Pixel 7a Outshines Samsung's Galaxy A54, Making It Seem Outdated


Deciding between Samsung's mid-range Galaxy A54 and the Google Pixel 7a can be a bit challenging. While the Pixel 7a offers the same processor as its flagship counterpart and has proven to be a superior camera phone, the Galaxy A54 starts at a slightly lower price of $450 compared to the 7a's $500. Despite being a budget option from Google, the A54 boasts some flagship features, including a high-resolution display, excellent battery life, and a more comfortable design compared to the Pixel's angular shape and prominent camera bar. However, it does come with trade-offs such as not matching Samsung's flagship camera quality, lack of wireless charging, and limited storage options.

Samsung has put effort into ensuring that the Galaxy A54 doesn't look like a budget phone

Samsung has put effort into ensuring that the Galaxy A54 doesn't look like a budget phone, a strategy also employed by Google with its A-series. While last year's Galaxy A53 appeared dull, the A54 takes inspiration from its flagship counterpart and looks more premium. Even in black, the A54 has a less "mid-range" appearance. The review unit in periwinkle blue (which appears purple in Samsung's renders) stands out, with a pearlescent look in direct light, giving off an elegant vibe that doesn't immediately suggest it's a sub-$500 device. The A54's build is sturdy, featuring tough glass on both sides of the chassis and an IP67 water and dust resistance rating. Although there's still some plastic on the outer frame, it's hardly noticeable at first glance.

The Galaxy A54 boasts a bold and beautiful 6.4-inch display. It's larger than the 6.1-inch screen on the Pixel 7a and offers more vibrant colors thanks to the high-resolution Samsung AMOLED panel with a smooth-scrolling 120Hz refresh rate. The Pixel 7a display tends to have a warmer color temperature, while Samsung's displays lean towards a bluer tone, resulting in more vibrant video and graphics. With a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, the A54 is slightly easier to read in direct sunlight compared to the Pixel 7a.

Comparing Samsung's Exynos to Google's Tensor

The hardware powering Samsung's Galaxy A54 differs from Google's in-house creation, the Tensor G2, which drives the Pixel 7a and its flagship counterparts. Samsung's latest mid-range chipset, the Exynos 1380 processor, features eight cores and performs better in benchmarks than last year's Galaxy A53. However, its performance is hindered by the limited 6GB RAM, resulting in occasional choppiness when switching between apps. This issue is more noticeable compared to the Pixel 7a, although the latter's default 60Hz refresh rate presents its own challenges for smooth scrolling.

When it comes to battery life, the Galaxy A54 surpasses its flagship counterparts and the Google Pixel 7a. With a larger 5,000 mAh battery compared to the 7a's 4,385 mAh, the A54 lasted approximately 18 hours and 48 minutes in our battery rundown test, outperforming the Pixel 7a's duration of 16 hours and 11 minutes. It's reassuring to see that Samsung's mid-range device can maintain a long-lasting battery, particularly considering its 120Hz refresh rate.

One disappointment is the absence of wireless charging on the Galaxy A54, even though it falls within the sub-$500 price range. Personally, I have established a network of chargers throughout my home, where I live and work, and it's crucial for me to have the convenience of easily placing a device down for wireless charging. While I can enjoy this feature with Google's Pixel 7a, it's unavailable on the Galaxy A54.

Samsung's Customized Version of the Android Operating System Continues to Impress.

The Galaxy A54 by Samsung operates on Android 13, featuring OneUI 5.1. This grants users access to exclusive Samsung features such as Bixby Modes, widget stacks, and an enhanced screenshot manager. Samsung has made a commitment to provide four years of software updates and five years of security updates for the Galaxy A54. This surpasses the support offered by the Pixel A-series, which receives four years of updates alongside sporadic quarterly feature drops (although the contents and timing of these drops remain uncertain, much like game loot).

I admire Samsung's adoption of unified icons in Android 13, as they give the interface a more sophisticated appearance compared to the vibrant stock icons. Additionally, the option to dim the wallpaper in dark mode is a welcome feature for users with sensitive eyes.


The Galaxy A54 Need one More Flagship

Priced at $450 for the unlocked version, the Galaxy A54 comes at an additional $50 if you require mmWave connectivity for accessing the full 5G bandwidth, which is the variant I would need to purchase to use the device on Verizon.

To justify its cost relative to the Pixel 7a, the Galaxy A54 could benefit from one or two more flagship-like features. It would be great to see Samsung incorporate wireless charging or offer higher storage options for users seeking a mid-range device that can last them throughout the entire five-year period of security updates. Implementing such concessions might not immediately result in increased sales, but it would establish Samsung as a mid-range manufacturer prioritizing longevity. This remains an area where Samsung maintains an advantage over Pixel on the software front, and we would love to see the hardware align with this philosophy.

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