The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is possibly the best mid-range phone you’ll see all year. Featuring a luscious 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, it looks stunning. Its performance isn’t to be sniffed at either, with its five-nanometer Exynos 1280 chip, 6GB of RAM, quadruple-lens rear camera setup, and 5,000mAh battery.
Of course, in a world where overachieving mid-range phones are now becoming the norm, its bid for supremacy isn’t unchallenged. If you’re an Android fan, one of its biggest rivals is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G. This is another device that punches above its weight in performance, helped by an alluring 6.43-inch AMOLED display, a triple-lens camera, and 65W fast-charging. However, with the strengths of each phone residing in different areas, it’s difficult to decide which is the better device for you.
That’s where this head-to-head comes in. By looking at each device, we should help you decide which is the mid-range
|Samsung Galaxy A53 5G||OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G|
|Size||159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm (6.28 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches)||160.6 x 73.2 x 7.8 mm (6.32 x 2.88 x 0.31 inches)|
|Weight||189 grams (6.67 ounces)||173 grams (6.10 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display||6.43-inch AMOLED Display|
|Screen resolution||2400 x 1080 pixels (407 pixels per inch)||2400 x 1080 pixels (409 pixels per inch)|
|Operating system||Android 12, OneUI 4.1||Android 11, OxygenOS 11|
|Storage space||128GB, 256GB||128GB|
|MicroSD card slot||Yes||Yes|
|Tap-to-pay services||Google Pay, Samsung Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 1280 (5nm)||MediaTek MT6877 Dimensity 900 5G (6 nm)|
|RAM||6GB, 8GB||6GB, 8GB|
|Camera||64-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth, 5MP macro rear. 32MP front.||64MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro rear. 16MP front.|
|Video||Up to 4K at 30 frames-per-second||Up to 4K at 30 fps|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.1||Bluetooth 5.2|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, in-display||Yes, in-display|
|Water resistance||IP67||No official IP rating|
25W fast charging
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network support||All major carriers||All major carriers|
|Colors||Black, White, Blue, Orange||Gray Mirror, Bahama Blue|
|Review score||Hands-on review||4 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is much like last year’s A52, sporting a cool edge-to-edge display with narrow bezels, and a punch-hole camera at the top of the screen. The rear camera bump, which was a highlight with the A52, has been further refined with the A53. It now blends even more seamlessly into the phone’s rear, looking tidier and more natural than the modules on most other modern phones. Arguably, this includes the OnePlus Nord CE 2
Looking at each display, the A53 features a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ display, with a 120Hz refresh rate, as well as a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels. This happens to be the same number of pixels you’ll find on the Nord CE 2, which combined with a 6.43-inch display makes for a very similar level of detail and clarity. One difference, however, is the A53’s 120Hz refresh rate, which allows for some impressively fluid visuals. This is just enough to give it an edge over the OnePlus, which can support a refresh rate of one 90Hz.
Another edge for Samsung’s device is an official IP67 rating, indicating it can survive immersion in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. The Nord CE 2 carries no such rating, so combined with the arguably more attractive camera module (and noticeably smoother display), this round goes to the Galaxy.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Galaxy A53 runs on an in-house Samsung processor, the octa-core Exynos 1280. This uses 5nm transistors, meaning it packs more transistors into the same area, making it faster than the 7nm and 8nm-based chips we were seeing a couple of years ago. It also makes it faster than the OnePlus Nord CE 2’s chip, the MediaTek MT6877 Dimensity 900
Both devices also offer 128GB of internal storage as standard, while they can each be had with 256GB of storage for more money. They also both offer a microSD card slot, so you shouldn’t have trouble storing your photos and apps with either.
Things are also similar in the battery department. The A53 has a 5,000mAh cell, while the Nord CE 2 has a 4,500mAh counterpart. In theory, this should make the A53 more long-lasting, yet our review of the Nord CE 2 found that it can go for two days without needing a recharge. We can’t say the same thing about the A53 with complete assurance, since we haven’t given it a full review yet. And while the bigger battery size should result in equal (or superior) running time, the A53’s 120 refresh rate could mean it depletes faster. Because of this, we’re calling this round a tie, for now.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 comes with a quad-lens camera setup: a 64-megapixel main lens with optical image stabilization, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 5MP depth lens, and a 5MP macro lens. Meanwhile, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 features a triple-lens setup, comprising a 64MP wide camera, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro.
While their hardware is very similar, there’s a tangible difference in photograph quality. The A53 enables users to take well-balanced and lively pictures in most conditions, with the use of A.I.-powered ‘intelligent algorithms’ enhancing scenes and generally ensuring good dynamics. By contrast, the Nord CE 2 isn’t quite as impressive, because while its photos are mostly usable, they can lack the vividness and color of the Samsung’s.
Both phones are also capable of capturing
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53
Software and updates
The Galaxy A53 operates using Samsung’s latest OneUI 4.1 user interface, which is one of the best skins you can currently find for
However, the A53 takes the lead insofar as it includes four years of major
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A53
There’s not much to separate either phone in terms of special features. They both support
Having said that, the OnePlus boasts a couple of nice touches that arguably puts it ahead of the Samsung. Firstly, it features a humble 3.5mm headphone jack, something which the A53 lacks. It also offers fast charging at an impressive 65W, so you won’t have to hang around for long between charges. These two features are enough to give it a narrow win.
Winner: OnePlus Nord CE 2
Price and availability
The Galaxy A53
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 begins at around $405, although it isn’t officially on sale in the United States right now (and may never be directly sold in the U.S.). You can however find it online from various third-party retailers, and it looks like it’s compatible with the U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless networks in the U.S.
Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
They are broadly comparable, but the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G beats the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G in just enough areas to secure the overall win. It has a slightly more inviting design, a more impressive display, faster processor, better all-around camera, and longer software support. It might be the best mid-range phone you can buy right now. That’s not to say that the Nord CE 2 is a bad phone, far from it, but the A53 is almost as good as phones at nearly double its price.
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