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Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs. Google Pixel 5a

Samsung’s latest mid-ranger, the Galaxy A53 5G, was unveiled at its event last week, and with its Exynos 1280 processor, 6.5-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz display, and beefy battery, it’s impressive. But it’s got some competition in Google’s Pixel 5a with its speedy Snapdragon 765G chip and compact design. So how do you decide which phone to buy?

We’ve compared the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs. Google Pixel 5a across six core categories, from design and display to battery life and special features. Keep on reading and we’ll help make that all-important purchasing decision easier.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Google Pixel 5a
Size 159.6mm x 74.8mm x 8.1mm

(2.94 x 6.28 x 0.32 inches)

154.9mm x 73.7mm x 7.6mm

(6.10 x 2.90 x 0.30 inches)

Weight 189 grams 183 grams (6.46 ounces)
Screen size 6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display

120Hz refresh rate

6.34-inch OLED

60Hz refresh rate

Screen resolution 2400 x 1080 (407 pixels per inch) 2400 x 1080 pixels (415 ppi)
Operating system Android 12

One UI 4.1

Android 12
Storage 128GB 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay Google Pay
Processor Exynos 1280 Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM 8GB 6GB
Camera 64-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, 5MP macro rear

32MP front

12.2MP wide, 16MP ultrawide

8MP front

Video

Up to 4K at 30fps

4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.1 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes, rear-mounted
Water resistance IP67 IP67
Battery 5,000mAh

25W fast-charging

No charger in box

4,680mAh

18W fast-charging

Charger included in box

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, Awesome Peach Mostly Black
Prices $450 From $449
Review score Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

There are some key differences when it comes to these two phones. The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a plastic back with a matte, textured finish that adds plenty of grip and feels good in your hand. The Ambient Edge quad-camera array on the rear blends nicely into the body of the phone, and to the front, there’s Gorilla Glass 5 and an Infinity-O hole-punch selfie camera that takes center stage. This phone is quite chunky and feels substantial, but it’s not the easiest for one-handed use.

The Google Pixel 5a, on the other hand, has an aluminum body covered in plastic, with an almost-flush dual-camera array and a fingerprint sensor to the rear. On the front, there’s Gorilla Glass 3 as well as a punch-hole selfie camera to the top left of the screen. If we had to say anything about the Pixel 5a’s black plastic design, it’s that it’s just a bit boring — though the simplicity of its design may appeal to some.

The Galaxy A53’s 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ display has 2400 x 1080 resolution (407 ppi) with a 120Hz refresh rate that ensures scrolling and animations are buttery smooth. There’s plenty of brightness here, enabling you to view everything clearly even under direct sunlight. The Pixel 5a has a slightly smaller 6.34-inch screen, but the same resolution as the A53, though this is an OLED screen compared to the A53’s AMOLED. Viewing angles are great and there’s enough brightness for watching videos or browsing the web in bright sunlight. The refresh rate here is just 60Hz, though you’ll likely only notice a difference if you’re switching from a phone with a higher refresh rate, or playing the latest, most demanding games.

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

Ultimately, we’re giving this round to the Galaxy A53 for that slightly larger AMOLED screen, 120Hz refresh rate, more modern design, and those eye-catching new colors. There’s not a lot here between the two phones though, so if you don’t mind the lower refresh rate and you prefer your phones in classic black, the Pixel 5a is still a solid choice.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G volume buttons and side profile.
Galaxy A53 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When it comes to performance, there’s not a lot to differentiate between these two phones. The Galaxy A53 5G uses the Exynos 1280 chip, and Samsung’s keen to point out this octa-core processor is made with a 5nm process, something it once reserved for its flagships. In practice, this means the phone should be able to handle anything you throw at it. There’s 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and you can allocate up to 6GB of the 128GB storage as virtual RAM, great if you’re playing more demanding games or multitasking.

The Pixel 5a is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor which also has eight cores, but the phone comes in just one configuration, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This chip handles everything, including games like Genshin Impact, without significant slowdowns and is excellent for everyday use. You’ll definitely notice the 60Hz refresh rate while playing more demanding games though.

Both phones pack 128GB of storage, but the Galaxy A53 has a microSD card slot while this is absent from the Pixel 5a, so the storage here is all you’ll ever have.

On to battery life. The Galaxy A53’s beefy 5,000mAh battery should easily see you through a day of even heavy usage, and into the next day. There’s 25W fast charging, but no wireless charging with this phone, something that’s pretty standard in this price range. There’s also no charger in the box, which, again, isn’t unusual for Samsung.

The Pixel 5a has a slightly smaller — but still beefy — 4,680mAh battery that provides one and a half to two days of battery life, depending on your usage. Again, there’s no wireless charging here, and charging speeds are slightly lower at 18W. However, you do get a charger in the box, and the Pixel 5a also has an Adaptive Battery feature that learns about your app usage and habits and optimizes the phone’s performance to boost battery life.

We’re giving this round to the Galaxy A53, but it’s close. Ultimately the expandable storage, extra RAM options, and 25W fast charging put it just out ahead. However, if you won’t miss the microSD card slot, the Pixel 5a is an equally good choice here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Camera

Pixel 5a showing camera and fingerprint sensor.
Pixel 5a Ajay Kumar/Digital Trends

When it comes to cameras, it’s the software and special features that make the difference here. The Galaxy A53 has a quad-camera system, with a 64-megapixel main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, and 5MP macro lenses, compared to the Pixel 5a’s 12.2MP main and 16MP ultrawide. There’s also a 32MP selfie cam on the Galaxy A53 5G, while the Pixel 5a’s has an 8MP front-facing shooter.

The Pixel 5a’s main camera takes excellent detailed shots in good lighting, even in bright sunshine. Colors are accurate and vivid, and everything looks great. The ultrawide 16MP lets you capture more of your surroundings, though some details get lost. Notably, there’s no telephoto sensor here. Low-light photography is also excellent and there’s Night Sight in Portrait mode, plus Astrophotography, for photos of the night sky.

The Galaxy A53’s cameras take excellent photos too, though we haven’t spent much time with the phone yet to test them out. Samsung says the upgraded A.I-powered main lens enhances the phone’s photo processing capabilities to deliver enhanced performance in low light and better detail and color.

For video, the Pixel 5a can handle 1080p and 4k at up to 60 frames per second, while the Galaxy A53 can handle 4K at 30 fps.

For now, we’re giving this round to the Pixel 5a, for Google’s software chops and the results we got from the phone’s cameras. This verdict might change once we’ve spent some more time with the Galaxy A53’s cameras, though.

Winner: Google Pixel 5a

Software and updates

Google Play Store on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.
Galaxy A53 5G Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy A53 5G runs Android 12 and Samsung’s OneUI 4.1 interface out of the box. OneUI is easy to learn and customize, and Samsung has promised four years of major Android updates and five years of security updates — excellent news.

The Pixel 5a runs Android 11 but can be upgraded out of the box to Android 12. Stock Android is easy to use and the version of Android most people are familiar with. You’re guaranteed three years of OS and security updates from Google, so not quite as future-proof an upgrade promise as the one on offer from Samsung.

Although it’s close to call, we’re giving this round to the Galaxy A53 for Samsung’s longer update promise.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53

Special features

Both phones have 5G, though the Pixel 5a only supports sub-6 5G and we don’t yet know whether the Galaxy A53 supports mmWave — we’ll update this once we know more. If you live in an area with 5G coverage you can expect noticeably faster connectivity speeds compared to 4G. Both phones have fingerprint sensors: the Galaxy A53 has an in-display fingerprint sensor, while the Pixel 5a’s sensor is on the phone’s rear.

One notable difference here is that the Galaxy A53 packs a microSD card slot, allowing you to expand the phone’s storage up to 1TB. Unfortunately, this is absent from the Pixel 5a, so you’ll never have more than the 128GB of onboard storage, which may not be enough for some. One thing the Pixel 5a has that the Galaxy A53 doesn’t, though, is a headphone jack. Samsung seems to have ditched the headphone jack for good, so this may be a deciding factor for those who don’t like wireless earbuds.

We can’t call this round, as it’s too close. The Galaxy A53 is clearly the better choice if you need expandable storage, but then again the Pixel 5a has that headphone jack, so it depends on what’s most important to you.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Galaxy A53 is available to pre-order from Samsung, and you’ll get a free pair of Galaxy Buds Live if you place your order now. The phones goes on sale officially from April 1 for $450, from Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

The Pixel 5a is usually around $450 too, but right now it has $150 off on Google Fi. This means you can pick it up for just $299, though you’ll need to transfer your number from your current carrier to Fi to get the discount. You can also find the Pixel 5a (unlocked) from $450 on Amazon.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

There isn’t a huge difference between these two phones, and your decision may come down to personal preference in the end, such as whether expandable storage matters to you, or whether you’d prefer a phone with a headphone jack. We’ve picked the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G as our winner though, thanks to that 120Hz refresh rate, fast 25W charging, expandable storage, and excellent update promise from Samsung.

The Google Pixel 5a is still a solid choice for those who prefer a more classic design, and you get that headphone jack plus Google’s photo software chops to boot — plus it’s $150 cheaper than the Galaxy A53 right now, if you port your number to Fi. Ultimately though, we’d still go for the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.

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