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Samsung Galaxy A33 and A53 5G hands-on review: impressive mid-rangers

Save some pennies with these Galaxy S22 lites

Samsung Galaxy A33 and A53
Samsung Galaxy A33 and A53

The Galaxy A52 and A72 launch was a serious mid-range flex for Samsung in 2021. After Chinese brands like Xiaomi brought the heat with incredible value midrange phones such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro, old favourite Samsung was seen to be resting on its laurels until it clapped back with its A-series.

A year on, and while we’re yet to see an A72 successor, the A52 5G has been superseded by the A53 5G, and there’s also an A33 5G to add even more value to the mix. 

The Galaxy A33 5G and Galaxy A53 5G share many of the same specs – the same power, battery capacities, storage and ROM configurations and interfaces. That said, the A53 5G packs a better screen and more cameras.

Starting at just £379 for the A33 5G and £399 for the A53 5G, the phones still cost more than some budget bangers from other brands, such as the new Realme 9 Pro. However, with optical image stabilisation on the camera, 5 nanometre (nm) power and massive 5000mAh batteries, Samsung’s clearly not here to play games.

Design: Pastel peach and baby blue

According to Samsung, A stands for awesome, which is why the Galaxy A33 and A53 come in Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, and Awesome Peach. In the flesh, that means a slightly matte finish in either black, white, pastel peach or baby blue.

The back panel curves up to frame the camera surround, not dissimilar to the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s design, while the sides hard stop into a polished plastic frame with a metal styling. 

Both phones have practically the same size screens – the A33 is 6.4 inches and the A53 is 6.5 inches. That means they also have very similar footprints, and can easily be mistaken for one another from the back. 

Front on it’s much easier to tell the phones apart, with the A53 featuring a hole-punch selfie camera cut out, and the A33 packing a small notch. The A53, therefore, looks that bit more high-end. That isn’t the only difference with the phones’ screens – while both feature Full HD+ resolution, the A53 has a higher refresh rate at 120Hz (versus the 90Hz A33 screen). 

Rated up to IP67, the Galaxy A series is, on-paper, more water-resistant than some flagships like the OnePlus 10 Pro (only available in China currently) and the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Further protection comes in the form of Gorilla Glass 5 screens across both phones.

Screen: Smooth and smoother

Both the A33 and A53 5G boast Super AMOLED screens at 6.4 and 6.5 inches respectively. They’re also Full HD in resolution, so in side-by-side comparisons, they perform with similar levels of clarity and colour reproduction. 

The main difference – other than the A33’s notch versus the A53’s punch hole, is the refresh rate. The pricier A53 boosts smoothness to a flagship 120Hz, while the A33 keeps things at 90Hz. These silky speeds are matched with a respectable 800 nits of peak brightness, which should help viewability.

In the flesh, it’s little wonder the AMOLED screens both command attention with their deep blacks and vibrant colours. And we can imagine they’d be excellent for watching movies given the fact the phones pack stereo speakers – though no headphone jack. 

Camera: Stabilised Snapchat

One of the other key differences between the Galaxy A33 and A53 are their cameras. 

While both have four cameras with a 5MP fixed-focus macro camera, the other three cameras vary. Starting with the main camera, the A33’s packs 48MP of resolution versus 64MP on the A53. Both pack OIS and an f/1.8 aperture lens.

The A33’s 8MP ultra-wide camera is boosted to 12MP on the A53, and its 2MP depth sensor is outdone by a 5MP depth sensor on the A53.

Just like the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung has optimised the phones for Snapchat, so your snaps look as good as photos and videos taken in the camera app. The phones also include a Night Mode – not always a given at this price point, as well as new studio lighting effects. 

Performance: 5nm; 5000mAh; 5G

Samsung’s put a 5nm chip – the Exynos 1280 – inside a mid-range smartphone for the first time. With the Galaxy S21 packing 5nm tech, while we don’t anticipate the same levels of graphical performance in the A series, the phones should be fast enough to game without too many dropped frames.

Both the Galaxy A33 and A53 also feature 5000mAh batteries. That’s the same capacity as flagships like the Galaxy Note 22 Ultra, so we anticipate at least a full day out of both phones, if not two given their midrange power.

While you don’t get a charging brick in the box, just a USB-C cable, you can expect fast-charging at up to 25W. This may not be fast compared to some of the best Xiaomi phones (the Xiaomi 11T Pro powers up at 120Hz), however, both A series phones will charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. 

You can only pick the Galaxy A33 and A53 up in one storage capacity, 128GB, but that’s expandable, so having enough space for your files and movies shouldn’t be a concern. They also pack 6GB RAM, as well as Samsung’s new RAM Plus, so you can give it a boost.

Unlike last year’s A-series, all the phones announced this time around feature 5G as standard. 

Early verdict

At £379 for the A33 5G and £399 for the A53 5G, we’re impressed both phones cram in so much, and overjoyed we’re not seeing piddly 64GB storage capacities and mediocre screens in midrange Samsung phones anymore. 

The Galaxy A53 5G, in particular, seems perfect for someone who wants Galaxy S22 experiences without the flagship price. Meanwhile, the A33 5G loses a little more screen to that notch, scales back the refresh rate and reduces the megapixels. That said, pretty much everything else is identical across both phones, from the in-display fingerprint scanners to the IP67 water and dust resistance, through to massive batteries and capable 5nm processors. 

Expected to launch for pre-order right now, and be available for purchase either at the end of March or the beginning of April 2022, if you’re a Samsung fan in need of a cost-effective upgrade, both these phones should be blipping your radar.