Galaxy A54 5G Hands-On: Samsung's Budget Phone Gets a New Design

The $450 phone's new design makes it feel more like a premium device.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
3 min read
Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G in purple being held up

Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G in purple.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Samsung's new Galaxy A54 5G has a lot in common with its predecessor, but you wouldn't guess that just by looking at it. The Galaxy A54 5G, which costs $450 (£499, roughly converts to AU$915) and launches on April 6, brings a fresh design, new processor and updated camera to Samsung's more wallet-friendly phone.

Read more: How to Preorder the New Samsung Galaxy A54

Based on the brief amount of time I spent with it, the new design appears to be the biggest change. That might not matter much if you plan to put a case on your device. But it suggests Samsung is doing more to close the gap between its premium and budget devices. That could be particularly important if Samsung wants to catch up to Google's Pixel 6A, which I said might be the best-looking phone in its price range in my review.

Watch this: Galaxy A54 5G: Hands-on With Samsung's New Budget Phone

The Galaxy A54 5G's new look

Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G being held with the screen showing
Richard Peterson/CNET

The Galaxy A54 5G has a new glossy finish that makes it feel more premium than last year's Galaxy A53. The shiny back panel and matte edges remind me of the iPhone 11, and that's a good thing.

You'll also notice the camera bump is absent from the Galaxy A54 5G. Samsung replaced it with a floating camera setup similar to the one found on the Galaxy S23 lineup, giving it a more clean and consistent aesthetic. Looks aren't the most important aspect of a phone, but it's still great to see a sub-$500 device that doesn't feel cheap.

It almost feels like Samsung is taking a page from Google's book in terms of design. The $450 Pixel 6A, which is essentially a less expensive version of the Pixel 6, also has a glossy finish. And like the Galaxy A54 5G, the Pixel 6A inherits a camera design that's similar to its premium sibling.  

The Galaxy A54 5G has a 6.4-inch screen, making it smaller than the 6.5-inch Galaxy A53 5G. I've always felt this size makes for a great medium between the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 and 6.6-inch Galaxy S23 Plus, and that remains true with the Galaxy A54. 

The Galaxy A53 5G (left) and the Galaxy A54 5G (right) being held up showing the back

Last year's Galaxy A53 5G (left) with the new Galaxy A54 5G.

Richard Peterson/CNET

By putting more of a focus on the Galaxy A54's looks, Samsung addressed one of my biggest complaints about the Galaxy A53. I specifically said there was nothing "new" or "interesting" about the Galaxy A53's design, so I'm glad to see that's changed this time around.

My other gripe about the Galaxy A53 was its sometimes sluggish performance. The Galaxy A54 5G runs on a newer processor called the Exynos 1380, which is likely the successor to the Exynos 1280 found inside the Galaxy A53. I haven't spent enough time with the Galaxy A54 5G to know whether this new chip brings significant improvements. But in my brief time with the device, performance seemed just fine. Apps opened and closed quickly, the camera launched almost instantly and the keyboard popped up right away. 

Camera is the major difference between the Galaxy A54 and S23

The triple camera on Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G

The Galaxy A54 5G has a triple-camera unit.

Richard Peterson/CNET

There are many differences between Samsung's A-series budget devices and its premium S-series phones. However, the camera system continues to be the biggest one. The Galaxy A54 5G has a 50-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and 5-megapixel macro camera. There's no telephoto camera, so the Galaxy A54 5G only has a 10x digital zoom. 

The Galaxy S23, on the other hand, has a 50-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and 10-megapixel telephoto camera. While the main and ultrawide cameras may sound similar on paper, I wouldn't be surprised to see some noticeable differences in image quality. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip inside the S23 lineup, which has been optimized for Samsung's Galaxy phones, likely plays a notable role in the way photos are processed. 

Samsung's Galaxy A54 5G in black (left) and purple (right) sitting up on a couch
Richard Peterson/CNET

You can't use Samsung's Expert Raw app on the Galaxy A54 5G either, which might be important for photography enthusiasts to consider. That said, the Galaxy A54 5G's camera setup is just what you would expect on a phone of this price. It even has much more to offer than the $429 iPhone SE, which only has one 12-megapixel main camera with a 5x digital zoom. 

Overall, the Galaxy A54 5G seems like a promising option for those seeking an Android phone that costs less than $500. But we'll have to spend more time testing it before we know whether it's worth recommending. 

Galaxy A54 5G vs. Galaxy A53 5G Specs

Galaxy A54 5GGalaxy A53 5G
Display 6.4-inch FHD+; Super AMOLED; 120Hz refresh rate6.5-inch FHD+; Super AMOLED; 120Hz refresh rate
Dimensions 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm74.8 x 159.6 x 8.1mm
Weight 202g189g
Camera 50MP (main); 12MP (ultrawide); 5MP (macro)64MP (main); 12MP (ultrawide); 5MP (depth); 5MP (macro)
Front Camera 32MP32MP
Processor Exynos 1380Exynos 1280
Memory and Storage 6GB RAM + 128GB6GB RAM + 128GB
Expandable Storage Yes (up to 1TB)Yes (Up to 1TB)
Battery 5,000 mAh5,000 mAh
Software (at launch) Android 13Android 12