When Apple unveiled the updated iPhone SE last week, reactions were…mixed. While some praised Apple’s efforts to pack the latest A15 Bionic processor and 5G connectivity into its cheapest phone, others (
myself included) singled out the outdated design and clunky display as cause for concern.
Fortunately, Samsung is here to show Apple how it’s done. Today the company unveiled new models in its affordable Galaxy A-series range, including the
A53 5G which, at £399/$449, is a close competitor to Apple’s £419/$429
It hardly needs to be pointed out that Android phones at that price all offer slicker designs and better screens than the iPhone SE, but what sets the Galaxy A53 apart is that it also plays to Apple’s traditional strengths, packing in flagship luxuries such as stereo speakers, IP67 water-resistance, and long-term software support.
In a sense, this is nothing new. Set the Galaxy A53 5G against last year’s
A52 5G and you won’t notice too many differences. The design has been tweaked to make the phone a little thinner and incorporate a curved camera module that’s reminiscent of the much more expensive
Oppo Find X5 Pro.
That camera itself not only offers an ultrawide lens, but also includes optical image stabilisation (OIS) for the main lens, which means that the A53 could be a pretty capable night-time camera. With the iPhone SE lacking any form of night mode, the camera comparison doesn’t even feel like a fair fight.
The A53 has a 6.5in, 120Hz AMOLED display with an FHD+ resolution. That beats the SE’s screen on every possible metric, but thanks to a slim bezel the phone itself is only a little larger than Apple’s offering.
There’s an upgraded chipset here, in the form of Samsung‘s own Exynos 1280. Since it’s making its debut in these new A-series phones, and the fact that I’ve only used the phone for 15 minutes, we don’t know too much its capabilities. But it’s unlikely to be a match for the iPhone SE’s A15 Bionic, the same chip used in the
iPhone 13 series, and certainly the big attraction there.
Samsung has fitted a bigger battery than the A52 had. A 5000mAh cell promises two days of usage out of the A53 – far beyond the paltry 15 hours of video playback that Apple promises in its new SE. The 25W charging is a hair faster than Apple’s 20W speeds, though Samsung hasn’t squeezed in the wireless charging that Apple made space for.
At this point Apple’s defenders are likely to point to the ace up the company’s sleeve: software support. Apple can’t be matched here – while it doesn’t promise specific support periods for its devices, it’s telling that the latest
iOS 15.4 can be installed on the original iPhone SE, which launched back in March 2016 – not to mention the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus from a few months before that.
But Samsung is encroaching on Cupertino territory even here. Earlier this year it announced that its flagship devices, including the recent
S22 series, would receive up to four years of
Android version updates, with a fifth year of security patches – a promise that even Google can’t beat right now.
The company is doing one better though, extending that same promise to the A53 and even the £329 Galaxy A33. That means these phones will receive updates to
Android 13, 14, 15, and – in theory – 16. They’ll still be receiving security patches in 2027.
So, yeah, if you want to keep using the same phone for six years or more then Apple is still the way to go. But if you think four or five years is long enough to stick with the same hardware, then Samsung’s offering is now just as good.
The curious thing about setting the Galaxy A53 and iPhone SE side by side is that the SE’s only real wins are its more powerful processor and wireless charging support. But when you ask who the SE is for, perhaps the most common reply is that it’s for older users, those reluctant to give up the Home Button and learn new ways to use their phone.
But does your grandma really need the fastest silicon in any smartphone right now? Does your grandad have Qi chargers dotted around the house to top up wirelessly? Wouldn’t they benefit more from a larger, higher resolution display that’s easier to read? You know, like the one in the A53 – or basically any
affordable Android phone on the market.
By playing to Apple’s strengths – waterproofing, software support, camera features – Samsung has proven that it’s possible to offer all these features in an affordable phone without compromising on the design and display.
Just nine days after its launch, Samsung has delivered the final nail in the coffin for the iPhone SE 2022, hammering home the fact that it’s a phone that only an Apple obsessive could love.