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Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Apple iPhone SE 2022

There are a lot of standout choices if you're in the market for a mid-range phone at the moment, with the Galaxy A53 making a great case for itself. That's mostly down to the fact that it has a good combination of hardware, battery life, cameras, and long-term updates. 

But if you're interesting in something different, the iPhone SE 2022 has a lot going for it. For one thing, it is just as fast as devices that cost twice as much, and it gets a lot of extras as well. I used both devices extensively, and here's what you need to know about how they fare in real-world use.

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. iPhone SE 2022: Design and screen

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. Apple iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

You won't find two devices that are more different. The Galaxy A53 continues Samsung's legacy of using pastel hues for its mid-range phones, and the device is available in a variety of interesting colors. The back is made out of polycarbonate, and the matte finish makes it comfortable to hold the phone.

The Galaxy A53 has an interesting design with pastel hues, while the iPhone SE 2022 is using the same design as the iPhone 8.

The design aesthetic is in line with the rest of Samsung's 2022 launches, including the Galaxy S22 series. The camera island blends seamlessly into the body of the device, with large rings around the camera modules, making the device look just that little bit more attractive. You get flat sides this time around, and the only thing I don't like about this design is that the sides have a glossy finish.

At the front, you get ultra-thin bezels and a camera cutout for the front camera, and the housing itself is smaller than last year, and it is barely noticeable. Coming to the iPhone SE 2022, there hasn't been much in the way of change over its predecessor, and the design here is identical to the iPhone 8. That means you get huge bezels at the front, a physical home button that houses Touch ID, and the same color options as last time.

The iPhone SE 2022 wins points for the fact that it is significantly smaller and easier to use than the Galaxy A53, but a large part of that is down to the diminutive 4.7-inch screen. Next to the Galaxy A53's 6.5-inch panel, the iPhone looks like a toy. The bezels feel dated, and the overall design needs a rethink — Samsung clearly comes out ahead in this area.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Another area where Samsung takes the lead is the panel. The Galaxy A53 has an AMOLED panel with stellar colors and contrast levels, and the best part is that the screen goes up to 120Hz. If you're using a regular phone with a 60Hz screen, you will immediately notice a difference after switching to the A53. The iPhone misses out on these features, with the device using the same LCD panel as the 2020 model, with the screen refresh locked to 60Hz.

Both phones get IP67 dust and water resistance, and it is good to see more mid-range phones picking up ingress protection as standard. You don't get a 3.5mm jack on either device, and the A53 has dual SIM slots.

iPhone SE 2022 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The one thing the iPhone SE 2022 gets right is usability; it works great as a small phone. That said, there are brands like ASUS that are doing a magnificent job in this area, with the Zenfone 9 distilling the essentials of a flagship into a small chassis, while still offering great cameras, a large screen, and standout battery life.

But on the whole, the Galaxy A53 takes this one. It just looks and feels modern, and the sleek design combined with the large AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh makes it the outright winner for streaming videos and playing games.

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. iPhone SE 2022: Hardware and cameras

iPhone SE 2022 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The biggest differentiator for the iPhone SE 2022 is the internal hardware. The phone is rocking the A15 Bionic — the same as the iPhone 13 — and it's safe to say that it is the fastest phone in this category. Google's Pixel 6a comes close, but for sheer power, the iPhone SE 2022 is the runaway leader.

Thanks to the A15 Bionic, the iPhone SE 2022 runs rings around the Galaxy A53.

This translates to outstanding performance in real-world use, with the iPhone SE 2022 blazing through just about every scenario; whether it's a demanding game or multitasking. The Galaxy A53 has decent hardware in the form of the Exynos 1280, but it struggles under load, and isn't quite designed for intense gaming sessions. It tends to throttle during demanding titles, and you see the occasional lag — that's not an issue on the iPhone.

But as good as the iPhone is at the hardware side of things, it gets a paltry 64GB of storage for the base variant. This is the only phone I used in 2022 that had 64GB storage, with even budget Android phones now running 128GB as standard. You'll ideally need to pick up the 128GB variant of the iPhone, and that costs $50 more.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The Galaxy A53 may not be as fast as the iPhone, but it comes into its own when talking about battery longevity. Thanks to a massive 5000mAh battery, the A53 easily lasts well over a day with a full charge, and I routinely got two days' worth of use out of the device. The iPhone SE 2022 struggles in this area, and while you can get up to a day's worth of use, it isn't anywhere as good as the A53.

As for charging, the A53 has 25W wired charging as standard, and you get 20W on the iPhone along with the added bonus of 15W wireless charging. That is a nice addition, and one you'll make use of often considering the battery longevity.

iPhone SE 2022 review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Coming to the camera side of things, the A53 has a 64MP camera joined by a 12MP wide-angle lens, and dual 5MP macro and portrait lenses. The 64MP module has PDAF and OIS, and it takes great photos in daylight conditions. The dedicated Night mode does a great job delivering detail in low-light situations, and in general, the A53 does a good overall job in this regard.

The iPhone SE 2022 has a single 12MP lens at the back with PDAF and OIS, and you get great shots in daylight and outdoor scenarios. The biggest issue with the phone is that it doesn't have Night mode — that's limited to the costlier iPhones — and you just get the single 12MP camera at the back, with no wide-angle lens. The lack of Night mode makes the device miss out in a key area, and while it takes good photos in its own right, it doesn't quite have all the features that are standard in this category.

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. iPhone SE 2022: Software

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

For two phones that are so different, they share a lot of similarities on the software front. The Galaxy A53 runs One UI 4.1 based on Android 12, and it will get four Android OS updates — more than any other Android phone. One UI 4.1 has a lot of features and customizability, and it caters to first-time Samsung users as well as long-time customers. In short, the Galaxy A53 is among the best Android phones when it comes to software updates. 

The A53 won't get as many updates as the iPhone SE 2022, but it comes closer than any other Android phone.

The iPhone also does a great job in this area, with the SE 2022 running iOS 15.4 out of the box. It will get at least five platform updates, and should be first in line for the iOS 16 stable build that's due shortly. iOS has come a long way in the last two years, and other than a few feature omissions around notifications, it has most everything you'll find on an Android device.

There's not that much of a learning curve if you decide to switch to iOS, and in fact, switching between the two platforms has never been as straightforward. Even if you use a lot of Google services, you'll find a lot to like within iOS — they work just as well as on Android.

Samsung Galaxy A53 vs. iPhone SE 2022: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

If you're already using an Android phone or are considering a switch, the Galaxy A53 has plenty to offer. The 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen is a delight to use, the hardware holds up fine for day-to-day tasks, you get a decent amount of versatility with the cameras, and the phone takes great photos.

If you need an all-rounder that does a lot of things well, the Galaxy A53 is the obvious choice here.

You also get incredible battery life and IP67 ingress protection, and with four Android OS updates, the phone will stay relevant for a long time. As for the iPhone SE 2022, there's no doubting that the hardware is among the fastest in this category, but it is found lacking in other areas. The design feels outdated thanks to the large bezels, the screen is too tiny to be usable in 2022, and the camera doesn't have Night mode — a basic feature that's included by default on budget Android phones.

But if you don't mind those omissions and want a reliable iPhone for under $500, the iPhone SE 2022 is the only option. If you want a new Android phone and are looking for a device that excels in all areas, the Galaxy A53 is the way to go.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.