A big Samsung phone launch is coming, and if you're in the market for one of the best Android phones around, you're going to want to pay attention. Outside of Apple, Samsung's the biggest phone maker out there, and it's reportedly prepping a device that's going to appeal to folks looking for maximum value out of their next handset.
The Samsung Galaxy S23? Yes, I suppose the launch of Samsung's next flagship phone this coming week is a pretty big deal. But I had a different phone in mind — specifically, Samsung's next Galaxy A phones.
Look, I'm not a madman. I know perfectly well that Samsung's Galaxy S phones are regular contenders for the title of best phone overall, and that the Galaxy S23 models should be no exception. But don't sleep on Samsung's Galaxy A series of midrange devices. For the past couple of years, Samsung has produced some very impressive phones that do a good job incorporating high-end features at a reasonable price. If the Galaxy S devices are the best Samsung phones you can buy, their Galaxy A counterparts are perennial contenders for the best cheap phone overall.
The spotlight is deservedly on Samsung's plans for the Galaxy S23 as the February 1 Galaxy Unpacked event draws closers. (Check out our guide on how to watch Galaxy Unpacked online if you want the first official looks at products like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.) But there's a future product launch just behind that which will show us Samsung's latest attempt at more affordable midrange phones. If you need a phone but balk at paying flagship prices, that's the Samsung event you need to pay attention to.
Galaxy A phones 2023: What to expect
We've got a pretty good idea as to the Galaxy S23 release date. Assuming Samsung announces the phone at the Unpacked event this coming Wednesday — and that's all but certain at this point — we should see the phones hit retail shelves by mid-February, assuming Samsung sticks to its usual release schedule for flagship phones. Right now, you can even reserve a place for your Galaxy S23 preorder.
But it won't be long after the dust settles on the Galaxy S23 launch announcement before Samsung starts eyeing another launch event. In the past, the electronics giant has used Mobile World Congress to show off new devices, and this year's edition kicks off in Barcelona on February 26. If Samsung has midrange phones in the works, that's as good a place as any to show them off.
At least one leaker thinks Samsung will take a different path. Evan Blass, who's pretty reliable when it comes to unannounced Samsung moves, says that another Unpacked event is in the works for March 30. If there is an event in March, that's where Samsung could introduce its new Galaxy A phones, thought to be the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34.
The Galaxy A54 should be of particular interest to U.S. smartphone buyers, as it would be the successor to the well-received Galaxy A53. For this year's phone, leaked renders indicate that Samsung is adopting a more Galaxy S-like design for both the A54 and A34, with a vertical column of cameras stacked up on the backside of the device instead of gathered in a separate square camera array.
As for other Galaxy A54 features, the upcoming phone is rumored to be powered by an Exynos 1380 chipset while offering a 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide shooter along with some sort of dedicated sensor. For the most part, it sounds like a modest upgrade from the Galaxy A53.
But killer specs aren't the reason to consider a Galaxy A phone — price is. And so long as the Galaxy A54 remains in the vicinity of the Galaxy A53's original $449/£399 starting price, it will be a device that demands your attention.
Why get the Galaxy A54 instead of the Galaxy S23
So now that you know a little bit about what Samsung's reportedly planning for the Galaxy A54, why consider that phone over the flashier Galaxy S23? The truth is, if you demand your phone have the latest and greatest in hardware, you probably shouldn't.
The Galaxy S23 will feature a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 system-on-chip, after all, and there's unlikely to be any silicon inside an Android phone this year that will compete with that — certainly not the more modest Exynos 1380. Even if you don't opt for the super-expensive Galaxy S23 Ultra and its rumored 200MP camera, grabbing another S23 model likely means a top camera phone with improved night photography features.
The trouble with all those capabilities is they drive up the cost of a phone. The Galaxy S23 is likely to start at $799 — and that's assuming Samsung doesn't raise prices, which is certainly being rumored in some parts of the world like Australia and Europe. At the end of the day, $800 (or more) is a lot to pay for a phone.
You don't have to make that concession with the Galaxy A series. For more than $200 less, you get a very capable phone that performs most tasks without a hitch and takes solid if unspectacular photos. You're not even getting shortchanged on software updates, as Samsung takes the same four years of Android updates and five years of security atches available to Galaxy S phones and extends it to high-end Galaxy A devices.
With this year's Galaxy A models apparently getting a redesign to make them look more flagship-like, you're not even sacrificing looks for a lower price tag anymore. Even with the scaled-down specs, that's a hard package to beat.
Galaxy A54 outlook
Many people flock to flagships, and for good reason — they feature the latest and greatest technology, giving you plenty of value for your dollar. We'll have to test the Galaxy S23 to see how much value Samsung delivers, but you'd expect a strong showing based on the phone maker's track record.
But the Galaxy A series has delivered plenty of value in recent years, too. If you're watching your budget these days, it may be worth sitting tight after next week's Galaxy S23 debut to see what other phones Samsung has in store. The answer may wind up being more suited to your needs than yet another high-priced flagship.
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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.