As it does every year, Samsung launched a lot of new smartphones in 2023, each aimed at a slightly different person.

First, the flagship devices of the Galaxy S series were unveiled, including the “entry-level flagship” Galaxy S23 and, a month later, the cheaper but extremely promising Galaxy A54 also went on sale.

Given their specifications, the Galaxy S23 is superior in every respect. But when it comes to value, is the Galaxy A54 the better buy? With a significant performance leap over its predecessor, you might well be surprised what the cheaper phone is capable of.

Here’s how both models perform in everyday use and which one you should buy.

Differences between the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy S23

Galaxy A54

Chris Martin / Foundry

Regarding the design, Samsung went all-in this year by making the A54 closely resemble the flagship S23 phone. It is a significant change compared to the established Galaxy A-series look that has been with us for the past few years.

So at first glance, these two phones appear remarkably similar. Interestingly, they are nearly the exact same size and weight, despite several physical differences.

The Galaxy A54 features a 6.4in screen, while the Galaxy S23 offers a 6.2in display. Although the latter doesn’t sound significantly smaller, in person it is noticeably more compact.

Samsung Galaxy S23_backGalaxy S23

Chris Martin

It might sound like a nit-picking difference but the placement of the power and volume buttons on the A54 is considerably lower, which makes them much easier to press.

However, the most prominent distinctions you’ll immediately notice are the choice of materials and larger bezel around the screen on the A54. The S23 exudes a premium feel with its aluminium edges, while the A54’s plastic frame reveals its more budget nature. But pop a case on it and that drawback is well and truly hidden.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Galaxy A series now has a glass back, but it’s undoubtedly of lower quality compared to its flagship counterpart.

Again, considering that almost everyone will protect their phone with a case, these material differences are essentially a non-issue.

Samsung Galaxy A54 in front of a pin boardGalaxy A54

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In terms of performance, both phones feature different processors. The Galaxy A54 scored 2852 in our Geekbench 5 Multi-core test, while the S23 nearly doubled it with a score of 5001.

What does that mean? Well, on the A54 you’re going to notice some some stuttering and the occasional slowdown, while the S23 seamlessly handles almost every task. This isn’t a dealbreaker for the A54 though: both phones perform well for everyday use. Just bear in mind that the A54 doesn’t really have the power for demanding games. As long as “serious” games aren’t your priority, this really won’t matter at all.

Samsung Galaxy S23_samsung appsGalaxy S23

Chris Martin

Both of these phones are equipped with capable fingerprint sensors and face recognition systems that work consistently and reliably. However, the S23 has the upper hand here, allowing you to tap your finger on the sensor for quicker recognition, whereas the A54 takes a moment longer to register. This also applies to the face recognition feature.

It’s also worth noting that despite both having a 120Hz refresh rate on their screens, the A54 feels slightly less fluid when scrolling through social media. However, watching YouTube videos and other content on the A54 is quite enjoyable, and occasional lags are more than acceptable for the price point.

Samsung Galaxy A54 by window close upGalaxy A54

Chris Martin / Foundry

The Galaxy A54 has an IP67 rating (compared to the S23’s IP68 rating), a comparable dual-speaker setup, and – aside from the lack of wireless charging in Samsung decks, it offers nearly all of what One UI 5 has to offer, including features like Samsung’s Quick Share and Smart View.

When it comes to battery life, neither phone is up there with the best battery life smartphones, but can get you through the day with around 10-20% power remaining with mixed usage. However, the S23 is more likely to extend that due to its more efficient processor, despite having a smaller battery.

Samsung Galaxy S23_camera moduleGalaxy S23

Chris Martin

Regarding the cameras, you can once again see where that extra money goes with the S23, which boasts excellent image stabilisation. On the other hand, videos taken with the A54 are a lot more wobbly.

The Galaxy S23 also leads in the zoom department, as it features a 3x optical zoom lens that allows you to zoom digitally up to 30 times, while the A54’s maximum 10 times digital zoom struggles to capture distant details.

But if you’re simply looking for a good point-and-shoot camera that takes decent photos, the A54 delivers excellent results with its primary lens, in addition to the ultra-wide lens for great-looking landscape shots. The A54 also features a macro lens for taking close-up shots, a feature that’s missing on the S23, but hardly one that makes the A54 the better buy.

For more on the photographic capabilities and photos read our Galaxy A54 and Galaxy S23 reviews.

Price & availability

Samsung Galaxy A54 in hand in front of a pin boardGalaxy A54

Chris Martin / Foundry

You can buy the Galaxy A54 directly from Samsung for $449/£449 which gets you 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. If you live in UK, you can also opt for an 8GB/256GB variant that costs £499. Both offer the option to add a microSD card up to 1TB. Unfortunately, US buyers get the base model only.

Find out more on where to buy the Galaxy A54 in our separate guide.

Samsung Galaxy S23_backGalaxy S23

Chris Martin

The Galaxy S23 is also available directly from Samsung and its pricing starts at $799/£849 for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. You can get a 8GB/256GB model for $859/£899 too. Either way, you get 8GB of RAM and there’s no SD card slot for adding storage.

Read our where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 guide, if you want to get it for the best price possible.

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy A54 cameras in front of a shelfGalaxy A54

Chris Martin / Foundry

All things considered, the Galaxy A54 is a well-equipped mid-range phone and one of the best Samsung smartphones. The S23, while also delivering on all its promises, is a harder pill to swallow at twice the price. The Galaxy A54 looks, feels, and performs surprisingly similar to the S23 in everyday use, and for this reason, it wins in this battle.

That’s especially the case if you’re after good value for money. The Galaxy S23 isn’t bad value, but for most people, the A54 is more than good enough. Of course, it’s always worth checking the latest deals (as we said above) because like almost all Samsung phones, the S23 can be found cheaper than its original launch price.

Of course, if price doesn’t matter to you, the Galaxy S23 is the one to go for.

Be sure to also check out our roundup of the best phones if you want more recommendations for what to buy.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy A54:

  • Android 13 with One UI 5.1
  • 6.4in AMOLED, 2340 x 1080, 120Hz, 19.5:9 ratio
  • Exynos 1380 chipset
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB of storage (expandable via microSD)
  • Cameras:
    • 50Mp f/1.8 OIS main camera
    • 12Mp f/2.2 ultrawide
    • 5Mp f/2.4 macro
    • 32Mp f/2.2 selfie camera
  • Dual-SIM/microSD
  • Stereo speakers
  • NFC
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Under-display fingerprint sensor
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 25W wired charging
  • USB-C charging port
  • 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm
  • 202g

Samsung Galaxy S23:

  • Android 13 with One UI 5.1
  • 6.1in, 120Hz, FHD+, Dynamic AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB storage
  • Cameras:
    • 50Mp f/1.8 main camera
    • 12Mp f/2.2 ultrawide camera
    • 10Mp f/2.4 3x optical telephoto camera
    • 12Mp f/2.2 front facing camera
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Stereo speakers
  • USB-C
  • 3900mAh battery
  • 45W wired charging
  • 15W wireless charging
  • 4.5W reverse wireless charging
  • IP68
  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2
  • 157.8 x 76.2 x 7.6 mm
  • 196g