As a way to boost their value-for-money proposition, most smartphone brands use flagship features on mid-range devices. By making its affordable and budget smartphones resemble the flagship Galaxy S23 series phones, especially Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+, Samsung has taken a step further this year with Galaxy A54 5G.
This gives Samsung two things – value for money and the sense of owning a phone that looks similar to the flagship models for almost half the price.
Among its other features, the Galaxy A54 5G has a Super AMOLED display, a triple camera setup with 50MP, fast charging, and the latest OS version.
Starting at Rs 39,990, the handset features an octa-core Exynos chipset, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage with expandability.
In the past few weeks, we have been putting the phone through rigorous tests to see how it performs in the real world.
DISPLAY AND DESIGN
Samsung has given the phone a flagship-like treatment, making it appear similar to their Galaxy 23 series from afar. But when you hold it you will quickly realise its budget status due to the thicker bezels around the edges. Fortunately, these are symmetrical and don’t disrupt the design too much. The phone’s glass rear panel also helps with its overall in-hand feel, adding another quality feature for a device at this price point.
There are three individual vertical lenses on the back, which look similar to the Galaxy S23, except for the smaller lens housing. Apart from that, the back panel is clean and has a subtle Samsung logo at the bottom.
All three buttons – power, volume up, and volume down – are located on the right side. They have a good click feel and are sufficiently protruding.
There is a speaker, charging port (Type-C) and primary microphone at the bottom, and a secondary microphone as well as the SIM card tray at the top. The SIM tray has both one SIM slot and a hybrid SIM-microSD card slot.
Samsung’s design aesthetics shine here as this phone has a good-looking design with slightly curved rims. The build quality is good too.
A 6.5-inch display with FHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, with 1200 nits of peak brightness, offers an improved display from the previous generation. It has better colours, contrast and black levels. There are no complaints about the viewing angles. As a result of the 120Hz refresh rate and Super AMOLED panel, watching content or scrolling through social media posts is a pleasant experience.
In this regard, Samsung hasn’t cut corners at all. In addition to the in-display fingerprint scanner, it comes with an optical sensor which is decently fast and responsive, despite not having the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner found on flagship models.
Upgrading hardware for the camera should be a must in order to increase quality of cameras, especially on smartphones. Samsung has set an example with its 108MP sensor, featured first on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and later on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and then Galaxy S22 Ultra. Apart from improving quality, this move also brings consistency as well as algorithmic improvements that produce brighter and sharper pictures from essentially the same camera system.
Unlike last year’s 64MP primary sensor, Samsung has gone with a 50MP sensor, which is also a tried and tested sensor these days. While the sensor may seem smaller compared to the previous generation on specs, the picture quality has actually improved. It is a much better sensor, and its 50MP resolution is no less than that of the 64MP sensor.
The Galaxy A54 has been upgraded to provide faster capture speed as well as new features such as 4K video recording at 30fps and improved low-light photography, or ‘Nightography’, which Samsung has included for the first time in the A-series range. The Nightography feature combines Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) to give clearer images and smooth videos in darker conditions. Furthermore, OIS angles have also been expanded so that shaky and blurred shots become less likely.
Certainly, the daylight shots are well-lit, bright and have punchy colors with plenty of details and dynamic range. There’s also a lot less noise in darker areas. The HDR works fine and lights up the entire scene in a near to original state without overdoing things.
Low light conditions are just okay. The primary sensor loses a little detail even without Night mode on, but with Night mode, the details, sharpness, and clarity are good and actually one of the best in this price range. Also, when low light is detected, the phone automatically turns on Night mode.
Retaining quality and performance were never a problem with Samsung phones, in fact their ultra-wide camera lens is able to capture images of 0.5mm with a wide field of view. Though when capturing the same shot of a society’s buildings back-to-back the results showed both good and bad. The first shot was great in terms of details and colour but then the second turned out darker and warmer unexpectedly. Oftentimes we take multiple pictures if one doesn’t come out right, which is why this discrepancy occurred. Fortunately, this can be resolved easily with a simple software update. The 2x telephoto lens also offers plenty of detail and vibrant colours with excellent dynamic range.
Galaxy A54 is equipped with a capable camera setup. The images are detailed, sharp, and have a rich colour palette.
It helps a lot with video quality, as the added angles for the OIS make video footage stable, sharp, and clear without shaking when capturing on the move.
Samsung Galaxy A54 comes with a 32MP front camera that offers decent quality with acceptable colours and details. The post-processing for selfies works really well here as well. The front camera also supports portrait modes and the separation between the background and foreground is almost perfect without the phone experiencing any issues with detecting the edges.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 is powered by the upgraded Exynos 1380 chipset with four cores clocked at 2.0GHz and four cores clocked at 2.4GHz. It comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.
A54 is an affordable premium smartphone, and the Exynos 1380 may seem like a mid-range chipset at this price, but does it reflect in its performance? Well, the answer is very simple in this case. If you are someone who wants a daily driver for regular stuff like taking calls, capturing photos, checking social media feeds, watching videos and playing some games at times, then the answer is no, it does not feel like it lacks performance or is not underpowered.
Day-to-day performance is excellent – opening apps, navigating among them, and more back and forth between them was seamless without lag or delay. We also ran some resource-hungry apps on the phone and edited a few pictures taken with it without any problems. Apart from making the phone a little warm, it did not give us any problems.
Playing games on the Galaxy A54 was enjoyable. The 120Hz refresh rate kept everything smooth as we tested out Subway Surfer, Shadow Fighter 3, CoD Mobile, Genshin Impact, and Asphalt 9. Even with the more demanding triple-A titles like CoD Mobile and Genshin Impact on medium to high settings, frame rates were good. The only slight downside was that the device got a little warm after an hour’s playtime.
There are also some really good speakers on this phone. They sound almost as good as some of the company’s flagship models. The stereo speaker backed by Dolby ATMOS is clear, crisp, and has good vocal separation as well.
The smartphone comes equipped with One UI 5.1, built on Android 13 – the most current combination of OS and user interface around. Boasting top-tier features, it excels in its range of capabilities, both from Android and via additional tools such as the capacity to run two versions of instant messaging apps, setting up a Secure Folder for enhanced security and creating a Work profile to keep your personal/professional data separate. A great choice for tech-savvy users.
Apart from that, the user interface also offers a ton of customisation options such as wallpaper, live wallpaper, icon packs, fonts, etc. In addition, the phone features Android 13’s colour theme feature, which alters the color of the user interface and icons according to the colour of the background. In addition, the phone will receive Android updates for four years and security updates for five years.
In medium-use conditions, Samsung has provided a 5000mAh battery with 25W fast charging support. The battery capacity is good, and it is actually a two-day smartphone. Using it daily for almost two weeks, we returned home with about 40% left in the battery. The 25W charging support is just fine and does the job. It does not include gaming at all. However, with gaming, we were able to get a whole day of battery life with 25% left.
As a standalone phone, the Galaxy A54 is probably quite competent, but it doesn’t exist alone and instead faces some really tough competition. It’s more or less the same price as the Galaxy A54, but the new OnePlus 11R beats the Galaxy A54 in many ways.
The Galaxy A54 offers a performance that is adequate for most needs and an impressive battery. Its camera and display are both great for its price range, providing good and detailed output even in low light conditions. Yet, if you’re looking for the best possible performance at this price range, this device may not be the one for you. Nonetheless, it’s a reliable option that excels in many areas without being exceptional in any.