A truly global model, the Galaxy A54 will be faced with different competitors depending on market. Its price starts at €490/INR39K for an 8GB/128GB version, while the US will be getting the 6GB/128GB option for $450. Those are MSRP numbers, and we normally can't account for sales, carrier subsidies, or discounts in our considerations. But with Samsungs, particularly midrange ones like this, a month or two can have a significant impact on the price tag. In fact, we're already seeing cautious discounts on the A54, just a couple of weeks after the announcement. So if the list of rivals or the price differences looks off to you, keep in mind that it's a particularly volatile market segment.
The Pixel 6a, for example, is on its way out and is heavily discounted, so it should be less expensive than the Galaxy in most places - by up to 30%. Camera performance is looking like a toss-up between the two, as is battery life, and the Pixel is one of few phones that can match the Galaxy's dust and water protection. The Pixel scores a victory for performance thanks to its flagship-grade Tensor chip (even if it's the first one), and you may like it for its smaller size. The Galaxy has the superior display (the 6a feels ancient with its 60Hz refresh rate) and faster charging, and you may also appreciate it for its microSD slot. All in all, however, the Pixel is looking like the better deal in this one - that is, if you live in a country where Google does business.
Diametrically opposed to the A54's generic Galaxy design we have the one-of-a-kind LED-covered Nothing Phone (1). One of the biggest names in the industry versus a startup doesn't sound like a fair comparison, but these two particular phones can make for a fairly balanced clash. The Phone (1)'s display may not be as bright as the Galaxy's, but it's a match in other respects - refresh rate, color accuracy, and HDR capabilities. Battery life is comparable, while the Galaxy's faster charging is a plus, but not an overly big deal. The Phone (1) may be the better cameraphone, by a narrow margin. At equal prices (which appears to be the case in Europe and the US) we'd go for the Galaxy, but at 20% less in India, Nothing looks like the better deal.
If you have to buy a phone today and don't care to wait for a potential price drop on the Galaxy, a Motorola Edge 30 Fusion retails for A54 money in many parts of the world. More premium-looking, the Moto isn't quite as water-resistant as the Galaxy. It's one of few phones in the class with a better display than the Galaxy, has a beefier high-end SD888+ chipset and charges faster (with its included charger too). The Galaxy does have longer battery life and a microSD slot. And once again, we're comparing against a launch-price A54 - the Galaxy may end up having a significant price advantage some time down the line.
The brand new Redmi Note 12 Pro+, the best of the Note 12 bunch, may also be worth a look. The Redmi's display is at least as good as the Galaxy's, and the Note 12 Pro+ will also give you faster charging than the A54. The Redmi is running Android 12, which is a bit weird for a just-launched phone; it can't match the Galaxy's endurance; and despite the big numbers, it's not a better cameraphone. The Samsung chipset is also a touch quicker across most tasks. There's also the A54's IP67 rating against the Redmi's splash resistance.
Depending on where you are in the world, the Galaxy S21 FE might be a viable option. Significantly more expensive in the US ($600), its now-discounted prices in India and Europe pit it squarely against the A54 (at its MSRP). The Fan Edition has a few advantages over the A54 - like the notably more powerful (if a bit aging) chipset, wireless charging, and more wide-ranging video shooting capabilities. The new Galaxy counters with longer battery life and a microSD slot. We wouldn't name a winner in the display and overall camera department between these two, so this one is settled on whether you need the higher performance and wireless charging, and what the price relationship between the two is in your market.
That last bit should be pretty clear when comparing against the Poco X5 Pro - that one goes for about 30% less than the Galaxy in both Europe and India. This makes the tie for display quality and battery life work in the Poco's favor, and the quicker charging doesn't hurt its case either. In as few words as possible, we'd give the nod to the Galaxy for overall camera quality (with an asterisk for its lack of stabilized 4K). The Galaxy's IP67 rating trumps the Poco's IP53-rated splash resistance, the microSD slot scores the A54 extra points, and its newer Android version shows Samsung cares.
Finally, there's always the option to go one lower in the Galaxy lineup and pick up an A34. You stand to save some 20% of your cash, and those savings will be reflected in a few minor downgrades here or there - slighly slower charging speed, marginally worse performance, not quite as good camera output - none of these differences are huge, though it could be argued that they add up. The A34 is still IP67-rated, so you won't be sacrificing that. You do actually get a slightly larger display on the A34, which is still a FullHD 120Hz OLED, and we measured just a bit better battery life on the lesser model too. It's not all that lesser, is what we're getting at.
Following up on the Galaxy A52s was no easy task for the A53, and last year's Galaxy A5x model left us unimpressed. The A54 puts the series back on the right track, we reckon. We're getting a more powerful chipset than last year (though, admittedly, it's roughly on par with the two-year-old A52s), improved battery life, and an even nicer display.
The somewhat generic styling may not be overly eye-catchy, but it does quickly reveal your brand allegiance, and it can easily pass for the brand's flagship too. The dust and water protection rating is almost flagshippy too, and not a given at this price point.
The brand new primary camera is a significant step up from the A53's, and it's one of the best units of its kind for the class, possibly even punching above its weight. The selfie camera takes great photos too, and the not-so-impressive ultrawide does the job.
That is, so long as you don't need it for video. Add to that the lack of stabilization in 4K, and the A54's viability as a video camera is more than slightly shaken. The fact that you don't get a charger in the box still rubs us the wrong way, and as good as the new chipset may be, it only brings us back to the level the series was at two years ago.
All things considered, we're quite liking the Galaxy A54. It's a meaningful generational improvement and a competent midrange package. Maybe not at MSRP - but give it a couple of months, and its price should be much more palatable.
|128GB 6GB RAM||$ 214.98||$ 399.00|
|128GB 8GB RAM||$ 230.99||$ 283.00|
|256GB 8GB RAM||$ 299.99||$ 311.00|
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