It’s never quite easy to pinpoint exactly what segment the Samsung Galaxy M series caters to. On one hand, the lineup hosts budget alternatives like the Galaxy M21 and the M12, both costing below the Rs 15,000 mark. The other side of the coin are devices like the recently-unveiled Galaxy M53 which creep into the mid-range territory with its Rs 26,499 price tag. There’s a lot that’s right with the M53, especially looking at some of the specs on paper. Time to find out how well the Galaxy M53 fares in real life.
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The Galaxy M53 looks and feels great in the hand. The viewing experience is exemplary except for the fact that HDR10 content is not supported on OTT platforms. The device’s performance aspect is above average along with daylight photography, and as an overall package, the Galaxy M53 should appeal to a wide variety of people.
- Samsung appears to have done a bit of a u-turn on the Galaxy M53 as far as design choices go. While the previous iteration of the device had a thick and bulky exterior, the M53 has been slimmed down quite significantly, making it, in my opinion, the thinnest phone on the market at just 7.4mm. What makes it so impressive is that Samsung has still managed to cram in a 5,000mAh cell inside the chassis while keeping the weight quite light at 176g. Apart from the slim profile, the Galaxy M53 has a typical appearance with the matte-coated finish on the glass back panel and a set of quad cameras on the top-left arranged in a matrix.
- The phone misses out on a headphone jack and also doesn’t have stereo speakers, a feature that become a staple offering in M53’s price bracket. Nevertheless, a power button-fingerprint sensor combo is placed quite effectively on the right of the device allowing my thumb to reach it without hyperextending. I can’t say the same about the volume rocker bar placed just above it. In the overall scheme of things, I really like how good the in-hand feel of the Galaxy M53 is, and the clean look on the back should definitely appeal to minimalists.
- Good quality displays and Samsung just go hand-in-hand. The Galaxy M53 reaps the benefits with a large 6.7-inch Super AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution that refreshes at 120Hz. There was a time when these features were reserved exclusively for Samsung’s flagship products and it is good to see them trickle down to the company’s more affordable offerings. If I was to rate the viewing experience on the Galaxy M53, I would give it a solid 8/10 simply because of how smooth, vivid, and colour accurate the panel is. Being an AMOLED screen has its benefits like proper viewing angles, excellent contrast ratios, and deeper blacks seeping into the visual content.
- The Gorilla Glass 5 protection up top also adds some protection against accidental drops. At 420nits, I did feel that the brightness levels could have been a tad higher although for indoor usage never posed any problem. One thing that did bother me was the lack of HDR10 playback on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. I feel that if budget phones like the Redmi Note 10 Pro can offer this feature, the Galaxy M53 can certainly match it. Lastly, there is a miniature punch-hole on the top of the device that blends into the screen upon extended viewing.
- In terms of the cameras, Samsung has made use of a 108MP primary sensor to highlight the M53’s main image-taking responsibilities. There is also an 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, and 2MP macro shooter present as well. Getting into brass tacks, Samsung has improved its computational photography greatly in the past few years giving its lower-tier products, like the Galaxy M53, more than a fighting chance against rivals. In broad daylight, the primary shooter completes a more than decent job of getting sharp details across the board but does so while mingling the results in oversaturation.
- The sensor isn’t particularly big but allows a lot of light to seep in making images a tad bit brighter while compensating for exposure levels well. In terms of the dynamic range, I was able to make out the blue tinge in the overly bright sunny afternoon while the details in shadowy areas remained defined. My main problem was centered around the lag in shutter speed after I had pressed the camera button. As usual, there is the UHD 108MP mode to further crop into a shot at the expense of your storage.
- I wasn’t totally sold on the night photography from the Galaxy M53 where the resulting images did appear sharp on Samsung’s excellent AMOLED panel but not so much when viewing on my 15-inch laptop screen. A considerable amount of noise creeps into the shot even with plenty of street lights surrounding the subject. Images had a roughly 50-50 probability in terms of sharpness although that number gets a boost with the dedicated Night mode which has quick image processing times. On the downside, exposure levels reach unreasonable heights with the mode on, and most of the time I have to adjust the exposure slider manually. There is the ultra-wide sensor which doesn’t match the primary lens in terms of detailing but does a decent job at matching colours.
- The low-resolution macro sensor takes images that will look good on your phone but not on a bigger screen. As for the depth sensor, the edge detection is flawless and the background blur is easy on the eye. In terms of videos, the device can do 4K but only at 30fps and there is no OIS on the sensor while slow-motion videos can go up to 240fps. Finally, there is a 32MP selfie camera on the front which inculcates subtle facial oversharpening but gets skin tones correct and also does a fairly decent job on portrait mode.
- For performance needs the Galaxy M53 has a MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC which is powerful enough to get through day-to-day tasks without too much of a hitch. I did run some more intensive tasks on the M53 like editing an Instagram reel video and operating a dozen heavy apps simultaneously. The results were not super encouraging and I did face some amount of lag on both tasks.
- Apart from that, the super-thin design doesn’t leave a lot of room for thermal management which can be seen on the CPU Throttle benchmark. Usually, Dimensity 900 devices like the OnePlus Nord CE 2 managed to throttle down only to 88 percent of the chipset’s peak performance. On the Galaxy M53, this number is down to 62 percent which can be considered a cause for concern. As far as BGMI gaming goes, the smartphone manages Extreme (60fps) frame rate at Smooth graphics but the device does get a bit warm in my hands. The M53 comes in two variants, offering 6GB or 8GB RAM along with 128GB storage with the option to extend up to 1TB via a microSD card slot.
- Samsung has deemed it unnecessary to bless the M53 with stereo sound output but I have to say that the bottom-firing unit does get plenty loud and is crisp enough for my liking. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is functional up to a point but I did face some issues getting through the authentication when even the slightest amount of dirt covered my thumb. With no headphone jack to rely on, Samsung has provided a wide array of supported wireless codecs including Dolby Atmos to deliver a seamless audio experience. 5G is supported on the M53 but unfortunately, for now, it is not available on the Indian telecom infrastructure. However, I did not face any issues with the current 4G LTE network on Jio’s Noida circle.
- The Galaxy M53 runs on Samsung’s proprietary OneUI 4.1 which is based on Android 12. For more details, you can check out my Galaxy S22 Plus review. Long story short, I really enjoyed my time with the interface, especially with the number of customisations being offered.
- While running on a 5,000mAh battery, the Galaxy M53 offers decent running times without having to reach for a charger every now and then. Samsung does not provide one inside the box but has rated the device to accept up to 25W of charging speeds via the bottom USB C port. The PCMark Battery test shows that the device manages 12 hours 14 minutes which is not great but not too bad either. During my time with the M53, the battery lasted the entire day without needing to charge the phone and still had about 20 percent left in the bank.
The Galaxy M53 is an easy recommendation to immerse yourselves into a world of visual media thanks to its Super AMOLED panel at the helm. Diving into super processor intrinsic tasks, like BGMI, is certainly not a piece of cake but if your requirements are not in the realm of mobile gaming, the M53 won’t disappoint. I do take some issue though with the unnecessary throttling of the chipset’s peak performance. On the other hand, it is a small price to pay for the super slim build of the device. Camera quality, at least in daylight conditions, is very good and battery life is decent enough along with the software interface. If it is performance that you are after, options from Realme, iQOO, and others can sufficiently meet your needs.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Excellent design
- Glorious display
- Good daylight shooting
- OneUI 4.1 is nice
- Low-light camera performance could be better
- Misses out on stereo speakers
- No HDR10 playback on Netflix or Prime