If the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the eye-catching star of the company’s flagship line, then the Galaxy A53 5G is the tempting alternative in the company’s mid-range and budget Galaxy A range. You’re not reading a review of the A53 5G, though. You’re reading a review of its specced-down sibling.
The Samsung Galaxy A33 5G is not Samsung’s most affordable 5G phone - nor does it tout the A-series’ best cameras, or performance, or screen, or anything like that. Instead, it’s a valiant all-rounder that sits somewhere in the middle of the company’s Galaxy A line-up.
The pitch goes something like this: this 5G-toting handset with a good-looking screen and long-lasting battery will likely be sufficient for all those who love to stream TV and movies wherever they go, even without the extra bells and whistles that would drive the price towards A53 or S22 levels.
The catch? Well, not only is this phone awfully similar to last year’s A32 5G (the key differences are the screen resolution and chipset), it’s also, arguably, not as great a bargain as the A53 5G, which has improvements in most departments and doesn’t cost that much more.
Ahead of our full review, we got some hands-on time with Samsung’s new affordable 5G phone to see what it’s like.
Samsung Galaxy A33 5G release date and price
We have the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G price for the UK and Australia, where it’ll cost £329 / AU$599 (roughly $430), and will update this article when we hear prices for other areas.
At that price, it’s not the cheapest 5G phone we’ve seen - either from Samsung or other brands - but it is more affordable than the A53 5G, which costs £399 / AU$699. It’s also far less expensive than Samsung’s flagships, like the $799 / £769 / AU$1,249 Galaxy S22.
It's also more expensive than the Galaxy A32 5G - you can see the price of that below.
The phone is available for pre-order now, and will go on sale April 22.
Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy A33 5G is a mid-sized phone, and depending on the size of your hand, it could either be a comfortable fit or a little too big.
The device has a plastic rear, with the camera bump sticking out a little from the material. Around the edges of the handset, you’ve got the power button and volume rocker, and there’s a USB-C port but no 3.5mm headphone jack.
You can pick up the phone in black, white, peach or blue, and we found the two latter options pleasantly attractive: they stood out, but in a subtle way.
The handset has an IP67 rating, so it’s dustproof and water resistant, as well as a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 screen, so it should be durable too.
That screen is 6.4 inches across, with a FHD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate - those two specs are both improvements over the A32 5G. The screen is broken up by a teardrop notch, which cuts into the display real estate by only a tiny amount.
It’s an AMOLED panel, and that means colors are bright and vibrant, with great contrast - if you like using your smartphone to stream TV on the bus or watch movies on long journeys, you’ll love this display.
Cameras and battery life
There are four rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G, but quantity is not the same as quality. The handset’s photography power is fine for social-media-busy TikTokers or Instagramers, but professional or amateur photographers might be underwhelmed.
The main camera is a 48MP one, and it’s joined by a 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro and 2MP depth-sensing cohort. It’s nice to see Samsung bucking the trend of throwing on 2MP macro snappers to flesh out a specs list - 5MP makes a marked improvement on close-up images.
There’s also optical image stabilization (OIS) here too, which compensates for your shaky hands when you’re taking a photo or recording video - lots of phones have this, but budget handsets often don’t.
Pictures looked… well, ‘fine’ isn’t exactly a descriptive word, but it’s the appropriate one here. Snaps taken on these cameras won’t win any awards, but viewed as a little square on your social media app of choice, they’ll be just fine. There’s that word again.
Fans of Snapchat will be pleased to know that the Samsung camera app now offers loads of AR filters, to save you heading into the social media app of yesteryear. This feature will likely appeal to a very specific audience, but those users will love it.
That's in addition to the multiple useful modes that Samsung phones have brought in the past - the company's Portrait Mode beats out those of rivals, with lots of different modes like Color Point which turns the background monochrome, there's Food mode which is an easy-to-use alternative to Pro mode for tweaking the focus point of close-up snaps, and Single Take which lets you record a video of an object or subject, and the phone will pull the best images from it.
Onto battery - it’s nice and big, at 5,000mAh. A power pack that big will almost definitely serve you for a whole day of use, even if you’re gaming non-stop - and we’d expect it to last you into your second day too.
Charging is 25W, which matches the Galaxy S22 - but even at this price range, there are Chinese phone makers offering much, much faster powering. Samsung puts the estimate for a 50% charge at half an hour. We put that estimate as ‘too slow’.
Performance, specs and software
Perhaps our main concern with the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G after using it for a short testing time was that it felt a little bit slow to use. Swiping between home screen pages, opening apps and using the camera software always felt just a tiny bit more choppy than on another phone.
And we’re not comparing this phone to super-expensive Galaxy S models and the like - even at this price you can get lots more power from brands like Motorola and Redmi. We didn’t do any gaming but we expect our take-away would be the same - but since the target audience for this phone doesn't seem to be hardcore mobile gamers, bumpiness might not be a major issue.
The chipset is the Exynos 1280, a home-brewed Samsung component that's not exactly top-end. We haven’t seen that in many rivals so it’s hard to compare it to chipsets in other phones. What we do know is that the A53 5G uses it too.
The chip is paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage - that’s a good amount of space for a phone at this price, but if you need more, there’s a micro SD card slot that can get you up to 1TB extra space.
Like quite a few mid-range and premium mobiles, the A33 offers a RAM extension mode, which temporarily turns storage space into RAM, which can give you a boost for gaming or intensive tasks. This works well, getting you 3GB extra RAM, though if you fill up your storage space - say, after using the phone for several years - the feature won't work.
Software-wise, we’re looking at Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4 laid over the top. Both Google’s latest Android build, and Samsung’s fork of it, focus on customization improvements, including Material You, which gives you lots of scope to change the look and color of menus and apps.
We can certainly see the appeal of the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G, and it’ll likely please people who fall into its core demographic: that’s people who use social media apps a lot, particularly to share their photos; and people who stream lots of videos on their phone.
It’s definitely a budget device though, and if you can stretch to it, we’d recommend the A53 5G over this handset: it’s got a bigger display, better camera array and doesn’t cost too much more.
Still, Samsung’s Galaxy A series has always offered tempting devices with great-looking screens and low prices, and the A33 5G is a worthy new model to carry that flame.