Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs OnePlus 9: Should you choose the Exynos 1280 phone over the Snapdragon 888?

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs OnePlus 9: Should you choose the Exynos 1280 phone over the Snapdragon 888?

On the market for a powerful Android phone with an immersive screen but don’t want to pay 2022 flagship prices? Buying a one-generation old flagship or a current mid-tier device is an option to save some money while still getting a good phone. Today, we’re taking a look at Samsung’s 2022 mid-tier Galaxy A53 5G and see how it compares to the OnePlus 9, a 2021 flagship that’s still quite capable today.

oneplus 9 and galaxy a53

OnePlus 9 (left) and Samsung Galaxy A53 (right).

    Samsung's Galaxy A53 5G is a very good mid-tier smartphone with a great screen and solid main camera.
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    The OnePlus 9 is a speedy 2021 flagship that still holds up very well today.

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Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs Apple iPhone 11: Specifications

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G OnePlus 9
Build
  • Plastic body
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front panel
  • IP67 water/dust resistance
  • Plastic body
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front panel
  • IP68 water/dust resistance
Dimensions and Weight
  • 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm
  • 189 g
  • 160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm
  • 192 g
Display
  • 6.5-inch Super AMOLED
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels
  • 6.55-inch OLED
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution
SoC
  • Samsung Exynos 1280
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM and Storage
  • 6GB/8GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 1TB)
  • 8GB/12GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB internal storage
  • no microSD card slot
Battery and Charging
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • No charger in the box
  • No wireless charging
  • 4,500 mAh battery
  • 65W Fast charging
  • Charger in the box
  • Qi wireless charging
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
  • 48MP, ƒ/1.8 Main (with OIS)
  • 50MP ƒ/2.4 Ultra-Wide
  • 2MP, f/24 monochrome
Front Camera(s)
  • 32MP ƒ/2.2
  • 16MP camera ƒ/2.2
Ports
  • USB Type-C
  • No headphone jack
  • Lightning
  • 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
  • (2.4G+5GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Software
  • One UI 4.1 (Android 12)
Price
  • $349
  • $729

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs OnePlus 9: Design and Hardware

Both the OnePlus 9 and Galaxy A53 5G offer 120Hz, 2400 x 1080 OLED displays wrapped by minimal bezels, interrupted by only a hole-punch for a selfie camera. As for back design, both phones use plastic backs, but the Galaxy A53 has a unique coating that makes it feel grippy and matte, as opposed to the slightly sticky plasticky feel of the OnePlus 9. Still, you may want to put a case on the Galaxy A53 and OnePlus 9 just for protection anyway.

Samsung Galaxy A53 Light BlueBoth phones share similar dimensions and weight, but the Galaxy A53 has a boxier feel thanks to a flatter chassis, without the subtle curvature of the back plate seen in the OnePlus 9.

oneplus 9

The screens look equally good on both devices, and with stereo speakers on both phones, they make for great media consumption machines.

galaxy a53

Processor

The Galaxy A53 5G is powered by Samsung’s 5nm Exynos 1280, while the OnePlus 9 uses the Snapdragon 888. The former is a 2022 mid-tier chip while the latter is a 2021 flagship chip, and despite being a year old, the Snapdragon 888 is still a better performer. It scores higher in benchmarks, but more importantly, the OnePlus 9 just feels faster in real-world usage scenarios. The Galaxy A53 5G is not slow, but it doesn’t zip around the way a OnePlus 9 does. Opening the camera app, for example, is instant on the OnePlus 9 while on the Galaxy A53 there is a bit of a wait. If we have to choose, we’d definitely prefer the Snapdragon 888 over the Exynos 1280.

Cameras

Galaxy A53

The Galaxy A53’s camera system is solid but unspectacular.

Both phones bring very good main cameras but also felt the need to pad the total number of cameras with pointless sensors. The Galaxy A53’s main 64MP camera has a fast aperture and uses pixel-binning technology to further boost image fidelity. The OnePlus 9 meanwhile has a 48MP camera that has a larger 1/1.43-inch image sensor (while also using pixel binning technology). The results are good photos from both cameras, but the OnePlus 9 is a bit better in really low-light situations.

Moving to the ultra-wide shooter, the Galaxy A53 uses a 12MP f/2.2 sensor with a sweeping 123-degree field-of-view, compared to the OnePlus 9’s 48MP ultra-wide. It’s a clear win for OnePlus here, as the Galaxy A53’s ultra-wide is very soft on details and struggles at night.

Finally, the Galaxy A53 has a pair of 5MP sensors for macro and depth and neither does much. OnePlus doesn’t fare much better, as its third camera is also a mostly useless monochrome sensor.

oneplus 9

The OnePlus 9 has a very good main camera and a solid ultra-wide camera. The monochrome sensor is a bit pointless, however.

Battery and other components

Despite its 8.1mm in thickness, the Galaxy A53 5G manages to cram a 5,000 mAh battery inside, which is plenty large enough for a device of this type. The OnePlus 9’s 4,500 mAh battery is quite a bit smaller by comparison, and we can definitely see the difference in battery life. While both phones are fine for light usage days, on weekends, the Galaxy A53 can still last a full 12 hours out while the OnePlus 9 won’t be able to make it to the finish line.

But the OnePlus 9 can be charged very fast at 65W speeds (0-100% in 29 minutes), and the charging brick is included. The Galaxy A53 does not include a charger at all, and it also maxes out at just 25W fast charging, which takes over an hour to fill up the phone.

Both devices have stereo speakers; the Galaxy A53 has IP67 water and dust resistance, while the OnePlus 9 has IP68 water and dust resistance. The difference in number only means the OnePlus 9 can be submerged in water a bit longer.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs OnePlus 9: Software and Performance

The Galaxy A53 5G runs Android 12 with Samsung’s OneUI skin on top. The OnePlus 9, because it came out a year before, runs Android 11 out of the box, with the OnePlus’ OxygenOS overlay. However, the phone has gotten the update to Android 12 in many regions, including the T-Mobile variant, but there are no guarantees if you’re buying the phone unlocked. Further, the Android 12 update for OnePlus devices has more than its fair share of issues, and for many users, the experience has degraded with the update. So keep that in mind too when comparing the two phones.

As I already mentioned in the processor section, the OnePlus 9 is a noticeably “faster” phone than the Galaxy A53. This speediness is both real and tangible (The OnePlus 9 can switch camera lenses and modes faster) and illusion (OxygenOS has faster animations that appear to zip around faster than OneUI’s mostly subtle animations). The Galaxy A53 is also prone to the occasional animation stutter — it’s not a major issue, but it’s clear this was never intended to be a flagship-level phone, whereas the OnePlus 9 was a flagship phone just about 12 months ago.

The Snapdragon 888 is a better silicon than the Exynos 1280. This won’t be an issue for basic smartphone usage like scrolling Instagram or sending a tweet. But if you try to edit videos, even something as simple as trimming length directly in the phone’s camera app, the OnePlus 9 will get the job done faster.

It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy A53 cannot run Samsung DeX, which is a feature found in Samsung’s higher-end phones such as the Galaxy S22 or Galaxy Z Flip 3. Overall, Samsung’s mid-tier phone is a perfectly fine mid-tier phone, but the OnePlus 9 is just a bit better. But there’s one major caveat that we haven’t touched upon yet…

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs OnePlus 9: Which one is for you?

And that caveat is the price! The Galaxy A53 5G can be had for about $450 right now (with free Galaxy Buds Live, and some Galaxy A53 deals can go even lower), while the OnePlus 9 hovers around $530. This makes it rather difficult to choose between the two phones as both are very good phones in their own ways. If you have a hard budget and want to get a pair of earphones too within that budget, then the Galaxy A53 is worth the price tag. You also get the reliability and software support of Samsung, making it a very well balanced option.

Galaxy A53 cameras.

On the flip, the OnePlus 9 for $530 is also pretty good, especially if you intend to game on your smartphone. The Android update situation is a little questionable on the OnePlus, but outside of that, it remains the better phone overall, and you have to pay a slight premium over the Galaxy A53 5G for that.

    Samsung's Galaxy A53 5G is a very good mid-tier smartphone with a great screen and solid main camera.
    The OnePlus 9 is a speedy 2021 flagship that still holds up very well today.

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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