Thursday, December 01, 2022

Want a low cost phone? We compare Apple’s iPhone SE 3 and Samsung’s Galaxy A53

Not everyone can afford a smartphone that costs $1,000 or more. For example, we are on a tight budget here at Casa Julio.

So while my wife’s nearly decade-old Apple iPhone 5s became obsolete—its iOS operating system is no longer eligible for annual updates, and it can only use a 3G wireless network that’s being phased out nationwide. Is–we didn’t start casting about it–excessive replacement.

Ojeda ZapataThe answer seemed obvious. Apple recently announced the iPhone SE 3 to anchor the lower end of its smartphone line. At $429 and up, it’s a steal (at least in the form of iPhones).

It has a retro appearance (its design is similar to that of the iPhone 8 released in 2017), and it is the only remaining iPhone model with a physical Home button at the bottom of the screen. None of this is necessarily bad as many Apple fans love this classic look.

Those wanting a low-priced yet high-quality smartphone have options. For example, Samsung recently released the Android-based Galaxy A53, which normally retails for $449, but was going for $349.99 last time I checked. This option seemed appealing, even if my home had been Apple-centric.

But how do the iPhone SE 3 and Galaxy A53 compare? Each has different strengths and will appeal to different moneyed audiences.

physical design

The 4.7-inch SE3 is compact and very slim with curved edges that feel great in the hand – compared to the more hardcore iPhones which are more angular with sharp edges that I don’t like as much.

Iphone Se 3 (Apple)
iPhone SE 3 (Apple)

The 6.5-inch A53, by comparison, is a boring rectangular slab that’s wider, longer, and thicker than the SE 3. Its touch screen occupies the entirety of the front without any physical home button, and it looks nicer than the display one. on SE 3

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Samsung Galaxy A53 (Samsung)
Samsung Galaxy A53 (Samsung)


Here is where the A53 stands out. Its front-facing or selfie camera has a resolution of 32 megapixels, while the SE 3 only has 7MP. Apple phones have a 12MP camera on the back whereas Samsung phones have four Cameras – 64MP main camera with depth, ultra-wide and zoom sensors.

Cameras are an important consideration for my wife as she has become more and more enamored with phone photography in recent years. Other iPhones offer two- or three-camera systems.


The SE 3 looks old on the outside, but modern on the inside – it has the same A15 Bionic processor found in every other current iPhone model. This is important if you plan to keep your phone for a long time – as does my wife. The 5s, released in 2013, was eligible for software updates until 2019, and received security updates until last year. That means an SE3 is likely to last my wife at least six or seven years.

In comparison, Android phones are notorious for quickly becoming obsolete. Galaxy devices are the best, and they’re now promised four years of updates (and five years of security updates), up from Samsung’s three-year guarantee earlier.

The SE 3’s A15 processor is important for another obvious reason: the phone is Fast, as fast as any other iPhone. The A53, by comparison, feels dangerously sluggish.

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At $429, the SE 3 offers 64 gigabytes of storage. It is on insufficient range. You can get 128GB for $479 and 256GB for $579.

With the A53, you get 128GB for $349.99. This is a very good thing.


Both handsets can tap into the super fast 5G wireless data networks offered by all US carriers, with one caveat — neither supports mmWave, the 5G version that’s by far the fastest, but only in the nooks of major US cities. And available in cranes (such as St. Paul’s), which makes it irrelevant to most people.

ground level

So which bargain phone is right for you? If performance and longevity are a priority, the SE3 is the best bet. Those focused on photography might consider the A53 the better choice, though, and its more generous storage is a plus. It also costs less. However, I am wary of its slowness.

What did my wife get?

As you might have guessed, his story has a twist ending. I mentioned that our household focus is on Apple products, and my wife decided she couldn’t leave this familiar ecosystem, even though the A53’s camera system looked appealing.

So she went for the next most affordable iPhone, the 13 Mini, with an all-screen design and dual cameras, plus 128GB of storage and that zippy A15 chip. It set him back $699 (ouch) — but he has no regrets.

Further reading

If you’re still considering your options, read Macworld’s comparison of the SE 3 and A53. Spoiler alert: it’s not faster on the iPhone.

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