Apple vs. Samsung for the US mid-range market

Apple vs. Samsung for the US mid-range market

Tech Highlights:

  • The iPhone SE 3 starts at $429 for the 64GB base variant and jumps to$479 for 128GB or $579 for 256GB storage. The Galaxy A53 in the US comes in only a 128GB variant, priced at $449. Although in some parts of the world, including Hong Kong where I am based, the A53 has a 256GB variant priced at the equivalent of around $510. Samsung Galaxy A53 5G vs Apple iPhone SE 3: Specifications. Specifications Apple iPhone SE (2022) Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

  • When it comes to comparing phones, no comparison is more apt than Apple’s iPhone vs. Samsung’s Galaxy, because they are the two largest and most well-known phone brands in the world, and they represent iOS vs. Android for the average consumer in large parts of the world, including and especially the United States. The greatest premium options from both brands have previously been put against each other; now it’s time for the mid-range showdown: the third-generation iPhone SE vs. the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.

In order to meet this sub-$500 price that’s less than half of what their top phones cost, both Apple and Samsung had to compromise on hardware and features, and it’s interesting to see the opposing approach each brand has taken. Apple has just about sacrificed looks and modern design with the iPhone SE 3: it recycles the same outer shell and components of the five-year-old iPhone 8. And if we’re being honest, the iPhone 8’s design was outdated even back in 2017 — so the iPhone SE 3’s nearly inch-thick bezels, 60Hz LCD display with pointy screen corners feel even older than five years old. But while the phone is no looker, it packs Apple’s absolute flagship 4nm A15 Bionic chip, which is currently the most powerful mobile processor in the world. Let that sink in.

The giant bezels of the iPhone SE 3 are a divisive point. For a gadget geek like me, and I’m guessing many XDA readers, they’re just far too large, eating into what should be real estate for the screen. But I have heard other consumers — generally the older, more casual crowd — say they don’t mind the bezel, and even welcome the return of the home button, which offers a tactile way to operate the phone as well as bring back Touch ID. That’s fine, I’m willing to concede maybe not everyone cares about thin bezels.

Samsung’s Galaxy A53 5G, meanwhile, has modern looks, with thin bezels, a 120Hz OLED display, and a quad-lens camera system. Of course, if you know your smartphones and you nitpick, you can quickly find areas of compromise like the plastic back and the fact that two of the cameras are somewhat pointless depth and macro sensors. But to the layman’s eyes, the Galaxy A53 5G would not look out of place next to other 2022 release. However, the Galaxy A53 5G is powered by a noticeably mid-tier Exynos SoC.

But what can’t be argued is that iPhone SE 3’s 60Hz LCD screen is objectively inferior to the Galaxy A53’s 120Hz OLED panel. Whether it’s looking at photos, watching videos, or reading text, it’s just a more enjoyable experience on the Galaxy A53 — colors pop off the screen more, the display gets brighter and pumps out better contrast. The iPhone SE 3’s 4.7-inch screen is also very cramped by almost any modern smartphone standards. And despite the Galaxy A53 having a much larger 6.5-inch display, I don’t find the phone more difficult to use with one hand, because Android is more one-hand friendly: I can, for example, just put all my core apps at the bottom of the screen, I can use a more dense grid so the space between app icons are smaller (thus less likely to spill out of reach of my thumb vertically or horizontally).

Apple’s A15 Bionic has no problem outperforming the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that’s powering Samsung’s Ultra flagship, so it of course takes an easy win against Samsung’s mid-tier Exynos 1280 chip. I’m not just talking about benchmark numbers, where the A15 Bionic crushes the Exynos 1280, but in real-world usage, I can feel that slight sluggishness in the Galaxy A53 that reminds me “ah this is a mid-tier phone” while the iPhone SE 3 mostly behaves like a flagship (save for the fact I’m viewing content on a display that belongs in 2015).

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