Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review

A considerable, everyday phone with a few drawbacks



The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G dazzles in the midrange segment, serving as one of the headliners for the new Galaxy A series. Following its predecessors’ footsteps, the Galaxy A53 5G, which we’ll call A53 for brevity, aims to build on its legacy as the sweet spot for most consumers.

In fact, its predecessor from 2020 — the Galaxy A51 — sold the most for Android smartphones during the year’s first quarter. A testament to the Galaxy A series’ dominance in the midrange market. Can this year’s headliner dominate once again? And more importantly, can it be your GadgetMatch? It’s time to find out.

Subtle, gentle design

At a glance, it exhibits the same design language as its siblings in the new Galaxy A series. The lineup took semblance to its predecessor, albeit altering a few iterations that are quite visible if you take a closer look.

The camera island’s edges are gentler and the cameras themselves aren’t protruding nor sunken anymore. It also has a matte finish on its back, which looks quintessential when paired with pastel colors.

Our unit came in Awesome Blue, which I am indifferent about despite having a penchant for anything blue. If it came in White or Peach, I might’ve been ecstatic.

An unpublished, out-of-focus photo of the writer holding the Galaxy A53 5G in Awesome Peach, exquisitely paired with his Rose Gold Macbook Air and Mystic Bronze Galaxy Buds Live taken during the launch of the Galaxy A series in the Philippines.

Nevertheless, the A53 is still a beaut and a sight to behold even if its design is already exhausted. There’s a small change though. Its side frames are made of glossy metal that racks up smudges but offers a gentle yet inconspicuous curve.

This made way to a flat front panel, which we truly adore because we’re over curved screens. (And it doesn’t really make sense when it comes to user experience in the long run.)

As premium as it gets

Looking at its sides, you’ll realize it’s quite reminiscent of the Galaxy S22+. The resemblance is uncanny when you take them side by side. But judging by the colors, you’ll know the Galaxy S22+ is the premium one.

Of course, some would say the A53 is as premium as its gets. It probably is for the price it commands. However, the best indicator for a phone to be called premium is the experience when you hold and use it.

Which, for me, the A53 doesn’t quite to deliver. In spite of that, I like how the A53 felt secure in my hands. It’s comfortable to hold and use, it felt sturdy and it fits snugly. You can actually use it with one hand since the weight is evenly distributed.

It may not have an elegant air in the way you experience the phone, but it surely can promise a daily driver you’ll be comfortable using day in and out.

Frankly, not even my photos can do justice to the beauty that the A53 exudes. If you have a chance to check its vibe on any Samsung Experience store, only then will you understand how magnificent its look and feel are.

Got me walkin’ side-to-side

Of course, there are some questions that need to be answered. Here are some closeups of the Galaxy A53 5G, but in an Awesome Peach colorway.

On the right side of the frame, you can find the volume rocker and power button. Meanwhile, the left side is empty and the top side houses a tiny hole for the microphone.

The bottom part houses the SIM tray which allocates a dedicated slot for your primary SIM card, while the second hybrid slot gives you a choice between using a secondary SIM card or a microSD card.

You can also find the earpiece which works in tandem with the bottom-firing speaker for a stereo setup, and a USB-C port that can handle USB 2.0 data transfers. There is no 3.5mm audio jack, so it’s time to use USB-C wired earphones or just switch to the wireless side.

For privacy, the A53 uses an under-display optical fingerprint reader, which is quite swift and reliable.

Ideal for binge-watching

The Galaxy A53 5G continues the display that was passed on from the Galaxy A52s 5G and the Galaxy A52. It comes with a 6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-O display, which we quite enjoyed using for entertainment.

As a midrange smartphone, the display surely isn’t top-of-the-line but it still gave a reasonable audio-visual experience. In fact, I was able to watch Spy x Family on Netflix while sipping my favorite Maple Vanilla Cold Brew outdoors. Even with glaring sunlight around three in the afternoon.

I wasn’t afraid to drink my cold beverage, which quickly condenses due to the scorching heat from dining outdoors leaving water drops and getting the table wet. I worry a lot because I tend to forget that some phones don’t have IP67 certification that can handle water and dust resistance. Luckily, the A53 has one.

Furthermore, its screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, so rest assured that your screen can get away unscathed on sudden falls (as long as you don’t drop it high and with impact). It’s not scratchproof, though.

Nearly smooth performance

If you play games casually or competitively, the A53 allows you to choose between a 60Hz (Normal) or 120Hz (High) refresh rate. My unit runs on an Exynos 1280 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage, yet I was still able to play Call of Duty Mobile smoothly.

There weren’t any sudden lags and/or delays during the gameplay, although the phone heats up gradually when you keep playing even if you are indoors chilling in a frosty, airconditioned room.

The only time I experienced delays was when I connected the A53 to the Samsung The Premiere, a premium ultra-short-throw projector (it costs a fortune) that can be controlled using Samsung’s SmartThings along with many Samsung devices.

I was able to tap in and mirror my phone wirelessly to watch the different kinds of content I enjoy consuming. Should I insert a winky face here? Regardless, the experience with Samsung’s ecosystem drew the line between a midrange and a flagship smartphone.

I don’t think taking an A53 with the highest configuration can improve the wireless mirroring mishap. However, I do believe that it’s enough to revel in the seamless connectivity that Samsung offers through its products. After all, the A53 responded well to my Galaxy Watch4 Classic, my Galaxy Buds2, and even as a remote control for Samsung TV.

One UI goodness

The Galaxy A53 5G runs on One UI 4.1. Apologies for the previous infographics we shared during the launch. Initial information showed Samsung slapped a One UI Core for its midrange headliners.

I was afraid to use a One UI Core phone for security purposes. With One UI 4.1, I get to enjoy the same user experience I had with Samsung along with the features and security I enjoyed previously.

There’s the Secure Folder where I keep all my intimate photographs and important notes, and the updated Knox security gives me peace of mind, too. If you’re unsure how it works, here are two stories for you to munch on: “Why the White House prefers Samsung” and “How Samsung Knox protects your smartphone.”

Further, the One UI 4.1 is based on Android 12 and it’s the same skin as the ones used in the Galaxy S22 series. There’s also an additional feature called RAM Plus that lets you virtually expand the RAM you want.

Documenting your trips and everyday life

Onto cameras, the A53 is equipped with a quad-camera system on its rear: a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and an additional 5-megapixel shooter. Upfront, it comes with a 32-megapixel selfie shooter housed in a punch-hole.

It’s time to peruse these photos!

Wider and closer

Due to the focal length, the A53 takes sharp, dim photos indoors when you use the ultrawide angle mode. It gets brighter when you use the 1X and the 2X optical zoom.

The same scenario is evident when capturing the hallways of this church. Although, the regular shot has a hazy appeal which I often encounter when Samsung’s cameras are struggling between brightening a dim space on a scorching hot day.

Outdoors, the Namacpacan church looks vibrant when taken with the ultrawide angle mode. It still has that softened, hazy effect when using the 1x and 5x optical zoom.

Summer ready

On another note, the A53 takes vibrant yet nearly-natural photos during the daytime. The post-processing isn’t as aggressive as we’d think, so padding a built-in filter would give you social media-ready photos.

Instagrammable shots

Okay, we’re guilty: We’re fond of using the optical zoom to achieve that perfectly cropped ‘Instagrammable’ magazine-aesthetic shot. It’s nice to know that the A53’s optical zoom retains details and still produces an output with balanced colors.

Softer cutouts

What I would probably love about the A53 is its ability to take focused shots even when you use the regular Photo mode. It’s reminiscent of captures from flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S, Fold, Flip, and even the older Note series. Just look at those creamy blurs, it’s not even from Portrait Mode! That feature really sucks.

The inconsistencies

Samsung has been consistent in producing inconsistent shots when it comes to color balance and temperature. Look at the burger and the sunflower, colors are either washed out or have a warmer and greener undertone. The color accuracy is just inconsistent.

Adequate selfies

I didn’t take plenty of selfies this time around, most likely because it never changes. I could probably insert a selfie from the Galaxy A51 or A52, and you’ll barely notice the difference except for the lighting on the face’s contour.

There are visible grains whether you take your selfies indoors or outdoors, but unnoticeable when you upload them on social media because of the compression.

Sunset vibes

I like how the A53 has a good grasp of backlit and sunset shots. The brighter, backlit shot was taken at 5 in the afternoon while the sunset shot was taken around six o’clock when the sun was setting. The color is accurate, and I’m happy that it didn’t pad any additional processing so I can have the freedom to apply a preset that aligns with my aesthetic.


The A53 struggles in taking photos in lowlight or dim spaces.


It’s worse when taking photos at night, even if you use night mode. In a nutshell, the A53 is a good companion for your everyday life during the day but at night, you’re better off putting it down or keeping it inside your purse. It’s disappointing, but in reality, it’s one of the compromises and challenges that midrange smartphones offer.


I have used the Galaxy A53 5G as a daily driver, as a mobile hotspot, and as a binge-watching companion. Safe to say, that sizable 5,000mAh battery can last you through your full, eight-hour shift at work.

It’s better at being on standby, but not as good when compared to other midrange smartphones at the same price point.

The A53 handles 25W fast charging, although, it’s far from being fast. Using the old 25W Samsung Charger I have, I started charging at 1 percent. An hour later, the A53 had a 59% battery.

It reached a hundred percent later on after an additional 41 minutes. It really takes a while before you fully charge it. I hope Samsung can move past this slow ‘fast’ charging, I actually need my phone back asap when I charge it.

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G comes in different price points depending on the configurations: PhP 22,990 for 6GB/128GB; PhP 23,490 for 8GB/128GB, and PhP 25,490 for 8GB/256GB. It comes in Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, and Awesome Peach.

The price it commands is quite steep, especially when you compare it to its predecessors. The range is competitive since most players in the market release their worthy midrange headliners with similar price tags.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I could get away with using the Galaxy A53 5G as a daily driver if I’m out and about. Somewhat a secondary phone that can act as a mobile hotspot, especially in a city where crime is still prevalent. But for most people, that isn’t a privilege they can have.

So, let’s ask you these questions instead: Do you like binge-watching shows and streaming music on a daily basis? And do you like capturing your memories for the sake of preserving them?

Perhaps, sharing them on your social media accounts? If you answered yes to these two questions, then you found your GadgetMatch.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is quite a sturdy, reliable everyday phone that supports you in your daily activities. It’s got a battery that will go on with you as you get through your day; cameras that are clear and detailed to capture every moment passing by during the day; and an audio-visual treat that entertains you whether indoors or outdoors.

While there are still dealbreakers that should be considered depending on your preference, the Galaxy A53 5G truly dazzles in the midrange segment.

What could be your alternatives?

If you’re in need of a performance-oriented smartphone or a device that focuses on certain features, ’tis isn’t going to be the one. Maybe the Galaxy A73 5G can satisfy your camera needs.

Perhaps the Xiaomi 11T Pro, if you want better performance in all aspects? Or maybe, get the Xiaomi 11T if you want another all-arounder that leans towards a near-flagship experience.

Nevertheless, the midrange segment is crowded with well-rounded devices perfectly suited as everyday phones. It’s going to boil down to what brand you like to be associated with, and the ecosystem of the devices you use. In my case, I’ll probably go with Samsung or Xiaomi — you can never go wrong with these two.


Apple M2 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch Review: Four months later

Insanely Powerful!



Apple silently revealed the revamped M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered MacBook Pros just last January 2023.

While the design isn’t any different from its predecessors, it promises significant boosts in performance.

However, this isn’t meant for those who already owned the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros launched in 2021.

Spoiler alert: This is a huge upgrade from the 16-inch Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro from 2019.

But would you compromise the portability of the 14-inch version over a bigger screen and battery?

Watch our review of the new M2 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro, four months later.

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How well do PlayStation games run on the ROG Ally?

Spoiler: Pretty good



ROG Ally, PlayStation Dual Sense

The ROG Ally has caused quite a buzz in the gaming community at large. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospect of owning a handheld gaming PC/console to play games I otherwise would not have access to. I mainly play on my PlayStation 5 (PS5). Naturally, I was curious how some of my favorite games will run on the ROG Ally. 

Things are promising on paper. The ROG Ally is built to be able to run AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at the specs of the unit we had for recap:



CPU AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor 

      • 4nm 
      • Zen 4/ 8 core & 16 threads  
      • 24M cache 
      • CPU Clock: up to 5.10 Ghz 
      • TDP: 9 – 30 watts
GPU With AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Config: 

  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics 
  • RDNA3 & 4G RAM capacity / 8.6 TFlops 
  • 12 CU 
  • GPU Clock: 2.7GHz
Panel Full HD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz / 7 ms eDP1.4b, 500 nits, IPS-panel, 100%  sRGB, FreeSync™ Premium, Gorilla® Glass Victus™ and Gorilla® Glass DXC,  10-point Touchscreen 

Gyro support

Memory  16GB (LPDDR5 6400Mhz) dual channel LPDDR5 8GBx2 on board  memory
Audio  2 x 1W speakers with smart amp technology, Dolby Atmos®, Hi-Res Audio,  AI Noise Cancellation
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth  WiFi 6E (802.11ax) / Bluetooth® v5.2 
Storage 512GB (for Z1 Extreme config) 

+SD card slot UHS-2

I/O PORT ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes) and USB Type-C  combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, DP 1.4 support) — (1x)

3.5mm Audio jack — (1x)

Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0) — (1x)

Battery  40Wh
Adapter  65W PD adapter, supports pass through charging
Dimensions  280.44 * 111.18 * 21.22 mm


PlayStation Studios on PC 

PlayStation, in the past couple of years, has decided to spread the love and let PC players experience some of the best they have to offer. Currently, there are 12 PlayStation exclusive titles playable on PC. And they’re available on either Steam or the Epic Games Store. 

In case you’re curious the available games are as follows: 

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • God of War (2018)
  • Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection
  • Destiny 2: Lightfall 
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Returnal
  • Days Gone
  • Predator Hunting Grounds
  • Sackboy: A big Adventure
  • The Last of Us Part 1

PlayStation Asia was kind enough to give us codes for three of the 12 titles now available on PC. Here’s how they ran on the ROG Ally. 

Quick note: I played on Performance mode with brightness hovering at around 50-55% indoors in an air conditioned room. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with NBA 2K, is my comfort game. Whenever I feel frustrated or just having a bad day, I fire up either game. On Spider-Man, I just swing aimlessly around the digital Manhattan that Insomniac built. 

It was such a delight to learn that I can do this on the go now too with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered playing pretty darn well on the ROG Ally

I had the framerate limiter turned on, maxing out at 60. Despite that, I only reached a max of 31 fps with dips to as low as 15. It looks bad on paper, but is much more tolerable during actual gameplay. The dips usually happened during cutscenes. Majority of the gameplay hovered around 25-30 fps. 

ROG Ally, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

I knew it was never gonna reach the level of detail and smoothness that I get on the PS5 and LG C2 combo that I usually play on. There was plenty of noticeable stuttering especially during the busier sections of the game. But I didn’t think any of it was game breaking. 

Audio wasn’t as loud as I hoped it would be despite me playing in a pretty quiet room. I opted to pair it with Bluetooth earbuds (OnePlus Buds Pro 2) to get the most of the audio. There were no audio delays whatsoever which was a very welcome development. 

My average play time was about one hour and 20 minutes. That’s with the battery going from 100% to 20% each time. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Coming from the same Studio and pretty much being essentially the same game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales didn’t run too differently from Spider-Man Remastered.

I played in the exact same conditions: Indoor room, AC on, started at 100%, performance mode, and medium brightness settings. Curiously, the frame dips happened more during open-world swinging and not as much during cutscenes. This could be because of the busier version of New York due to the events of the game being set during the Christmas season. 

But the numbers weren’t too different. I still maxed at 31 fps, with most of the gameplay hovering around 25-30 fps, and the lowest dip coming in at 16fps. 

Again, nothing game breaking and it is much more tolerable during gameplay. Naturally, you have to have your expectations set properly. The ROG Ally is, after all, a handheld gaming PC. 

Average play time is around one hour and 25 minutes with about 75% to 80% of the battery life being consumed. 



Returnal is one of the titles I was most excited to try. I was curious about how the audio and controller rumble would translate to the ROG Ally. On the PS5, Audio and DualSense implementation are two of the game’s many strengths. 

Due to audio cues on enemies’ locations, this game is best played with earbuds/headphones on. The experience on the ROG Ally isn’t quite 3D Audio on PS5 levels, but it’s as close as it gets. 

The same can be said for the controller rumble. It’s not as precise nor finely implemented as the DualSense – that’s a unique feature after all. However, I was still thoroughly impressed with how the ROG Ally implemented rumble in certain sections of the game. The rumble effect is also a testament to how well-built the Ally is. Despite the internals shaking, the Ally never felt brittle nor that it would suddenly come apart. 

Knowing this is a shooter game, I turned the framerate limiter off and reached highs of 115 fps. The framerate did dip to as low as 15 fps which is about the widest variance I got from any game I played using the Ally. This did affect gameplay especially during sections where I had to deal with multiple enemies. 

I did experience plenty of crashes which isn’t ideal for a game like Returnal whose progress relies on you surviving as long as you can on a single run through. But this only happened during the first few minutes. After a while, it seemed like the ROG Ally had adjusted to the performance-demands of the game. 

It took about an hour and 10 minutes before I had to plug-in the Ally to not lose a playthrough. 

Remote Play?

ROG Ally, Dual Sense, Horizon Forbidden West

Since the ROG Ally is essentially a handheld gaming PC, you can certainly install the Remote Play app on it. However, you can’t just immediately use the gamepad. To play Horizon: Forbidden West, and generally just run the app, I had to pair the Ally with my DualSense controller.

You can map the gamepad so that it works but mapping isn’t an activity I enjoy nor did I have the time (I had to return the review unit) to do it. Other reviewers pointed to using a third-party app called Chiaki. But again, I didn’t have time to test it. I did see gameplay of it though so it seems to be working just fine. 

Knowing that you can do all these on the Ally actually makes you question the upcoming PlayStation Q handheld. Sure, the integration will likely be seamless. But its core function can already be replicated on other handhelds and handheld-like devices. I digress.

It’s worth noting that the relatively smooth experience I had with the ROG Ally was also aided by an internet connection that constantly hovers in the 250+ mbps range along with a Wi-Fi 6 router. 

The ROG Ally is PlayStation friendly 

If you want to know what it’s like playing PlayStation 5 games on a handheld device, the ROG Ally is easily one of the best devices to play with. The gameplay isn’t quite as smooth but you shouldn’t expect it to be. And yes, you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after a little over an hour of playthrough. But being able to play AAA titles on a handheld device still feels crazy to me.

Having started gaming on a family computer and covering tech for a living, it’s still mind-blowing to me how far technology has come. The stuff I only dreamed of as a little fat gamer is coming true thanks to the ROG Ally and its contemporaries. 

The ROG Ally Z1 Extreme retails for US$ 699. The ROG Ally Z1 variant retails for US$ 599. Pre-orders begin on May 11. It will be available for sale worldwide on June 13, 2023.

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OnePlus Pad Review: If iPad Ran on Android

Give this Android tablet a chance



First announced during the Cloud 11 Launch Event in India way back in February 2023 together with the OnePlus 11, the newest OnePlus Pad seems to rival the very dominated tablet territory full of iPads.

And by that, even making direct accessory contenders such as the OnePlus Stylo, a Folio Case, and even a Magnetic Keyboard.

But is the experience even close?

Well, if you’re looking for an Android tablet less than what the latest entry-level iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab offers,

it’s a tablet you might want to try out — and our OnePlus Pad review might just entice you to buy one.

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