The Galaxy A53 plays Diablo Immortal better than expected

The $450 Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is one of our top recommendations if you want a reliable, attractive, and capable everyday smartphone at a reasonable price. But it’s not a flagship device with the best processor or a dedicated gaming phone with extra buttons and a massive screen. So how does it cope with Diablo Immortal, one of the biggest mobile game releases of the year? That’s what we wanted to find out.

The power within

We’ve played Diablo Immortal on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the iPhone 13 Pro, and the Asus ROG Phone 5 — just to name a few. But all these have fast, powerful processors inside, so it’s no surprise the game plays very well. The Galaxy A53 5G has Samsung’s more modest Exynos 1280 for power and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The 5nm octa-core chip uses two ARM Cortex A78 cores and six ARM Cortex A55 cores, plus the Mali G68 GPU, which Samsung says is designed for great graphics and low energy consumption.

Diablo Immortal played on the Samsung Galaxy A53.
Andy Boxall/

The screen is a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED one with a 120Hz refresh rate, a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, and an 800 nits peak brightness. It’s covered in flat glass, and the 8.1mm thick, 189-gram plastic chassis means the phone doesn’t feel too light or difficult to grip. Diablo Immortal is a massive install and takes up 9.12GB of space in its entirety — a large chunk of the A53’s 128GB of internal storage. It’s a good thing the Galaxy A53 has a MicroSD card slot because, with Diablo Immortal installed, you may end up needing it.

The Galaxy A53 is distinctly a mid-range phone, and Diablo Immortal is a modern game that puts considerable demand on any device’s capabilities. Is playing the game on it much different from doing so on a more expensive, more powerful phone?

Keep the settings sensible

Diablo Immortal provides a wide range of settings for the in-game graphics and performance, letting you tailor the way the game looks and operates to match the performance of your phone. The Galaxy A53 5G does not support 60 frames per second so the game is locked at 30 fps. You also can’t select the highest Ultra resolution level, but Medium and High are both available.

Diablo Immortal's FPS setting on the Samsung Galaxy A53.
Andy Boxall/

Use the Quality Selection tool to choose a setting for the visual effects, shadows, and fog, along with the environmental details and the complexity of the monsters in the game. Choose the Medium level, and the game estimates the phone will be under an average degree of stress But select High or Very High, and the load reaches its limit according to the game’s Device Load performance barometer.

In reality, playing Diablo Immortal on its High setting results in visible slowdown and frame rate drop — and it’s not the most comfortable experience. The game isn’t unplayable, but it’s clearly not at its best. Play on Medium, and the game may not look quite as good, but it’s definitely preferable for longer periods of play as the frame rate is much steadier. I found leaving visual effects, shadows, and fog on Medium and Low, while putting environmental details, monster effects, and anti-aliasing on High was a good balance.

Diablo Immortal's graphics settings on the Samsung Galaxy A53.
Andy Boxall/

Samsung’s Game Booster mode didn’t seem to make any difference to the performance of the game, but it does mute all incoming notifications and closes apps that may take power away from the game. More interestingly, it claims to claw back some battery life when playing through better allocation of resources. I had the Game Booster activated, and with the settings described above, Samsung’s Perf Z game plug-in estimated the game was using about 20% battery per hour.

Playing the game

The game’s customizable graphics settings really help make Diablo Immortal playable on the Galaxy A53 5G. A play session of about two hours used plenty of battery life, with it falling from 60% to 33% during that time for me. But the device never became too hot, and any heat generated was nicely spread over the rear panel. This ensured I could happily hold the phone in landscape mode without getting sweaty palms. The sound from the dual speakers is good, too.

Samsung's Games Booster mode used on the Galaxy A53 and Diablo Immortal.
Samsung Games Booster running on the Galaxy A53 5G. Andy Boxall/
 

I noticed the most slowdown in the communal areas between quests, where the many characters on screen, the detailed environments, and multiple options available meant the game stuttered more often when you moved around. The game didn’t suffer too much during an Elder Rift quest, despite a large number of monsters on-screen at the same time, and it remained playable throughout. The game is obviously not as smooth or responsive as it is on a higher specification phone, but the gap is not as vast as you may fear.

If you set the game’s graphics to the highest available settings, the performance gets worse, and there’s no benefit to overstretching the device’s capabilities. Keep the settings sensible, and most of the time the game is enjoyable. Here, it’s only battery life that you’ll have to worry about. I never wanted to stop playing Diablo Immortal on the Galaxy A53, indicating the frame rate drops and occasional slowness never drastically affected my enjoyment of the game.

Keep expectations in check

If you’re serious about Diablo Immortal and intend to spend both time and money on it, you’ll definitely want to play it on a phone with a more powerful processor than the Galaxy A53. It’ll be smoother, more graphically lush, and you get access to the higher frame rate. The A53 isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but don’t think it doesn’t have the guts to play Diablo Immortal. It easily can, just keep your expectations in check.

If you’re going to play Diablo Immortal for fun, aren’t worried about the frames-per-second, and won’t fret about not having everything cranked up to maximum, the Galaxy A53 5G is perfectly capable of delivering an enjoyable gaming experience — despite costing hundreds of dollars less than its flagship competition.

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