Samsung A54 review: Our verdict on the mid-range Android phone

samsung a54 review
Samsung A54 reviewDigital Spy

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There are loads of mid-range Android smartphones these days, but there are only a handful that we reckon are actually worth your time and money. Most of those have the word 'Pixel' in the name. But for anyone who wants a Samsung, the A54 is now added to that list – thanks to its smooth performance, solid battery and years of software support.

Is it better than Google's sub-£500 models, the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7a? If your priority is photography and a clean Android experience you may be better off with one of those, but the A54 gives you longer battery life, expandable storage and a higher refresh rate.

The screen is a particular standout – it is big, bright and responsive – ideal for streaming the latest Ahsoka episodes on the go, and it's particularly impressive when viewed as an affordable alternative to Samsung's flagship S23 series.

Samsung A54 key specs

  • Screen size: 6.4 inches

  • Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels

  • Operating system: Android 13 (One UI)

  • Processor: Samsung Exynos 1380

  • Cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 32MP front

  • Battery: 5,000mAh, up to two days

  • Storage: 128GB/256GB

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Weight: 202g

  • Water resistance: Yes, IP67

  • MicroSD slot: Yes, Up to 1TB

Samsung A54 design

While the design of the A54 isn't what we'd call inspiring, there is some charm to its minimalist appearance – the back panel is a single bold colour (our sample is white but it also comes in black, green and violet) and there's no defined camera module like you'll see on older Samsung phones (including the A53), with the cameras poking out in three neat circles. At a glance, it could be mistaken for the flagship S23.

The edges around the front are slightly raised and, combined with the matte plastic sides, the result is that it's grippier to hold than the Google Pixel smartphones. The bezels around the display are larger than the flagship S-series models but are never distracting when it’s in your hands. The Galaxy A54 doesn't feel particularly premium, but it doesn't feel cheap and plasticky, either, and while some users will consider the body of the phone to be chunky, we find that the extra thickness actually adds to the feeling of a solid build quality.

samsung a54 review
The A54’s body is thicker than the S23 but it helps with grippinessDigital Spy

Samsung A54 display

If we have to pick one standout feature of the Galaxy A54, it's the display. The specs speak for themselves: you get a high-resolution OLED panel with up to 1,000 nits of brightness (roughly the same as the Pixel 7a and the iPhone 14) and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz – we never encountered lags or stuttering when scrolling the menus or apps.

This is a large smartphone. At 6.4 inches, the screen is great for watching streaming shows on Netflix or Disney+, catching up on your friends' Instagram feeds or doing some gaming. The brightness is more than enough to let you see apps even in brighter outdoor conditions, and colours look great.

We used it during our commute to work over a week to watch Annika and Hidden Assets on BBC iPlayer – and the display delivers great picture quality even in its night-time water scenes. We find the screen's vibrancy to be pretty similar to the Pixel 7 Pro – and that's impressive.

samsung a54 review
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Samsung A54 camera

Getting a triple camera setup is one of the more appealing features for a mid-range phone – and the A54 has a 50 megapixel (MP) main shooter, a 12MP ultrawide and a 5MP macro on the rear, plus a 32MP selfie lens on the front. In brighter conditions, the system does a fine job of capturing detail and colours, but you're going to be disappointed if you're expecting this model to rival any of the Pixels or the Samsung flagships.

Our test images look acceptable on smaller phone screens, but some don't hold up to scrutiny when you zoom in – they'll often appear pixelated and distorted on closer inspection. It's also not great in low light, with a noticeable pause between hitting the shutter and it taking the image. Without the night mode, some of our images were unusable, but even with it on we saw blurriness with a few shots.

There's a "fun" mode in the camera menu that will appeal to kids (with Snapchat-like filters and overlays) but is likely to be ignored by everyone else, and there's nothing as inventive as the Samsung flagships' ultra-zoom or the Pixel editing tools. This is a fine camera system for general use – with the 50MP main lens being the best out of the three for capturing colour and details – but we don't think it's an exceptional one.

Samsung A54 software/performance

You’ll have no problems zipping through TikTok or doom-scrolling on Twitter/X on the A54 – it is consistently speedy. We didn't encounter any unexpected crashes or lag during our week of use, and it's able to handle games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Super Mario Run without issue.

We have no complaints with how the phone feels to navigate, and we love that if you want to add extra games, pictures, videos or apps you can pop in a microSD card of up to 1TB into the SIM slot for extra storage – you won't find that on any Pixel, iPhone or flagship Samsung handset.

That said, there is bloatware when you launch the phone – meaning you’ll have to take a few minutes to delete unwanted apps during setup. Apps like Disney+ and TikTok are preloaded – whether you want them is personal preference. It's not excessive like some budget handsets, and thankfully there are no random games or Facebook.

Generally, though, the One UI 5.1 skin on top of Android 13 is light and customisable, and we like the taskbar that's built into the right side of the screen that you open with a swipe left. There's enough space for you to add eight of your favourite apps and once you get used to it, the feature is helpful for accessing your favourites in a rush.

Samsung pledges to support the A54 with up to four generations of OS upgrades (that's up to Android 17) and five years of security updates (up to 2028). It also has 5G, and while that is not a huge selling point right now we expect to see more of these superfast networks roll out in the coming years, bringing quicker internet speeds and downloads.

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Samsung A54 battery

There’s a 5,000mAh battery in the A54 that delivers up to two days of battery life – and that can rise to more than two days with very moderate use. It's a bigger capacity than the Pixel 7a, iPhone 14 and even the flagship Samsung S23, and we like not having to always worry about needing a top-up at the end of every day of using it during work, checking emails, listening to music on Spotify and tapping around social media in the evening.

The A54 has 25W charging (the wall plug is sold separately) and you'll go from drained to full in under an hour and a half – better than the Pixels but standard for mid-range Androids. A 10-minute charge gives us around 10% of battery. There's no wireless charging so you have to use the supplied USB-C cable (or one of the best power banks).

Samsung A54 drawbacks

While we like that Samsung gives you a wide selection of colour options, the design itself is not exactly memorable – although we had the same impression with the Galaxy S23, too. It's simple and clean, though, so it'll appeal if you want a minimalist handset.

The phone may be grippier than the Google Pixel phones, but we do find that the handset is wobbly on flat surfaces due to the three raised camera modules on the left side of the back panel – a case may solve this problem.

The cameras lack the ability of the Pixels, and there continues to be some bloatware when you first launch the phone. It's not excessive though, and it really only took us a few minutes to delete the unwanted software from the phone during the initial setup stages.

samsung a54 review
Digital Spy

Samsung A54 verdict

There are not too many Android handsets that we recommend at the £500 price point because the Pixels are so impressive – but the A54 is one of them. We love the crisp and bright display, the expandable storage, the lengthy battery life and the many years of software support.

Sure, there are compromises from the Galaxy flagships. The camera isn't as snappy as we would have liked and the design is fairly plain, but the phone is undeniably good value for money, particularly when viewed as an affordable alternative to the S-series. If you have lots of Samsung gadgets and don't want to stray, this is the Android phone for you.

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