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Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: should you spend $450 or $800?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is the cheapest way to get your hands on Samsung’s latest flagship tech — but you don’t have to buy a flagship device to get a fantastic smartphone experience. Samsung’s Galaxy A series of smartphones supplies excellent performance at a lower price tag, and the Samsung Galaxy A54 is the latest of these. With a strong processor, great camera suite, 120Hz refresh rate, and big battery — all wrapped inside a flagship-rivaling design — the Galaxy A54 is a very tempting midrange smartphone. But can it stand toe-to-toe with its more expensive cousin?

With stronger flagship specs, it’s clear the Samsung Galaxy S23 has a significant edge here. But is the edge enough to justify significantly more dollars? We took a look at these two excellent smartphones so you have a better idea of which one to buy.

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: specs

Samsung Galaxy A54 Samsung Galaxy S23
Size 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm (6.23 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches) 146 by 70.9 by 7.6mm (5.76 by 2.79 by 0.30 inches)
Weight 202 grams (7.13 ounces) 168 grams (5.93 ounces)
Screen size 6.4-inch Super AMOLED 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Screen resolution 2340 x 1080 pixels (403 pixels per inch), 120Hz 2340 x 1080 pixels (425 pixels per inch), 120Hz
Operating system Android 13 with One UI 5 Android 13 with One UI 5
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Processor Samsung Exynos 1380 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Camera Triple lens 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 5MP macro rear, 32MP front Triple lens 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 10MP telephoto rear, 12MP front
Video 4K at up to 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 720p at 480 fps 8K at up to 24 fps, 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP67 IP68
Battery 5,000mAh

25W wired charging


25W wired charging (no charger included in the box)

15W wireless charging

Reverse wireless charging

App store Google Play Store, Galaxy Store Google Play Store, Galaxy Store
Network support Most major carriers Most major carriers
Colors Lime, Graphite, Violet, White Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender
Price Starting at $450 Starting at $800
Buy from Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy
Review Galaxy A54 hands-on Galaxy S23 review

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: design, display, and durability

Samsung has stuck with a similar design to the Galaxy S23 for the Galaxy A54, and that’s great news. Both have clean, minimalist designs that lend the brand consistency, while also being different enough to tell individual models apart. The major difference between the two is the A54’s plastic build, but that’s less of an issue than you might imagine, thanks to the reassuring heft of the cheaper phone. While it’s made from more affordable materials, it doesn’t feel that way.

The Galaxy S23 has superior screen tech, with a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that allows for a dynamically shifting refresh rate to save battery. But the Galaxy A54’s Super AMOLED display is no slouch. At 6.4 inches, it’s slightly bigger than the S23’s 6.1-inch screen. While that means the A54’s resolution isn’t quite as crisp as the Galaxy S23’s, the difference is so small that you’re unlikely to notice. The Galaxy A54’s 120Hz refresh rate is a big point in its favor, as it matches the S23’s display, and Samsung has also boosted the A54’s brightness to 1,000 nits. It doesn’t get quite as bright as the S23, but it’s close.

Durability is where the Galaxy S23 pulls ahead. The aluminum frame is likely to be more resistant to scratches than the A54’s plastic frame, but it’s the water resistance that really makes a difference here. The A54’s IP67 rating is respectable and protects the device against accidental drops in water. The S23’s IP68 rating, though, gives more comprehensive protection, including against more extended time in the water. While we recommend not leaving your phone in water, accidents do happen, and the S23’s better water protection gives it an edge.

This category is closer than you might have imagined. But ultimately, with a stronger display and better durability, the Samsung Galaxy S23 takes this.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy S23 laying flat on table showing off USB-C charging port and speaker grills
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OK, so it’s going to be much harder to argue for some level of parity here, as the Snapdragon Gen 2 for Galaxy processor is exceptionally powerful and fully deserving of its status as a flagship chip. Try as it might, the Exynos 1380 in the Galaxy A54 is not going to be able to match it for pure power. We haven’t had much time with the A54’s Exynos processor yet, but our brief time with it revealed a processor that might impress us, despite the lower price. Samsung’s Exynos chips have never been as good as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but hopefully, the Exynos 1380 can start to change that trend. We won’t know until we’ve had more time with the phone, but we’ll be sure to update this article when we do know.

The same philosophy applies where battery life is concerned. The Galaxy A54’s 5,000mAh battery is much larger than the Galaxy S23’s 3,900mAh cell, but will that translate to longer battery life? The S23 managed two days of battery life on a single charge during our time with it, and that’s impressive. Last year’s Galaxy A53 5G managed two days of battery life too, using a similar setup to the A54, so it’s possible that the cheaper phone could match the S23 in this regard. We’ll have to revisit this once we’ve spent more time with the Galaxy A54, but our initial impressions are good.

There’s a definite winner where charging is concerned, though. Both phones have a 25-watt wired charging speed, but only the S23 has the convenience of wireless charging. The Galaxy A54 only has wired charging, so if you’re a fan of your wireless charging pad, you’ll have to readapt to wires. While this won’t bother some people, there are plenty of others who rely on wireless charging to keep their phones topped up.

The Galaxy A54 puts up a solid fight here, but with a stronger processor and more charging options, the Galaxy S23 wins again.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: cameras

The camera modules on the back of the Galaxy A54.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

These phones have similar triple-lens camera setups comprised of a 50-megapixel main lens and a 12MP ultrawide lens. The third lens is where the differences lie, and it’s here we suspect that the A54 will lose out. The Galaxy S23 sports a 10MP telephoto lens in the third slot, while the Galaxy A54 has a 5MP macro lens. Smartphone macro lenses have rarely been winners, and we’re certainly not expecting the A54 to be able to beat the S23’s suite on the strength of this single macro lens. Don’t get us wrong; the A54 is likely to be a very capable camera phone — but it’s unlikely it’s going to beat the Galaxy S23 here.

Except in one area, that is. The Galaxy A54 has a 32MP selfie lens, which is considerably more impressive than the Galaxy S23’s 12MP selfie camera. If selfies are your thing, then it’s possible the A54 wins some strong points for you here.

Like the previous category, a lot here is going to rest on how well the Galaxy A54 does in our review. On paper, the Galaxy S23 has the A54 beat — except for where the selfie camera is concerned. While we’re leaning toward the Galaxy S23 taking the win here, there’s enough of a question mark hanging over the result that we’re happy to call this a tie. For now.

Winner: Tie

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: software and special features

Samsung Galaxy S23 edge panel app selection
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that both phones run the same operating system: Android 13, with Samsung’s One UI skin running over the top. The Galaxy S23 gets four years of software updates and five years of security updates, and it’s very likely the Galaxy A54 will get the same excellent support. The S23 is likely to get updates a little sooner than the A54, but that’s not something worth basing a purchase on.

Both have 5G, which is rapidly descending into “not a special feature” territory as even budget phones now support the newest mobile network. Both also have the raft of special features Samsung is known for, including the desktop-emulating DeX mode, Your Phone support for Windows PCs, lock screen customization, Edge launcher, and other third-party apps available via the Galaxy Store.

This one is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Samsung Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is available now, will work on most major carriers, and can be found at most retailers that stock smartphones. Prices start from $800.

The Samsung Galaxy A54 will release on April 6, and prices will start at $450. If you’re in a hurry to get your hands on one, you can also preorder the phone starting March 30.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23 showing Instagram
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

There were no prizes for guessing this outcome: It was always likely that the Samsung Galaxy S23 would end up on top in this matchup. But as ever, when there’s such a mismatch in pricing, the real key isn’t which phone has won — but how well the underdog performed. In this case, it’s clear the Samsung Galaxy A54 has performed extremely well.

While there are still some questions about how well it will hold up during our review (and we’ll be sure to revisit this comparison after our review is complete), it’s clear that the Galaxy A54 is still a great phone with a lot to offer the right buyer. While it may clearly lose out in pure power, durability, and some other areas, it holds up remarkably well to the Galaxy S23 in a lot of other ways.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is unquestionably the stronger of these two phones. However, it’s also clear the Samsung Galaxy A54 (at the moment) looks to present excellent value for money. If you’re looking for a phone that can go toe-to-toe with the Samsung Galaxy S23, and want to save a little money, then you should strongly consider the Samsung Galaxy A54.

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