The Samsung A34 5G looks to be a fine option for budget-focused buyers, but the upgrades are a little underwhelming compared to the slightly more premium A54 5G.
- UKRRP: £449
- 6.6-inch 120Hz AMOLED displayThe AMOLED display is bright and vibrant, and the jump from 90Hz to 120Hz is welcome.
- Multi-day battery lifeSamsung claims that the 5000mAh battery should last over two days on a charge.
- Improved designThe Galaxy A34 5G boasts the same design language as the flagship S23 range.
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is official and it looks like a tempting option on paper, but how does it fare in real life?
Samsung’s latest mid-ranger makes modest improvements to key areas like display, battery life and performance that could make it a more tempting choice for consumers on the hunt for a great cheap phone in 2023, though minimal changes compared to last year’s Galaxy A33 might put owners off from upgrading this year.
I’ve spent an hour using the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G at a briefing event behind closed doors prior to the announcement, and here’s what I think so far.
Design and screen
- Refined design similar to Galaxy S23
- Bright, colourful finishes
- 6.6-inch FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is more of a refinement than a reimagination of the affordable mid-ranger, sporting the same design as the A33 – that is until you flip the phone over.
Samsung has ditched the camera housing of its predecessor, instead opting for the same single line of cameras as the flagship S23 range. The design tweak does make the phone look more premium than it is, though picking it up and feeling the glasstic rear will remind you of the cheap price point.
While most will likely scoff at the use of material, the upside to glasstic – Samsung’s way of saying nice plastic – is that the phone feels fairly lightweight in the hand at 199g compared to glass-backed alternatives. It should also fare better when dropped without the issue of shattering, though the flip side is that it’ll likely get scratched a little easier. Swings and roundabouts and all that.
I will say that I love the range of colour options available with the A34 and it’s something I’d love to see moved from the mid-range to more premium devices, sporting Awesome Graphite, Awesome Silver, Awesome Lime and Awesome Violet finishes. Totally awesome, right?
The easiest way to tell the difference between the Galaxy A34 and its slightly more expensive A54 sibling is the display. Not only does the Galaxy A34 boast the larger display of the two at 6.6 inches, but it also boasts what Samsung calls an ‘Infinity U’ display design.
To you and me, that just means there’s a small teardrop-shaped notch at the top of the screen that houses the selfie camera.
It’s not the snazziest display around with a thin, yet still visible, bezel, but the FHD+ resolution makes things look crisp, and the bump from 90Hz to 120Hz is appreciated, though admittedly not as noticeable as the jump from 60Hz to 90Hz.
It should also be a little easier to use in bright daylight at a boosted 1000nits compared to 800nits from its predecessor, though I couldn’t exactly verify that in an indoor hands-on event.
- Triple camera setup on rear
- 48MP main snapper has most of the new tech
- Very minimal camera changes elsewhere
If there’s one area that hasn’t seen a whole lot of change, it’s the camera setup – on paper, at least.
Just like the Galaxy A33 from last year, the Galaxy A34 boasts a trio of cameras on the rear comprised of a main 48MP snapper, an 8MP ultra-wide and a 5MP macro camera.
The main 48MP has most of Samsung’s focus with appealing features like OIS – especially at this price point – and support for Night Mode, though I can’t imagine the latter will be able to compete with Samsung’s flagship range.
That all said, a few test images I shot during my hands-on time did look appealing, though with the caveat that the testing area had near-perfect lighting that made everything look great. It’ll be interesting to see how the trio of lenses perform in the real world.
Flip the phone over and you’ll find the same 13MP front-facing camera as last year. It should suffice for basic selfies, but you’ll likely be better off using the rear lenses for any serious photography.
- MediaTek Dimensity 1080
- OneUI 5.1 based on Android 13
- 5,000mAh battery
While last year’s Galaxy A33 5G opted for Samsung’s home-grown Exynos 1280 chipset, this year it has taken a different approach. But rather than opting for a Qualcomm chip – something I anticipated given the close relationship between Qualcomm and Samsung with the S23 series – the Galaxy A34 sports the MediaTek Dimensity 1080.
The company claims that the new chipset brings a 17% boost to CPU performance and 14% to GPU performance but I’ll have to wait until I get a sample to test and benchmark to confirm this.
I will say that it did feel fairly rapid when zipping around the home screen and app drawer, but I did note that it hung for a second or two when switching lenses in the Camera app – though that’s unsurprising given the affordable £349 price tag.
The Galaxy A34 5G sports Samsung’s latest OneUI 5.1 based on Android 13 out of the box, and with it comes a few unique touches like the ability to use certain Snapchat filters from within the native Camera app.
New features aside, it’s very much business as usual with the A34’s software, sporting a rather clean setup, though one that relies rather heavily on Samsung-branded apps like Samsung Pay (that still doesn’t support my bank!).
Samsung has gone big on battery life with the Galaxy A34, cramming in the same 5,000mAh battery found in the top-end Galaxy S23 Ultra and larger than the standard Galaxy S23 and the S23 Plus.
Samsung claims that the large battery and fairly power-efficient chipset should last around 2.5 days on a single charge, though I’d imagine that would be with fairly limited use. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how it performs in real-world tests.
However, with just 25W charging speeds, getting from flat to full will likely take some time. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, for context, took an hour and a half to reach full charge – and that’s with a more powerful 45W charger.
The Samsung Galaxy A34 may not look all that different to its predecessor, but key upgrades to display, battery and performance make it a slightly more appealing option to consumers on a budget, though I’ll reserve my final judgements for the full review in the coming weeks.
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Samsung Galaxy A34 5G
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MediaTek Dimensity 1080
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A ‘hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.
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