slightly saturated colour
Zoom: Excellent results with 1, 2, 5 and 10x zoom with good HDR Ultrawide: I dislike seeing different colours from the primary lens, but overall, it is not a bad image
Office light: Excellent detail and colour
Bokeh: Try as we may, both the foreground and background were blurred (bokeh), and the mid area was in focus. This is an issue with firmware and the AI looking for a face.
Low-light – <40 lumens: The image was detailed and the colours quite good, but it obviously struggled, causing a lot of noise. The Night mode improved detail and reduced noise at the expense of colours.
Selfie: Excellent image
Video: With OIS and EIS, 4k@30fps is stable and sharp. The colours are good. Sound recording was adequate to about 5 metres.

Ratings

Features9
It has everything you need
Value8.5
COVID supply issues and global uncertainty see this a tad higher than expected.
Performance8
The Exynos is an average performance chip. Phone signal strengths make this a city/suburb phone.
Ease of Use9.5
Excellent OS upgrade/update policy and 2-years warranty.
Design8.5
Nice but a little bland
Rating out of 108.7
Pro
1Decent all-day battery life and faster-charging capability
2OS updates for four years, security updates for five years
3Quality, bright sAMOLED screen
4Camera is good
5IP67 and microSD
Con
1The 2021 A52 5G is faster and better spec’d
2No charger inbox
3No Wi-Fi 6 (Exynos limitation)
4Phone signal strengths are good but limited to one tower
5Samsung is becoming more of its own ecosystem with a little too much Samsung bloatware – Apple-like
Final commentIt is a good successor to the A52 5G and a safe buy for the price. AMOLED, great warranty and updates – no downside.

Samsung A53 5G

Samsunf A53 5G

$699
8.7

Features

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Performance

8.0/10

Ease of use

9.5/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • Decent all-day battery life and faster-charging capability
  • OS updates for four years, security updates for five years
  • Quality, bright sAMOLED screen
  • Camera is good
  • IP67 and microSD

Cons

  • The 2021 A52 5G is faster and better spec’d
  • No charger inbox
  • No Wi-Fi 6 (Exynos limitation)
  • Phone signal strengths are good but limited to one tower
  • Samsung is becoming more of its own ecosystem with a little too much Samsung bloatware – Apple-like


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