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Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
What we like
What we don't like
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
It’s become almost cliche to declare that the gap between cheap phones and their flagship counterparts is shrinking. It’s also true, especially in the hyper-competitive, sub-$500 mid-range market. Google’s Pixel 6a and newer Pixel 7a pack the Tensor chip with its brilliant image processing and AI smarts, and Apple’s iPhone SE (2022) carries the ridiculously powerful A15 Bionic chipset — even if it’s trapped in the body of an iPhone 8. Samsung, however, kept its Galaxy A50 series distinct from its premium Galaxy S series for the last few years, relying on varying designs and camera setups to entice buyers. Not anymore. The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G looks and feels like a budget-friendly Galaxy S23, and in doing so becomes the de facto replacement for two generations of missing Galaxy S Fan Editions. But what sacrifices did it have to make to get there? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy A54 5G review.
Update, August 2023: We’ve updated our Samsung Galaxy A54 5G review because Samsung decided that people do, in fact, need the Galaxy S23 FE, among other alternatives.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G review: What you need to know
- Samsung Galaxy A54 5G (6GB/128GB): $449 / £449 / €489
- Samsung Galaxy A54 5G (8GB/256GB): £499 / €539
Samsung announced its latest entry into the mid-range space, the Galaxy A54 5G, on March 15, 2023. It follows the popular Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, bringing several of the same specs and a completely revamped design. Much like the entry-level Galaxy A14 5G, the Galaxy A54 5G has been refreshed to look almost exactly like the Galaxy S23.
It skips the flagship’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and Armor Aluminum to keep costs low, instead sporting Gorilla Glass 5 for the front and back and a plastic frame, but at a glance, the Galaxy A54 5G could easily be mistaken for its high-end sibling. It packs a brilliant 6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and crisp Full HD+ resolution. The slightly rounded side rails and flat front and back panels could have been lifted straight from the flagship, too. Most of the Galaxy A54 5G’s buttons and ports take up familiar places; the volume rocker and power button are on the right side, while a single down-firing speaker accompanies the USB-C port. This time, however, the SIM tray sits along the top of the device, leaving it with a completely smooth left edge.
Inside Samsung’s glass and plastic shell, you’ll find the in-house Exynos 1380 chipset keeping the lights on. It’s backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage in the US, though other configurations are available in different regions. Regardless of the model, the Galaxy A54 5G comes equipped with a 5,000mAh battery and 25W wired charging, though wireless charging still isn’t an option despite the glass back. There’s no charger in the box, so check out our list of the best chargers for the Galaxy A54 5G if you need a new one. The only other notable upgrades over the A53 5G are the addition of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 support.
Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G gets an all-new look but brings back several battle-tested features.
Our Samsung Galaxy A54 5G arrived with Android 13 and One UI right out of the box and the March 1, 2023 security patch. It’s backed up by Samsung’s generous update commitment, pairing four years of Android version support with five years of security coverage to take the mid-ranger into 2028. That’s the best update policy you’ll get from any Android brand, except for the Google Pixel 8 series.
As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G keeps things pretty light in terms of packaging, skipping the charger but holding onto the USB-C cable. You’ll also get a SIM ejector tool and some essential paperwork to get you started.
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 5G is available either unlocked or through a carrier, with pricing starting at $449 — the same as the Galaxy A53 5G. If you’re buying directly from Samsung, you can trade a current device for up to $250 in credit. On the other hand, you might be able to save even more money when buying from a carrier, as long as you don’t mind a long-term plan commitment. It comes in Awesome Graphite and Awesome Violet in the US, though it’s also available in Awesome White and Awesome Lime in other markets.
What I like about the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
We heaped plenty of praise on the Galaxy S23 series for its revamped style and materials, and it’s good to see the Galaxy A lineup following suit. No, the materials aren’t as high-end, but adopting Gorilla Glass 5 for both the front and back of the Galaxy A54 5G is progress enough. It feels more premium than the plastic-backed Galaxy A53 5G, and the slightly rounded edges sink comfortably into the hand, though you’ll still very likely want to cover it with a case. The Galaxy A54 5G’s colorful finishes — I tested the Awesome Violet version — are fun, too. They offer a nice contrast from the increasingly grown-up shades of the flagship lineup. The Galaxy A54 5G has an IP67 rating, too, so you don’t have to sweat the occasional splash — or worse.
More important than the redesigned back and slimmed-down camera setup, however, is the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G’s Super AMOLED display. It’s easily the star of the show, picking up a little extra brightness over the previous panel and pairing it with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The 6.4-inch display isn’t as bright as Samsung’s flagships, but it falls into a comfortable size between the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 and the larger Galaxy S23 Plus.
It’s been a few busy months testing phones, and the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G picked up right where the last one left off, becoming my outdoor yoga companion and go-to speaker system while I cooked in my apartment. It had no problems displaying crisp, clear workout instructions, nor did it struggle to stay bright enough for me to read directions and flip recipe tabs with messy hands. I mentioned the Galaxy A54 5G’s speakers, which are pretty excellent as far as $449 smartphones go. I caught up on HBO’s Last Week Tonight while cleaning around my apartment and had no problems hearing John Oliver’s delivery from one room to the next.
The Galaxy A54 5G's Super AMOLED display is the star of this show, shining brightly in broad daylight and landing right between the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus in terms of size.
Using One UI on the Galaxy A54 5G’s crisp display is almost as good as the panel itself. Samsung shipped the phone with One UI 5.1 update right out of the box, with tons of customization options. I set mine up to look like my Galaxy S23 Ultra, with a Chelsea FC-inspired wallpaper (if you’re reading this during the 2022-23 season, then no, I don’t want to talk about it) and color-matched app icons, but you’re not limited in what you can tweak and change. There is some bloatware to deal with, including Netflix and a slate of Microsoft apps, but if you don’t want any of them, you can remove all of these except for the OneDrive cloud storage.
Once you’ve handled the unwanted apps, you not only have a feature-rich software skin to play with, but you also have the best Android update commitment to look forward to. Because the Galaxy A54 5G already has Android 13 onboard, it’ll see support through Android 17 with security patches into 2028 — long after you’re probably ready for an upgrade. So far, our Galaxy A54 5G has received up to the November 2023 security patch and is slated to pick up Android 14 before Christmas, which is right on schedule at the time of this update.
Samsung’s updated Exynos 1380 chipset deserves some credit for the Galaxy A54 5G’s solid performance. It uses the same 5nm process as the Galaxy A53 5G’s Exynos 1280 but reshuffles its layout to carry four performance-focused Cortex-A78 and four efficiency-focused Cortex-A55 cores rather than two Cortex-A78 and six Cortex-A55 cores. This change boosts the Galaxy A54 5G’s benchmarking numbers, especially when looking at the Geekbench 6 performance. The Exynos 1380 notched a 32% improvement over its predecessor in the single-core run and nearly 55% higher in the multi-core effort. The Galaxy A54 5G really excels in PCMark, however, with scores that even outrank a few flagships. In the Work 3.0 test, which indicates general responsiveness for real-world productivity tasks, the Galaxy A54 5G notched a score of 12,793, beating out the OnePlus 11 (12,337 in Performance Mode) and the Google Pixel 7 Pro (11,448).
Samsung upgraded the Exynos 1380’s GPU from its predecessor as well. The Mali G68 MP5 runs at 950MHz compared to the Mali G68 MC4’s 800MHz. This results in around a 23% increase during a single run of 3DMark’s Wild Life test. Our Samsung Galaxy A54 5G tallied a score of 2,812, which isn’t far off of the Nothing Phone 1’s 2,872. Of course, that won’t give any flagship competition any scares, but even demanding games like Asphalt 9 and Tacticus ran smoothly, with only the latter building up much heat over the course of about an hour.
During my time with the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, I found that the 5,000mAh battery topped out at just about a day and a half of mixed usage. That usually meant going to bed with about 35% of the battery left after a full day. As mentioned above, I spent plenty of time streaming from HBO Max and Nike Training Club, but there was plenty of social media doom-scrolling mixed in, too. After all, how could you not want to test the sharp AMOLED panel with as many TikToks as you could fit into a day?
Samsung’s 25W wired charging is pretty good compared to its mid-range rivals, at least Apple and Google. It takes about 85 minutes to fill the 5,000mAh cell when using a compatible USB Power Delivery PPS charger, which saves you about 20 minutes compared to the Pixel 7a. The iPhone SE (2022) technically gets to full faster, but that’s only because it has such a small battery in the first place. That said, the Galaxy A54 5G charging will be capped at just 15W if you don’t have a PPS-enabled charger, so don’t be afraid to shell out a few bucks for a new one.
What I don’t like about the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
It’s fair to say that we’ve gushed about the Galaxy A54 5G’s upgraded design, but a few cut corners remind you that this is indeed a budget device. The plastic frame feels pretty cheap and initially convinced me that the entire device was plastic. It doesn’t have any give to it, but the matte finish is more akin to the quality found on some of the most affordable Android devices rather than the sub-flagship tier.
The other drawback to the revamped design is the Galaxy A54 5G’s slightly thicker bezels. Ultra-thin isn’t always possible on a mid-range device, but the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G has noticeably thicker lines than the Galaxy A53 5G, which balanced a hefty chin with three very slim bezels. Still, the display looks and feels great, but the bezels are thick enough that they don’t fade away while using the phone.
The plastic frame and odd fingerprint reader placement are good reminders that affordability comes with sacrifice.
Samsung’s optical in-display fingerprint reader is low on the 6.4-inch panel. I have relatively small hands, so it wasn’t too difficult for me to reach, but you might need some thumb yoga if you have larger fingers. That said, the fingerprint reader is accurate, and the setup is easy, so you could probably get away with setting up a few extra fingerprints.
Despite the Galaxy A54 5G’s strong battery life and decent wired charging, it’s tough not to be disappointed by the lack of wireless charging. It’s a convenient feature, and it’s begun trickling into more affordable devices, yet Samsung continues to leave it off its $449 entry. Apple’s budget phone has it, and Google has added it to the Pixel 7a. The 25W wired clip isn’t powerful enough for Samsung to pull a OnePlus and declare that people wouldn’t need wireless charging when wired charging is so quick, either.
While Samsung’s updated Exynos 1380 processor is a clear improvement over the previous version and a solid everyday performer, it finds itself in a tricky spot. The Galaxy A54 5G is currently positioned against Google’s Pixel 7a with its flagship-grade Tensor chip and the Apple iPhone SE (2022) with its overpowered A15 Bionic processor. Google’s Tensor puts machine learning above all with loads of clever software quirks and image processing (and is no slouch at this price point, either), while the A15 Bionic, which it borrows from the iPhone 14, races through every barrier put in front of it. You might not even mind the peak power gap, given Samsung’s overall more well-rounded offering, combined with a long-term software promise and decent enough performance, but it’s still worth pointing out that the Exynos 1380 is more of a supporting player than the star of the show and may not age as well as the chips found in the phone’s biggest rivals.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G camera review
The Galaxy A53 5G had four rear cameras. The Galaxy S23 has three. For the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G to adopt the flagship-inspired design, something had to give. It either had to stick with four lenses and sport a Galaxy S23 Ultra-style layout or choose one of its quartet to send off to pasture. Samsung chose the latter, but don’t let the numbers fool you: the Galaxy A54 5G is an even better budget camera phone than the Galaxy A53 5G.
Compared to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G surrenders some megapixels in favor of size. The primary sensor drops from 64MP to 50MP, but the individual pixels grow from 0.8μ to a nice, even 1.0μ. It bins to 12.5MP by default, but you can toggle back to the full resolution if you wish. Accompanying the primary camera are a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 5MP macro shooter that are unchanged from the previous generation. That means Samsung’s 5MP depth sensor was the one left on the chopping block, not that you’ll notice its absence very often.
As usual, the default Samsung camera app is stuffed to the gills with features and controls, some of which are more useful than others. You can toggle from ultrawide (0.5x) up to the Galaxy A54 5G’s 10x maximum digital zoom with simple buttons, while options like Night Mode and the dedicated macro lens lie in Samsung’s More menu. There’s no telephoto lens, which means no support for Expert RAW for those into tinkering with shots on their phone, but the Galaxy A54 5G brings back what Samsung calls Fun Mode. It’s essentially a set of Snapchat-like filters that run through the main camera in case you really want to look like a giraffe without having to send the image to your friends, I guess. It’s perhaps a bit surprising that Fun Mode isn’t standard across all Samsung Galaxy A devices, as it was notably absent from the Galaxy A14 5G that I just finished reviewing.
I spent most of my time enjoying Samsung’s primary 50MP shooter on a few warm, sunny days in Pennsylvania. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the leaves were turning green — just not nearly as shiny, blue, or green as any of the sample images below would suggest. After a few years of muting its color profile and inching back toward realism, for the Galaxy A54 5G, it would seem Samsung has decided to send its saturation back to the moon. The picture of the chimineas at the bottom right is the most clear-cut example of what I mean. Samsung cranked the reds far past reality, and the sky is noticeably lighter when it gets close to the trees. This is all great if you want eye-popping, social-ready snaps, but those looking for a more natural image might be left disappointed.
That said, Samsung’s colors came closer to what my eyes were actually seeing when shooting in the shade. The boxes of records and the flocked rabbit are much more accurate, and the eagle-eyed pixel peeper will notice the Linda Ronstadt EP in the green box — Bill and Frank would be proud. Despite the uneven lighting and shadows, I came away pretty impressed with Samsung’s latest iteration of portrait mode, which accurately isolated both the rabbit and the fairy. However, it wasn’t as clear-cut with the clock as I struggled to get close enough while still fitting the subject in the frame.
I’m happy to sound like a broken record criticizing dedicated macro lenses on budget phones that just fill out the numbers, but the Galaxy A54 5G’s 5MP option isn’t half bad. It trumps the usual 2MP lens that tends to grace cheap phones with a much more usable resolution, and I found that my hit rate was pretty high during testing. The details are particularly good on the pink blossoms to the left and the pinball flipper, with accurate colors across all four images. Both the pinball flipper and the moss to the far right were taken indoors, continuing with the Galaxy A54 5G’s trend of slightly less saturation outside of direct lighting.
While the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G’s camera setup might look just like that of the Galaxy S23, zooming in and out is a good reminder that you’re working with mid-range hardware. The Galaxy A54 5G’s lack of a telephoto lens means you’re working with digital zoom with a cap at 10x, though the phone’s onboard stabilization is plenty capable. Yes, the colors are still punched up, but the details are pretty solid up to the 4x zoom sample and only begin to get softer once you hit 10x. I appreciate that you can quickly toggle from ultrawide to 10x zoom without pinching or squeezing, at least.
I’m not the biggest ultrawide camera user, but you can get good mileage from the Galaxy A54 5G’s 12MP lens. It stretches to 0.5x, slightly wider than Samsung’s typical 0.6x. There’s not too much distortion in the shots below, with only some slight bending in the pine tree to the far right. You can send the image slider back and forth to see how much more you can fit into the ultrawide shot, but some finer details might suffer. The trees behind the wildflowers to the bottom left get somewhat washed out against the sky, as do a few of the flowers.
The Galaxy A54 5G’s implementation of Night Mode is a tricky one. It works well when manually activated, yet it struggles mightily when left to its own devices. This may be a software bug, but I noticed about a four-second delay when I tried to capture automatic Night Mode shots, long enough for me to lower the phone and try to look at my results, only for the shutter to finally click. Once you toggle Night Mode, you get much better results, like the church directly in the middle. Samsung’s Galaxy A54 5G also supports Night Mode up to 10x zoom, giving you plenty of low-light flexibility.
Samsung has been heading away from higher megapixel count selfie cameras on its flagships, but it didn’t tell the Galaxy A54 5G. The mid-ranger still packs a 32MP punch hole shooter, which bins to 8MP by default. I’m pleased with the Galaxy A54 5G’s sharpness in both shots below, though I can’t help but notice slightly richer tones in the portrait selfie. My skin looks less washed out, and my shirt is a bit deeper blue. However, the edge detection missed a few locks of hair, specifically where it overlaps with the wooden structures behind me.
As for video, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G comes with middling options on both front and back. You can only record 4K footage at 30fps from either side and 1080p at up to 60fps. Essentially all of the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G’s primary competitors have picked up support for 4K at 60fps at a similar price point, so doubling down on 30fps leaves this mid-ranger a bit lacking. It’s just not good enough if you’re after smooth, high-res video. If you’re itching to slow things down, the Galaxy A54 5G’s rear cameras support 720p at up to 480fps.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G specs
|Samsung Galaxy A54
6.4-inch Super AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution (Full HD+)
120Hz refresh rate
microSD expansion up to 1TB
25W wired charging
No wireless charging
- 50MP wide, f/1.8, PDAF, OIS
- 12MP ultrawide, f/2.2
- 5MP macro, f/2.4
- 32MP wide, f/2.2
No 3.5mm headphone jack
4K at 30fps
1080p at 30 or 60fps
Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
Optical under-display fingerprint reader
Ports and switches
USB 2.0 via USB-C
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
4 full Android updates
5 years of bi-monthly security patches
Dimensions and weight
158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm
Awesome Black, Awesome Violet, Awesome Lime, Awesome White
In the box
Samsung Galaxy A54
SIM ejector tool
Quick start guide
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G?
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G brings another year of polish and practice to a well-crafted formula. It pairs a reliable mid-range processor with suitable RAM and storage to take its place among the best Samsung phones on the market. Adopting a design reminiscent of Samsung’s latest flagships works well for the Galaxy A54 5G, too, resulting in a phone that feels excellent in hand and looks more premium than its price tag suggests. In many ways, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G inches close enough that there’s almost no need for a Galaxy S23 FE. Almost.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G successfully navigates most of the challenges associated with its new design, ditching the depth sensor for a more streamlined triple-camera setup and adopting some fun new colors. One UI 5.1 remains one of the most feature-rich, customizable Android skins around, and Samsung’s unrivaled update commitment will keep the mid-ranger kicking long after others have reached retirement age.
There’s still some room for improvement, of course. The Galaxy A54 5G’s plastic frame lets down its otherwise solid construction just a bit, the omission of 4K/60fps video support makes it a poor choice for budding videographers, and those occasional oversaturated shots will be an unwanted blast from Samsung’s past for connoisseurs of more natural photography. We’ll also have to wait at least another year to get wireless charging on a Samsung Galaxy A series device, but the 25W wired speed is good enough for now.
If you decide to look beyond the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, there’s plenty of strong competition. Its position at $449 puts it right up against both mid-range rivals and some of the best affordable flagships on the market. The closest Android rival is the Google Pixel 7a ($477 at Amazon), which lands at a slightly higher price, but brings the more powerful Tensor chip and all of its machine learning and image processing capabilities to the table, not to mention wireless charging. It does, however, lack the Galaxy A54 5G’s wired charging power, and its display caps out at 90Hz. The Pixel 6a ($314 at Amazon), with its price on par with the Galaxy A54 5G, remains a viable alternative if you don’t particularly need the Pixel 7a’s upgraded camera, screen, and charging perks.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G is so good at packing a Galaxy S23-like experience into an affordable shell that we might not need another Fan Edition phone.
If you want to get a little closer to the true Galaxy S23 experience, Samsung has a new option for you. After skipping its Fan Edition launches for a year or two, the Galaxy S23 FE ($599.99 at Amazon) has arrived. It’s styled even closer to the Galaxy S23 than ever, sporting glass on both the front and back, along with a minimal camera bump of three small cutouts. The Galaxy S23 FE has Qualcomm’s previous Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 under the hood, which helps to keep it priced below the flagship tier, though it brings poor thermal performance back into the conversation.
Samsung’s own Galaxy A14 5G ($199.99 at Samsung) and Motorola’s Moto G Power 5G ($249 at Amazon) are good options if you want something more affordable. The Galaxy A14 5G offers a similar overall style to the Galaxy A54 5G but swaps glass for plastic and the punch hole camera for a small notch. It’s not nearly as powerful, either, opting for MediaTek’s Dimensity 700 chipset and dropping to just 15W wired charging. Photographers will want to reach for the Galaxy A54 5G over its more affordable sibling, too, as the ultrawide camera is far more impactful than the Galaxy A14 5G’s lowly depth sensor.
Motorola’s budget pick, on the other hand, brings a slate of updates to the 5G-powered Moto G Stylus ($299 at Amazon), including upgraded base RAM and storage. Its Snapdragon 6 Gen1 chipset pivots back toward a Qualcomm-powered future after Motorola briefly swapped to MediaTek’s hardware. Continuing the good news, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) has finally ditched its depth sensor. It makes do with just two cameras — a 50MP primary sensor and an 8MP ultrawide option. It also has NFC, a rarity among Motorola’s budget options.
While we didn’t rate Apple’s iPhone SE (2022) ($429 at Amazon) very highly, it’s still the go-to option if you want iOS at a cut price. The A15 Bionic chipset runs circles around the Exynos 1380, but Apple’s commitment to the aging iPhone 8 body hamstrings the SE’s overall usability. Its display is dwarfed by the Galaxy A54 5G’s panel, and Samsung has a clear edge in terms of resolution and refresh rate, too. The iPhone SE (2022) also carries just one rear camera, which is only capable of Portrait Mode on human subjects — a pretty big limitation.
Should you choose to open your wallet a bit wider, Google is ready to end the conversation with the Pixel 7 ($499 at Amazon). It brings a full flagship slate of features like wireless charging, a Tensor G2 chip, and Gorilla Glass Victus. You also get Google’s lightweight Pixel UI and some of the fastest updates. It was the best value phone at launch, and still is to this day, especially if you can find it on sale as it’s been seen for less than $500 — that’s a steal. The OnePlus 11 ($1296 at Amazon) is one more affordable flagship to consider, and it’s an easy pick if you want the fastest charging in the West. It packs up to 100W wired speeds, easily outpacing the best of Samsung, Google, and more, though you don’t get expected premium-tier features like wireless charging, and the water resistance is actually worse than the Galaxy A54 5G.
Of course, if you have a Galaxy A53 5G ($449 at Amazon) already you shouldn’t be considering an upgrade just yet. In fact, if you can find a Galaxy A53 5G on sale, it’s still a great phone worth considering as long as you can live without the performance bump the Galaxy A54 5G brings to the table.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G review: Q&A
Samsung announced its Galaxy A54 5G for pre-order on March 30, 2023, before opening to wider sales on April 6.
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G shares its microSD slot with the SIM tray.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G features Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G supports sub-6GHz 5G but not mmWave. Be sure to check with your carrier for compatibility before you buy.