Mehul Reuben DasMar 28, 2023 20:42:59 IST
– Excellent Battery life
– Looks more expensive than it is
– Solid build quality
– Impressive main camera
– Impressive Super AMOLED, 120Hz display
– Samsung’s software update policy
– 25W charging, with no charging brick in the box
– Teardrop notch is unflattering on the display
– Could have been priced a little more aggressively
– More than usual bloatware and banner ads
Price: Rs 30,999 for the 8GB + 128GB variant
The mid-range segment in the Indian smartphone market is already very heated. So, in order to stand out, and ensure that people actually consider your offerings, you really need to step your game up. That is exactly what Samsung has done with their latest Galaxy A34 5G and Galaxy A54 5G smartphones.
In this review, we will take a look at the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G and how, despite some issues here and there, it shapes up to be a pretty good value-for-money smartphone.
As with most of their recent launches, for the Galaxy A34 5G, Samsung has focussed on the overall experience of what consumers really want in terms of performance and experience in a mid-level smartphone – flagship-like premium looks, performance that is stable and strong, and long continuous support. And of course, tons of features.
The Galaxy A34 5G is a pretty solid phone. So, what is the Galaxy A34 5G’s performance like, and more importantly, does it justify the price that Samsung is asking for it? We take a look.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The design
In terms of design, the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G is as premium looking as the more expensive and premium, S23 and the S23 Plus. The subtle differences that crop up come because of the materials used in the construction of the device.
Our test device was a light, lime green coloured one, and because of the rear panel’s faint prism tint, it looked quite stylish. The polycarbonate back panel also has a hazy pattern to it, which, when combined with the prism effect looks really cool when the light catches it at an unusual angle.
Other than the lime green, which Samsung is calling Awesome Lime you get to choose from two more colours – Awesome Silver and Awesome Graphite. The Awesome Graphite, or the black-coloured model, looks even better in our opinion.
On the front of the display, we get to see a 6.6-inch Super AMOLED panel, which is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The display also has a centred teardrop notch that houses a couple of sensors and a front-facing camera. Of all the design choices that Samsung has made for the Galaxy A34, the teardrop notch, is the weakest one, but more on that later.
The device has the slightest hint of bezels, but we can’t really call it thick. Yes, the bottom bezel is a little thicker than the rest, but in everyday day-to-day use, it’s hardly discernible.
On the right side of the smartphone, we have our volume rockers and the power button. The left side has no buttons. On the top, we get a mic and the hybrid SIM tray, using which, you can either add a second SIM card or use a microSDXC card.
At the bottom, we see a speaker grille that houses one of the speakers, as well as the USB Type-C port and another mic.
At the rear, we get to see the three rear cameras laid out linearly, along with the LED flash. There is no housing around the camera as such which actually gives the device a premium and minimalistic appeal, which only gets accentuated by the metal deco rings around each camera. This adds to the premium look of the device.
The front panel, as well as the rear panel, are flat, whereas the railing, which is made using plastic, is slightly curved, which makes the device very easy and comfortable to hold. This also makes the Galaxy A34 feel strongly built and solid. The device also comes with an IP 67 rating, which means it deals well with dust and is water resistant up to 1 metre for 30 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The display
The display is one of the strongest aspects of the Galaxy A34 5G. Given that this is what a user will be looking at and interacting with most of the time, Samsung has ticked almost all of the boxes that would make the display in the A34 5G, truly the best in class.
We get a 6.6-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED screen, which has a 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 1000 nits. The display consists of a panel that has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, set in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio.
The display is a quintessentially Samsung display that is found in its top-of-the-line premium range of smartphones – it is vibrant, contrasty and a joy to look at. The colour reproduction is awesome and lively and is very pleasing to the eyes. While the blacks may not be as crushing as some of the other premium display panels that we find in higher-end Samsung devices, they get pretty dark. Games and content look as sharp as a tack.
As we said, there’s just a hint of a bezel around the display, but not anywhere near a level where it would be considered egregious.
The only aspect where the front display lets down users is the teardrop notch that it comes with. At this price point, the design looks very odd and dated. Other than that, the display is as good as it gets for a mid-level smartphone.
The display in the A34 5G also comes with some eye-protection features. For example, it comes with an SGS Eyecare certification, which means the display significantly reduces the emission of blue light.
All in all the display is an aspect where the A34 5G really stands strong, over and beyond most of its customers.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The camera
The Samsung Galaxy A34 5G has a triple camera setup at the rear. The main camera is a 48MP sensor, paired with an f1.8 lens, which also comes with a much better, wider and enhanced OIS, and VDIS compared to older devices in the Galaxy A series. This allows the A34 5G to take better photos and videos in low light, and help deal with blurs in a much better manner.
Next, is the ultrawide 8MP camera and an f2.2 lens, and finally a 5MP macro camera with an f2.4 lens. At the front, we get a 13MP selfie camera, which gets the job done pretty well.
The primary sensor has great clarity and sharpness and captures images with great detail. The dynamic range is also pretty solid, and the colours are vivid. When given enough light, the smartphone can take some pretty awesome photos.
During the night too, the images taken were pretty solid. Yes, there were some signs of Samsung’s software working its magic, but it wasn’t too aggressive or off-putting.
The detail in the selfies is also rather impressive. The shots are occasionally oversharpened, although that doesn’t appear too horrible. The skin tones are accurately captured. The front-facing camera does have the tendency to overexpose the face a little.
We also liked how Portrait mode works on the A34 5G. Edge detection is spot on most of the time, but there is scope for some improvement through an OTA update.
The ultrawide camera could have been a little better. Images taken from the ultrawide image don’t look as sharp as the ones from the main camera.
You also get an AI image enhancer feature which just sorts out your photos in all the right ways – it takes care of the highlights and pulls them down when needed, and boosts up the shadows when required. It reduces noise very subtly and also helps with the dynamic range for a better HDR image.
The front cameras can shoot videos at up to 4K at 30fps while the rear camera can shoot videos at 4K at 30fps & 1080p at 30 and 60fps.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The performance, software experience and UI
Thanks to a MediaTek 1080 octa-core CPU and the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU, the Samsung Galaxy A34 is a pretty capable smartphone. The SoC’s performance feels quite snappy in routine, day-to-day tasks and juggling between apps, because it has been properly optimised for the Galaxy A34.
Our device had 128GB of internal UFS 2.2 storage and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. We also get Samsung’s RAM Plus, which gives us the ability to add an additional 8GB RAM. Storage won’t be an issue because you also have a dedicated microSDXC slot that can accommodate cards up to 1TB.
The A34 performs decently well in benchmark tests, giving the impression that it is just good enough in terms of performance. However, it performed admirably in our daily usage, which included some very intensive gaming sessions and a lot of multitasking.
The device handled games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile very easily. We were able to play these games at the medium settings and were consistently getting 60fps, without any issues.
The OneUI 5 operating system, which is based on Android 13, powers the Samsung Galaxy A34. This is a huge plus because you get Android 13 right out of the box. Despite being a mid-range smartphone, the Galaxy A34 offers some of the best features that Samsung’s One UI has to offer. For instance, it has some of the best Knox Security features from Samsung. You also get features like Voice Focus, which improves your voice during regular as well as video calls and virtually eliminates all other background noise.
As is the case with most mid-level smartphones, there is some bloatware, mainly in the form of Samsung’s own apps and some other very popular apps. What is really egregious though is Samsung’s Galaxy Widget, which serves up ads for all sorts of apps. Yes, it can be disabled but given the cost of the device, we feel that this was uncalled for.
The Samsung Galaxy A34 has WiFi, Bluetooth 5.3, and a USB Type-C 2.0 port for connectivity. The device has a pair of stereo speakers that can be rather loud but could use some fine-tuning. Still, playing games and watching stuff sans headphones is pretty awesome.
The Device has all the necessary 5G bands including N1, N3, N5, N7, N8, N28, N66 N40, N41, N77, and N78. During our 5G tests, we were easily getting about 475-500MPBS at about 500 metres away from a tower, which is usually where and how we do these tests.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The battery life
The Galaxy A34 5G’s battery has a capacity of 5000mAh. Even though the smartphone features an OLED panel with a high refresh rate and high resolution, battery life is fantastic due to the gadget’s highly optimised SoC and OS.
We consumed roughly 13–15 per cent of the battery in an hour of intense gaming and video consumption while using the built-in stereo speakers and the display set to 75 per cent screen brightness.
At 70 per cent brightness, you can easily get more than 8-9 hours of screen time and more than 17 hours of usage time. Our regular usage consisted of watching videos, accessing the internet, playing a few video games, checking emails, holding office conference calls, etc.
Samsung says that you can get about two days of power from the battery. Although we did not try to test that claim, we can see why they would claim that.
The Galaxy A34 supports 25W wired charging, provided you have a supporting charging brick. The device does not come with a charging brick, but only with a USB-C to USB-C cable.
Considering what the device costs, and that smartphones in this budget have started supporting up to 80W charging, Samsung really needs to work on a better fast charging mechanism. Usually, it would take us just over 2 hours to get the device charged from zero per cent to 100, using a 65W third-party charging brick.
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G review: The verdict
The Galaxy A34 ticks a lot of the boxes which makes it a compelling device to buy. Yes, it seems to be priced slightly on the higher side if you compare it to some of its other competitors from brands like Realme, iQOO, and Vivo. Then, there’s the fact that Samsung is already selling some of its former flagships at a similar price point.
However, there are a couple of advantages of going with Samsung that other smartphone brands simply don’t have an answer for. First, there is the breadth and depth of Samsung’s after-sales services, something that most other players in the mid-level segment haven’t been able to establish even after all these years. Then, there is Samsung’s guarantee of giving updates, under which, every Samsung device will be eligible for four major Android updates and 5 years of security updates.
Had the Galaxy A34 been a little competitively priced, recommending the smartphone would have been a no-brainer. Having said that, at Rs 30,999, it ticks a lot of the correct boxes for someone who’s looking for a budget smartphone from a reputable and established brand that performs well, has a solid camera system, and has a great battery life.
Value for money doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest option out here. Therefore, all things considered, the Galaxy A34 is a device that screams value for money.