Samsung Galaxy A54 5G: mid-range heavyweight (review)

8.6

Redefining Samsung’s mid-range promises, the Samsung Galaxy A54 proves that you don’t need to spend top dollar to get a top-shelf Android smartphone.

While it’s easy to get excited about flagship smartphones which cost north of two grand, truth be told, many people can’t justify dropping that kind of cash on a gadget. Especially these days when interest rates are high and money is tight.

The good news is that mid-range smartphones keep going from strength to strength. Shop wisely and you’ll get plenty of change from a thousand bucks for a top-quality smartphone which will serve you well for much longer than two years.

With an elegant design, decent cameras, a fair amount of grunt, and a generous software update path, the Samsung Galaxy A54 pushes the A series into new territory. It steps into the crowded high end of the mid-range Android market as a serious contender up against the likes of Google’s Pixel 6a (and perhaps the Pixel 7a if the Google I/O fairy delivers the goods).

Details: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

Australian websiteSamsung
Price$699 RRP
Warranty2 years
More  More Samsung news and reviews on GadgetGuy
Samsung A54 5G in purple showing front and back
The Samsung Galaxy A54 bridges the gap between Samsung’s A series and S series smartphone.

First impressions

With a great 6.4-inch display, sturdy premium build, and triple camera array, the Samsung Galaxy A54 certainly makes a great first impression for a mid-range handset. You can see how Samsung is working to unify the design language of the A and range-topping S series handsets.

The Galaxy A54 feels well-balanced in your hand, and the glass back certainly helps give it that premium look and feel, even if it’s let down by a plastic frame rather than aluminum. That Gorilla Glass 5 back makes it a slippery sucker, and it’s surprisingly easy to fumble the phone in your hands, so you might consider investing in a protective case.

Power and volume buttons are on the right edge although, unlike some handsets, the power button doesn’t double as a fingerprint reader. Instead, there’s one built into the screen, which is actually easiest to reach with your thumb (or your pointer finger on the other hand).

Unlike some larger handsets, reaching for the power button or fingerprint reader with your thumb doesn’t leave the handset teetering in your grip (although people with small hands might feel differently).

The 1080 x 2340-pixel AMOLED screen doesn’t disappoint, looking sharp and crisp even if it falls short of the Dynamic AMOLED 2x display found in the flagship Galaxy S23. It’s great to see a 120Hz refresh rate, which is becoming more common in the mid-range market, along with a generous 1000 nits brightness.

It’s worth noting that the display score reaches 120 points under DXOMARK testing, making it eligible for DXOMARK’s 2023 Bronze Display Label. It scored well on brightness (helping with readability), colors, video, and motion but was held back by a few finicky image artifacts.

Samsung has understandably made compromises in terms of grunt, which is certainly fair considering the price point. The A54 sports an Exynos powerplant and Mali GPU, along with 6 gigabytes of RAM. It certainly won’t break any performance records, but it’s no slouch and you’ll reap the benefits in terms of battery life.

On the back, you’ll find a triple rear camera array, with a similar layout to the Galaxy S23 range but forgoing telephoto in favor of macro – which will satisfy some people and disappoint others. There’s a 50 megapixel (MP) wide lens, 12MP ultrawide, and 5MP macro on the back. Meanwhile, there’s a hole-punch-style 32MP selfie camera on the front.

Close up of side of A54 smartphone showing buttons on side
The power and volume buttons are well-placed, but the plastic frame takes some of the polish off the design.

Samsung Galaxy A54 specs

Display size6.4 inches, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
Display resolution1080 x 2340
Display technologySuper AMOLED, 120 Hz
Bands5G sub-6
CPUExynos 1380
GPUMali-G68 MP5 
Rear cameras50 MP wide f/1.8 , optical image stabilisation
12 MP ultrawide f/2.2
5 MP macro f/2.4 
Front camera32 MP f/2.2
RAM6 GB
Onboard storage128 GB
microSD slotup to 1 TB
ChargingUSB-C 2.0
Battery5000 mAh
Wi-Fi802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2.4G+5GHz, HE80, MIMO, 1024-QAM
Wi-Fi Direct
Bluetooth5.3
Operating systemAndroid 13 (with Samsung’s One UI 5.1)
SecurityFingerprint reader, Face Unlock
RuggednessIP67
Dimensions158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm
Weight202 gm
ColoursAwesome Violet, Awesome Graphite

What are the A54’s features?

The Samsung Galaxy A54 runs the latest Android 13, with Samsung’s One UI 5.1 over the top which isn’t too intrusive.

The great news for those who like to squeeze long-term value out of their handsets is that Samsung has promised a generous four years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates – which should get you through to Android 17. 

When it comes to longevity, the IP67 rating also offers some reassurance with a waterproof and dustproof design that should survive a dunking.

As for surviving the day, the Galaxy A54 sports a 5000mAh battery, which is about what you’d expect. Samsung doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to battery life, but the fact it’s not packing a top-of-the-line Snapdragon powerplant works to your advantage. The battery should be enough to get you through all but the most demanding days.

There’s a USB-C port for charging, but it’s limited to 25W so you miss out on the fastest fast charging. There’s no AC charger in the box, just a USB-C cable. More surprisingly, you miss out on wireless charging completely. 

When it comes to entertainment, the screen supports HDR10 and HDR10+, yet HDR works with YouTube but not Netflix (although this might just require Netflix to whitelist this particular handset for HDR streaming). Frustratingly there’s no Dolby Vision, because Samsung insists on going its own way when it comes to HDR formats.

There are also Dolby Atmos-tuned stereo speakers that deliver decent sound. There’s no old-school 3.5 mm audio jack, so you’ll need Bluetooth headphones if you don’t want to disturb people on the train.

Close up of phone connection ports with headphone jack missing
USB-C for charging, but not 3.5 mm headphone jack in sight

How does the A54 perform?

The GeekBench 6 results are about what you’d expect, considering the price tag and the fact you’re not packing the top-shelf Snapdragon. It scores 991 on the CPU single-core test and 2797 on the multi-core, along with 3000 on the OpenCL GPU benchmarks. That’s respectable but not outstanding up against high-end mid-range rivals like the Pixel 6a.

When it comes to photography, that 50 MP camera figure holds its own, delivering impressive detail even if the colours are a bit over-saturated by default. Outside during the day, photos look vivid but not over-processed, although the sky looks a little too blue and the trees a little too green.

In low-light conditions, the results are also respectable but you’re left with a little noise in the shadows.

GadgetGuy’s take

The Samsung Galaxy A54 has a lot going for it, but as the new high-end of the Galaxy A series it’s creeping closer to the Galaxy S series in terms of features and pricing – especially if you’re prepared to look at the previous generation of S series handsets. You could be forgiven for dubbing the A54 the S23a.

Even if you’re determined to stick with Samsung, you’ll need to weigh up your priorities to decide where your money is best spent across the A and S series spectrum. If your budget won’t stretch any further than the Galaxy A54 but you want to shop around, it stacks up as a worthy contender alongside the Pixel 6a/7a and the growing range of high-end mid-range handsets that are delivering a lot of bang for your buck.

If you’re focused on one particular aspect like grunt or photography then other handsets in this price/performance range might catch your eye, but the Samsung Galaxy A54 is an impressive all-rounder.

Would I buy it?

Maybe, if I was a Samsung fan and my budget (or needs) didn’t stretch to the Galaxy S series. 

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G: mid-range heavyweight (review)
Taking Samsung's mid-range to new heights, the Samsung Galaxy A54 has plenty to offer those who don't need a flagship Android smartphone.
Features
8.5
Value for money
8.5
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
9
Design
8.5
Positives
Great display
Premium build
IP67 ruggedness
Negatives
No Dolby Vision
No fast-charging or wireless charging
8.6