Samsung A Series Gets an Unglamourous but Important Update

Samsung has unveiled its latest A Series smartphones in Europe: the Galaxy A33 and Galaxy A53. It was one of the more low-key events of the year so far, with much less hype and fanfare than the recent launches of flagship smartphone series like the OPPO Find X5, the HONOR Magic4, the realme GT2, and indeed Samsung’s own Galaxy S22.

However, the importance of Samsung’s new mid-range devices should not be underestimated, as they will likely be amongst the best-selling smartphones in Europe this year.

Europe’s smartphone workhorse

The A Series is vital to Samsung’s leadership in Europe. Targeted at people who want flagship-like features but for a non-flagship price, the A Series finds a delicate balance between specs and cost and has seen great success in Europe since its inception in 2014. In 2021, A Series devices accounted for 59% of Samsung’s smartphone sales in Europe, more than double that of its flagship S Series. Spain is an especially important market for the A Series in Europe, where it accounted for 70% of Samsung’s smartphone sales in 2021, and almost a quarter of total sales.

The A Series dominates Samsung’s European smartphone sales

Counterpoint Research: The Samsung A Series dominates Samsung’s European smartphone sales
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse Q4 2021

The Samsung Galaxy A12 was the best-selling Android smartphone in Europe in 2021, accounting for 5% of the region’s total Android sales (it was fifth overall when the iPhone 12 and 13 were taken into account). Further, A Series devices accounted for six of the top ten smartphones under $500 (wholesale) in 2021.

Six A Series smartphones in the sub-$500 top ten

6 Samsung A Series smartphones in the sub-$500 top ten
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse Q4 2021

The Samsung A Series has also been key in driving 5G down the price tiers: The Galaxy A32 5G and the Galaxy A52s 5G were the two best-selling sub-$500 5G smartphones in Europe in 2021, together accounting for 14% of total 5G sales in this segment. And it is these two devices that Samsung has just updated.

Similar price, mostly boosted specs

Let’s start with the Galaxy A53. Priced at £399 (€470/$525), the A53 will be exactly the same price as the A52 was at launch last year, and the specs are vaguely similar too. The 6.5-inch screen and quad-camera setup are pretty much the same, as is the IP67 water- and dust-resistance rating. The A53, however, is powered by the Exynos 1280 chipset (versus the A53’s Snapdragon 750G), and Samsung says this will deliver a lot of AI features, especially with regards to the camera. There is also a bigger 5000 mAh battery, although Samsung is sticking with its, now slightly old fashioned, 25W charging. Samsung says many of these specs were found in flagship devices from two years ago, so the A53 packs a lot of bang for its buck.

The Galaxy A33 shares many of the same features as the A53, including the same chipset, and as such is a significant upgrade over last year’s A32 5G. The only difference between the A33 and the A53 is a different camera setup and a slightly smaller screen. However, given that, at £329 (€389/$430), the A33 is more expensive than its predecessor (£250/€299/$329 at launch), the A33 is arguably less of a bargain than the A53 which doesn’t cost that much more.

A53 versus iPhone SE…fight!

Overall, these devices look to be very good mid-range smartphones at very competitive prices and are therefore likely to be among the best-selling devices in Europe in 2022. In addition, the price places the Galaxy A53 in direct competition with the new iPhone SE. On paper, the A53 looks miles ahead, with a 120Hz OLED display (double that of the LCD screen on the iPhone SE), four cameras (three more than the iPhone SE), Night Mode (for some reason missing from the iPhone SE), and a much more modern feel when compared to the iPhone SE that feels very dated. Yes, the new iPhone SE contains a very powerful A15 processor, but if Apple was hoping to steal mid-range users away from Android with its latest offering, then Samsung may have given it more than it can chew.