Samsung has always tried to focus on the mid-price segment of smartphones. The new Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is designed to consolidate its position. Will it succeed in doing so?
The middle class is a very large segment of the market, where the price-performance ratio plays a major role. We have already written a review of the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, which also belongs to this class. And today we offer you a review of another novelty from the Korean company – the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G smartphone, which, according to the manufacturer, should win over users with its low price, fairly decent technical equipment, and modern appearance. But is it enough?
Samsung Galaxy A series: new models
The Samsung Galaxy A series adds another generation of smartphones to its portfolio. As usual, the lineup consists of several devices, where an increase in the number in the name indicates a higher configuration and, of course, a higher price. The first quarter of this year brought a pair of Samsung Galaxy A34 5G and Galaxy A54 5G, and the Galaxy A24 was recently presented, but we shouldn’t forget about the cheapest ones – Samsung Galaxy A14 and A14 5G. These smartphones are aimed at those who don’t need too many sophisticated features and for whom the top-of-the-line Galaxy S is too expensive. Unlike the flagships, the Galaxy A series offers a few simplifications, which in most cases shouldn’t be a problem at all.
In today’s review, we will focus on the mid-range model – Samsung Galaxy A34 5G. The novelty has undergone some changes and improvements compared to last year’s generation.
What is interesting about the Galaxy A34 5G
Samsung has traditionally produced smartphones with balanced hardware that even the most demanding users can rely on. And the new Galaxy A34 5G continues this tradition of the Korean company. The novelty has quite good cameras with optical image stabilisation, increased reliability, a decent processor and the promise of really long software support.
Samsung’s A series is popular primarily because of its good price-performance ratio. The top model of the new A series is, of course, the Galaxy A54 5G. But the price is already close to cheaper S-series models, such as the Galaxy S21 FE. Prices for A-series models are rising every year, so the Galaxy A33 5G from the A30 series was a very popular model last year. The new Galaxy A34 5G is one of the cheapest Samsung models of 2023 with an OLED display. This is important because this type of display significantly increases the comfort of using a smartphone, especially on sunny days. On the other hand, more and more manufacturers are installing this type of display in mid-range smartphones. In this year’s Samsung offer, we have another, cheaper model – the Galaxy A14 5G, which is equipped with a much weaker LCD screen. The latest Samsung Galaxy A34 5G boasts a solid processor, a large 6.6″ AMOLED display with a frequency of 120 Hz and increased protection against water and dust.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is now available in two different memory configurations. You can buy a model with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage for a recommended retail price of $425, as well as a model with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage for a recommended price of $470.
In terms of colours, the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is available in lime green, purple-blue, black, and silver with a multi-colour gradient. We reviewed a purple model with 6/128 GB of memory.
Technical specifications of the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G
Before proceeding to the review of the smartphone and its functionalities, I suggest that you familiarise yourself with the technical specifications of Samsung Galaxy A34 5G:
- Display: 6.6″, Super AMOLED, 2340×1080 pixels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 390 ppi, 1000 nits, 120 Hz, Vision Booster
- Chipset: Mediatek MT6877V Dimensity 1080 (6 nm): octa-core (2×2.6 GHz Cortex-A78 and 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
- Graphics accelerator: Mali-G68 MC4
- RAM: 6/8 GB, LPDDR4x
- Permanent memory: 128/256 GB, UFS 3.1
- MicroSD memory card support: up to 1 TB microSDXC
- Wireless networks: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.3 (A2DP, LE), GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO), NFC
- Main camera:
– 48 megapixels, f/1.8, (wide-angle), 26 mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8 µm, PDAF, OIS
– 8 megapixels, f/2.2, 123˚ (ultra-wide), 1/4.0″, 1.12 µm
– 5 megapixels, f/2.4, (macro)
- Front camera: 13MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide-angle), 1/3.1″, 1.12µm
- Battery: 5,000 mAh
- Charging: wired up to 25W
- OS: Android 13 with One UI 5.1 shell
- Dimensions: 161.3 × 78.1 × 8.2 mm
- Weight: 199 g
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G design
The desire for a more modern and youthful aesthetic has led to the range of colours chosen for the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G: lime green, violet blue, black and silver with a multi-colour gradient. The purple colour of the model I tested may even look light blue, depending on the angle of incidence. It looks very good in person, so this Samsung Galaxy A34 falls in love with you from the first moment.
Between generations, the smartphone has grown in size, especially in width, meaning that the device is quite large and wide. However, this does not mean that you cannot hold it securely in small female hands.
The Samsung Galaxy A33 and Galaxy A53 smartphones, which were introduced in 2022, are difficult to distinguish from each other visually, although the logic behind the existence of both models is clear and understandable. The cheaper Galaxy A33 has a 6.4-inch display, while the more expensive Galaxy A53 is slightly larger at 6.5 inches. Surprisingly, this year it’s exactly the opposite: The Galaxy A34 has a larger 6.6-inch diagonal than the Galaxy A54.
In addition to the large contrast Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2340×1080 pixels, a thick teardrop-shaped notch for the front camera is striking.
The display bezel is also slightly thicker than that of the Galaxy A54. Another difference from the Galaxy A54 is that the refresh rate also reaches 120 Hz, but it’s not adaptively adjustable. Instead, you need to choose between 60 Hz and 120 Hz. But more on that later.
I would like to dwell a little on the materials and overall finish of the smartphone. When testing the Galaxy A54 5G, I really liked the fact that both the front and back surfaces of the device have Gorilla Glass 5 protection. There are only side bezels made of plastic, which is only a good imitation of brushed aluminium. But in the younger version, only the front of the smartphone is glass, and the back, like the frame, is plastic. Glass can be found only on the front side, which is not surprising.
What I personally found a little disappointing was the back design. The thin plastic bends slightly inside the smartphone, and although there are no unpleasant sounds, Samsung definitely needs to work on it. But what you will obviously like is the nice matte surface of the back panel.
It is in its upper left part that there is a block of three cameras, which does not protrude much from the body, but still the smartphone wobbles a little on the smooth surface of the table.
On the top edge there is a microphone and a SIM card slot, into which you can also insert a microSD memory card. That is, this is a hybrid slot that can be equipped with a pair of nanoSIMs or a combination of one nanoSIM and a memory card with a maximum capacity of 1 TB. Unfortunately, this device does not yet support the eSIM standard.
The left side is completely empty.
On the right, there is a classic volume button and a power button, which are located at a fairly comfortable height.
At the bottom are a USB Type-C port, a second microphone for calls and a speaker grille.
However, what improves the design, at least when viewed from a distance, is the reduced protrusion of the rear cameras compared to the Galaxy A33. So it’s not that hard to confuse this model with the much more expensive Galaxy S23.
With the increase in size, Samsung has moved the side buttons down a bit. But now they are still a little higher than I would like. However, this is not something you can’t get used to after a while.
It is important to note that the smartphone is certified to IP67. This means that it is protected from dust and water, so it can withstand immersion up to a depth of 1 metre in fresh water for 30 minutes. Although it is better to keep your smartphone away from beaches and swimming pools just in case.
Despite its rather large dimensions of 161.3 × 78.1 × 8.2 mm and weight of 199 g, the smartphone fits quite comfortably in your hand and you will not feel any discomfort while using it. Although it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate modern smartphones with one hand. Even the rounded plastic sides do not help in Galaxy A34 5G.
The fingerprint sensor is built into the screen, it responds to pressing even when the screen is turned off, it is a certain area at the bottom.
You can also unlock by face recognition, and it works perfectly. It’s important to note that you can use both accelerated and normal recognition, in which case you can’t fool with a photo or video.
As for the build quality, it is excellent, there is nothing to complain about. In all senses, we get a high-quality mid-range device that offers an excellent combination of price and quality.
High-quality 120 Hz AMOLED display
The screen that is installed on the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is simply amazingly high quality, although this is not surprising for a Samsung mobile phone. It should be noted that the screen is one of the elements that has changed compared to the Galaxy A33 5G, as the diagonal has increased from 6.4 to 6.6 inches. And its refresh rate has increased to 120 Hz, as opposed to 90 Hz for its predecessor, meaning that it can be said to offer a smoother experience than the Samsung Galaxy A33.
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G has a 6.6-inch screen made using SuperAMOLED technology with a Full HD+ resolution (2340×1080 pixels) and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. However, the refresh rate is not adaptive. In the settings, you can choose between high smoothness with 120 Hz and standard 60 Hz.
Higher maximum brightness of up to 1000 nits will also help you enjoy your content on the Galaxy A34 5G screen. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, and for the first time in this series, you can use the Always-On feature.
In practice, this screen looks gorgeous in every way. Images have excellent contrast, very good sharpness and smooth movement, just as we like.
In terms of brightness, you definitely won’t have any problems viewing the image even in broad daylight outside. In addition, the screen has an automatic brightness mode that does its job very well, so we don’t have to change it manually. The viewing angles are also good. At the same time, the Super AMOLED display has a good colour temperature, which means that the colours will not be overly saturated.
The negative side of Samsung Galaxy A34 5G’s design, or rather its front part, is that the bezels are much wider than we would like.
To be clear, the screen occupies only 83% of the frontal area, which indicates that the bezels, especially the bottom one, are too thick. That is, increasing the screen while maintaining wide bezels has led to an increase in height and width.
Sound: are these stereo speakers for sure?
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G has two speakers, one above the display and the other on the bottom. The one on top is a little quieter, but they are well balanced and loud.
At full volume, the speakers are quite enough for watching videos or listening to podcasts, although it’s not so good for music, because the bass is rather weak. Therefore, if you are looking for the best sound on the market, then this will definitely not be Samsung Galaxy A34 5G. It should also be noted that there is no 3.5 mm jack for connecting wired headphones.
Performance: the latest MediaTek
Among the great news about the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is the switch to a MediaTek processor. At one time, the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G was equipped with the Samsung Exynos 1280, but the new generation is now focused on the MediaTek Dimensity 1080. Without a doubt, this is a change that you will really like.
First of all, we need to clarify that MediaTek Dimensity 1080 is a mid-range octa-core processor (two 2.6GHz Cortex-A78 cores and six 2GHz Cortex-A55 cores), which is manufactured using a 6nm process technology. Its performance is evidenced by the ability to pull the camera up to 200 megapixels. But of course, we won’t find it in this model. The size of the RAM depends on the amount of permanent memory. The smaller 128 GB version has 6 GB, and the 256 GB version reaches 8 GB. In addition, it has a 5G modem chip, which of course means that the Samsung Galaxy A34 can connect to 5G networks. Given the quality of the device, we can also confirm that it is positioned as one of the best Samsung 5G mobile phones.
This processor with 6 or 8 GB of RAM make a very good team, so my usage experience was more than satisfactory. I was able to enjoy high performance in everyday tasks such as browsing Facebook and Twitter, chatting on social media, taking photos, making phone calls or watching YouTube videos. At the same time, I left a large number of applications open, which did not affect the performance of the smartphone. It was nice after some problems with the Samsung Galaxy A54.
Whether you’re browsing social media, streaming music or movies, multitasking or playing games, the Galaxy A34 5G runs smoothly and has no issues with lag. The processor is great even for mobile games. It handled demanding games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty: Mobile with ease on medium graphics settings. It should be borne in mind that the Galaxy A34 is not a gaming mobile phone, but despite this, it coped well with these tasks. Games run without any problems, although from time to time we experience jerky graphics. The only drawback is that after 30-40 minutes of play, the device can get a little warm.
The amount of permanent memory of the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is 128 or 256 GB, depending on the amount of RAM. My version had a 6/128 GB configuration, which is more than enough for installing apps and storing files. If you need more space, you can easily expand the volume with a microSD card up to 1 TB. Or buy the 8/256GB Samsung Galaxy A34 5G variant.
The Galaxy A34 has dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2.4G+5GHz Wi-Fi, which provides good data transfer speeds. Bluetooth version 5.3, there is an NFC module (Samsung Pay/Google Pay).
In terms of navigation, everything is also very good (GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou), cold start on city streets takes 2-3 seconds, navigation accuracy is excellent, so there are no complaints.
Modern software: OneUI 5.1 based on Android 13
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G comes out of the box with the OneUI 5.1 shell based on the Android 13 operating system, which is an advantage as it means the latest versions of both the customisation layer and Android. I didn’t have any issues with the software during these weeks of testing. You’ll enjoy not only its smooth operation, but also the useful apps and interesting features available in Samsung’s newest product.
When setting up a smartphone, we find a wide range of tools that allow us to customise the device. For example, we have an equaliser to adjust the audio, the ability to activate the Edge sidebar to quickly access your favourite apps, increase the screen’s touch sensitivity, turn on the camera flash with notifications, or enable effects for video calls.
The smartphone is currently running the latest version of Android 13 with the February security update, and updates are expected to come for a long time. Actually, Samsung Galaxy smartphones actually have an advantage in the Android world because they offer longer support than Google Pixel phones, as they offer 4 years of software updates and 5 years of security patches. So it’s likely that in 4 years’ time, the Galaxy A34 5G will be updated to Android 17.
Unfortunately, actual use did not always convince me of the perfect interaction between the system and the equipment, and there are some drawbacks. For the most part, the movement in the system is smooth, but this is not always the case. Sometimes it took quite a while to move from the camera to the gallery, which was a bit annoying. I also caught a few glitches when unlocking with the fingerprint scanner, and sometimes it seemed like I was too fast for the smartphone and it couldn’t keep up.
Perhaps the reason is that I’m used to using mostly flagship devices, so I expect an instant response to my actions, but we’re still dealing with a mid-range smartphone powered by a not-so-performant MediaTek Dimensity 1080.
Galaxy A34 5G battery life
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G will delight you with its autonomy thanks to a 5000 mAh battery that provides decent endurance. There is no charger included, and the maximum charging power is a modest 25 watts.
In my case, I had to charge the phone every two days. It will be quite difficult to discharge it in one day and you will either have to play games or shoot a lot of 4K videos.
Even when I tried to use it as much as possible, playing games, doing some synthetic tests and watching YouTube videos, the battery life was a day and a half. In general, the battery lasts about 8 hours with the screen on, which is a very good indicator. In addition, it should be noted that Samsung has managed to integrate a large 5000 mAh battery into a smartphone that is only 8.2 millimetres thick and not heavy.
The negative aspects of the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G battery are the slow charging compared to competitors, as well as the lack of a charger. The charging capacity of this terminal is limited to 25W, which is very low, considering that competitors from the mid-range segment already rely on 67W for charging. Using a compatible charger I had at home, it took about two hours to fully charge the battery. This duration already seems too long in this day and age.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G cameras
As you can see from the hardware, this smartphone is certainly not primarily focused on photography, but rather on entertainment and gaming. If you want to get the best photos, then out of two similar devices, Samsung Galaxy A34 and Galaxy A54, definitely choose the older model. However, this does not mean that the Galaxy A34 takes bad pictures.
It has a 48MP main camera, an 8MP wide-angle camera and a 5MP macro camera. The special background blur sensor has disappeared from this model, but this year it will be replaced by a faster processor, and it will do the necessary blurring in portraits, so you really won’t lose anything when you switch from 4 lenses to 3. On the front, the manufacturer has placed a 13-megapixel sensor for taking detailed selfies.
Compared to its predecessor, the sensors do not include a depth-of-field sensor. You can record video with all the details in 4K resolution, but only in basic shooting at 30 frames per second. The same goes for selfie videos.
Images from the main camera are created by default with a resolution of 12 megapixels, which means that pixels are combined to get a better image. The smartphone takes quite good photos. You won’t feel much difference between pictures taken on a cloudy day and in direct sunlight. Although you should expect some loss of detail in dark areas. In the background of some images, I noticed a burnt-out sky in which tree branches disappeared.
In terms of the quality of photos from the main sensor, the smartphone is roughly at the level of the Galaxy A52, or slightly below the Galaxy A53 5G. This applies to the main camera. Everyday photos are a little more saturated and the colours are brighter than I’m used to on the latest Samsungs, with a lot of accentuated green and blue tones. On the other hand, the pinks of the flowers are rendered accurately, and this is the kind of processing that the vast majority of users like, for whom this smartphone is designed. Daytime photos are very good, with acceptable sharpness, minimal noise, and only a slightly lower dynamic range is noticeable compared to the Galaxy A54.
The quality drops off when we turn to the 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor, which produces just right daytime photos. Its shortcomings are revealed when we zoom in. Then it becomes clear that the sharpness of the images is not very high. But, if you ignore this problem, the ultra-wide-angle mode can give us photos with good colour representation, which are well suited for social media.
The 5-megapixel lens for macro photography pleasantly surprised me. Yes, the images are not as bright and good as those of the flagships, but you won’t have any complaints. When you approach an object, the smartphone will offer to activate the macro mode. Photos in macro mode are bright and beautiful, but sometimes zooming in with 2x digital zoom will do an even better job.
On the other hand, wide-angle images have slightly depressed colour saturation and are not particularly well suited to additional magnification, and you will most likely not be able to read small text and inscriptions.
Evening photos are much worse, and here you can see perhaps the biggest difference between the Samsung Galaxy A34 and Galaxy A54. In short, the larger sensor on the Galaxy A54 does a better job. That is, if you want to get really good photos on your smartphone, it’s definitely not at night or in low light.
The separation from the background in portrait mode is very good, on the other hand, on the front camera you can see exaggerated post-processing, which is not entirely acceptable for skin colour reproduction. But this can be avoided, for example, by refusing to take photos or shooting in low light.
Finally, you should know that the Galaxy A34 5G rear camera records in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second with an optical stabiliser. The video has good quality and stabilisation, especially during the day.
In addition, we also have a slow motion mode at 480 or 240 frames per second in HD resolution. Video in scenes with a more demanding dynamic range tends to be a little brighter in the shadows, but, after all, we are testing a cheaper phone, where the quality requirements are still lower.
Are there any worthy competitors?
One of the best alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G, a device that has some similarities to our protagonist. It has a 120Hz Full HD+ AMOLED screen, a MediaTek Dimensity 1080 5G processor and a large 5000mAh battery. The difference is that its main camera is slightly higher, at 50 megapixels, and the Redmi Note 12 Pro has a fast 67W charging. These phones are sold at similar prices, so the choice is yours.
Another good alternative is the realme 10 Pro+ 5G, which also has a MediaTek Dimensity 1080 processor. Its manufacturer has also equipped it with a 120Hz AMOLED screen and a 5000mAh battery, although it does not offer as long a period of updates as with the Galaxy A34 5G. Of course, the 108-megapixel rear camera and 67W fast charging stand out.
In terms of price, the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G can also compete with the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, a slightly more powerful smartphone thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor, with up to 12GB of RAM configurable and 80W fast charging. However, the Samsung is superior in terms of screen – 120Hz vs 90Hz – and battery – 5000mAh vs 4500mAh – and has a wider support policy.
We should also not forget about its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G, which is in little way inferior. Yes, the design does not resemble the Galaxy S series, maybe a more powerful processor, but the price is lower.
Samsung dominated the mid-range last year and will dominate again this year, there’s no doubt about it, despite the fact that it didn’t bring much innovation. But its competitors aren’t making much of an effort either, so the situation can’t change much. Despite the fact that Samsung Galaxy A34 has grown a little without much need, it has also received some welcome changes. For example, it has a better display with Always-On, can have up to 256 GB of storage, and also benefits from premium software support, like the Galaxy S series. There’s not much to complain about with the smartphone. Yes, the charging is slower, the manufacturer did not supply a charger, and the back cover bends a little, but despite these minor flaws, we have a mobile phone that will please a really wide range of users.
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is a decent mid-range Android smartphone that will delight you with a high-quality Super AMOLED display, a fairly powerful processor, high-quality cameras, and excellent battery life. If you’re looking for a new smartphone but don’t want to take a risk by choosing a lesser-known manufacturer, the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G will be a good choice and a good buy.
- Nice updated design
- Excellent AMOLED display with high brightness and 120Hz refresh rate
- Android 13 with One UI 5.1 out of the box and long-lasting software support
- Sufficient performance thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 1080 5G processor
- Good main camera, fairly high quality photos and videos in good light
- Resistant to water and dust according to IP67 standard
- Excellent battery life
- Plastic construction looks cheaper
- Again, minimal changes compared to the previous generation
- Slow charging due to lack of fast charging
- Large asymmetrical bezels around the display, especially the chin
- Speakers of average quality