Samsung and OnePlus are renowned for making some of the best budget phones you can buy, and each released a solid mid-ranger this spring. The OnePlus Nord N20 5G and Samsung Galaxy A53 are great picks in the sub-flagship space, but there are some differences between the duo. Thinking about an upgrade to one of these phones? Read on to see which is best for you.
|Phone||OnePlus Nord N20 5G||Samsung Galaxy A53|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 650||Samsung Exynos 1280|
|Display||6.43″ 1080p OLED, 60Hz||6.5″ 1080p OLED, 120Hz|
|Battery||4,500mAh, charging up to 33W wired||5,000mAh, charging up to 25W wired|
|Rear Cameras||64MP f/1.79 primary; 2MP f/2.4 macro; 2MP f/2.4 monochrome||64MP f/1.8 primary; 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide; 5MP f/2.4 macro; 5MP f/2.4 depth|
|Front Camera||16MP f/2.4||32MP f/2.2|
|Connectivity||5G (Sub-6GHz), LTE, Wi-Fi (dual-band, up to ac), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC||5G, Up to Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC|
|Dimensions||159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5 mm, 173g||159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1 mm, 189g|
|Software||Oxygen OS 11/Android 11||One UI 4.1/Android 12|
|Colors||Blue Smoke||Awesome Black|
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Performance and connectivity
The N20 5G packs a Snapdragon 650 CPU, while the A53 sports a Samsung-built Exynos 1280. Both phones have six gigs of RAM. Performance out of either is quite good. They’re plenty powerful enough for social media, web browsing, and even some multitasking and gaming.
Despite the considerable gulf in price—the A53 costs nearly $170 more than the N20—performance between the two is comparable. Both perform admirably in day-to-day use, and they even score similarly on benchmarks. In our N20 review, we found the phone scored 687 and 1946 for single- and multi-core performance in Geekbench 5, respectively; the A53 scored 727 and 1921 on the same benchmark. Although benchmark tests are not indicative of real-world performance, they’re still an interesting point of comparison.
Both phones are 5G-capable, but only the A53 supports the mmWave variety that delivers blisteringly fast speeds in certain areas. But given how unreliable and uncommon mmWave 5G still is (and will likely remain), it shouldn’t be a consideration for most buyers.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Cameras
The OnePlus N20 has a 64-megapixel primary camera and a pair of 2-megapixel sensors for macro and monochrome photos. The Galaxy A53 sports a 64-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide, and two 5-megapixel cameras: one for macro, one for depth. Neither phone is a photographic powerhouse, but the Galaxy A53 has the edge here.
In direct sunlight, you’ll be able to squeeze decent shots out of either phone, but they’ll struggle in dim lighting—forget getting clear pictures of moving subjects indoors. But where the N20 has three cameras, two of which are useless, the A53 has a fourth rear shooter in that 12-megapixel ultrawide. It’s not a great camera, but it’s one you’ll probably use occasionally—which is more than we can say about the N20’s additional cameras.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Updates
The $282 Nord N20 5G is guaranteed one OS update—from Android 11 to Android 12—and three years of security patches, delivered every other month. The $450 Galaxy A53 ships with Android 12 and is guaranteed three OS updates and five years of bi-monthly security patches.
There’s no contest here: the Samsung phone will get updates for much longer than the OnePlus will. At the same time, though, the N20 isn’t as large of an investment—and update longevity is kind of a moot point if you plan to upgrade again in a year or two anyway.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Display
The Nord N20 5G and Galaxy A53’s screens have a lot in common: they’re both 1080p OLED panels, and they’re similar sizes at 6.43 and 6.5 inches, respectively. They also both look very nice, with good accuracy and uniformity.
The A53 wins here, though, because its screen is 120Hz—which means it can display twice as many still frames per second than the N20’s 60Hz panel. Samsung’s screen also gets brighter than that of the OnePlus, which helps with readability outdoors.
It’s worth noting that both phones have optical in-display fingerprint sensors. That’s particularly impressive for the sub-$300 N20 5G.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Battery and charging
Both the N20 and the A53 have batteries that’ll take you through multiple days of light use. It’s hard to accurately compare real-world performance, but based on our experience, the N20 may have the edge. While it has a smaller battery—4,500mAh compared with the A53’s 5,000mAh—the OnePlus eked out over 10-hours of on-screen time, over three days, in our review. The A53 also made it into a third day of light use, but just barely.
The OnePlus phone has Samsung beat on charging, too. While the A53 can take wired chargers up to 25 watts, the N20 tops out at 33 watts—and comes with a charger that’ll hit those speeds. The A53 doesn’t come with any charger at all.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. Samsung Galaxy A53: Pricing and availability
The Nord N20 5G costs $282; the Galaxy A53 costs $450. Considering the significant price discrepancy here, it’s surprising that this comparison is as close as it is.
But while the Samsung Galaxy A53 is currently available both unlocked and through basically every major carrier, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G is only available through T-Mobile. That surely won’t be the case forever, but for the time being, most people can’t buy the N20. That’s a real shame, because the N20 is a stellar deal for someone who buys mid-range phones and updates every few years.
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