The Samsung Galaxy A54 is the most impressive Samsung phone I’ve reviewed to date.
Priced competitively below budget phones that it closely rivals, being the iPhone SE 5G and the Google Pixel 6a, and likely to be priced below the upcoming Pixel 7a, the Samsung Galaxy A54 compounds the best of Samsung’s flagship offering into a solid affordable phone, continuing the legacy of the Galaxy A53.
The only glaring problem I have with the Samsung Galaxy A54 is the name. With its closest competitors, it’s easy to identify which phones are the premium budget offerings – Google does this with an ‘a’ suffix and Apple does this with the ‘SE’ suffix, but with Samsung, the ‘A’ series is its own category of budget phones. Alongside the A54 are its less powerful alternatives, the A14 and the A34.
Samsung’s doing itself a disservice by marketing the best of the A range with convoluted numbers. I love that the A range exists, but it’s difficult to tell which phone offers performance best on par with the S series for budget-minded buyers: the A14, the A34, the A54, and many other phones in the series. One might argue the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE fills this gap, but it’s priced well above other budget devices.
The advantage of having this as its own category, however, is that customers get to choose which price point they want to buy at.
But we’re going off track here. Let’s talk about the Samsung Galaxy A54.
A new budget king emerges
Normally we’d leave discussing the price point to the end of the article, but I think it’s crucial to bring up here. At $699, the Samsung Galaxy A54 is priced below the iPhone SE 5G and the Google Pixel 6a – its two closest rivals I argued already.
And this immediately makes it an attractive device, especially if you’re shopping in the sub-$1,000 range. Moreso, it’s difficult to say that there’s much of a performance sacrifice with the lower price. Earlier in April, I directly compared the Galaxy A54 with the Pixel 6a and iPhone SE 5G, and it did quite well against the two devices. Though camera performance left something to be desired (more below), casual use and phone feeling directly rivalled the Pixel 6a, a phone that I used for quite some time last year.
As an Android user who made the switch last year to a Google Pixel 7 Pro from an iPhone 13 Mini, I’ve long been a bit finicky about Samsung. My experiences with Samsung’s phones in the past have been quite lukewarm – the S20 FE 5G didn’t impress me much over similarly priced phones, and the A72 felt quite cheap, despite its price.
But, the Galaxy A54 is different. This time around, the device genuinely feels like a premium (albeit nerfed) phone, aesthetically similar to the S23, though trading size and performance for savings. During the time that I used the A54, I hardly missed using my Pixel 7 Pro.
Most of my time was spent playing games like League of Legends: Wild Rift and Call of Duty: Mobile, although I did spend some time watching things on Disney+ and scrolling through social media – and at no point did I feel let down by its performance, beyond when multiple apps would be opened concurrently in the background, as you can expect with a phone with less RAM and processing power.
Speaking of, let’s talk specs.
Budget insides, premium outsides
At half the price of the Samsung Galaxy S23, it’s reasonable to expect slashed hardware performance, but I’d argue that it’s never a casually observable problem. Perhaps if you were regularly doing high-performance things, like professional photography, graphically intensive gaming or constant media streaming you’d notice some performance disadvantages, but as with the Pixel 6a, you’re never at too much of a loss.
To help alleviate budget phone woes, the phone comes with a 1080 x 2340 pixel AMOLED screen (as opposed to the Galaxy S23’s Dynamic AMOLED 2x display), operating at an impressive 120hz. It’s IP67 rated with 128GB storage capacity and 6GB RAM (the Galaxy S23 comes with 8GB RAM).
The phone also comes with an Exynos 1380 CPU, Mali-G68 MP5 GPU and a 5,000mAh battery. Just quickly, but that battery was also quite impressive. In our battery test, where we pit the phone against Avengers Endgame, streaming from Disney+ over Wi-Fi, the phone dropped to 90 per cent in the first hour,
Additionally, the triple camera array includes a 50MP (wide) lens, a 12MP (ultrawide) lens and a 5MP (Macro) lens, along with a 32MP selfie camera.
The phone comes in Graphite and Violet, with a chassis identical to the Galaxy S23 series.
All over, I’m impressed with the specs on offer with the Galaxy A54. At the display level, the phone feels premium enough to keep up with its more powerful relatives in the Galaxy S division. It genuinely feels like this phone should be part of the Galaxy S series in the same way that the ‘a’ suffix bundles a premium phone in with the Pixel range.
Photos with (artificial) pop
We’ve already compared the photos of the Samsung Galaxy A54 directly against the Pixel 6a and the iPhone SE 5G, but we’ll retread the topic for this article. Unfortunately, it was with photos that I was most disappointed with the Samsung Galaxy A54. Photo colouring appeared more natural on Pixel 6a, and I was disappointed in how the Galaxy A54 artificially enhanced images out of the box (though you can tinker with the settings to change this).
To kick things off, here’s how each phone snaps a standard wide shot. The Pixel 6a produced a much more true-to-life shot, while the iPhone SE 5G was more embracing of darker colours, and the Galaxy A54 edited light into the shot quite heavily.
Here’s a macro shot comparison. Again, the Galaxy A54 is editing the shot’s colour quite heavily, while the Pixel 6a picks up much greater macro detail.
And another macro shot comparison with greater colour variation. Similar results to the above.
Here’s how each phone fares when zoomed into an object at the maximum possible zoom (standing one metre away).
And here’s a selfie test. Notice how artificially the Galaxy A54 raises the temperature of the photo. Regardless, the Pixel 6a appears to have picked up on the least detail of my face compared to the other phones. Also, yes, that’s a birthmark on my eye.
Let’s test zoom out with a landscape shot from each phone. Starting with the Galaxy A54.
Now the Pixel 6a.
And now the iPhone SE 5G.
Overall, the Pixel 6a appeared to be the strongest contender, but the Galaxy A54’s snaps weren’t terrible – just a bit more artificially coloured than I would have liked.
You should probably consider the Samsung Galaxy A54
The Galaxy A54 represents the best of Samsung – so much so that I believe it should be given the ‘S’ prefix going forward (or perhaps renamed ‘S23a’). This phone strips away high-performance extras on offer with the Samsung Galaxy S23 and brings the device down to an accessible price point.
If you’re shopping below $1,000, you must consider purchasing the Samsung Galaxy A54. While I wouldn’t say that it’s my favourite Android phone at the moment (at the moment, I’m very impressed with the Google Pixel range), it’s definitely a worthwhile contender.