A quick Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52 examination suggest not much has changed between Samsung's best midrange models. And that instinct is correct — the Galaxy A53 now available for purchase shares plenty in common with the Galaxy A52 5G model Samsung rolled out last year.
But as many features as these phones share — and they do share a lot as we'll get to in a moment — there are some critical differences between the Galaxy A53 and A52. While some of those changes can be found under the hood of the two phones, the most significant boils down to what you'll pay for this year's model.
Our Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52 takes a closer look at the differences and similarities between these two midrange handsets, and what the changes say about Samsung's approach to lower cost phones.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52: Specs compared
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Samsung Galaxy A53
|Samsung Galaxy A52
|6.5-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
|6.5-inch AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
|Yes, up to 1 TB
|Yes, up to 1 TB
|64MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4), 5MP depth (f/2.4)
|64MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.2), 5MP depth sensor (f/2.2)
|Battery life (Hrs:Mins)
|9:49 (120Hz), 10:38 (60Hz)
|12:19 (60Hz), 10:19 (120Hz)
|Water resistance rating
|6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
|6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52: All the differences
The specs chart above reveals few changes from the Galaxy A52 to this year's A53. But the differences that do exist between the two phones are pretty noteworthy.
Price: Last year, the Galaxy A52 debuted at $499. At the time, that was a pretty attractive price, since the best 5G phones normally commanded higher prices. The A52 represented one of the first chances to get a 5G phone from Samsung that still boasted some pretty solid features. (The Galaxy A32 5G cost even less, but the compromises there were more pronounced.)
The Galaxy A53 continues that tradition, but sweetens the deal even further. It costs $449 — a $50 drop from the A52 starting price.
We don't think the $449 price for the A53 is any accident. It's also what Google charges for the Pixel 5a, and that's one of the best cheap phones out there under $500. Assuming the upcoming Pixel 6a costs the same, it looks like Samsung wants its midrange phone to go toe-to-toe with the best discount device that Google has to offer.
Processor: The Samsung Galaxy A52 runs on a Snapdragon 750G system-on-chip — a capable piece of silicon that you'll find in a lot of midrange phones from 2021. For the Galaxy A53, Samsung is turning to its own Exynos 1280 chipset, and the result should be a modest bump in performance.
Our benchmarks produced a mixed bag. The Galaxy A53 had a better single-core score in Geekbench 5 compared to the Galaxy A52 (745 vs. 645), but the older phone's multicore score of 1,903 just topped the A53's 1,888 result. in graphics testing, the Galaxy A53 is the clear champ, doubling the frame rates that the A52 yielded in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test (13.6 frames per second vs. 6.6). In our real-world test in which we transcode a video using Adobe Premiere Rush, the Galaxy A52 beat out the newer model by 6 seconds.
Put another way, the Galaxy A53 is faster at some tasks than its predecessor, though not so much that you'd notice it were you switch between the two phones.
Battery size: Samsung went with a bigger battery for the Galaxy A53, opting for a 5,000 mAh cell instead of the 4,500 mAh power pack in the Galaxy A52. Unfortunately, that didn't translate to longer battery life in our testing.
The Galaxy A53 held out for 9 hours and 49 minutes on our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web over 5G until they run out of power. That's about what the average smartphone can do. Turning off the A53's 120Hz refresh rate improved the time to 10 hours and 38 minutes.
That still lagged behind what the Galaxy A52 can do. When we tested that phone, it lasted 10 hours and 19 minutes in 120Hz mode; turning off that feature improved battery life by 2 hours. That might suggest the Exynos 1280 in the Galaxy A53 isn't as power efficient as the Snapdragon 750G.
No headphone jack: The Galaxy A53 and Galaxy A52 are essentially the same size — the new models is millimeters thinner, if you want to break out the calipers. But there is one big difference in the design of the two phones — you won't find a headphone jack on the Galaxy A53.
It's not a surprise, as a growing number of phones don't feature the 3.5mm audio jack. But since Samsung did include one on the Galaxy A52, it's one feature you'll miss on the newer model.
Software updates: When the Galaxy A52 debuted last year, Samsung promised three years of software updates and an additional year of security updates. While that's not as thorough as what Apple provides iPhone owners, it's generous by the standards of Android device makers.
But Samsung has gotten more generous about software updates in the year since the Galaxy A52's arrival. The Galaxy A53 joins the ranks of the Samsung devices, including its Galaxy S flagships and Galaxy Z foldables, in getting four years of software updates plus a fifth year of security updates. From what we can see, last year's Galaxy A models aren't included in that, like the Galaxy S21 models are. So your Galaxy A53 is going to be a relevant device even longer than the A52 will be.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52: What's the same
Other aspect of the Galaxy A53 remain unchanged from last year's A52 model. Both phones feature 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage; a microSD card allowing you to add up to 1TB of storage remains on the A53. The devices both support 25W charging speeds, and they come with an IP67 water resistance rating.
We mentioned already that the Galaxy A53 and A52 are essentially the same size and weight. Both models come in black, though outside of North America, there were other color options for the Galaxy A52.
On paper, the displays are the same between the two phones. You get a 6.5-inch AMOLED panel with FHD resolution. Both phones are capable of supporting 120Hz refresh rates, though you have to manually toggle between 60Hz and 120Hz — you want an adaptive refresh rate, you pay up for a Galaxy S model, friend.
We did notice a few minor display differences when we tested the Galaxy A53 recently. The Galaxy A52 had a slightly brighter screen — 708 nits to 693 nits with adaptive brightness turned on. The A52 also captured a little more of the sRGB color spectrum (128.1% vs. 122.6% in natural mode) With a Delta-E rating of 0.22, the Galaxy A52 depicts those colors more accurately than the A53 and its 0.31 Delta-E score. (The closer to zero, the more accurate the colors.) It's doubtful most of these differences would be visible to the naked eye, though.
The cameras on the Galaxy A53 are identical to the ones on the Galaxy A52, right down to number of lenses and the apertures on each lens. Neither phone has a telephoto lens, as that's a feature Samsung reserves for the Galaxy S lineup.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52: Outlook
If you have a Galaxy A52 from last year, you're unlikely to want to upgrade to the newer model. You're not buying a midrange phone to change things up every year, and the few differences that are there, aren't significant enough to make an upgrade necessary. If anything, the Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A52 changes just illustrate the incremental improvements you can expect from Samsung's midrange phones year over year.
It's owners of older devices that will find the Galaxy A53 changes worth their while — especially anyone considering an upgrade to one of Google's Pixel A phones. That's the device Samsung truly wants to take on with the Galaxy A53.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.