Galaxy A53 beats iPhone SE at its own game

When Apple unveiled the updated iPhone SE last week, the reactions were… mixed. While some praised Apple’s efforts to pack the latest A15 Bionic processor and 5G connectivity into its cheapest phones, others (myself included) cited the outdated design and large screen as cause for concern.

Fortunately, Samsung is here to show Apple how it’s done. The company today unveiled new models in its more affordable Galaxy A series, including the £399 / $449 A53 5G, a close competitor to Apple’s £419 / $429 iPhone SE.

Galaxy A53

We hardly need to point out that Android phones at this price all offer slimmer designs and better screens than the iPhone SE, but what sets the Galaxy A53 apart is that it also plays with Apple’s traditional strengths, having key luxuries like stereo speakers, IP67 water resistance and support long term programmes.

In a sense, this is nothing new. Set the Galaxy A53 5G against last year’s A52 5G and you won’t notice much difference. The design has been modified to make the phone a little thinner and incorporate a curved camera module reminiscent of the more expensive Oppo Find X5 Pro.

This same camera not only offers an ultra-wide lens, but also includes optical image stabilization (OIS) for the main lens, which means that the A53 can be a highly capable night camera. Since the iPhone SE lacks any form of night mode, the camera comparison doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

The A53 has a 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution. This beats the SE display in every possible measure, but thanks to the slim bezel, the phone itself is slightly larger than Apple’s display.

Galaxy A53

There’s an upgraded chipset here, in the form of Samsung’s Exynos 1280. Since it debuted these new A series phones, and the fact that I only used the phone for 15 minutes, we don’t know much about its capabilities. But it’s unlikely to be identical to the iPhone SE’s A15 Bionic, the same chip used in the iPhone 13 series, and certainly the big attraction there.

Samsung installed a larger battery than the A52. The 5,000mAh cell promises two days of use from the A53 — well beyond the paltry 15 hours of video playback that Apple promises in the new SE. 25W charging is faster than Apple’s 20W speeds, although Samsung hasn’t pushed the wireless charging offered by Apple.

At this point, Apple advocates are likely to point to the company’s strength: software support. Apple can’t be matched here – while it doesn’t promise specific support periods for its devices, it does tell that the latest iOS 15.4 can be installed on the original iPhone SE, launched in March 2016 – not to mention the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus from a few months before that .

Galaxy A53

But Samsung is encroaching on the Cupertino area even here. Earlier this year, it announced that its flagship devices, including the latest S22 series, will receive up to four years of Android version updates, with a fifth year of security patches — a promise that Google can’t deliver now.

However, the company is doing a better job, extending the same promise to the A53 and even the £329 Galaxy A33. This means that these phones will receive updates to Android 13, 14, 15 and – in theory – 16. They will still receive security patches in 2027.

So yes, if you want to keep using the same phone for six years or more, Apple is still the way to go. But if you think four or five years is long enough to stay with the same device, Samsung’s offering is now just as good.

iPhone SE

The intriguing thing about setting up the Galaxy A53 and iPhone SE side by side is that the SE’s only real gains are its more powerful processor and wireless charging support. But when you ask who the SE is, perhaps the most common response is that for older users, those who are reluctant to let go of the home button and learn new ways to use their phones.

But does your grandmother really need the fastest silicone in any smartphone right now? Does your grandfather have Qi chargers scattered around the house to charge them wirelessly? Wouldn’t they benefit more from a larger, higher-resolution, easy-to-read display? You know, like the phone on the A53 – or basically any affordable Android phone on the market.

Playing on Apple’s strengths—waterproofing, software support, and camera features—Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible to deliver all of these features in an affordable phone without compromising on the design and screen.

Just nine days after its launch, Samsung delivered the final nail in the coffin for the iPhone SE 2022, leading to the fact that it’s a phone that only Apple maniacs can love.