The screen and battery are top-notch, but the cameras could be so much better.
Considering that the Google Pixel 7a has the same chipset as its flagship cousin and has already shown to be a better photography phone, it can be challenging to justify purchasing Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy A54. The Galaxy A54, on the other hand, has a starting price of $450 as opposed to the Galaxy 7a’s $500 and offers some of the standout features of its flagship sister at a somewhat lower cost than Google’s entry-level model. These include a high-resolution display, great battery life, and a more aesthetically pleasing design than the Pixel’s sharp camera bar and rectangle-shaped angles. Wireless charging, storage space options, and camera quality on par with Samsung flagship models are all sacrificed.
The Galaxy A54 from Samsung doesn’t appear to be a cheap phone.
Making a mid-range device appear expensive is the secret to selling it. Google followed this strategy with its A-series, and Samsung will follow it moving ahead. If you purchased the Galaxy A53 from last year in black, it was uninteresting. However, the Galaxy A54 from this year at least resembles its flagship sibling in terms of styling.
Even in black, the phone appears less “mid-range” than the A53 from the previous year. However, I still adore the periwinkle blue color scheme on our review device (Samsung’s official renders show it as purple). In direct light, it appears almost iridescent, and it exudes a sophisticated air that doesn’t instantly give you the impression that this is a cheap device. The Galaxy A54 includes strong glass on both sides of the chassis, an IP67 water and dust resistant rating, and a robust construction. Although it’s difficult to see at first glance, the exterior frame still has some plastic on it.
The 6.4-inch display on the Galaxy A54 is striking and lovely. Although it is larger and much more saturated than the 6.1-inch screen included with the Pixel 7a, it is the high-resolution Samsung AMOLED that stands out to me because to its smooth-scrolling 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s panels have a bluer color temperature than the Pixel 7a display, making video and graphics appear less bright. The A54 has a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, and I discovered that it was slightly easier to see outside than the Pixel 7a.
Google’s Tensor against Samsung’s Exynos
The Samsung Galaxy A54 is powered by hardware made by Samsung, but it is not quite comparable to Google’s in-house Tensor G2, which drives the Pixel 7a and its premium siblings. The newest mid-range, 8-core chipset from Samsung is the Exynos 1380 CPU. Although it performs better on benchmarks than the Galaxy A53 from last year, the 6GB of RAM is still a drawback. You can notice the relative choppyness of the A54 when switching between apps. Although the Pixel 7a’s 60Hz default refresh rate creates its own challenges when it comes to smooth scrolling, it happens occasionally enough that any sluggishness is more visible than on that device.
The Galaxy A54 survived both the Google Pixel 7a and its flagship counterparts in battery tests. The 7a’s 4,385 mAh battery is smaller than its 5,000 mAh counterpart. In our battery rundown test, it lasted roughly 18 hours and 48 minutes as opposed to the Pixel 7a’s 16 hours and 11 minutes. Knowing that Samsung’s mid-range can operate for a long period is beneficial, especially given that it offers a 120Hz refresh rate.
Even though the Galaxy A54 is a sub-$500 phone, I’m disappointed that it lacks wireless charging. It’s essential that I can set down a device to charge it, thus I have managed to create a network of chargers everywhere throughout the house where I live and work. With Google’s Pixel 7a, I can do that, but not with the Galaxy A54.
Not the greatest mobile camera for nighttime photography.
The three-lens camera system on the Galaxy A54 consists of a 50-MP primary camera with OIS and an aperture of f/1.8, a 12-MP ultrawide, and a superfluous 5-megapixel macro. Although I would have chosen telephoto glass for that third camera on the back for a little bit more optical zoom, I never thought to use it during my testing period. The 32-MP front camera has autofocus.
Overall, if you’re outside and the weather is sunny, the Galaxy A54’s camera system does its job. Every photograph has blues and reds that have been “punched up,” and during the golden hour you can change the scene using the on-screen camera controls. Just be careful to place the focus point correctly to avoid losing a well-balanced shot. The Galaxy A54 can record videos at a maximum resolution of 4K at a smooth 30 frames per second. At a vibrant auto show, it kept up with my child panning the rows, and the mics did a good job of reducing wind noise.
You cannot capture the night sky with the Galaxy A54 like you can with a Google Pixel. It found it difficult to control shots and catch adequate light, even in its designated night mode. You can see the pixelation, which appears to be evidence of an algorithmic struggle, when it finally produced an image in the dark. In the Night Sight images captured with the Pixel 7a, that is not as obvious. The Galaxy A54 shouldn’t be your first choice if you prefer taking photos of dark skies and dimly illuminated faces.
Android on Samsung devices is still good.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 uses OneUI 5.1 on top of Android 13. You gain access to Samsung-only features like Bixby Modes, widget stacks, and a better screenshot manager when you do this. For the Galaxy A54, the manufacturer has committed to providing four years of software upgrades and five years of security updates. Comparatively speaking, that’s better than the Pixel A-series, which receives four years’ worth of updates in addition to a scattering of quarterly Pixel-exclusive feature drops (though, like gaming loot, you never know what you’ll get and when).
I like that Android 13 for Samsung has unified iconography. Compared to the bright stock icons, they lessen the cartoony appearance of the UI. When in dark mode, you may also choose to dim the wallpaper, which I prefer for my delicate eyes.
Another flagship feature is required for the Galaxy A54.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy A54 unlocked, and it costs $450. However, mmWave connection, which is what I’d have to purchase if I wanted to utilize this device on Verizon, costs $50 more if you need it in order to access the 5G bandwidth you are paying for.