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The Samsung Galaxy A54 struggles to keep up with its slick looks
So close, but just far enough.
Samsung's latest mid-ranger does a decent job of living up to the looks of its flagship counterpart, though it lags behind in performance. It's as close to the ideal that Samsung's Galaxy A line has come to date, but that last mile proves to be more elusive than you'd expect.
The biggest downside to buying a more modest mid-range smartphone like the Galaxy A54 5G is that you can usually feel the compromises. It's not about whether there are made tradeoffs that come with a more affordable price, but which ones are taken and whether they're taken in stride.
As fierce as the mid-range market has become over the last few years, few very smartphones under $999 can claim to have it all. Samsung's latest mid-ranger does get pretty close though.
For the most part, this year's Galaxy A54 5G makes most of the correct choices and takes all the smart shortcuts. Nevertheless, the corners it cuts when it comes to performance may make it a poor fit for those who are used to the snappiness of more premium hardware.
How much does Samsung Galaxy A54 cost in Australia?
In Australia, the price of a brand-new Samsung Galaxy A54 starts at $699. That figure does make it the most expensive device in this year's Galaxy A roster, but it's still a fair bit cheaper than the asking price of the latest or cheapest Samsung Galaxy S23.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 is available now through all the usual retailers. Check the table below for a round-up of the best pricing and deals for the device.
The Galaxy A54 is also available on both 36 and 24-month payment arrangements with either Telstra or Optus. Going on a 36-month plan will reduce your monthly handset repayments, but you end up paying the same cost for your phone as you would on a 24-month contract.
36-month Galaxy A54 plans
24-month Galaxy A54 plans
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G - design and features
In the absence of a follow-up to last year's stellar Galaxy A73, the Galaxy A54 is now the top-end of Samsung's latest lineup of affordable Android smartphones. Despite that double-sided moniker, what's here is surprisingly close to premium. The Galaxy A54 is built around a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate on the front and a slick glass finish on the back.
To the eye, this device looks a lot like its Galaxy S counterpart and to Samsung's credit, it feels almost just as nice. It's not quite as glamorous as I remember the Galaxy A73 feeling, but it's pretty damn close.
Color-wise, those looking to pick up the Galaxy A54 get to choose from either Awesome Violet and Awesome Graphite. There's no real difference between the two colours in terms of specs, and you can always slip on a case if you don't like the palette.
The sample unit we reviewed came in a Awesome Lime color that's not currently available in Australia. Of the two tones that are, I think that Violet is the way to go.
As far as features are concerned, the Galaxy A54 opts for a more is-less approach. What's is here is familiar, but welcome. There's an IP67 rating for water and dust damage, 5G connectivity plus an in-display fingerprint sensor.
While there's only one spec configuration available, the Galaxy A54 does come with a MicroSD slot for those who aren't satisfied with the amount of base storage it includes. Beyond that, the biggest omission here is wireless charging. For what it's worth though, the Galaxy A54 does support up to 25W Fast-Charging.
The only other addition to the formula here is the addition of the Vision Booster tech introduced by last year's Galaxy S22. This makes the screen on the device more visible in brighter environments but is less of a make-or-break selling point and more of a neat perk.
The one exception to this less-is-more ethos comes in the form of the triple-lens camera on the back of the Galaxy A54. This optical array is led by a 50MP main sensor, which is complemented by a 12MP ultrawide lens camera and a 5MP macro lens camera. Meanwhile, those who prefer to take their selfies from the front-facing camera on the Galaxy A54 get a sizable 32MPs to play with.
In practice, I found that the Galaxy A54 could do a decent job with static and well-lit objects like food and a surprisingly good job in low-light situations. However, at the same time, the picture quality is rarely a huge deviation from the mean in the mid-range nowadays. A little bit more zoom or a more responsive camera app could go a long way here.
For a sense of what the Galaxy A54 5G's camera can do, check out the gallery below.
Samsung Galaxy A54 - performance and battery life
Under the hood, the Galaxy A54 comes powered by Android 13 (spliced with the latest version of Samsung's One UI), a 5000mAh battery, an Exynos 1380 processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. That loadout will get you pretty far, but I constantly found myself wishing it went a little further still.
Where the Galaxy A54 is a dead-ringer for most flagships in terms of overall build quality and material design, the sluggishness of the chipset powering it is a bit of a dead giveaway that it isn't as premium as it looks.
Even if it's not quite as slow as a budget phone might feel, the Galaxy A54 was rarely as snappy as I'd like. I'd be more willing to forgive this particular shortcoming if the base storage was a little more generous, but 128GB is basically the absolute minimum for a smartphone in 2023. While this particular device does support expanded storage, it's a shame that Samsung hasn't opted to raise this bar for mid-ranger like the Galaxy A54 on this particular front.
When it came to gaming, the guts of the Galaxy A54 proved up to the task though. Framerate hitches were fairly common in Genshin Impact, but other mobile games like Diablo Immortal and Super Meat Boy Forever proved to be well within its capabilities.
As for battery life, the 5000mAh you have to work with here mostly delivers the goods. I'd regularly be able to make a full two days of standard use before I needed to charge the Galaxy A54 back up again. This worked out to be around 8 or 9 hours of screen time. Burned down from a full charge to 0% by video streaming via YouTube, the Galaxy A54 lasted 18 hours and 40 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy A54 vs Moto G53
If you're looking for a lean alternative to the Galaxy A54, it's hard to go past the new Moto G53. Like the Samsung's latest high-end midranger, the new Moto G53 hits all the notes you'd expect. The screen size of this glass sandwich is 6.5 inches, with an LCD display that's clocked at 120Hz.
Under the hood, the Moto G53 is powered by a Snapdragon 480+ 5G, 4GB of RAM and a 5000mAh battery. The back half of the Moto G53 plays host to a 50MP quad-lens main camera and a 2MP macro lens while the front is kitted out with an 8MP selfie camera.
Those specs do put it behind the Galaxy A54 in terms of performance, but at half the price it's definitely worth considering how much you want that little bit of extra RAM and resolution before committing to either camp.
Is the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G worth buying?
Even if not everyone needs or wants to pay extra for all the bells and whistles that the flagship Galaxy S23 can provide, the idea of more frugal or everyday users being able to come away with something that's built to last and provide a solid everyday experience is easy to jump on board with.
The Galaxy A54 lives up to that premise for the most part, though that success only makes the fronts where it doesn't come off as all the more noteworthy. Samsung's Galaxy A Series has traditionally done a really excellent job of translating what works about the Galaxy S series into a more affordable form, and this year's crowning jewel continues that legacy. That's easy to like, but it's just as easy to wish it was the start of something new or more.
The Galaxy A54 is an awesome mid-range option, though it could use a little more ambition.
How does the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G compare?
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|See it at Bing Lee||Exynos 1380||6.55-inches|
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|See it at The Good Guys||Snapdragon 888+ 5G||6.55-inches|
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|See it at Kogan||Snapdragon 778+ 5G||6.55-inches|
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|See it at Telstra||Google Tensor||6.1-inches|
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|See it at The Good Guys||Mediatek Dimensity 900 5G||6.4-inches|
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|See it at Amazon||A15 Bionic||4.7-inches|