Samsung Galaxy A33 review: Probably the best value A Series this year
Quick verdict: It’s not quite Samsung’s cheapest Galaxy A series phone for 2022, but it might just be Samsung’s best value A series phone this year.
- 4 years of updates
- 90Hz capable Super AMOLED display
- Water resistance
- No included charger
- Average battery life
- Galaxy A53 is a little fancier for not much more money
Power, storage and battery
|Launch price (RRP)||$599|
Samsung has a lot of Galaxy A series phones, and sometimes picking between them can be a confusing matter. The Galaxy A33 5G shares a lot of DNA with the slightly more expensive Galaxy A53 5G. It's running the same Samsung-produced processor as its brains, which means it runs nearly identically.
The pricier A53 gets a bigger screen and a faster refresh rate. But those are features that some may find less compelling than keeping a few bucks in their wallet or purse in these constrained times.
For what it is at its asking price, the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G manages the rare feat of balancing out its limitations against a decent feature set for a fair price. It's nowhere near as sexy as a Galaxy S phone, but you'd expect that for Samsung's admitted "budget" range of smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy A33: The design is nothing special, nothing awful
The Galaxy A33 5G is a plastic body phone that Samsung sells in either "Awesome Blue" or "Awesome Black" finishes. Yes, once again Samsung's marketing department is going nuts with the superlatives there.
Samsung provided me with the Awesome Black model, and it's... black. I really don't know what else to say about it other than it has a matte black finish that neither annoys due to fingerprint gunk nor excites me particularly. If you want showy, opt for the Awesome Blue model, I guess.
At the front, the Galaxy A33 has a 6.4 inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display with support for up to 90Hz refresh rates. That's fast becoming the norm for phones in this price range, but where the A33 stands out is in using one of Samsung's really nice Super AMOLED panels.
It means you get a really nice punchy and vibrant screen to look at for photos, web pages and any moving content. It's not going to be quite as slick as the 120Hz or even 144Hz screens as found on some competitor devices, including upper models in the Galaxy A series of phones this year. Again though, you'd really need to see them side by side to pick a massive difference.
At the top of the Galaxy A33's display there's a teardrop notch, where so many Galaxy phones of late have instead opted for a "hole punch" style set-up for the front-facing camera.
Honestly, I reckon this is a taste matter; while some may decry teardrop notches as being old fashioned – and it's certainly a design style that's been around for a while now – once in use I essentially tend to forget where the teardrop or hole punch is on most phones.
Controls are simple and easy to tap with 1 hand on the right side of the phone. There's no dreaded Bixby button, just power and volume controls.
Unlocking is handled via an in-display fingerprint reader. It's not the fastest I've tested, but I had few issues with false readings during my review period.
A feature that's very welcome is proper IP-rated water resistance. That's a feature that's still notably absent from a lot of mid-range phones right now, and the A33's price point only just puts it above where we start thinking of a phone as "budget".
It's rated IP67 for water resistance, so while going scuba diving with it isn't advised, a little inadvertent dunking shouldn't stress it too much.
Camera: Nice range of cameras, middling quality photo
The Galaxy A33 5G sells itself as having a quad camera rear array along with that teardrop notch selfie camera. Like so many competitors, this doesn't quite equate to having 4 actual rear cameras you'll shoot with most of the time.
What you get is a primary 48MP sensor, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 2MP depth sensor at the back, as well as a 13MP selfie camera at the front.
The Galaxy A33 also packs in a lot of Samsung's fancier camera features onboard such as Snapchat filters, Single Take, Night Modes and more, so there's quite some scope for photographic creativity here, which is nice.
You do have to temper your expectations, because this is still a mid-range handset, and one that's slightly less well-equipped than its pricier A and S series counterparts.
The macro lens surprised me a little, if only because macro lenses on mid-range phones tend to be awful. I wouldn't throw away a DSLR for the A33, but I was able to get some decent close shots from it.
For more challenging shots, the A33 5G doesn't compare when up against the higher tier of phones, such as low light or fast motion. But for most regular daylight uses, it's an entirely pleasant phone to shoot with.
The obvious limitation here is related to zoom shots. The Galaxy A33 does provide a standard 2x zoom, and up to 10x zoom if you push it, but you really shouldn't. In every case, it's cropping in from that primary 48MP sensor, and you don't have to push it far to get some pretty woeful results.
Here's an outside fountain and local landmark shot with the standard 48MP wide lens:
Here's the same fountain at 10x zoom:
If you're looking for print quality shots you may want to spend a little more on a fancier device, but if your core needs are for simpler social media style shots, it'll do the job well enough.
Galaxy A33 5G sample photos:
Performance: The Exynos 1280 is powerful enough (but that's about all)
In the mid-range space, there's a lot of jostling right now between Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors and MediaTek's Dimensity range.
The Galaxy A33 goes it own way, with Samsung's own Exynos 1280 silicon on board, matched up with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. Unlike Samsung's pricier Galaxy S phones, you can supplement this with microSD card expansion if you need to.
The Exynos 1280 is a new processor on my test bench, and I was keen to see how it would match up in day-to-day and comparative benchmarks. Typically, I've found Exynos systems to run a little slower than comparable processors in the past.
That wasn't the story for the Exynos 1280 in the Galaxy A33, though I wouldn't call it "fast" either. Here's how it compares at a CPU level against similarly priced phones at the time of writing, using Geekbench 5's synthetic CPU benchmark. I've also included the Galaxy A53, a slightly more expensive phone because it relies on the exact same CPU configuration:
That's a good result for the Galaxy A33 5G, especially against its pricier A53 sibling, although those numbers aren't notably high.
It's much the same story when you compare its Mali-G68 GPU against the same phones for graphics performance, this time using 3DMark's graphics benchmark:
What those numbers translated to in real-world usage was a phone that was, once again, adequate without being notably nippy. When I jumped from app to app, especially more intensive tasks like gaming, I could definitely feel a touch of lag from time to time, but for everyday use the Galaxy A33 was perfectly fine.
The Galaxy A33 runs on Android 12 with Samsung's own OneUI 4.1 over the top of it. Impressively, Samsung's committed to providing 4 years of annual Android updates for the Galaxy A33, so it should be good for up to Android 16 when that emerges. You wouldn't see it as fast as you might on a Pixel – but then Google doesn't really sell the comparable Pixel 5a here in Australia, and there's no telling when or if we might see a rumoured Pixel 6a either.
Samsung Galaxy A33: The battery is workable but not remarkable
The Galaxy A33 5G features a sealed 5,000mAh battery, which is absolutely on point for mid-range Android handsets right now. There's no sign of wireless charging, and you don't appear to get a charger in the box either.
I say that because the review model Samsung sent me was literally just the bare phone and nothing else, but Samsung's own unboxing video makes it clear that this is charger-free territory.
The needs of a 90Hz display and 5G connectivity can sap the power from just about any battery. Over my week of testing, I could generally manage a day's usage without issue, save for a day trip to Berrima in NSW's Southern Highlands where I had to charge the A33 5G before the day was out. However, that was a busy usage day.
That anecdotal usage tallies well with where the Galaxy A33 5G sits in Finder's battery test. It's not quite up there with the best, but it does manage to hit above 90% in our test, indicating a phone that should be good for a day's usage in most cases:
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you’re a fan of Samsung phones on a tight budget.
- Don't buy it if you need more than average performance.
The Galaxy A33 5G is fair value for money, without being notably exceptional.
In 2022, that's a fine deal to strike. We're long past the point where mid-range handsets were all about accepting some really woeful limitations. It's a little irksome that the A33 5G ships without a charger, or that it lacks wireless charging for that matter. Battery life is only average at best, too.
However, against that you get a nice array of cameras, a very nice display screen, water resistance and the same performance as its bigger A53 sibling. That feels like a decent deal to me.
Samsung Galaxy A33: Pricing and availability
The Samsung Galaxy A33 retails in Australia for $599 outright. It's also available on contract through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile.
Power, storage and battery
How we tested
The Samsung Galaxy A33 5G was tested over a 1-week period alongside the Galaxy A53 5G. The model reviewed was supplied by Samsung as a standalone phone with no other accessories for the purposes of review. During that week, I tested it for battery life, app performance and camera quality, as well as getting a more rounded hands-on appraisal of its build quality and feature set.
I have over 2 decades of tech product reviewing experience, and I'm a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.