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Samsung Galaxy A53 could steal new iPhone SE's thunder — here's why

a leaked image of the Samsung Galaxy A53
(Image credit: EVLeaks)

Samsung executives will take to the virtual stage today (March 17) for their third phone launch of 2022. And it's safe to say that buzz surrounding this latest event isn't quite at the same level for Samsung's previous phone rollout.

Part of that is due to the nature of the different phones Samsung is announcing. At the last Galaxy Unpacked event in February, the phone giant showed off the Galaxy S22 lineup, ushering in its biggest flagship phones of the year. For today's event — which you can follow on our Samsung Galaxy A event live blog — Samsung has already confirmed that it will take the wraps off the latest Galaxy A models, the company's midrange handsets.

Midrange phones typically feature pared-down specs, scaled-back features and noticeably lower prices than their flagship counterparts. As a result, they typically don't generate the kind of attention a flagship device might. Consider the Galaxy S22, which arrived after months of an every quickening drumbeat of rumors and leaks. There have been some leaked specs for Samsung's upcoming Galaxy A models, but nothing like the sheer volume of details that a Galaxy S launch unleashes.

It's understandable, certainly, but it would be a mistake to not pay attention to the Samsung Galaxy A53 or whatever other rumored midrange phone Samsung shows off on Thursday. After all, if history is any guide, the Galaxy A phones Samsung reveals could wind up being the most widely used handsets produced by the company all year.

Look at the list of top-selling smartphones from around the globe in 2021, according to the numbers compiled by Counterpoint Research. The highest-ranking Samsung device on that list wasn't the Galaxy S21 or any of the company's foldable devices — it was the decidedly more modest Galaxy A12. Galaxy A models took four spots in GSMAreana's top 10 most searched-for devices list last year. We even include a few Galaxy A models like the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A32 among our best Samsung phones list.

So a Galaxy A midrange phone may not be the model on most people's minds, but it does wind up in a lot of their pockets. Here's why.

The appeal of Galaxy A phones isn't a complete mystery. Samsung charges very little for these devices, especially relative to its Galaxy S lineup where prices start at $799. (You can get the Galaxy S21 FE for $699, but that phone features an older system-on-chip.) The Galaxy A52 debuted last year at $499 while the Galaxy A32 was even more affordable at $279. Because both of those phones included 5G compatibility, it meant that buying one of the best 5G phones no longer put a severe dent in your wallet.

5G compatibility hasn't been the only way the Galaxy A phones have tilted the features-to-price ratio. Galaxy A phones feature multiple rear cameras, even if you don't get a telephoto lens on most models, and the Galaxy A32 and Galaxy A52 both proved to have better-than-average battery life results in our testing. (Even better than that, in the case of the Galaxy A32, which is on our best phone battery life list.) You also could enjoy fast-refreshing displays, with a refresh rate of 120Hz on the Galaxy A52. The iPhone 13, which costs, $300 more, doesn't even offer that.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review

Galaxy A52 cameras (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You make some sacrifices for the lower price. Forget about the top-of-the-line silicon that powers Samsung's flagship phones, and as we noted, you're unlikely to find a telephoto lens on the successors to devices like the Galaxy A52 and A32. The phones also look every bit the midrange models Samsung markets them as, especially when compared with the more stylish-looking Galaxy S22 models. Still, these aren't likely to be things you'll miss when there's a chance to save hundreds of dollars on your next smartphone.

How Samsung can keep the momentum going with the Galaxy A53

While Samsung has said to expect new Galaxy A phones — the March 17 launch is officially called the Awesome Galaxy A event, after all — we can only guess as to what specific models are going to debut during Samsung's live stream. Rumors seems to suggest the Galaxy A33 and Galaxy A53 are likely to appear, and the Galaxy A73 may be on the agenda, too.

The Galaxy A53 is particularly interesting because the $499 price of its predecessor invites comparisons to the $449 Google Pixel 5a and $429 iPhone SE (2022). Apple's phone hits stores a day after the Samsung event, and based on rumors about Samsung's phone plans, the Galaxy A53 could offer features that are noticeably missing from the iPhone SE.

Most notably, Samsung's new phone is likely to have four rear cameras, at least if the Galaxy A53 is anything like last year's A52. None of those cameras will be a dedicated telephoto lens, but four different cameras and sensors is still three more than the iPhone SE offers. You'd also expect a Night mode on the Galaxy A53, something inexplicably missing from the iPhone SE (2022).

Renders of Samsung Galaxy A53

(Image credit: OnLeaks / Digit.it)

What's more, the Galaxy A52 featured an OLED display that refreshed at 120Hz, a feature that's likely to return in any Galaxy A53 model. Apple still uses an LCD panel on the iPhone SE, and like any phone that's not an iPhone 13 Pro model, the SE's refresh rate is fixed at 60Hz. 

There's also the matter of battery life. The Galaxy A52 lasted a better-than-average 10 hours and 19 minutes on our battery test with its 120Hz refresh rate enabled. That topped the iPhone SE's time of 9 hours and 5 minutes. With rumors suggesting a bigger battery for the Galaxy A53, chances are that gap will grow.

The iPhone SE has other factors going for it, not the least of which is its powerful A15 processor and its lower price tag. But the rumored Galaxy A53 presents enough rumored improvements to give the iPhone SE a lot of competition, particularly among Samsung fans who like the A Series and its low prices.

Samsung Galaxy A phone launch outlook

We'll get a fuller picture of how Samsung's new Galaxy A phones compare to the best cheap phones just as soon as Samsung announces its new handsets and we get a chance to test them. Earlier rumors are encouraging, though, that this year's crop of Galaxy A models should be every bit as interesting as the midrange phones Samsung has put out in the past.

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.