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If Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S23 phones are out of your budget, the company has a more affordable option in the Galaxy A54.
The A54 is a mid-range smartphone that combines the top-end features of some of the best Android phones with a low starting price of $450. It has the look of the premium S23 phones, a 120Hz-capable display, a three-lens camera system, and exceptional battery life.
But there are reminders that you get what you pay for. You’ll notice some hesitation when running apps, and the camera will do its job, but it’s not the best. For many who just want an affordable phone that works well enough, however, the A54 is worth a look.
What doesn’t work
The A54’s battery outperforms many flagship Android phones
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 had a 65% charge remaining after our battery stress test.
That’s an excellent score for a phone with a 6.4-inch screen, especially one running at 120Hz. It handily outperforms premium phones with smaller 6.1-inch displays, like Samsung’s Galaxy S23 with its 56% result. Surprisingly, it nearly matches or beats phones with similar and larger screens, too, like the Google Pixel 7 (6.3 inches, 60%), Galaxy S23 Plus (6.6 inches, 67%), and even the gargantuan Galaxy S23 Ultra (6.8 inches, 61%).
The Galaxy A54 is capable of charging up to 25W, which is fast for a mid-range phone — Samsung’s Galaxy S23 also has 25W charging speeds. Samsung doesn’t include a charger, so you’ll need to buy your own if you don’t already have one.
Solid performance for general, everyday use, with some stuttering
Samsung uses its Exynos 1380 mobile processor for its mid-range phones. It delivers solid performance, running apps smoothly, but there is occasional hesitation and stuttering, especially while opening apps.
In our Geekbench 6 and 3DMark benchmark testing, the Exynos 1380 scored significantly lower than processors used in premium phones, such as Qualcomm’s high-end version of the Snapdragon chipset and Google’s Tensor, but it provides the performance we would expect from phones in this price range — plenty for YouTube videos, casual games, checking email, surfing the web, and other general tasks.
The A54 should have lasting power for two to three years, but those occasional stutters will become more pronounced down the road, which would be an issue for those who don’t upgrade as often.
An impressive display that’s held back by the processor
The Galaxy A54’s 6.4-inch screen is a nice middle-ground between small 6.1-inch and large 6.7-inch screens — apps and content are bigger while keeping icons and on-screen items within reach of your thumbs.
Continuing its premium-on-a-budget offering, the A54’s display uses an OLED panel with a refresh rate that can be set to 120Hz. It has a max resolution of 1080p, and while that’s shy of the 1440p or 4K resolution found in flagship models, the sharp output is ideal for this screen size. Plus, it saves on battery life.
Performance at 120Hz is smooth, but there are occasional stutters while swiping quickly and opening apps — another example of the Exynos 1380 processor’s weak points.
You can adjust the setting to 60Hz, which is what you’d normally find in a mid-range phone like this. However, in our testing we didn’t find this to improve performance, and it didn’t feel like the Galaxy A54 was optimized to run its screen at 60Hz. Animations become significantly less smooth with no positive effect on performance, and the display was less responsive when tapping and swiping around.
The A54 would have benefitted from a 90Hz option, which we believe would have offered better performance without taxing the processor.
A camera system with mixed results and one questionable lens
The Galaxy A54 has a triple-lens camera system, including a 50-megapixel (MP) main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro cameras, and it can deliver good results, like the example below.
However, it can often deliver mediocre photo quality. I find that the Galaxy A54 can try too hard to produce a pleasing photo by overly processing it with boosted colors, especially with the color green. It’s a common issue with Samsung phones.
Details in bright areas also fall victim to the Galaxy A54’s over-processing, as the phone can overexpose photos for the sake of a brighter, more pleasing result. In the photo below, it seems to totally disregard the details in this cat’s white fur, for example.
It also tries to liven up a naturally gloomy-looking photo by boosting overall brightness and brightening darker spots, which creates a flat-looking photo.
Macro cameras are meant to let you take super-up-close macro shots of a subject like rain drops on a leaf or pollen on a flower petal, which might be something you’re actively looking for. Still, macro shots are ultimately a niche feature, as premium phones generally don’t come with macro cameras.
And at 5MP, the A54’s macro camera isn’t especially sharp or impressive. I would have preferred if Samsung had shifted the resources for it into better main and ultrawide cameras, or a zoom lens.
Flagship styling with lesser-quality parts
The Galaxy A54 mimics the clean design of the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus, including a glass front and back that are commonly found in flagship phones. The three rear camera lenses are understated, each protruding like individual islands rather than a big module that bumps out.
The frame is made of plastic instead of metal, and the black borders surrounding the display are thick — aspects that are expected in a mid-range phone. Despite the plastic frame, the A54’s 7.13-ounce weight is heavier than either the metal-clad S23 and S23 Plus, but it’s still perfectly acceptable and comfortable in the hand.
Though we didn’t drop-test the phone, we expect that the A54’s plastic frame would be more susceptible to damage than the metal frames on premium phones and on some mid-range phones like the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7a. We recommend using a good case for extra protection.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A54?
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 has impressive battery life and a display on par with many flagship phones, though its spotty camera quality and occasionally hesitant performance make it clear you’re not getting a flagship phone like the Galaxy S23.
To be sure, the Galaxy A54 starts at $450 and costs almost half as much as the Galaxy S23, which starts at $800, so the compromises are understandable, and its shortcomings are excusable if you’re set on spending under $500 on a phone.
Still, Google’s mid-range Pixel 7a, which starts at $500, doesn’t suffer from the A54’s deficiencies. The extra $50 Google demands for the Pixel 7a is well worth it for a phone that, overall, simply delivers a better experience than the A54 when it comes to performance and camera quality.
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