Review: Samsung's Galaxy A13 and A53 offer quality tech for very fair prices

The Samsung A13 (l) and the Samsung A53 (r)
The Samsung A13 (l) and the Samsung A53 (r) both offer expensive tech in cheap phones. Photo credit: Newshub

Most people know that Samsung's top end phones provide a stellar, if expensive, experience.

The price you need to pay for the latest flagship devices is outside the budget of many people, however, which is where the Korean company's 'A' range comes in.

These models include some of the cheapest on the market, as well as mid-priced versions that promise great specifications for well under $1000.

But how do they perform?

I've been using the Samsung Galaxy A13 and Galaxy A53 for a couple of weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The good

For a device that costs relatively little, the biggest positive of the A13 was the quality of the screen.

Despite it not being as good as the A53's, the 1080x2408 pixel display powered by a TFT LCD panel was bright, crisp and colourful.

Watching videos on it was an enjoyable experience, made even better by the fact I could plug in my favourite comfortable headphones into the phone directly. Those 3.5mm audio jacks tend to be a relic intended only for inexpensive phones these days, but I still miss them in flagfships. 

There's also a decent amount of storage on board: 128GB is standard with the ability to extend by up to 1TB with the addition of a MicroSD card.

Even I would struggle to fill all that storage up!

The Samsung Galaxy A13
The Samsung Galaxy A13 Photo credit: Newshub

The 50 MP main camera on the back is also good value with the ability to take decent photos - but the supporting hardware is a little lacking, with just a 5 MP Ultra Wide lens and 2 MP Macro and Depth cameras. If you're a fan of expansive panoramas or close-ups of colourful flowers you may find yourself a little underwhelmed.

The front camera is also not the best, clocking in at just 8 MP. The selfies it took were fine for me - anything that hides the absolute truth of being 47, wrinkled and with greying hair is to be welcomed. If you're a wannabe influencer you might need a bit more fidelity, however, and you're out of luck if you want to log in using your face.

The battery is very good, with the 5000mAh charge easily lasting into a second day. If you're gentle with your usage, it'll almost certainly get you over 48 hours without needing to rejuice.

As for its bigger sibling, I absolutely loved the style of the A53. Not only did it look great, it felt like a premium phone in my hand. If I hadn't known beforehand how much it cost, I would have been surprised to find out this wasn't one of the company's more expensive models.

The display is simply terrific with the Super AMOLED screen and 1080x2400 resolution a dream to look at games, messages and streaming videos.

The Samsung Galaxy A13
The Samsung Galaxy A13 Photo credit: Newshub

The 120Hz variable refresh rate means it's smoother than most of Apple's latest iPhones too, with the exception of the 13 Pro models as the only ones to offer that currently.

Every time I picked up the A53 I felt the same happiness at the experience. I did some side-by-side comparisons with more expensive phones and unless you're looking very hard, I'd suggest not many would be able to pick differences.

It's also fast and responsive. There was no noticeable lag with the touchscreen, typing was natural and lacked the errors it did on the A13, thanks to the extra 2GB of RAM and the faster processor onboard.

With the upgraded price also comes upgraded cameras: in this case a 64 MP main camera, a 12 MP Ultra Wide and 5 MP offerings for the Macro and Depth cameras.

There was a noticeable difference in overall quality between the A13 and A53's photos so if photography is important then you'll definitely want to splash out a bit more.

The front-facing camera also gets a massive boost, this time up to 32 MP. That opens up automatic login with your face and ensures those selfies are right up there in overall quality.

You can use your fingerprint on the A13, done via the power button on the right hand side. The A53 ratchets that up a notch by having the fingerprint sensor under the screen.

The Samsung Galaxy A53
The Samsung Galaxy A53 Photo credit: Newshub

That's the type of functionality I expect to see on $2000 phones, not ones available for less than half of that. It worked beautifully.

The battery on the A53 is also 5000mAh, again ensuring you're going to get vastly more than a single day of juice out of it. Unlike the A13, 25W Super Fast Charging is supported too, although you'll have to pay for a charger to unlock that functionality.

And, like its sibling, expandable storage is available, allowing the onboard 128GB to be boosted by a 1TB MicroSD card.

One final thing - if you like taking great quality videos, there's a substantial difference between the two phones.

The A53 will take UHD 4K videos at 30fps, with slow motion at 240fps in HD quality. The A13 doesn't have slow motion and you'll get just FHD quality video at 30fps.

The bad

There are some flaws unique to each phone and some that are common - most noticeably the lack of charger with either.

I'm willing to accept there's a higher chance that someone spending a couple of thousand dollars on a new phone might have a USB-C cable or two lying about spare.

The Samsung Galaxy A53
Photo credit: Newshub

That might not be the case for those trying to save money, and so it's probably a bigger letdown for these devices that you have to fork out a few dollars for a wall charger if needed.

The cheaper A13 has limitations, of course, driven by the price.

There is no 5G connectivity which, out in Helensville with me isn't a big deal, but if you're in an area with decent coverage and a fan of streaming high-quality audio and videos it's definitely something to think about.

I also wasn't a big fan of the overall feel of the A13. For want of a better description, it just came across as cheap. Which, to be fair, it is.

The haptic feedback harkened back to the early days of smartphones and the glossy rear casing got all kinds of dirty very quickly indeed.

The biggest issue, however, was simply the overall performance.

While the screen was absolutely fine to watch, I found the lag when using it very noticeable.

The Samsung Galaxy A53
The Samsung Galaxy A53 Photo credit: Newshub

I suspect I've been too spoiled by my top-end phones to deal with the slowness of text input and the wait for apps to open.

I also had a game crash on me, something I can't recall happening with a mobile phone (outside of beta testing software) in a long time.

I loaded up Subway Surfers to try and see how receptive the touch controls were but just as I earned the hoverboard for the first time, it all disappeared and I was back on my home screen.

It didn't happen again in the games that followed, but it still gave cause for concern.

The A53, by itself, doesn't have any huge downsides. It obviously doesn't have the latest chip in it, and the 128GB of storage on board - the same as the A13 - feels a little stingy in comparison.

Oh, and there's no 3.5mm headphone jack on the more expensive model. Style, ultimately, wins over that function for the A53 so if you're not a fan of Bluetooth audio then take that into consideration.

That aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience.

The Samsung Galaxy A13 and A53
The Samsung Galaxy A13 and A53 Photo credit: Newshub

The verdict

The A13 and the A53 may belong to the same family of phones, but they are a world apart in feel and experience.

The A13 reminds me of some of the early smartphones, with haptic feedback that feels annoying rather than useful.

The A53, on the other hand, exudes a quality that pleasantly surprises considering its low price.

The A13 will set you back $349 and for that you get a decent amount of storage, a very nice screen and an acceptable camera. You ultimately pay the price for that cheapness, however, with a slow performance and a lag which anyone who has used flagship phones will find terrible.

The Samsung Galaxy A53
The Samsung Galaxy A53 Photo credit: Newshub

The A53, coming in at $749 is another beast altogether. The boost in RAM, camera, 5G connectivity and screen quality is noticeable and were I on the hunt for a mid-priced device this would be up at the top of my list.

Samsung has proven it's not just in it for the gadget aficionados who want the latest and greatest, but are giving virtually everyone a chance to try out its tech.

That's to be welcomed, because you can definitely do worse than the Korean company's mobile phones and extended software support.

My one piece of advice? Spend as much as you can because you'll get the benefit of it in the long term.

Newshub was supplied with a Samsung Galaxy A13 and Galaxy A53 for this review.