Samsung Galaxy A34 5G Review: Affordable

The Samsung Galaxy A34 is an absolute bargain, offering a mid-range mobile experience with a punchy AMOLED screen, stereo speakers, a powerful chipset, and a large battery, all encased in a fully water-resistant frame.

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Design and Build

So in the box, you get one Galaxy A34 5G phone itself, a Type-C to Type-C USB cable, a SIM ejector pin, and, as usual user manual, that’s it. No power adapters are included in box, so you will have to buy your own.

You have two storage options 128GB or 256GB, depending on your choice. And you to insert a microSD memory card in the second SIM slot to expand the storage capacity up to 1tb. Unfortunately, it does not support eSIM unlike the slightly pricier Galaxy A54.

In a white background holding the Samsung Galaxy A34 5g showing the front design

I’ve been using the Galaxy A34, and I have no real issues with the way it looks and feels. It looks suitably smart and well put together. One of the only real indicators that this is a more budget-friendly phone is the fact that you’ve got a notch-up top, which is exceedingly rare in 2023 smartphones. The selfie cameras are housed in a little floating orifice thing. We’ve got fairly large bezels surrounding that display, but no worse than the Google Pixel 7a, which costs $496.

Holding the Samsung Galaxy A34 showing the back design of phone

The screen is a 6.6-inch beast, especially with those bezels adding some extra girth, but it still feels comfortable to hold thanks to the rounded edges and corners. It’s not too chunky, as you can see in the above image. The frame is made of plastic and the back is constructed from glass. It’s kind of a weird glass-plastic hybrid that feels rather plasticky, but it has a smudge-resistant matte finish.

In this review, we have the Violet model, which is pretty bold; you also have options like silver, graphite, and lime. The Lime model is pretty as well, but I already covered the Galaxy A54 Lime version, so I thought I’d mix it up a bit. And I do like how the color stays consistent, extending from the back end around to that frame, and the touch wood seems pretty sturdy as well.

After a full week of use, there are no scratches or nicks on the back end or the frame, and nothing on that screen either. Additionally, It boasts IP67-rated water resistance, so you can drop it into a sink or a bath, and it’ll be just fine.

Software and OneUI

On the display of galaxy A34 shows aps and ui

On the Galaxy A34, we’re working with Android 13 featuring Sumizo, not just the One UI 5.1 launcher placed on top. However, there are some typical Samsung quirks that I’m not fond of. It seems they’ve duplicated almost every Android service apps. So, Samsung offers its own versions of smart features, maps, NFC contactless payments, health tracking, stores, and AI assistant functionalities, even though Android already handles these tasks quite well. Of course, you might prefer the Samsung versions, and that’s absolutely okay. Personally, I find it a bit redundant. Fortunately, you can remove most of these Samsung apps if you don’t use them, except for Bixby, which stubbornly refuses to uninstall.

On the flip side, Samsung doesn’t alter Android too much, so you still have Google Discover feed and your apps tray, albeit in a slightly chunkier Samsung format. You also get additional security and privacy tools on top of the solid Android foundations, and I have no real complaints about the in-display fingerprint sensor. it’s not the fastest; sometimes it takes a couple of taps if you don’t get the pressure right. But most of the time, you’ll tap your finger, and you’re suddenly on your desktop. If your fingers are wet or dirty, you may have some issues. Additionally, there’s a reasonably dependable Face Unlock to back up the fingerprint sensor. It tends to work fine if you’re wearing gloves or your hands are dirty as long as it’s not too dark.

I’ve noticed a bit of junk here in my first week with it. Nothing major, but sometimes when I try to turn off Do Not Disturb, then it brings up the Bluetooth menu or crashes. And One UI doesn’t always run super smoothly either. However, most of the time behaves itself, and I’m sure some of these bugs and quirks will be ironed out now in updates.

You get years of coverage, similar to a Google smartphone. No worries there at all. And if you’re a Samsung fan, you know what you’re getting here: all the usual Samsung apps and services, just like with a Samsung flagship.

Display and Audio Quality

Playing movie on the Samsung Galaxy A34 screen to show how good it's picture quality

If you happen to enjoy services like Disney+, Crunchyroll, and others, well, great news! The Samsung Galaxy A34 sports a gorgeous 6.6-inch Super AMOLED display. All the tech has become increasingly common at this mid-range price point, which is great to see. the colors are vibrant, deep blacks, and sharp contrast. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to support HDR streaming, certainly not on platforms like Netflix. However, I still found the visuals to be pleasingly lifelike with sharp contrast and natural-looking colors when streaming content on platforms like Netflix and Disney+. Offers a Full HD+ resolution as well, ensuring that every photo and frame of every video is packed with fine detail.

Moreover, the brightness has been boosted compared to the previous generation, reaching around a 1000nits at maximum. I had no issues seeing the screen clearly even when using outdoors with the sun shining directly on screen. The screen also supports a 120Hz refresh rate making supported apps look exceptionally smooth, as long as the performance can keep up. It’s a bit odd having that notch at the top, but thankfully, it doesn’t intrude too much into the content when watching in full-screen mode. However, it’s definitely not on par with the notch design of iPhones.

The Galaxy A34 a stereo speaker setup, which is quite impressive. When I was cooking in the kitchen with ventilation fans and other noises, I rarely had to resort to using headphones because the speakers are pretty loud and clear. The audio output remains respectable, with a reasonable balance between the top and bottom speakers, although the bottom speaker delivers slightly more sound.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a headphone jack, so it’s Bluetooth all the way. However, I had absolutely no issues streaming wirelessly to headphones or speakers from the smartphone. Additionally, you get full Dolby Atmos support, including an equalizer for adjusting the settings if desired.

Performance

Paying Genshin Impact game Samsung Galaxy A34 to test it's performance.

Samsung’s Galaxy A34 has MediaTek’s Dimensity 1080 chipset, supported by 8GB RAM. This chipset, previously seen in smartphones like the Realme 10 Pro Plus and Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, delivers a reasonably smooth performance. However, I have noticed occasional instances of slight lag during everyday use, particularly when switching between apps or accessing the Google Discover feed. It can feel a bit sluggish at times, with a slight delay in response. It’s not a major issue, but isn’t as smooth as some competitors like the Pixel 7 or other phones in a similar price range.

For mobile gaming enthusiasts, the Galaxy A34 handles popular games like PUBG and Call of Duty with ease. Surprisingly, it can even handle Genshin Impact, although you’ll need to set the graphics to the lowest possible settings. Even then, you may experience occasional frame rate drops or jitteriness. However, gameplay remains perfectly playable. The touch responsiveness is commendable, and doesn’t heat up even during extended gaming sessions, such as playing Genshin Impact for over an hour. You won’t experience any performance throttling or overheating issues.

In the image on the screen of Galaxy A34 showing the gaming features like, Priority Mode, Performance and More.

It offers limited functionality, allowing you to take screenshots, record gameplay footage, and activate priority mode, ensuring that the game receives most of the system resources and blocks notifications. It’s worth enabling when you’re gaming to enhance your gaming experience.

Battery life

Samsung claims that the Galaxy A34 can provide two full days of usage with its 5,000 milliamp-hour battery capacity. Unsurprisingly, that claim is a load of nonsense, unless you’re only sporadically checking emails and spend the rest of the time keeping the phone idle. However, the battery life is truly exceptional. From a full charge in the morning, I’ve never struggled to make it through even the longest and most demanding days until I’m ready to go to bed. I consistently get at least seven hours of screen-on time, which includes activities like Skype calls, extensive camera usage, video streaming, and other tasks that keep the phone active. Most days, I still have about a quarter of the battery remaining when the day ends.

Unfortunately, recharging isn’t the fastest. It supports 25-watt wired charging, which takes well over an hour to fully recharge the device. Additionally, doesn’t offer wireless charging support.

Cameras

Samsung smartphones are well-known for their optics, and the Galaxy A34 sports a triple-lens setup, just like the Galaxy S23. However, we’re talking about very different hardware here. The primary sensor is a 48-megapixel one with optical image stabilization, accompanied by a basic 8-megapixel ultrawide-angle shooter and a pointless 5-megapixel macro lens.

The shutter speed is reasonably fast, it doesn’t take long to focus on a face or another subject. The main issue lies with the processing speed, especially when shooting portrait shots. They tend to take a little longer to process. So, if you’re trying to capture multiple portrait shots in quick succession, you’ll find yourself waiting a few seconds between each shot. This can be quite frustrating when photographing pets or small children. However, with more still subjects, you can achieve a lovely bokeh effect, which can be adjusted during post-processing.

I found that when using the photo mode on the Galaxy A34, my photos generally came out well, as long as the lighting conditions weren’t too challenging. It handle some contrast and bright backdrops, for instance, in ambient light. However, in low-light situations, I noticed that many of my photos were softer, with a considerable amount of noise and grain. While there is a Night Mode that automatically activates to brighten up your shots, it can only do so much. As always, Samsung smartphones offer plenty of other bonus modes to play around with, including fun filters and effects, although some of them may be a bit eccentric or surreal.

Other bonus modes include the obligatory food mode, a dedicated Pro mode for manual adjustments such as ISO levels, white balance, and focus, and the ability to quickly switch to the ultra-wide-angle shooter for a more dramatic perspective or to fit more into the frame. The More section is also where you’ll find the macro mode for using the third and final lens. Personally, I prefer taking a regular shot with the primary sensor and then cropping in, but it’s a matter of personal preference.

If you’re into shooting videos, you can switch to the video mode, where you can shoot 4K resolution footage at 30FPS. Unfortunately, there’s no option for 60FPS unless you switch to full HD resolution. Samsung phones are usually reliable when it comes to capturing videos, and while the A34 is more limited compared to its more expensive counterparts, it still does a decent job.

The 4K resolution mode offers crisper visuals, and the image stabilization is decent, allowing you to move and shoot without issues. The audio capture is strong in all directions. However, the quality does suffer in lower light conditions, so it’s best to stick to well-lit environments.

Turning our attention to the camera housed in the notch at the top, you’ll find a 13-megapixel selfie shooter. It follows a similar story to the rear camera. With good lighting conditions, you can expect respectable-looking snaps with plenty of detail, perhaps even a bit too much. However, in low-light situations, the results can be grainy unless you use the built-in screen flash feature. Surprisingly, you can even shoot 4K Ultra HD footage using the front-facing camera, which is quite rare at this price point. The audio capture is fine, thanks to excellent built-in microphones making it suitable for vlogging or capturing video content.

Conclusion

Overall, it has been a very enjoyable experience, despite some performance junkiness. If you’re someone who values strong performance and does a lot of gaming on your smartphone, I would suggest considering an upgrade to the Galaxy A54 instead. There are also formidable rivals out there, like the Pixel 7 with its impressive camera technology.

However, if you’re a Samsung fan looking for a more affordable handset, the Galaxy A34 will get the job done. That’s my opinion, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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