Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
The value leader
At $450 or less, it’s hard to argue with the value of the Galaxy A53 5G. It may not be as fast or have the camera prowess of the Galaxy S21 FE, but what it lacks in brute force it makes up for in battery life. Plus, the Exynos 1280 inside is still plenty fast for most people’s gaming and day-to-day needs.
- Great price
- Much faster than the A52
- 120Hz AMOLED display
- Double the battery life
- IP67 water and dust resistance
- No Wi-Fi 6
- Not for intense games
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Late to the party
The Galaxy S21 FE is the best version of the Galaxy S21 lineup due to its value proposition. It’s got the same great display and processor from Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S21 range, just in a slightly different package with worse haptics. Its biggest flaw is that the Galaxy S22 came out right after, and it’s only $100 more.
- The processor is twice as powerful
- Even better 120Hz AMOLED display
- Better quality cameras
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- Worst battery life
- Relatively expensive
If you’re looking for a great Samsung phone that doesn’t cost as much as a flagship device like a Galaxy S22+ (opens in a new tab), the Galaxy A53 5G and Galaxy S21 FE are excellent choices. But is the Galaxy S21 FE really worth twice the price of the Galaxy A53 5G? We compare these two budget phones (opens in a new tab) to see what is best worth your hard-earned dollars.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs S21 FE: Design and display
Both the Galaxy A53 5G (opens in a new tab) and Galaxy S21 FE (opens in a new tab) are unmistakably modern Samsung devices on the outside. The large rear camera bump is brought about by curved sides, and the vertical orientation of the camera sensors is extremely similar between the two devices. However, the Galaxy S21 FE more closely follows the style of the Galaxy S21 or S22, aligning it better with those high-end phones.
Both phones sport a polycarbonate back with a powder matte finish. Modern polycarbonate phones are nothing like the shiny, greasy old plastic that so many phone makers, including Samsung, had used. The sides of the Galaxy S21 Fe are metal with a matte finish, while the Galaxy A53 5G sticks instead with a glossy trim. Both Harish and I tend to gravitate towards matte edges, as we both pointed out in our respective reviews of these phones.
Where we differ in our opinion is with the flat sides of the Galaxy A53 5G. Personally, I prefer the stockier, flatter sides of the Galaxy A53 5G, while the Galaxy S21 FE is a bit more rounded.
Samsung has fitted the Galaxy A53 5G with a slightly larger screen – it’s 6.5in compared to the 6.4in screen on the Galaxy S21 FE – but both phones have a 120Hz refresh rate. They also both use Samsung’s AMOLED display technology, so you can expect gorgeous colours, perfect black levels and one of the best picture quality you’ll find on any phone.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs S21 FE: performance and battery life
It is in this category that the real differences lie. For twice the price – it’s $700 for the Galaxy S21 FE versus $350 for the Galaxy A53 5G at the time of writing – you’ll get twice the performance if you choose the Galaxy S21 FE. The S21 FE features the exact same Snapdragon 888 chipset as the more expensive Galaxy S21, while the Galaxy A53 5G features Samsung’s own Exynos 1280, a chip that was designed for efficiency above all else.
|Category||Galaxy S21 FE||Galaxy A53 5G|
|Software||Android 12 with UI 4.1||Android 12 with UI 4.1|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888||Samsung Exynos 1280|
|RAM||6/8 GB||6/8 GB|
|Storage||128/256 GB||128/256 GB|
|Display||6.4-inch AMOLED | 2340×1080 (491ppi) | 60Hz refresh rate||6.5-inch AMOLED | 2400×1080 (473ppi) | 60Hz refresh rate|
|protection||IP68 Water/Dust Resistance | Gorilla Glass Victus||IP67 Water/Dust Resistance | Gorilla Glass 5|
|microSD card slot||❌||✅|
|Security||In-screen fingerprint sensor||In-screen fingerprint sensor|
|Rear camera 1||12MP, ƒ/1.8 main||64MP ƒ/1.8|
|Rear camera 2||12MP, ƒ/2.2 ultrawide||12MP, ƒ/2.2 ultrawide|
|Rear camera 3||8MP, ƒ/2.4, 3x optical zoom Telephoto||Macro 5MP ƒ/2.4|
|Rear camera 4||❌||5MP ƒ/2.4 Portrait|
|Front camera||32MP, ƒ/2.2||32MP f/2.2|
|loading||25W wired fast charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging||25W wired charging|
|Connectivity||5G (sub-6, millimeter wave), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6||5G (sub-6), Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 5 (ac)|
|Colors||White, Graphite, Olive, Lavender||Black, White, Blue|
|Dimensions||155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm, 177g||159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm, 189g|
|audio||Stereo sound||Stereo sound|
This huge performance gulf is going to make the biggest difference for power users and mobile gamers, who will be most satisfied with the faster phone – the Galaxy S21 FE. It also means that, thanks to the extra power, the Galaxy S21 FE is sure to hit a stable 120Hz at all times, while the Galaxy A53 5G’s less powerful chipset will likely drop to 60Hz for games with intense graphics or when a lot is happening on the screen.
But all that extra power might not be what you need, especially if you prioritize battery life. The Exynos 1280 inside the Galaxy A53 5G is a more power efficient chipset than the Snapdragon 888 because it doesn’t run as fast. Additionally, the Galaxy A53 5G has an almost 10% larger battery than the Galaxy S21 FE.
After just one day, you will absolutely have to recharge the Galaxy S21 FE to be able to use the phone again the next day. Experienced users may even need to charge it a bit early on a particularly busy day. Meanwhile, the Galaxy A53 5G will have no problem getting through a full day no matter what you do, and many users will even find that they can get through a second day – or at least partially that second day – before to need a top-up.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. S21 FE: Cameras and video
Here’s one area where the spec sheet doesn’t paint the full picture. On paper, the Galaxy A53 5G probably looks more impressive. Its 64MP main camera sensor has a bit higher resolution than the 12MP found on the Galaxy S21 FE, and it even has a dedicated fourth macro camera that could be attractive for certain types of close-up photos and videos.
However, in the case of cameras in particular, the numbers don’t mean much. While the Galaxy A53 5G takes some of the absolute best photos in its price range, the Galaxy S21 FE will easily beat its quality in every situation. This is partly due to the sensors themselves. Although the Galaxy S21 FE’s camera has a lower resolution, it makes up for the difference by having physically larger pixels. This allows more light to enter the sensor – think large windows versus small windows in a house – resulting in less noisy and more detailed photos in all types of light.
The Galaxy S21 FE also has a much more powerful processor – roughly double the speed of the Galaxy A53 5G’s processor – which is used for computational photography and smoothing video while recording. When you take a photo, you will find that the Galaxy S21 FE can produce images with a wider dynamic range and is more often able to capture moving objects with greater clarity.
The Galaxy S21 FE also has a 3X telephoto lens which helps keep things clear when zooming in. It’s the same level of zoom detail you’ll find on all Galaxy S models – the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra are the exceptions here – which helps add value to the phone whenever you need to. digitally zoom into the frame.
Samsung Galaxy A53 vs S21 FE: which one to buy?
The Samsung Galaxy A53 and the Galaxy S21 FE both offer the “value phone” proposition, but only one actually presents itself as truly incredible value. At $350, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is the phone to beat. It packs a sufficiently powerful processor and huge battery into an attractive shell, all without costing an arm and a leg.
Technically, the Galaxy S21 FE is the better phone by almost any metric, but the dramatically higher price makes it harder to recommend — especially when the Galaxy S22 is just $100 more and can often be found cheaper from from Samsung or a carrier like Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T. Even if you’re looking for a more powerful phone, there are better options than the Galaxy S21 FE at its retail price.
That’s why we love the Galaxy A53 5G. It’s a great price, looks and feels great to use, and will easily get you through an entire day (or two) without a second thought.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
King of Valor
Samsung’s A-series has gotten better over the years, and this year’s Galaxy A53 5G is the best yet. With Samsung’s excellent processor that’s both battery efficient and powerful enough to run the 120Hz AMOLED display on the phone, you’ll be amazed by the Galaxy A53 5G every time you remember you only spent $350 on it. $.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The Galaxy S21 FE is the sequel to one of Samsung’s most budget-friendly phones in years, but it’s not significantly cheaper than the considerably more powerful Galaxy S22.