Samsung's design language in the midrange has been a little inconsistent, though it's somewhat understandable with a lineup as wide as that. The A-series appear to have settled on a universal styling which this year was extended all the way down to the A13, though the lesser models do still maintain some different traits.
Which brings us to the Galaxy M53 we have here that isn't showing a whole lot of continuity coming from last year's M52 5G, though it's still clearly different from the As.
The quad-camera arrangement is the most distinct bit about the M53's appearance and it's been seen in lower-end A-series models last year, the occasional F model and whatnot. This time around, however, Samsung has opted for a seamless mold of the bulge as part of the rear panel - so while not exactly novel, it's not entirely the same as previous ones either. We have to say we're liking it.
As best as we can tell, the panel is made of plastic and is treated to a frosted finish that can play around with light and morph into various hues of blue (in the case of our review unit's Blue colorway, that is). Mind you, the official photos don't remotely do the color any justice - that navy only shows up if you angle the handset down so that no light is reflected towards you. We reckon it's a similar story with the Green and Brown options.
Going from looks to practicality, we actually appreciate the switch from the M52 5G's glossy rear to this sort of matte surface. Hardly fingerprint-proof - in fact it does pick up its share of smudges, it still tends to look a lot cleaner in and after use than last year's model.
The frame of the Galaxy M53 is glossy, though, so it will be more prone to getting smudged up, but then it's thin enough and curved so that you're not looking a large flat greasy mirror surface. The frame is made of plastic too.
Slightly recessed into that frame, you'll find the power button with a fingerprint sensor embedded in it - on the right side of the phone, a bit above the midpoint. That places is in a fairly convenient spot for operation with the right thumb of an average male hand. Accessing it with a left index finger may be equally easy or somewhat more of a deliberate exercise, depending on how you grip your phone, though habit should quickly replace whatever initial awkwardness there may be.
Since it's also a button, there's a provision in settings to make the phone require a click in order to interpret pressing it as an unlock attempt. That way you can minimize the likelihood of accidental scans. Both the power button and the volume rocker above it click reassuringly.
On the opposite side is where the card slot lives. It's a dual slot that will either take two nano SIM cards, or a nano SIM and a microSD, but not all three at the same time. The tray also features a seal to keep the slot clean, but the phone has no formal IP rating - the A-series will get you that.
The M51 was the last one to have a headphone jack and the M53, like the M52 before it, omits this legacy form of connectivity. The USB-C port is on the bottom and will take a headphone dongle if you so insist and can find one.
Also on the bottom is the only loudspeaker of the Galaxy M53 - there's no stereo action on this handset. Well, there is, but for input only - there's a mic at each end of the phone.
The Gorilla Glass 5 covered display is mostly unremarkable from a design perspective. It's got just the right amount of bezel you'd expect from a phone in this class, though admittedly that does mean less bezel than a couple of years ago.
A punch hole at the top end of the panel allows light to make its way to the selfie camera. That too is an average-sized punchhole, so to speak - not large enough to be an eyesore, but not tiny either since it has to accommodate a relatively large sensor.
The earpiece-only slit is chiseled from the glass - so thin you can barely see it.
The Galaxy M53 measures 164.7x77x7.4mm and weighs 176g so it's essentially the same size and weight as the previous model. The shock value of the M52 shaving 40g of weight and 2mm of thickness compared to the M51 chonker is gone, but we can still appreciate the current phone's sensible heft and quite impressive thinness. It's still a 6.7-inch smartphone, so it's anything but compact, but we'll settle for manageable.