The $450 Galaxy A54 may be the smartest smartphone buy of 2023 | digital trends

-Samsung’s Galaxy A series has long been a great choice for people who want the style of the Galaxy S series without the price of the S series. The Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 are the latest, and Samsung doesn’t have qualms about giving these phones the latest flagship look.

Even better news is that the A54 continues to deliver a great screen, long battery life, a decent camera, and solid everyday features you’ll love, all for a cheap price. Could the new Galaxy A54 phone be the smartest smartphone buy of 2023? I tried it for a short time to find out.

Getting the Awesome colors right

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ll focus on my hands-on report on the Galaxy A54, but I’ll explain more about the Galaxy A34 later. The Galaxy A54 looks very similar to the Galaxy S23, with three cameras on the back, each individually positioned on the Gorilla Glass 5 back panel and surrounded by a decorative metal ring. The chassis is made of metal and plastic, which means Samsung could ditch the antenna bands for a cleaner look, and the display is covered in Gorilla Glass 5.

It’s slim and compact at 8.2mm thick, despite the large 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, and feels solid and expensive in the hand. The Galaxy A54 pulls off that neat trick of feeling much more expensive than it is. The 202-gram weight sounds high, but it doesn’t feel heavy or bulky, so don’t let that put you off.

The back of the black and white Galaxy A54.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There are four color options, and they’re all amazing. Not my word, but the word of Samsung’s marketing department. So on the impressive scale, how impressive are they? Well, the basic white and bright black colors aren’t amazing at all, but the cool Awesome Violet and the bright and really desirable Awesome Lime Green get a 10 out of 10. I especially like the lime green version; it really pops in the right light, and my attention was immediately drawn to the ordinary black or white models.

The camera modules on the back of the Galaxy A54.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The display has a 120Hz refresh rate and a small circular cutout for the 32-megapixel selfie camera at the top centre, plus maximum brightness has been increased to 1000 nits. This is great news, as the Galaxy A53’s screen might struggle in strong sunlight. It ran smoothly in my short time with the phone, and as with many of Samsung’s displays, colors and contrast levels are spot on.

Quality materials, a high refresh rate display that’s brighter than before, durability and some great colors to choose from – I really like the way the Galaxy A54 gets a lot of the basics right, without resorting to tricks or features without sense to attract people.

A new Exynos chip for power and efficiency

The main screen of the Galaxy A54.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The camera setup has been updated from that used on the Galaxy A53, with a new 50MP main camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 12MP wide-angle camera, and a 5MP macro camera. An increase in pixel size means photos should be more vivid, and the A54 should do better in low light too. I only spent a short time with the Galaxy A54 and took a few photos in isolation (couldn’t compare to another phone and was indoors in dim light), but they turned out fine. In particular, the camera app was fast, with no lag or lag, and switching between modes was instant.

You might think this would be a given, but the Galaxy A54 has Samsung’s latest Exynos 1380 processor inside, and this is the first time I’ve used a device with it. The Exynos hasn’t always been the best performer, and while taking a few photos and flipping through the operating system doesn’t put the phone through its paces, it was enough to put any initial concerns away.

However, only by living with the phone will I know for sure what it is like and how efficient it is. The Galaxy A54 packs a 5,000mAh battery inside, and Samsung promises two days of battery life. This doesn’t seem like much of a claim, considering batteries of the same capacity offer this in other phones, so it’s reasonable to think it’ll do the trick. You can choose between 128 GB or 256 GB of storage space, plus space for a MicroSD card, with a maximum capacity of 1 TB.

This is a 5G phone with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, plus it comes with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and the option to use an eSIM over a standard SIM card. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor, which had decent speed when I tested it, an IP67 water resistance rating, and a 25-watt fast-charging system for the battery.

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy A54 will launch in the US on April 6 and will start at $450. You’ll be able to buy one through Samsung’s online store and from carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular. Pre-orders start on March 30.

In the UK, the Galaxy A54 will cost £499 for the top 256GB model, or £449 for the 128GB version. If you buy the phone from Samsung between now and April 26, you’ll also get a free pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 with the phone, making it an even better value.

What about the Galaxy A34?

The different selfie camera designs on the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34.
Galaxy A34 (left) and Galaxy A54 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Visually, there isn’t much of a difference between the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34, and the easiest way to tell the two apart is to look at the selfie camera cutout on the screen. It’s a simple dot on the Galaxy A54 and a teardrop cutout on the Galaxy A34.

The 8.2mm-thick, 199-gram phone has Gorilla Glass 5 on the screen, but the rear panel is made of a plastic material Samsung calls “Glastic” because its texture is similar to glass. The screen has the same resolution and 120Hz refresh rate as the A54, but is slightly larger at 6.6 inches.

The black versions of the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34.
The glossy black model of the Galaxy A54 (left) with the matte black finish of the Galaxy A34. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy A54’s Exynos 1380 has been replaced by a MediaTek Dimensity 1080. While there are still three cameras on the back, the array packs a 48MP main camera with OIS, an 8MP wide-angle camera, and a 5MP macro camera. Like the Galaxy A54, it has a 5000mAh battery, 25W charging, IP67 rating, a MicroSD card slot to increase internal storage space of 128GB or 256GB, either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Other features include a 13MP selfie camera, stereo speakers, the ability to make mobile payments via NFC, and 5G connectivity. The Galaxy A34 hasn’t been announced for the US, but in the UK, the entry-level 128GB phone costs £349, while the higher-capacity 256GB model costs £399.

Galaxy S23 seeks less money

The green and purple camera modules of the Galaxy A54.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Even after only a short time with the Galaxy A54, it’s clear that the phone has a lot going for it. The design is great, I love the two really amazing colors and the camera has potential. Fundamentally, the software is the same as what you get on a Galaxy S23, and is therefore attractive, logical, and packed with useful features without being overpowering. Plus, it’s covered by the same 5-year security update and 4-year major release promise.

It’s not a huge improvement over the Galaxy A53, technically at least, but small changes like a brighter screen and larger camera pixel size can make a substantial difference in everyday use. The phone’s ultimate success will come down to the Exynos 1380’s performance, and whether the battery can last two days, even with fairly heavy use, and whether the new 50MP camera avoids the pitfalls of some Samsung cameras, like oversaturation.

A person holding the Galaxy A43 phone and taking a photo.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

From what I’ve seen so far, the Galaxy A54 has all the potential to be a sensible money-saving buy for those put off by the higher price of the Galaxy S23. There’s just about everything you need out of a phone here, with that high level of Samsung polish, and at a price that compares to the Google Pixel 6a and Nothing Phone 1. I’m looking forward to using it more.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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