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Google Pixel 6a vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: A big upset?

Midrange phones are everywhere these days, and if you’re looking for the one for you, you might find yourself struggling to choose between the freshly minted Google Pixel 6a and Samsung’s latest midrange offering, the Galaxy A53 5G. With its Google Tensor chip, 4,410mAh battery, and 6.1-inch OLED display, the Pixel 6a might seem like an excellent choice if stock Android is your thing. But don’t discount the Galaxy A53’s 6.5-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz display, Exynos 1280 processor, and up to 256GB of onboard storage.

We’ve done the hard work and compared the Google Pixel 6a versus the Samsung Galaxy A53 across six core categories to help you decide which is the one for you. Read on to find out.


Google Pixel 6a Samsung Galaxy A53
Size 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.7mm (5.99 x 2.83 x 0.34 inches) 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm (2.94 x 6.28 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 207 grams (7.30 ounces) 189 grams (6.67 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch OLED Display

60Hz refresh rate

6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display

120Hz refresh rate

Screen resolution 2400 x 1080 pixels (431 pixels per inch) 2400 x 1080 (407 ppi)
Operating system Android 12 Android 12

One UI 4.1

Storage 128GB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No Yes
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Samsung Pay
Processor Google Tensor Exynos 1280
Camera 12.2-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide

8MP front

64MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, 5MP macro rear

32MP front


Up to 4K at 30/60 frames per second

Up to 4K at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.2 Bluetooth 5.1
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP67 IP67
Battery 4,410mAh

18W fast charging


25W fast charging

No charger in the box

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Sage, Chalk, Charcoal Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, Awesome Peach
Prices $449 $450
Review score News Hands-on review

Design, display, and durability

The first thing you’ll notice about the Google Pixel 6a is just how similar it looks to the Pixel 6. Though past A-series Pixel phones had a more budget vibe (take the Pixel 4a, for example), the Pixel 6a matches the Pixel 6 in good looks, with the same tactile alloy frame as the Pixel 6 and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass. Where it does differ is its 3D thermoformed composite back, common for Android phones in the sub-$500 sector. There’s also no capacitive fingerprint sensor to the rear, as you get an in-display fingerprint sensor instead, and you’ll notice the 3.5mm headphone jack is missing.

Over to the Samsung Galaxy A53 and its plastic-feeling chassis. The textured rear panel feels good to hold, with plenty of grip. Taking center stage on the front is an Infinity O hole-punch selfie cam, and the rear camera module blends nicely into its surroundings. It feels substantial in your hand, and pretty chunky too — not a bad thing. There’s a caveat here, though: It’s not the easiest phone to use one-handed, particularly if your hands are on the smaller side, though it is pretty light, weighing in at just 189 grams.

When it comes to displays, the Pixel 6a packs a 6.1-inch OLED flat display with 2400 x 1080 resolution. The refresh rate is a rather disappointing 60Hz, not great in a market where 90Hz and 120Hz have become the norm, and bad news if you’re planning on playing the latest games on your Pixel.

The Galaxy A53’s larger 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ display has the same 2400 x 1080 resolution but you’re benefitting from a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate here. That said, you shouldn’t notice too much difference in smoothness and responsiveness unless you’re playing the latest demanding games or multitasking on your phone.

Both phones also have an IP67 rating, meaning they can be safely submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.

We think both phones look pretty sleek and boast excellent displays, but we’re giving this round to the Galaxy A53 for that 120Hz refresh rate and slightly larger display, plus those vibrant blue and peach colorways. If you prefer a slightly smaller screen and don’t play the latest games on your phone, you may want to opt for the Pixel 6a.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G facing front in hand.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The two phones have several noticeable differences in this category. The Pixel 6a is powered by a Google Tensor chip, with 6GB of RAM. This is the same processor found in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, capable of playing the most demanding games, multitasking, and switching between apps with ease. The Titan M2 security core also ensures the Pixel 6a is more resilient to attacks.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 packs the octa-core Exynos 1280 chip, with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. Here, you can also allocate up to 6GB of the phone’s onboard storage as virtual RAM, which makes a difference when playing more demanding games, like Genshin Impact, or multitasking. This chip’s manufactured using a 5nm process, something that Samsung, until a few years ago, reserved for its flagship devices. This means the processor should be able to handle anything you throw at it.

With the Pixel 6a, you get 128GB of onboard storage, with no microSD card slot, so if you tend to store loads of photos, videos, and other files on your phone, you may run out of space. The Galaxy A53, on the other hand, packs 128GB or 256GB of storage with that coveted microSD card slot for expansion.

What about battery life? The Pixel 6a’s 4,410mAh cell has an adaptive battery feature that ensures the battery lasts over 24 hours, plus Extreme Battery Saver, which lets you choose which apps to run while the phone automatically turns others off. Charging speeds are disappointing, though, with 18W fast charging on offer and no charger included in the box.

The Galaxy A53 packs a beefy 5,000mAh battery with 25W fast charging, so again, you shouldn’t have any issues getting through a day of heavy use and may even see a second day with lighter usage. Again, there’s no charger in the box here, but it’s what we’d expect from Samsung these days. Notably, there’s no wireless charging with the Galaxy A53, and we’re presuming the same is true for the Pixel 6a, but we’ll update this once we have confirmation.

We’re giving this round to the Samsung Galaxy A53, which has that extra 256GB model, expandable storage, and the ability to allocate extra RAM from storage, not to mention faster 25W charging.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53


These two phones are also quite different when it comes to cameras. The Pixel 6a offers a dual-camera array on the rear, with a 12.2MP wide and a 12MP ultrawide lens, plus an 8MP front lens. We’ll need to spend some quality time with the Pixel 6a before judging its cameras, but if the Pixel 5a is anything to go by, it’s Google’s software chops that tick boxes here, helping the cameras to shine. The specs here almost match the Pixel 5, though you won’t see high-end Pixel camera features like Motion Mode. However, you do get features like Face Unblur, Magic Eraser, Night Sight, and Real Tone.

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy A53 boasts a quad-camera array to the rear, with a 64MP main lens, plus 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, and 5MP macro lenses. There’s also a 32MP front lens. Though results are solid from the main and ultrawide cameras, it’s the software improvements Samsung has made over the phone’s predecessor that really help the cameras to stand out. According to Samsung, the AI-powered main lens “enhances the phone’s photo processing capabilities to deliver enhanced performance in low-light conditions, plus better detail and color.”

On to video: The Pixel 6a captures up to 4K at 30 or 60 fps while the Galaxy A53 captures up to 4K at 30 fps, with the camera automatically adapting the frame rate to suit lighting conditions.

We haven’t spent much time with either phone’s cameras yet, so it’s particularly hard to call a winner this round. We’re therefore announcing it as a tie. Though the quad-camera array of the Galaxy A53 may sound better on paper, Google’s software chops usually mean its cameras produce some of the best photos around, which may mean the Pixel 6a comes out ahead in the real world. Our verdict could change once we’ve spent more time with both phones, so watch this space.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and Galaxy A33 5G blue and peach colors.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both phones run Android 12 out of the box, though the Pixel 6a runs stock Android while the Galaxy A53 adds Samsung’s OneUI 4.1 interface on top. OneUI is intuitive and easy to use, so even if you’re coming from a stock Android phone, you shouldn’t experience any issues.

With the Galaxy A53, you’ll get four years of major Android updates and five years of security updates, ensuring it’s a future-proof choice. Google offered three years of OS updates and five years of security updates with the Pixel 6 series and looks set to do the same for the Pixel 6a.

We’re giving this round to the Galaxy A53, purely for Samsung’s industry-leading update pledge.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53

Special features

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When it comes to special features, there’s not a whole lot to say. Both phones have 5G, though we don’t yet know whether either phone supports mmWave. The Pixel 5a only offered sub-6Ghz 5G, though. Both phones also have an in-display fingerprint sensor.

One big difference between these two phones is that the Galaxy A53 has a microSD card slot, so you can expand the storage, whereas this is notably absent from the Pixel 6a. With just 128GB of storage onboard the Pixel 6a, it could be a hard sell for those who keep their lives on their phones. Neither phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, but this is pretty standard for new phones nowadays.

Though it’s a pretty similar outlook here for both phones, the Galaxy A53 just edges ahead here thanks to the expandable storage. If that doesn’t matter to you though, and you’re happy with 128GB of storage, you might want to go for the Pixel 6a.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53

Price and availability

The Pixel 6a will be available to pre-order from July 21, and it will cost $449. It’ll work on most major U.S. carriers, and you’ll probably be able to find it in a bunch of retailers too. Well, when it’s finally up for pre-order anyway.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 is available right now from Samsung, starting at $450 for the 128GB model. Place your order now and you’ll get a free pair of Galaxy Buds Live or Galaxy Buds2. You can also pick up the phone from T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy A53

Overall, there isn’t a huge difference between these two phones, and which phone you choose may well ultimately come down to personal preference — for example, you might be swayed by the microSD card slot on the Galaxy A53 or the software chops of the Pixel 6a’s cameras. After some tough deliberation, we’ve crowned Samsung’s Galaxy A53 our overall winner. That octa-core processor, larger display with 120Hz refresh rate, 25W fast charging, and expandable storage just give the Galaxy A53 the edge, we feel.

The Pixel 6a is still an excellent choice, packing Google’s imaging software prowess and adaptive battery features. But right now, we’d say the Galaxy A53 is the better of the two phones overall. Bear in mind that once we’ve spent some more time with the Pixel 6a, this decision could change.

Editors' Recommendations

Paula Beaton
Freelance tech and travel writer living in (somewhat) sunny Scotland. Gamer, tea addict, never without a good book.
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