Samsung Galaxy A54 5G reviewon April 5, 2023 at 10:03 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

IP67 ratingExcellent screen Solid battery life Long software support 

Cons

Slow charging Charger sold separatelyRivals are cheaper 

Our Verdict

With an upgraded processor, the A54 5G is back to being one of the best mid-range phones around. It feels like a cut-down Galaxy S23, with solid specs across the board and little not to like.

Price When Reviewed

From £449

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Previous Galaxy A models have been some of the best selling smartphones globally, which puts a lot of pressure on new generations. Last year’s A53 was a bitter disappointment but Samsung is back on track with the A54 for 2023. 

Not much has actually changed year-on-year, but the A53’s sluggish processor has been given a serious upgrade, and this is one of the keys to how the Galaxy A54 is recommendable as a top mid-ranger. 

This $449/£449 candy bar handset has the sleek looks of the flagship Galaxy S23 range, an excellent screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, solid battery life, dependable cameras, and Samsung’s industry-leading software support. 

There’s little to dislike here, even if Samsung is behind a number of rivals on charging speeds – and the lack of a charger in the box will irk some buyers. It has fierce competition though, with the likes of the Google Pixel 6a and Nothing Phone (1) still a serious temptation for anyone not loyal to Samsung. 

Design & build 

S23 style Plastic back IP67 protection 

The Galaxy A54 is a stylish smartphone, easily one of the best-looking mid-rangers on the market. While it looks similar to its predecessor, small tweaks in line with the flagship S23 range, such as more rounded corners, keep things fresh and differentiate it. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

Whether you like the new camera arrangement or not is personal preference but I’m a fan of the port-hole styling – although it does annoy me how wobbly it makes the phone when it’s on a flat surface (it’s almost unusable). 

The phone could actually pass as the Galaxy S23+ from across the room, and the illusion holds up until you investigate the finer details. It’s got a plastic rear cover and frame, although the latter doesn’t feel like it, and there’s still Gorilla Glass 5 protecting the display. 

One of the best-looking mid-rangers on the market

Like the S23, it’s a slippery customer, but build quality is very good and it’s one of a select few mid-range phones with an IP67 dust and water-resistance rating. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

It’s a shame the handset has gained a bit of weight, up 13g on the A53 to 202g. It’s not hugely heavy, but if you want something lighter then the Google Pixel 6a is a much more manageable 178g. 

I’ve tested the plain Awesome Black colour but you can get the A54 in more exciting flavours of Awesome White, Awesome Lime and Awesome Violet. In the US, the official store only has Graphite (black) and Violet – both still dubbed Awesome, of course. 

Screen & speakers 

6.4in AMOLED 120Hz refresh rate Stereo speakers 

Samsung has reduced the screen size slightly to 6.4in, but otherwise this packs mostly the same display specs as the Galaxy A53. The headline specs are that it’s an AMOLED panel with a Full HD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. 

It’s bright enough for outdoor usage in strong sunlight and the display is also blessed with excellent colours and contrast as you’d expect from an AMOLED panel. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

At 120Hz, the A54 remains one of the smoothest mid-rangers, with an Adaptive mode on by default or the option to cap it at 60Hz for longer battery life (though that’s mostly not a concern). It’s not the only 120Hz phone at this price, with the likes of Xiaomi and Realme offering it too, but key rivals such as the Pixel 6a are only 60Hz. 

The display also benefits from an embedded fingerprint scanner which I found worked better than the one on the Galaxy S23. The facial recognition is also decent, and you can use either when you unlock. 

The A54 has no headphone jack but the built in stereo speakers are pretty decent, offering good velocity and clarity. They do lack bass, though.

Specs & performance 

Exynos 1380 chip US options limited on RAM and storageMicroSD card slot 

A single digit change in the processor model doesn’t seem very significant, especially on a mid-range phone, but in this case it is.

While the Exynos 1280 found in last year’s Galaxy A53 was slow and stuttering, the A54 is smooth and reliable thanks to an upgrade to the Exynos 1380, which boasts double the number of high-power performance cores as its predecessor.

Chris Martin / Foundry

I’m not saying it’s flawless, so you might have to wait a while for a complex night photo to process or a big game to load, but these are reasonable expectations in a phone this price. In general, day-to-day operation, the phone can keep up just fine and it can run games like Asphalt 9 at high quality settings. 

The A54 is smooth and reliable

There’s disappointment for American customers as there’s only the option of 128GB storage and 6GB of RAM, whereas the UK and other markets go up to 256GB storage and 8GB of memory. Note that I am testing the UK model here, meaning the US version might be slightly more sluggish.  

As the name suggests, the Galaxy A54 5G comes with 5G connectivity as well as all the usual nuts and bolts such as NFC, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.3.  

Some users will find it beneficial that it’s dual-SIM and there’s even a microSD card slot able to take up to 1TB of storage, although it does use up one SIM spot. 

If you’re interested, here’s how the Galaxy A54 compares in our usual set of benchmark tests. 

Cameras 

50Mp main camera 12Mp ultrawide 5Mp macro 32Mp selfies 

The A54 packs a pretty typical trio of rear cameras, with a 50Mp main lens joined by lower resolution ultrawide and macro cameras. You shouldn’t expect things like telephoto lenses on a phone this price. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

The main camera can snap excellent quality pictures in a range of situations. It’s got an f/1.8 aperture and benefits from optical image stabilisation (OIS) to avoid blur from a shaky hand.

Results are detailed, vibrant and more than acceptable for social media or even printing out. Low-light performance is better than most mid-range phones too, although the phone still has its limits here – you’ll need to spend more for a flagship for truly excellent night mode shots.

The ultrawide is what you’d expect: nice to have when you need to fit more in the frame, but at the obvious expense of quality compared to the main shooter.  

Meanwhile, I had a lot of fun with the macro lens which is one of the best I’ve tested on any phone. With a fixed focus, you need to have time and patience, but can get some pleasing photos (I’ve added the same shots from the main camera to show the difference). It’s not a must-have, but gives you some fun options.

The oddity is that the macro mode is tucked away in the ‘more’ menu even though it’s a dedicated lens (not that it’s only Samsung that does this) and this is where you’ll also find other options such as Night, Panorama, and even Pro mode. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

My biggest bugbear is with Samsung’s tuning, as colours aren’t totally accurate between the different cameras. I can let that go on a mid-range phone (it’s not too bad) but I can’t stand the oversaturated – an understatement – look of the Food mode, which makes it look like I’ve used some nuclear ingredients.   

As for the front, the 32Mp selfie camera is a highlight with bags of quality and options such as a solid portrait mode and a wider angle view for fitting more people or background in. 

Video recording is also very good, largely due to the OIS on the main camera. By default, you’ll be recording in Full HD at 30fps but you can go up to 4K at the same framerate if you wish. Even at 1080p, the quality is good with vibrant colours and smooth footage even when being dragged along by my dog.

Battery life & charging 

5000mAh battery 25W charging No adapter included 

Charging is still a sore point when comparing Samsung to the wider market, especially when you consider the likes of Xiaomi and Oppo are hitting speeds of over 200W now. The 25W charging on the A54 isn’t particularly modern and, for better or worse, Samsung doesn’t supply a wall adapter in the box – only a cable.

Chris Martin / Foundry

I tested the phone with a 67W fast charger from another brand and only saw it top up to 16% in 15 minutes and 31% in 30. If speedy charging is important to you then you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

Charging is still a sore point

Fortunately, things get better when we look at the battery life on offer. There’s a large 5000mAh cell and the phone can comfortably last a full day of mixed usage with 4-5 hours of screen time. I’m a lighter user than that on a normal day and can manage two days before needing to charge, which is great. 

Software & apps 

Android 13 One UI 5.1 Four years of OS upgrades 

Software is a strong point for Samsung as much on mid-range phones as it is on flagships. Here you are getting the latest version of Android and the firm’s One UI skin. The same can’t be said of some rivals which are often lagging behind on Android 12. 

Said rivals often don’t have any official guarantees of future updates either. However, Samsung promises four years of OS upgrades, so you’ll not only get Android 14, but up to at least Android 17 on this phone. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

I would still personally have a Pixel phone for the pure Android experience but One UI is perfectly serviceable and has a lot to like. It’s easy to navigate and looks great. Features like the sidebar for favourite apps are useful, though virtual assistant Bixby is not so much. 

Samsung still insists on installing a lot of apps from the off including plenty of duplicates of Google services you’re more likely to use. And despite me unticking the boxes, the A54 rudely still installed a trio of unwanted games. 

Other pre-loaded apps are arguably more useful such as Disney+, TikTok, and OneDrive but you can at least remove any you don’t want. 

Price & availability 

From $449/£449 

In the US, the Galaxy A54 comes in at $449, with only one model available at the time of writing from the official store, with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. You can also get Galaxy Buds Live with $100 off along with trade-in deals, plus gifts such as 3-months of Spotify Premium. However, Amazon has cheaper prices if you just want the phone. 

Those of you in the UK can get the phone for £449 (£50 more than the A53 when it arrived), with a 256GB version fetching £499. Either way, you get 8GB of memory. 

It’s available from a range of places including Amazon, John Lewis, Very, and Currys with many offering free Galaxy Buds 2 until 25 April. Samsung matches that deal but also has great incentives like excellent trade-in prices for your old phone. 

Find out more in our where to buy the Galaxy A54 guide.

The price puts it up against some tough competition as the Google Pixel 6a is $449/£399 and often on offer. The Nothing Phone (1) is also £399, but not available in the US. Check out our chart of the best mid-range phones for more options.

Verdict 

I’m relieved to report that Samsung is back on track with the Galaxy A54 5G after a miscue last year. 

Much is the same, with top-notch styling, IP67 protection, one of the best screens on a mid-range phone, and a dependable set of cameras. Furthermore, battery life is solid and Samsung continues to impress with its software upgrade guarantee. 

This would have all been fine on the A53 had performance been as reliable but luckily that’s fixed this year with a more powerful Exynos processor. 

It’s not automatically the best mid-range phone you can buy, especially with some excellent rivals at cheaper prices but it’s easy to recommend even if you’re not a Samsung loyalist. 

Still, it would be nice if Sammy could install some faster charging and allow users to choose a power brick for free when ordering.

Specs

Android 13 with One UI 5.16.4in AMOLED, 2340 x 1080, 120Hz, 19.5:9 ratioExynos 1380 chipset6/8GB RAM128/256GB of storage (expandable via microSD)Cameras:50Mp f/1.8 OIS main camera12Mp f/2.2 ultrawide5Mp f/2.4 macro32Mp f/2.2 selfie cameraDual-SIM/microSDStereo speakersNFCGPSBluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6Under-display fingerprint sensor5000mAh battery25W wired chargingUSB-C charging port158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm202g

Mid-range smartphones, Smartphones

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