Samsung flagship devices are always on a pedestal for their crème-de-la-crème experience that sets them apart from other devices – honestly, you can read all about that in this S23 Ultra review we did. But then, there’s the A Series, the mid-tier smartphone lineup. Now, the brand has streamlined their devices to make things easier for them and consumers too – which also gave them the effort to take the mid-tiers seriously too. But for some odd reason, this specific A series gets all the “negative” sentiment from a lot of reviewers, but we don’t feel that way. So, before you lift your pitchforks, here is what we have to say in this Samsung Galaxy A54 5G Review.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G Review
Finally, a Build Quality that’s Solid
The A Series from Samsung used to have a premium finish, matching the S7 when it was still around. But that faded away over time for a polycarbonate finish, which isn’t bad, but it did make the phone feel a little too cheap. But the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G brings back the once premium feeling with the glass sandwiched between a metal rail. The A54 5G does have a glossy back, whereas the A34 has a matte finish. I do wish both the phones had the same matte finish.
But that out of the way, the phone does feel very nice in the hands, and without a doubt – an upgrade over the predecessor’s look and feel. Unlike a curved device, which can be a little harder to hold, having a flat back does help with the ergonomics of how to hold the phone.
Improved Display Experience
I do remember the previous A53 5G having a nice display but it wasn’t as nice as the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G. This 6.4” FHD+ Super AMOLED Display does a better job in keeping up with the touch responsiveness and the 120Hz is a nice addition for that smooth experience. The colours are definitely much better here versus the previous AMOLED display which did have a wee bit washed-off experience. Truth be told, this display on the A54 is still a surprise because it does feel different, in a good way.
Expect to watch movies and good shows on this display with poppy colours and true blacks, all possible to the OLED part of the display. It is a lot glossier than I expected, so do make sure to get a screen protector that would help with the display a lot better. The fingerprint sensor is under the display, and it uses an optical sensor which is a bit slow but something that you will have to compromise at this price point.
Downgraded, but specs wise an okay camera
Ever since the A53 onwards, the camera is an area where the phone has seen some cuts – from having a telephoto setup to have a macro, it does feel like an absolute disappointment. But having one non-functional camera aside, the 12MP Ultra-Wide and 50MP Main camera on the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G do take good pictures albeit slowly at times – let me explain.
Starting with the Ultrawide camera, the 12MP does eliminate the warp feel, all thanks to the post-correction done by the software. But since it is ultrawide, the details on the sides can be blurred out. Otherwise, it does capture a well-balanced exposure, a tad saturated image overall where the reds look like a stronger orange colour – which shows a bit of a colour inaccuracy. The colour inconsistency with skin tone is a huge problem where if you were to take in a bright-lit condition, the skin tone tends to take a big hit.
But move into the main shooter, which does a better job of differentiating the colours where the reds are supposed to be reds.
Since it doesn’t have a telephoto ability and all you do get is a digital zoom, the picture quality without a doubt takes a massive hit. Sometimes the focus of the camera is a bit of a bummer because it blurs the other subjects in the images – which is truly annoying. This happens more so often with the front-facing camera than one would expect. The low light experience with this camera feels sluggish. The camera has its moments where it does take good pictures and there are moments where it fails to keep up with the processing which makes the subject look all grainy.
The problem with these cameras is that when it does take pictures, there are moments it captures exactly what a person wants but there are times when it does the opposite. While there is a certain level of consistency, it also has some inconsistency here and there. I do like it when it takes good pictures but it does irritate me when I can’t get the right picture. You can check out all the shots taken below.
The Performance: The “Alleged” Achilles Heel
This is where the real conversation is about to happen because if you were to hit the Twitter space, the number of people complaining about this is absolutely crazy. Now, under the hood of the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, it houses a Samsung Exynos 1380 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Can you expand the storage? Yes, you can.
But let’s talk about the performance. Last year, we had the Exynos 1280 with the A53. And this year, we do see an upgrade over that processor. However, since it’s a mid-tier processor, the performance is in the same league. It does have occasional stutters which I have personally experienced since I’ve started using this phone for more than a month, and it isn’t really the most efficient when it comes to multitasking as it does struggle on rare occasions. But when it does perform, it does give a good experience with easy-to-use and little extra apps which can be deleted.
Playing games on the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G has been alright, and honestly, I have only done light gaming with Netflix Games. Other than that, the performance of this phone is somewhat similar to the Snapdragon 695 we reviewed on other phones. It keeps up with most tasks and it does take a hit when it does go through one. So, do take note that the performance on this phone isn’t at a flagship level but more of what you could expect from a mid-tier smartphone.
Credit where it’s due, Samsung is offering a long-term update cycle – 4 generations of OS and 5 years of security maintenance. But would it perform the way it does today, 4 years later? There’s a slim chance of that.
This 5000mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G isn’t as efficient as how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is with the S23 Ultra. Exynos processors seem to consume a lot more than they should. So during my time using this phone as my daily driver, which comprises heavy use apps such as Google Maps, Socar, Grab, Spotify and Social Media plus emails. And I have gotten 4 hours 26 minutes screen on time and 11 hours 14 minutes of screen off time. There’s another instance where I did get 6 hours 29 minutes of screen time with 15 hours of screen off time.
I wouldn’t say that it isn’t capable of 2 days of battery life. But more like there is once again an unpredictable streak in the battery life.
Samsung only made one variant – and the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G only comes in this 8GB RAM and 256GB Storage configuration but in 4 different colours. All are priced at RM 1,899. This pricing and seeing this phone makes complete sense as to why there’s no A74 anymore, as it would exceed the RM2000 mark, making it a tough sell. But the A54 isn’t an easy sell either because, at the same price point, you could get a Snapdragon 7 series smartphone for RM 200 less.
But the real reason why one should even get the A54 5G is for its experience. While other smartphones do have the specs to back it up, the majority of them in this price point only happen to offer 2 years of the update cycle, if you’re lucky. So, if longevity in the software department is something you do value, and knowing that Samsung does patch and fix issues with monthly updates – it’s a value-added service for this phone which I don’t mind paying for. Not to forget, this is literally the first time Samsung is offering 2 years of warranty.
So, there you have it. You are not just paying for the hardware but for longer software support too.