Samsung launched the Galaxy A54 5G smartphone last week as the successor to the Galaxy A53 5G. This gets a better screen, faster Exynos 1380 5nm SoC and better cameras, while retaining the same battery, but the phone also gets costlier. Is this a good upgrade compared to the Galaxy A53 5G? Let us dive into the review to find out.
- Samsung Galaxy A54 5G 8GB RAM + 256GB in Awesome Violet colour
- USB Type-C to C Cable
- SIM ejector tool
- Quick Start Guide
Display, Hardware and Design
The phone comes with a 6.4-inch Full HD+ Infinity-O Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels at about 402 PPI. The display looks bright, thanks to 1000 nits brightness, a 25% improvement compared to 800 nits in the predecessor, so the sunlight legibility is good as well. It also has good colour reproduction Since it has an AMOLED panel, it offers true blacks. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
It has a 120Hz refresh rate screen that offers a fluid user experience with smoother animations, scrolling and gaming. Similar to the other Samsung phones, there is an Eye comfort shield that limit blue light emitted by the screen. There is also dark mode. You can choose from Vivid or Natural screen modes based on your preference, or set the white balance manually.
The phone doesn’t have DC dimming or low brightness anti-flicker mode that is present in some AMOLED screen phones in the price range. I didn’t notice any screen flicker issues in low brightness on the phone. It doesn’t have a notification LED, but there is Always on display option.
On the top, there is an 32-megapixel camera in the tiny punch-hole, and the earpiece is present on the top edge. The punch-hole is small and it is not intrusive.
There is a small chin below the screen. The phone has an in-display fingerprint sensor which is fast to unlock the phone, but it is not as fast as the side or rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Coming to the button placements, the power button and the volume rockers are present on the right side. There is nothing on the left side. The primary microphone, USB Type-C port and the loudspeaker grill are on the bottom. The secondary microphone and the hybrid dual SIM slot are on the top. The phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack. Even though it looks like metal, the sides have a plastic frame.
On the back, there is a triple camera module arranged in a straight line without any camera housing. There is a single LED flash. Even though the phone has a 6.4-inch screen, it is compact to hold. It is 8.2 mm thick, making it slightly thicker and the weight has increased from 189 grams to 199 grams compared to the predecessor which might be due to the glass back. It also comes in Awesome Lime and Awesome Graphite colours.
Since the back is glossy, it attracts fingerprints and smudges easily. Since it is glass, it is recommended to get a case since it is not included in the box.
- 50MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, OIS
- 12MP ultra-wide angle camera with f/2.2 aperture
- 5MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture, LED flash
- 32MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture
You can choose 50MP option from the aspect ratio settings on the top, and the default output is 12.5MP after pixel binning. It also has Pro video, single take, night mode, slow motion, hyperlapse and more modes. There is Live Focus mode for portrait. You can also adjust the bokeh effect before or after the shot. There is a selfie portrait option for the front camera that uses software to blur the background. There is also a wide-angle option for the front camera, similar to other Samsung phones.
Coming to the image quality, daylight shots from the 50MP sensor are better than the A53, and the camera captures a good amount of detail, creates well exposed photos with good dynamic range and detailing, and dynamic range can further be improved enabling HDR mode from the settings, which automatically turns on HDR when needed. Ultra-wide shots from the 12MP camera are good in daylight.
2X macro shots from the main camera is good, and there is a dedicated macro camera mode which is decent, and you have to keep it in 3-5cm distance. Live focus is good at detecting the edges. Low-light performance is good, which can be improved further with Night mode that offers more details, but you need to keep your hand steady, since it takes two to three seconds to process. 50-megapixel shots have good amount of details. Images with flash is good and is not overpowering.
The 32-megapixel front camera is good in most cases. Wide-angle mode takes images in 12-megapixel resolution after pixel binning, while the normal mode takes images in 8-megapixel. Software blur in the live focus mode has good edge detection.
Check out some camera samples.
It can record videos at maximum 4K resolution at 30 fps from both front, rear and ultra-wide cameras. The rear camera can also shoot 1080p 60fps videos, but the stabilization works only in 30fps when it’s enabled in the settings.
Normal stabilization works with both ultra-wide and main camera, but only the main camera has OIS which has been improved compared to the previous generation. Video digital image stabilization (VDIS) has also been imroved. There is a separate Super steady mode which uses the ultra-wide camera to capture the video in 1080p 30fps. This is smooth, but you don’t see a huge difference between this and the normal stabilization from the main camera.
Software, UI and Apps
Coming to the software, the phone runs on Android 13 with February 2023 security patch. On the top of Android 13, it has the latest Samsung One UI 5.1, which brings several new features such AI-based Photo Remaster that lets you remove shadows and reflections, improvements to dynamic weather widget, Smart suggestions widget and more. On par with the flagships, Samsung has confirmed 4 OS updates and 5 years of security updates for the A54 5G.
The Device maintenance option lets you manage your device’s battery life, storage, RAM usage, and security all in one place. Out of 256GB (UFS) in our unit, 224GB is free. Out of 8GB LPDDR4x RAM, about 7.43GB is usable and 3.5GB is free when default apps are running in the background.
There is also a RAM Plus feature, which uses the internal memory of the phone to expand the RAM by an extra 8GB, in addition to the existing 8GB of RAM. This is enabled automatically. We got sequential read speeds of, 528MB/s which is less than UFS 2.2, so it looks like the phone still uses UFS 2.1.
Apart from the usual set of utility apps and Google Apps, the smartphone comes with Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Byju’s, Prime Video, Snapchat, Truecaller and Microsoft apps such as OneDrive and LinkedIn. You get the option to install apps when you are setting up the phone, which you can choose not to. It also has Samsung Wallet via NFC. It also has Samsung Pass, Secure Folder, Bixby Voice/Vision, Samsung Cloud, Easy Mode and Samsung Knox support. The phone doesn’t have ads, but shows notifications of new Samsung products occasionally.
Fingerprint sensor and Face unlock
The phone has an in-display fingerprint sensor that immediately unlocks the phone even when the phone is locked. It is good, but not as fast as a physical fingerprint scanner. You can add up to 3 fingerprints, and adding fingerprint is easy. It has support for Face recognition, which doesn’t work well if the lighting is poor in the room, if you are hats, or use heavy makeup. Both these are protected by Knox security.
Music Player and Multimedia
YouTube Music is the default music player. It has equalizer, Dolby Atmos, UHQ upscaler, and Adapt that can be enabled from the settings. All these improve the audio when listening through earphones, and Dolby Atmos also works with speakers. It doesn’t have FM Radio support. That said, audio through earphones is good. Loudspeaker output from the stereo speakers is good as well.
The phone comes with Widevine L1 support out-of-the-box so that you can enjoy HD content on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and other streaming apps. There is also HDR playback support for YouTube, but it doesn’t work with Netflix.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
The Galaxy A54 5G has support for N1, N3, N5, N7, N8, N28, N40, N41, N66, N77 and N78 Network Bands in India. There is dual SIM 5G, and Airtel and Jio 5G works out of the box. There is also 4G Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and support for LTE-A or Carrier Aggregation.
Other connectivity options include, Wi-Fi 802.11 6 ax (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Wi-Fi-Calling or Vo-Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2 and GPS with GLONASS. It has support for USB OTG and NFC that works with supported payment apps.
The Galaxy A54 5G’s head SAR is 1.130 W/Kg which is higher than the A53 5G, but it is under the limit of 1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) for India.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Galaxy A54 5G is the first Samsung phone to be powered by Exynos 1380 5nm SoC. This has 4 x 2.4GHz Cortex-A78 Performance CPUs and 4 x 2GHz Cortex-A55 Efficiency CPUs. I didn’t face any performance issues, but the Mali-G68 MP5 GPU in the A54 5G faces the same issue that the Exynos 1280 SoC in the Galaxy A53 5G faced.
This is also not optimized for gaming. In BGMI, you can only play games in High graphics option in Smooth, Balanced and HD, and there is no smooth or extreme fps option. It also doesn’t have HDR graphics option. In COD Mobile, you only get Medium graphics and very high frame rate. In low graphics, you get max frame rate, but with Genshin Impact, the frame rate was very low.
When you play graphic-intensive games, it gets too hot quickly. Samsung manages to keep the temperature down by throttling, but the new game performance booster mode in the game launcher prevents the phone from throttling issues, but Samsung says it heats up the phone. It reached maximum 49º in our testing indoors in Wi-Fi, but this might vary outdoors in 5G. That said, check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.
As you can see from the benchmark scores, the Exynos 1380 is clearly better than the Exynos 1280. In the multicore CPU benchmark score is good, but in AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 778G is still better.
The A54 5G retains the 5000mAh battery. I got over 6 hours of screen on time with my daily use mostly on Wi-Fi and occasionally on 5G with 1 and half days of use in 120Hz refresh rate. Adaptive battery saving and other options will let you increase the battery life, but the performance might be affected.
Samsung doesn’t offer a charger in the box, but the phone supports 25W charging. With the official 25W fast charger, it takes about 1 and half hour for 0 to 100%, and 0 to 50% took about 40 minutes. It is still less compared to the competitors.
At a starting price of Rs. 38,999, the Galaxy A54 5G is a decent mid-range 5G smartphone from Samsung in the A series that offers IP67 ratings and a good battery life. Even though there are upgrades such as a brighter 120Hz Infinity-O AMOLED display, improved 50MP camera with OIS and a glass body, just like the 1280, the Exynos 1380 chip is not optimized for gaming, and the phone gets heated even with 5G use for long.
Even though the phone now starts at 8GB + 128GB, the price has incresed by Rs. 3000 compared to the price of the same version of the Galaxy A53 5G.
The OnePlus 11R is a direct competitor at almost similar price, powered by a more powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC. Even last year’s Samsung Galaxy S21 FE that is now available for as low as Rs. 34,999, offers a better gaming performance, has a better camera, but you have to compromise on the battery life.
The Galaxy A54 5G 8GB + 128GB model is priced at Rs. 38,999 and the 8GB + 256GB version costs Rs. 40,999. It is already available to order from Samsung exclusive and partner stores, Samsung.com, and other online platforms and will be available from March 28th, 2023. You can avail Rs. 3000 bank cashback or Rs. 2500 Samsung Upgrade bonus.
- 120Hz AMOLED display is good
- Capable cameras with OIS in the main 50MP camera
- IP67 water-resistant body
- Smooth performance
- Promise of 4 OS updates and 5 years of security updates
- Good battery life
- Exynos 1380 is not optimized for gaming
- Phone gets heated quickly when using 5G and when gaming
- Priced on the higher side