This story is part of Samsung Event, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Samsung’s most popular products.
Samsung is giving Google more competition in the affordable phone market with the newly announced $450 Galaxy A54 5G. The phone will be launched on April 6th and available for pre-order from March 30th, marking Samsung’s latest effort to break into the mid-range smartphone market.
The Galaxy A54 5G has a lot in common with last year’s Galaxy A53 5G. This phone beats its weight in many ways, aside from its occasionally lagging performance, as I wrote in my review. Both phones have a 5,000 mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, a screen with an adaptive refresh rate of 120 Hz and 128 GB of storage expandable up to 1 TB. They also have very similar screen sizes, with the Galaxy A54 measuring 6.4 inches, making it only slightly smaller than the Galaxy A53’s 6.5-inch display. International prices were not immediately available. But the Galaxy A53 5G had the same US price at launch and will be priced at £399 and AU$699 in the UK and Australia respectively.
Read more: Best phones under $500
The biggest changes Samsung has made to its new phone have to do with the camera. The Galaxy A54 5G has a 50-megapixel primary camera instead of the Galaxy A53’s 64-megapixel main sensor, although both phones have a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 5-megapixel macro camera. Samsung seems to be emphasizing night photography with the Galaxy A54 5G instead, although we won’t know how much improvement to expect until we can try it. The company also says that the pixels in the Galaxy A54 5G’s sensor are larger than those in the Galaxy A53 5G’s camera, and therefore require fewer megapixels. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy A54 5G has a 32-megapixel front camera, but Samsung has eliminated the rear 5-megapixel depth camera.
The Galaxy A54 5G will run on an Exynos 1380 processor, which sounds like it could be the successor to the Exynos 1280 chip in last year’s phone. I’m curious if this chip will make a difference as performance was one of my few complaints about the Galaxy A53 5G. Like other recent Samsung phones, the Galaxy A54 5G will receive four generations of Android OS updates and five years of security updates.
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Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S devices and its foldable phones might get the most attention, but the company’s A-series devices have built a serious following. Two of Samsung’s A-series devices, the Galaxy A13 and Galaxy A03, made Counterpoint Research’s ranking of best-selling phones in 2022, while the Galaxy S-series was nowhere to be found.
The launch comes as Google has competed more aggressively with Samsung on price in recent years. Google has its own A series of devices that offer some of the features of its flagship Pixel lineup at a lower price point. The $450 Pixel 6A, for example, is one of the best-looking phones in its price range and inherits Google’s Tensor processor from the Pixel 6. It also offers a superior camera compared to the Galaxy A53 5G when it comes to taking photos in a lot light or dark environments to record environment. Google launched the Pixel 6A last July after announcing it at its developer conference in May. So there’s a chance that a successor will be launched in the coming months.
The Galaxy A54 5G has a 50 megapixel main camera.
Along with its A-series phones, Google is also selling its flagship Pixel phones for significantly less than the list price of Samsung’s new Galaxy S phones. The Pixel 7, for example, starts at $600, while the Galaxy S23 starts at $800 with no trade-in discount.
Still, according to Counterpoint Research, Samsung dominates the U.S. Android phone market, accounting for 20% of shipments in Q4 2022, compared to Google’s 5%.
The Galaxy A54 5G is also another sign that you no longer have to shell out close to $1,000 to get features like a multi-lens camera and high refresh rate screen. It builds on a theme that’s been prevalent across the industry in recent years, especially on Android devices as once-premium features like 5G, larger screens, and advanced cameras have trickled down to cheaper devices.
And while Apple released a $429 third-generation iPhone SE last year to rival mid-range offerings from Samsung and Google, the company is unlikely to refresh its cheaper iPhone in 2023. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that a fourth iPhone SE is in development but is unlikely to be available until 2024.