I’m not going to lie… Trying to make sense of the midrange phone market in 2023 might be the trickiest part of writing about smartphones.
Some mid-range phones try to give you as much as possible. others give you just enough to keep you happy, and then there’s the Samsung Galaxy A54, which tries to hit a balance. However, what’s unique here is that unlike Google and Nothing, for example, Samsung has more to gain and (you guessed it) more to lose. . Of course, among them is the Galaxy “S” series, which must be taken into account when making the Galaxy “A” series – if the mid-range phones are “too good”, users will have fewer reasons to buy a flagship. It’s a balancing act that Samsung has been doing for ages.
In fact, sales of the company’s cheaper phones (especially those cheaper than the Galaxy A54), actually tell us that the South Korean brand is doing a better job in the budget segment – a bittersweet victory being given that the flagship “S” series would bring higher profit margins but are struggling to move as many units as Samsung would like.
But to complicate matters, the new mid-range Galaxy phones also have to be better than their predecessors and mid-range competitors from other brands. And that’s where the new Galaxy A54 could find itself in some kind of existential crisis. We’ll take a look…
Surprisingly, the Galaxy A54 looks older than the four-year-old Galaxy A51 – Samsung has some explaining to do…
The Galaxy A51 2019 on the left, the Galaxy A52 2021 in the middle, and the all-new Galaxy A54 on the right. We are seeing a trend towards thicker display borders on newer phones.
Now before you tell me about iPhone SE in the comments (and of course feel free to do so) and how great Apple’s mid-range looks, I’ll go on and tell you this story is about Samsung. But to take the leap, as dated as the iPhone SE looks in 2023, at least it looks as old as its predecessor.
I mention it to make a point. Certainly, a new version of a phone should not look older than the old one. are you with me? But that’s not the case with the Galaxy A54. To give Samsung credit, unlike the Galaxy A53, which used plastic, it looks like the back of the A54 is glass, which is nice if you want a premium feel (not as nice if you drop your phone and break it, but that’s another story).
But then you flip the Galaxy A54 over and look at a displaysituation it tells a slightly different story. Again, the screen of the new Galaxy A54 is supposed to be slightly brighter compared to its predecessor (that’s awesome) but your eyes catch those big, black, beautiful… show borders.
Despite a larger screen, the Galaxy A51 2019 is more compact, more modern and 30g lighter than the Galaxy A54.
That being said, while I’d say most people choose a new phone by looking at/holding it, aesthetic design isn’t all that matters in a phone. And if that’s where you expect things to pick up speed for the Galaxy A54, well… you might be surprised.
Cheaper Galaxy A34 with MediaTek chip beats Galaxy A54 running Samsung’s Exynos in first real-world speed tests
In a recent real-world speed test, the $300 Galaxy A34 was faster in opening apps than the Galaxy A54. Final score? 9-20.
Now aside from the design, there is another potential issue with the Galaxy A54…
Of course, the SKUs for Samsung’s new Exynos 1380 are out now, and they’re just as disappointing as expected – Samsung has made the choice to go with another mid-range Exynos, and that’s it. But what’s particularly surprising here is the first real-world speed test I came across, which (again) tells a different story. Another story where the Galaxy A54 doesn’t seem to come out on top against a cheaper Samsung phone.
As you can see on YouTube ” target=”_blank”>speed test between Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 by Vy Vo Xuan, the new $300 Galaxy A34 seems to open apps faster than the more expensive Galaxy A54. Why? Well, since both phones run the same software and come with the same amount of RAM (6/8GB), the obvious differentiator has to be the processor.
Although the MediaTek Dimensity 1080 used in the Galaxy A34 and the Exynos 1380 in the Galaxy A54 are roughly on par across benchmarks, the cheaper phone seems to be faster.
Of course, for people in the United States, it wouldn’t be Really Matters, because the Galaxy A34 shouldn’t be launching there in the first place – but that can’t be an excuse. The Galaxy A54 is pretty much the only mid-range Samsung phone sold in the US, which should be only one reason for it to be… as good as it gets. LAW?
Galaxy A54 – a great $450 bundle, but Google’s Pixel flagships will eat Samsung’s phone for breakfast (Pixel 7a is almost here now)
Would you buy a Pixel instead of the Galaxy A54?
So yes… The Galaxy A54 remains one of the most attractive mid-range phones on the global stage, but unlike previous years (I’m referring specifically to the Snapdragon-powered Galaxy A52s), much of the appeal is that the A54 is going to be sold in more parts of the world compared to competing devices – availability matters. Except that:
- The Galaxy A54 promises a brighter screen than the Galaxy A53
- The Galaxy A54 brings a new, larger main camera sensor, which should help with photos and videos at night
- The Galaxy A54 offers 4 years of Android updates and 5 years of security patches, which is a valid reason to choose it over a Chinese phone with better specs.
And yet, if the availability stars align for you, the Galaxy A54 is about to face the toughest competition Samsung has ever seen in the midrange phone segment.
Even if you don’t have an extra $70 to spare or buying refurbished parts isn’t your thing, then waiting could be your best friend and Samsung’s biggest enemy. It is because the Google Pixel 7a (leaking everywhere now) is knocking on the door. With a flagship-grade Tensor G2 chip, rumored wireless charging, and the magic of Google’s Expert Camera, the Pixel 7a looks like everything the Galaxy A54 wants to be but can’t.
Everything everywhere Everything at once is bad with Samsung’s mid-range phones: how far (backward) will Samsung go?
It’s getting harder and harder for Samsung to create “the perfect mid-range phone” because the company also makes the flagship Galaxy S23 and wants people to buy… more of it. It’s a delicate balancing act where Samsung has a lot to lose. Unlike Google, which doesn’t even rely on selling phones to make money. This is what we would call “the perfect storm”.
- The global chip shortage
- The global financial crisis and inflation
- Google’s ultra-aggressively priced Pixel phones
- Apple’s Incredible Ability to Sell Old/Refurbished iPhones
- And above all, the high bar that Samsung set for itself some time ago in 2019
Of course, Samsung doesn’t want to make phones worse. However, it seems that the Galaxy A54 is the result of poor Hourly. Had the A54 been released in (say) 2019 it would have been a hit – well, we don’t know for sure, but it would have been much more impressive, at least. Instead, Samsung released a great midrange phone four years ago, which now makes the 2023 version of that phone look like a cost cut (aesthetics).
Aggressive competition from the mid-range segment of Google, OnePlus, Xiaomi and even Nothing, don’t help Samsung’s case either. And despite all that, if you’re looking for a good mid-range Samsung phone, the A54 might still be the best (and maybe even the only) option for some of you! If you look at it in isolation, it’s still… you know – a great package.
Is it good enough for you? I would wait for our full review to find out. Stay tuned!