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iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Which budget phone should you buy?

A split image showing the iPhone SE 2022 and Samsung Galaxy A53
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 comparison is just what you need if you're in the market for a phone for under $500. Both of these handsets launched within weeks of each other, which seems appropriate given they are natural rivals.

The iPhone SE 2022 and Galaxy A53 are vying to be among the best cheap phones by offering a more affordable version of Apple and Samsung's more premium devices. And they manage to squeeze in plenty of desirable features while also cutting some out.

Apple and Samsung clearly have different priorities though. The iPhone SE uses an older and smaller design but packs its most powerful A15 Bionic chip. Meanwhile, the Galaxy A53 offers a larger display with faster refresh rate along with multiple rear cameras, but it has a lower-end chip.

If you've got around $450 to spend, then let us take you through the specs and features of both of these phones. Hopefully by the end of this iPhone SE 2022 vs. Samsung Galaxy A53 matchup you'll know which budget phone to buy. 

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 specs

iPhone SE 2022Galaxy A53
Starting price$429$449
Display4.7-inch LCD (1344 x 750)6.5-inch FHD AMOLED
Refresh rate60Hz120Hz
Rear cameras12MP main64MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth
Front camera7MP32MP
ChipsetA15 BionicExynos 1280
RAM4GB6GB
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB128GB
BatteryTBD5,000 mAh
Charging20W wired, 10W wireless25W wired
SoftwareiOS 15Android 12 with One UI 4.1
Size5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches6.28 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches
Weight5 ounces6.7 ounces
ColorsMidnight, Starlight, (PRODUCT)REDAwesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Peach, Awesome Blue

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Price and availability

The iPhone SE is Apple's cheapest new iPhone, and sells for $429, while the Galaxy A53 is $449, somewhere around the middle of Samsung's much larger family of smartphones. The $20 difference probably isn't enough on its own to direct you to the iPhone, especially when you consider what you get for the extra money of the A53, as we'll cover below.

The iPhone SE can be bought right now from your preferred mobile carrier, since it launched earlier this month. The Galaxy A53 is currently available for pre-order, and will go on open sale on April 1.

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 design

iPhone SE 2022 back of phone

(Image credit: Future)

We have two very different design aims with these two phones. The iPhone SE is a throwback to an older style of phone, with thick bezels and a physical home button. However, it still offers a premium touch with its glass back and stylish black, white and red color options.

The Samsung Galaxy A53

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy A53 looks more modern. It's got a full-screen design with a punch-hole camera and fairly narrow bezels around the display. On the other hand, the plastic back makes it feel cheaper than the iPhone. Samsung gives you more color options, including black, white, peach and blue.

The other big design difference between the iPhone SE 2022 and the Galaxy A53 is size and weight. The iPhone SE has a small 4.7-inch display, so its 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29-inch body is easy to use with one hand and is also quite light at 5 ounces. The Galaxy A53 is more of a two-handed device, measuring 6.28 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches and weighing 6.7 ounces. 

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 display

Apple's kept the iPhone SE's LCD display at a tiny 4.7 inches, with a resolution slightly above HD quality and a basic 60Hz refresh rate. It's surprisingly good for what it is, but it doesn't match up to the A53's screen.

iPhone SE 2022 display outside in sunlight

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung phone has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with FHD resolution and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. It's superior in every way on paper, with about the only reason to go for the iPhone's display being its more compact size.

The Samsung Galaxy A53

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 cameras 

Going over the iPhone SE's cameras doesn't take long. There's a 12MP camera on the back, and a 7MP shooter on the front. But Apple has included a number of computational photography upgrades, including Smart HDR 4, Deep Fusion for better detail and Photographic Styles for taking more control over the look of your pics. 

iPhone SE 2022 back of phone against stone

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy phone features four rear sensors. There's the 64MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, a 5MP macro camera and a 5MP depth camera. Those last three sensors will make the Galaxy A53 much more effective at taking wide, close-up and portrait mode shots. Finally, there's a front 32MP camera.

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Galaxy A33 backs of phones

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It's not guaranteed that the A53 will take the better shots, since Apple's photography processing software is fantastic. But you'll at least have more versatility with the camera array on the Samsung. Plus, only the Galaxy A53 includes a Night mode. 

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 performance

Here's one area where the iPhone SE is all but guaranteed to win. It's equipped with the A15 Bionic chipset that Apple introduced with the iPhone 13 series, which outperforms even the most powerful Android phones. Even with a small-sounding 4GB of RAM, it likely won't be challenged by the middle-of-the-road chip in the Galaxy A53.

The A53's new Exynos 1280 silicon is an improvement on the A52's Snapdragon 720 chip, with Samsung focusing on its boosted NPU abilities. It comes with 6GB RAM, but you can increase that using the RAM Plus mode that reserves some storage memory room for use as spare RAM.

There are three storage options available on the SE. The default is 64GB, but you can get 128GB or 256GB. There's a single 128GB version of the A53, but it has a trick up its sleeve in the form of optional microSD card. You can add up to another 1TB of storage space if you insert a big enough card.

Both of these phones support 5G, to give you the fastest data speeds available right now. Unfortunately, there's no mmWave support on the iPhone SE, meaning you won't get the best speeds on offer in the U.S. We don't yet know what the A53 offers for the U.S. for 5G support. 

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 battery and charging

The battery in the iPhone SE hasn't been officially announced, but it's likely quite small compared to the Galaxy A53's 5,000 mAh. Apple is great at making its phones run efficiently though, so we'll have to wait for a full battery life comparison before declaring a winner.

As for charging, the iPhone SE can charge at up to 20W, which gets it up to 61% full in half an hour. The Galaxy A53 can charge slightly faster at 25W though, although it only gets to 50% in half an hour due to its larger battery.

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 software

No surprises here, but the iPhone SE runs on iOS 15, the latest mobile software version from Apple. The Galaxy uses Android 12 with Samsung's One UI 4.

Both operating systems have various similar and unique features, but the most important thing to consider is how long you'll get software support for. Samsung is promising four years of OS updated for the A53 and an additional year of security updates after that, which is pretty generous for an Android phone.

Apple's not confirmed how long it will support the iPhone SE for, but given it's currently supporting iPhones on average for five years or more before halting updates, it'll likely last just as long, if not longer, than the Samsung.

iPhone SE 2022 vs Samsung Galaxy A53 outlook

iPhone SE 2022 in front of fountain

(Image credit: Future)

It's impossible to give a final judgement without having performed a review of the Galaxy A53, but it looks like Samsung is offering a much better value proposition than the iPhone SE in terms of hardware. You get a larger display, battery and storage — plus more cameras — all in return for just $20 more over the iPhone SE price.

The Samsung Galaxy A53

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone SE still has a chance at winning this comparison overall, though. Its smaller frame and iOS-specific features may be to some users' preference, plus it's likely going to be the more powerful of the two phones. And while it has fewer cameras than the Galaxy, Apple's photography  is still good enough for it to possibly win a photo face-off overall.

Stay tuned for our full review and update to this face-off. 

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.