March 30, 2023

Intro

If you are looking for a budget Android phone in 2023, these are two of the options that stand out the most: the $450 Samsung Galaxy A54 5G and the upcoming Google Pixel 7a, which is expected to land at about the same price.

But what are the differences and which of these two is a better choice?

The Galaxy comes with a much improved processor, a more refined design with a glass back, it’s got a better camera system with stabilized 4K video recording, and it packs what for many is a familiar Samsung user interface and four years of major software updates.

The Pixel, on the other hand, is known for its camera excellence, plus it’s got a cleaner version of Android and while it is expected to get three years of Android updates, those updates will be delivered on day one rather than after a few months as on the Galaxy. The Pixel 7a is also expected to address the biggest issue in the budget A series so far: the refresh rate as it is projected to finally go above 60Hz, so expect a 90Hz display on it.
Let’s explore these two in more detail!

*This article relies on preliminary information from leaks and rumors about the yet unreleased Pixel 7a.

Galaxy A54 5G vs Pixel 7a in a nutshell:

  • Galaxy has a slightly better screen quality
  • Pixel expected to have the faster chip
  • Pixel expected to have better camera quality
  • Galaxy supports 4 years of software updates vs 3 on Pixel
  • Galaxy to have faster charging speeds
  • No wireless charging on either one

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Both have a character, the Pixel is the more compact one

When it comes to design, the Galaxy A54 5G looks a lot like Samsung’s flagship S series with those separate camera lenses on its back and it now features a glass back, an upgrade from previous generations that were made out of plastic.

The Pixel also has its own signature look with that camera bar on the back and we like that both phones have some character. We don’t yet know much about the materials used on the Pixel, but the previous model had a plastic back and the new one might also have a plastic rear side.

On the front, both have a screen with a discreet punch-hole selfie camera, but the borders around the screen are noticeably larger on the Galaxy and it also has a quite noticeable “chin”. 

For biometrics, both rely on an optical type fingerprint scanner embedded in the display. We are hoping that the one on the Pixel 7a will be faster than in previous generations where it was sluggish and required a harder press to work.

Performance and Software

Pixel is expected to come with a flagship-grade chip

The Galaxy steps it up to a Samsung-made Exynos 1380 processor which brings big improvements in multi-core performance and GPU performance, but it is still no match for the expected Google-made Tensor G2 chip in the Pixel 7a. The latter is after all a flagship grade chip, even if not quite as fast as the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

In the US, the Galaxy A54 5G comes in only one version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while customers in the UK and Europe will also be able to pick a second model with 8GB of RAM and 258GB storage. So far, we expect the Pixel 7a to only come in one model with 6/128GB configuration across all markets.

Keep in mind that the Galaxy A54 5G also has a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a feature missing on most phones, including the Pixel 7a.

Another notable difference between these two is just in the software they run. The Galaxy sports Samsung’s latest One UI 5.1 interface on top of Android 13, while the Pixel launches with a clean version of Android 13. Both work equally fine and while there are a few exclusive features with the Samsung software, many people would actually prefer the cleaner and more refined look with the Pixel.

For software updates, Samsung deserves a lot of praise as it promises 4 years of major updates compared to just 3 years on the Pixel. The Pixel, however, will get those updates on day one, while you still have to wait for a few months until Samsung delivers its updates.

And as for connectivity, both phones have 5G with support for all major US carriers, so no need to sweat over this one.

Camera

Galaxy gets improvements, but don’t expect it to beat the Pixel

The Galaxy A54 5G comes with a triple camera system, while the Pixel 7a only features two rear cameras, but since the third camera on the Galaxy is a macro camera that will see limited use, both phones will mainly rely on a similar main + ultra-wide camera combination.

We are yet to test these cameras in detail, but Samsung has moved to a newer sensor the main camera on the Galaxy and it now supports proper video stabilization (both optical and digital), as well as improved “nightography”, so the A54 5G definitely holds quite some promise.

But will it match the typically outstanding Google Pixel in the camera game?

We would not have our hopes that high as the Pixel is known for incredible dynamic range and great computational photography on par with flagships both during the day and at night.

But let’s wait out and see.

Audio Quality and Haptics

Both phones rely on a main bottom firing speaker and a secondary speaker located in the earpiece for audio output.

We have not yet tested the audio quality coming out of those loudspeakers, so check back here when we have completed the reviews to get the full scoop.

You will not find a 3.5mm headphone jack on either of these phones.

Battery Life and Charging

Galaxy has the theoretical advantage

The Galaxy comes with a 5,000 mAh battery, while we still don’t know the exact battery capacity of the Pixel 7a, but we don’t expect a huge change from the 4,410 mAh battery we saw on the previous generation Pixel 6a, so chances are it will be a smaller battery.

This could give the Galaxy a sizable advantage in battery life.

In terms of charging, there is no wireless charging support on either phone and you also don’t get a charging brick in the box with either phone.

The Galaxy supports 25W charging speeds, while the Pixel is expected to max out at 18W, which definitely puts it at a disadvantage if you care about a fast top-up.

Specs Comparison

Take a look at the main specs differences between the Galaxy A54 5G and the Pixel 7a laid out below:

Summary

At the end of the day, these two are clearly among the best budget phones to buy in 2023.

The Pixel 7a is still way out in the future, but when it launches in the middle of the year, it is expected to have an advantage in performance power and the camera, while the Galaxy on the other hand shapes up to be the phone with the longer battery life, faster charging speeds and longer software updates.

Don’t forget about the difference in software too as the Galaxy comes with Samsung’s custom One UI skin which is its own look, while the Pixel runs on a clean version of Android with a different styling.

So… which one would you go for?

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