Samsung updated its M-series of mid-range smartphones earlier this year, and now we’ve got our hands on the Galaxy M53 to see if the word “updated” applies in this situation. Indeed, on the one hand, the device received a more advanced main camera with a resolution of 108 megapixels, but, on the other hand, the manufacturer simplified the rest of the image sensors. We also don’t see anything wrong with the Dimensity 900’s 5G processor, but the Snapdragon 778 found in its predecessor has better performance and looks better. So “updated” or “simplified”? Let’s figure it out.
- Processor: MediaTek MT6877 Dimensity 900, 8 cores (2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A78, 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55), Mali-G68 MC4.
- Memory: 6/128 GB, 8/128 GB, 8/256 GB.
- Display: 6.7″ Super AMOLED Plus, 120Hz, 1080×2408 pixels, 20/.07:9 aspect ratio, 394ppi.
- Main camera: 108 MP (f/1.8, PDAF), 8 MP (f/2.2, 120˚), 2 MP (f/2.4), 2 MP (f/2.4).
- Front camera: 32 MP (f / 2.2).
- 5000mAh battery, 25W fast charging.
- OS: Android 12, One UI 4.1.
- Dimensions: 164.7 × 77 × 7.4 mm, 176 grams.
Contents of delivery
Another downgrade, and a very tangible one, is the box and its contents. The white cardboard box that the smartphone comes in is now only half the height, which immediately tells us that there is no charger inside. So it, in fact, is – inside there is only a smartphone, waste paper and a USB Type-C cable.
The rear camera system, consisting of four image sensors, is the most distinguishing feature of the M53 – a similar solution was used in the A and F series gadgets last year, only this time Samsung chose the shape of a seamless island. And we love it, no doubt. At the same time, the back panel is made of plastic and has a matte finish that plays nicely in the light and shimmers with several shades of blue (in the case of a blue gadget). Moreover, the transition from a glossy panel in the M52 5G to a matte surface also played an important role – the device has become more practical.
But the display covered with protective glass Gorilla Glass 5, which is not surprising, is unremarkable in terms of design – it has exactly the frames that you expect from a mid-range device, and the perforation in the upper part made it possible to place a camera there. The manufacturer even managed to find a middle ground – the hole is not very large to interfere with viewing content, but not too small so that the camera receives enough light. And, of course, it is worth noting that this smartphone has glossy side edges that will collect a lot of prints.
When it comes to the display, the Galaxy M53 has a slight edge over the A53, with a larger diagonal (6.7 inches vs. 6.5 inches). It uses the same Super AMOLED Plus panel with the same resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. In testing, we found 800 nits of brightness in bright conditions with adaptive brightness and 403 nits with manual control of this parameter – numbers for this class are very decent. The color reproduction of the screen is not bad, but, of course, it is far from ideal, plus the M53 does not support HDR.
There is a strange situation with the refresh rate – in the standard mode, the screen only works at 60 Hz, while you can select the High mode with a frequency of 120 Hz. The problem is that this is not an adaptive refresh rate, but a constant one – the device blocks the frequency at the maximum mark, which will certainly affect battery life. Only a few applications forcibly lower the frequency to 60 Hz, but there are very few such programs. In games, such a frequency setting, of course, gives a positive result, but in general, the approach is not the most effective.
The Galaxy M53 is equipped with a 5000 mAh battery – exactly the same as the M52, but far behind the M51’s 7000 mAh battery. However, the smartphone still shows a very good battery life – 14 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi at 120 Hz screen refresh, almost 21 hours of video playback at 60 Hz and 27 hours of voice calls. Standby autonomy is 114 hours – not as good as the M52, and obviously much less than the 156 hours of the M51. But the result is still good.
Since there is no charger in the box with the Galaxy M53, we will just have to accept the new reality and use our standard Samsung 25W adapter – this is the power that the M53 is designed for. As a result, we got 1 hour and 33 minutes to a full charge from zero, and the battery indicator showed 44% after half an hour. That said, peak charging power was just over 20W, which is exactly what you’d expect from just about any Power Delivery compliant charging adapter.
It turns out a strange situation. The M53 charges about as fast as the A53, while the A33 is slightly faster. Yes, and last year’s A52 5G charges a little faster when using the same 25W adapter, but this gadget comes with a 15W charger, with which it charges, naturally, more slowly. Which comparison is correct?
Performance and Benchmarks
The Galaxy M53 is equipped with a Dimensity 900 processor with 5G support from MediaTek. It is manufactured using a 6-nm process technology and is equipped with eight processing cores (2 Cortex-A78 cores at 2.4 GHz and 6 Cortex-A55 cores at 2.0 GHz). Accordingly, this is a noticeable downgrade from the Snapdragon 778 in the Galaxy M52 5G, which will be highly visible in GeekBench. Similarly, the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU would be a step backwards from the Adreno 642L from last year’s model.
This smartphone comes in three configurations of RAM and internal memory – 6/128, 8/128 and 8/256 GB. But, as usual with Samsung, certain configurations are only available in certain markets.
In GeekBench’s single-core test, the Galaxy M53 even outperforms the M52 5G and is roughly on par with the A53 and A52s, but in the multi-core test, the M53 falls noticeably behind both last year’s models, although it somehow manages to outperform the A53. I’d also like to say that the M53 is the highest-performing mid-range Galaxy smartphone we’ve tested this year (the A73 should beat it, but we never got it). But the A52 and M52, released last year, are still much higher in the table.
But there is another problem – when testing a constant load on the processor, we found a strange instability of the Galaxy M53. Other smartphones with the same Dimensity 900 processor were much more stable and performed better in stress tests. So we can certainly say that the Galaxy M53 is a decent smartphone, but its performance has been slightly inconsistent and, in any case, the processor is inferior to last year’s model.
Photos from the main camera of the Galaxy M53 are very good – the improvements implemented by the software are within reason, and you get nice vibrant colors without oversaturation. We also had no problems with white balance, the dynamic range is quite wide, plus we observe excellent contrast. At the pixel level, everything is also generally good, there are quite a lot of details. True, sometimes the details in the frame may have an artificial or processed look, but this is not striking. Yes, and about the noise, even speech can not be.
Also, if desired, the user can get a two-fold increase using a special button in the viewfinder, but the result is best viewed only on the smartphone screen. In this case, the user gets the same colors and dynamic range as in the original shooting (which is not surprising – this is the same camera), but upon closer examination, you can see a decrease in sharpness and an overall softness of the frame. For social networks, these shots are still suitable, just don’t look at the pixels.
Full resolution shots (108MP) contain some finer detail, and you can use this format if you want more natural processing for your shots. On the other hand, you don’t get the benefit of HDR when shooting in this mode, so you should expect some loss of detail at the far ends of the histogram (the snail shot is a clear indicator in this regard).
When it comes to dynamic range, the ultra-wide-angle camera lags behind the main camera, but it does a good job nonetheless. Colors are pleasing enough, although a bit harsher than what the main camera produces. Detailing is also decent, but loses to its predecessor.
The situation changes a lot when it comes to shooting in low light – here the Galaxy M53 feels out of place, especially in standard mode. Even the main camera tends to blow out too dark footage, so it has a very limited dynamic range in our opinion. As a result, the shadows are too deep and the highlights are burnt out. Detail in the midtones is adequate, but in the shadows it is soft and noisy.
On the other hand, the night mode helps a lot. The most noticeable improvement is in the highlights area – the light sources are well localized and detailed. There is also a slight improvement in the shadows, but the sharpness in the frame drops a little – this is especially noticeable in the previously sharper midtones.
The lack of a night mode at 2x magnification, of course, negatively affects the final result – the frames do not look very good. What could be called an acceptable result when shooting with zoom during the day is completely absent here, so we do not recommend shooting in this mode at night.
Again, night mode improves things by making photos more pleasing in tone – highlights disappear, shadows intensify, color palette becomes more realistic. But nothing good can be said about the detailing – it is better not to study the pictures in detail.
The situation with the 2 MP macro camera is also quite expected – this image sensor simply cannot convey as much detail as we would like, so getting good pictures is very problematic.
The portrait mode on the main camera does a good job of separating the subject from the background, although more complex scenes can confuse the camera – just look at the plants in the first photo. Perhaps the default blur level (5 out of 7) is too strong and can bring out the artificial nature of the bokeh, but you can correct the situation during the shooting or after the fact in the gallery.
The default selfies on this smartphone are taken at 12MP resolution – and they’re not that bad. You can see some noise in darker areas, but detail is generally decent, though footage can sometimes look a bit too sharp in higher contrast scenes where HDR is overworked. But the dynamic range is quite wide, and the scenes are properly exposed. Yes, the color reproduction is a little restrained in saturation, but the skin tones look good.
The portrait mode works the same way as on the main camera – it separates the subject from the background quite well, but sometimes there are slight confusions with clothes.
I would also like to note that selfies can be taken at a resolution of 32 megapixels (this is the original resolution of the camera) – then the pictures are more detailed. However, sometimes even slightly darker scenes can push the ISO beyond the sensor’s comfortable range, and the effects of noise reduction and sharpening make images even less appealing. The result is not bad, but who needs selfies in 32 megapixel resolution?
The smartphone can record video in 4K resolution at 30 FPS on the main camera (optical stabilization does not work in this mode) or in 1080p at the same frame rate on the ultra wide-angle camera. What’s more, technically you can even record video at 10x zoom, but we would advise against doing this – it’s better to refrain from zooming above 2x. Also, in 4K at 30 FPS, the front camera can also shoot, which is important.
This year promises to be very sad for the middle class of smartphones, and Samsung’s new products are especially uninteresting in comparison with their counterparts from the same company from last year. However, despite the lack of a charger in the kit and a decrease in processor performance, this smartphone itself is not bad. It has a great display, decent battery life, modern software, and a cool camera system with a few caveats, especially when it comes to shooting videos or photos in low light.
But smartphones have to get better every year, and unfortunately this is not the case with the Galaxy M53. And perhaps we would agree with this Samsung gadget if there were not a lot of alternatives on the market, or if the price were different. But even now, the M53 remains too expensive a device that we cannot recommend to anyone.
- Bright AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate.
- Solid battery life.
- One UI 4.1 and Android 12.
- Great photos in daylight.
- There is no charger in the box.
- Relatively low power processor.
- Poor photo quality in low light.
- No 4K video stabilization.