Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: The two most notable mid-rangers in North American market and beyond

Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: The two most notable mid-rangers in North American market and beyond

The Google Pixel 6a is the newest mid-ranger on the block, and it’s arguably the best one because it offers a lot of what made the Google Pixel 6 such a good flagship phone just last fall. Samsung’s Galaxy A53, however, is no slouch, offering Samsung’s gorgeous AMOLED display technology in a clean and understated design. Both phones are relatively compact, making them ideal not just for those who want to save money, but also for those who don’t want to carry around a bulky flagship.

pixel 6a and galaxy a53 in the hand

    The Google Pixel 6a brings back a lot of what made the Pixel 6 awesome, but in a more affordable package.
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    The Galaxy A53 is Samsung's mid-range offering and it brings an immersive, beautiful screen, and a solid camera system.

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Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs Google Pixel 6a: Specifications

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Google Pixel 6a
Build
  • Plastic body
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front panel
  • IP67 water/dust resistance
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front panel
  • Plastic back and side
  • IP68 water/dust resistance
Dimensions and Weight
  • 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm
  • 189 g
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
  • 207 g
Display
  • 6.5-inch Super AMOLED
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels
  • 6.1-inch AMOLED
  • FHD+
  • 60Hz
  • 20:9 aspect ratio
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
SoC Samsung Exynos 1280 Google Tensor
RAM and Storage
  • 6GB/8GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 1TB)
  • 6GB
  • 128GB
  • no microSD card slot
Battery and Charging
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • No charger in the box
  • No wireless charging
  • 4,306 mAh battery
  • No charger in box
Security Optical in-display fingerprint sensor Optical in-display fingerprint sensor
Rear Camera(s)
  • 64MP ƒ/1.8 Main (with OIS)
  • 12MP ƒ/2.2 Ultra-wide
  • 5MP ƒ/2.4 Depth sensor
  • 5MP ƒ/2.4 Macro
  • Primary: 12.2MP main
  • Secondary: 12MP ultra-wide
Front Camera(s) 32MP ƒ/2.2 8MP camera
Ports
  • USB Type-C
  • No headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • No headphone jack
Connectivity
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4G+5GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
Software One UI 4.1 (Android 12) Android 12
Price $349 $449

Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Hardware and Design

Pixel 6A

Both the Pixel 6a and Galaxy A53 are plasticky slab phones that look and feel better than the word “plastic” usually infers. The Google Pixel 6a, in particular, brings back the Google Pixel 6 design language, which was almost universally acclaimed. I particularly like the camera visor strip, finding it to be much more visually striking than typical camera islands. It’s also more practical, as it allows the Pixel 6a to lay on a table without rocking from side to side if used.

Galaxy A53

The Galaxy A53 is a larger phone, with a 6.5-inch OLED screen than the Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch screen — but both are flat panels which make both phones easily grip-able. Both phones come in some fun colors, as you can see from the product renders above.

Display

As mentioned, the Galaxy A53’s screen is larger, it also has double the refresh rate, being able to hit 120Hz, while the Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch OLED is stuck at 60Hz.

There’s no getting around this — the Galaxy A53 panel is a bit better, pumping out zippier, more fluid animations, but also gets a bit brighter too. The Pixel 6a’s screen is perfectly fine, by the way. But Samsung is the world leader in mobile display tech for a reason.

Galaxy A53 display.

The Galaxy A53’s 6.5-inch 120Hz OLED display.

Processor

The Pixel gets a major win back here though — it runs on the Google Tensor, a flagship level SoC (granted, a 2021 flagship) specially designed to handle Google’s machine learning tasks. The Galaxy A53, meanwhile, is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 1280, which is a mid-tier chip through and through. Considering that even Samsung’s flagship Exynos SoCs have been underperforming, it’s no surprise that the Exynos 1280 is just decent and nothing to write home about. On every level, the Google Tensor is a more capable SoC, you will see the Pixel 6a export videos faster, apply photo filters faster, and process speech much better too. The Pixel 6a, in fact, has the same uncanny, industry-best voice dictation first seen in the Google Pixel 6 series, and it’s all thanks to Tensor.

Memory, speakers, haptics, and other bits

The Pixel 6a comes with 6GB of RAM as standard while the Galaxy A53 can range from 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB. I have only tested the 8GB RAM version of the Galaxy A53, and even then, I thought the phone wasn’t the fastest around. I think the 4GB RAM model of the Galaxy A53 probably suffers quite a bit in day-to-day performance such as launching apps. The Pixel 6a’s 6GB of RAM, paired with a better SoC, simply brings faster app launches.

Both phones have stereo speakers that are about equal quality, meaning neither phone is going to make you want to skip the headphones anytime soon, but they’re good enough considering the price point. IP67 water and dust resistance can be found on both phones too. Haptics, on the other hand, is a major win for the Pixel 6a, as it brings back the flagship-level haptic engine of the Pixel 6 series. The Galaxy A53’s haptics are mushy and weak.


Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Cameras

Camera module of the Google Pixel 6a

The Google Pixel 6a brings back the older Pixel camera hardware from the Pixel 5 and 4 — a pair of 12MP covering the wide and ultra-wide — so you miss out on that sweet large sensor GN1 magic, but have no fear, the Pixel’s software image processing is still best in class, and Tensor is still here to help pull off more Google machine learning magic, so the Pixel 6a’s camera samples are still very, very good. Jaw-dropping even, if you consider that the hardware here is very long in the tooth. Just look at the samples below — an excellent dynamic range, image sharpness, colors, and contrast in every shot. The shutter speed is also very fast, able to capture the moving cat mid-stride.

The Galaxy A53’s cameras are technically superior: the main camera is a 64MP sensor with a large image sensor, and the ultra-wide is a capable 12MP, f/2.2 shooter as well. And in a vacuum, the Galaxy A53 cameras are pretty good for its price range, but it just can’t match the Pixel 6a’s shutter speed responsiveness or consistent balance in all lighting conditions. I know the above samples are not of the same subjects — hence they’re not direct comparisons, but just take our word for it. We’ve snapped hundreds of photos with both phones, and the Pixel 6a camera is just ahead.

Galaxy A53 cameras.

In terms of selfies, both are okay. Samsung’s selfie camera will apply a bit of skin softening/whitening beautifying filters whether you want it or not, while the Pixel 6a’s 8MP shooter is soft on details and suffers under low light conditions.


Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Software and Performance

 

The Google Pixel 6a and Galaxy A53 both run Android 12, but of course, with the Pixel being Google’s own phone, the Pixel 6a’s software is considered the true version of Android. And the Pixel 6a’s software is indeed more intelligent than the OneUI Samsung skin in terms of making our smartphone usage just a bit easier. The Pixel 6a supports the aforementioned absolutely awesome voice dictation, and it can do things like identify music playing in the background. The Pixel will also automatically show context aware items in the weather/calendar widget.

The Galaxy A53’s OneUI, by comparison, is a bit clunky. There are some bloatware in the form of Samsung apps. The phone feels a bit slow, with the occasional animation stutter, likely due to the Exynos chip underperforming. Even opening the camera app sometimes can take a beat longer than most phones. And some Samsung software specialty, such as DeX, doesn’t work here.

However, the Galaxy A53 does support opening apps in a floating resizable window, which I consider the best way to multitask on a phone. The Pixel 6a can only split-screen multi-task, which feels more rigid. But other than this, there’s no comparison, the Pixel launcher is just more responsive, faster, smarter, and more enjoyable to use than the OneUI running on this particular Samsung phone.

The Pixel UI is just more responsive, faster, smarter, and more enjoyable to use than the OneUI running on this particular Samsung phone.

The slow software performance of the Galaxy A53 really hinders its overall performance too. Multiple times, I’ve missed a photo opportunity because the camera just took well over a second and a half to open.

The Pixel 6a isn’t without its faults — I find the location of the power button above the volume rocker on the right side to be hard to reach since I hold my phone with the left hand. Because the Pixel 6a doesn’t support any type of “tap screen to turn off screen” feature, I must hit the power button to lock the phone, and it requires a slight readjusting of the grip for me every time. But those who hold their phones with their right hand won’t have such an issue because the thumb will be there to reach the button.

 


Google Pixel 6a vs Samsung Galaxy A53: Which one should you buy?

The Galaxy A53 launched several months ago at $449, which is the same price as the Pixel 6a. But perhaps anticipating the Pixel 6a’s release, the Galaxy A53 has recently seen a price drop to $349. But even with a $100 price gap, we’d have to recommend most people go for the Pixel 6a unless that extra $100 in savings really matters.

The Pixel 6a is just a better phone. It’s got a more powerful SoC, a faster and more responsive software, and a noticeably better camera experience.

 

Now, that’s not to say the Galaxy A53 has zero appeal other than those looking to spend less. If you personally don’t care about the camera, and instead use your phone mostly for consuming content — videos, words, etc — on the screen, then the Galaxy A53’s larger and brighter screen is a better option. But we reckon, most people would care about camera performance and UI fluidity just a bit. The Pixel 6a is the better phone in most situations.

    The Google Pixel 6a brings back a lot of what made the Pixel 6 awesome, but in a more affordable package.
    The Galaxy A53 is Samsung's mid-range offering and it brings an immersive, beautiful screen, and a solid camera system.

If you are planning to get either of these devices, we have accessory recommendations. You can check out some recommended Pixel 6a deals and pick up a great Pixel 6a case. Alternatively, we have the same for the other too, so you can grab the Galaxy A53 5G on a deal, and if you have one already, buy a good case for it.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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