Samsung's busy start to 2023 continues with the Galaxy A54, the latest version of its midrange smartphone. Announced alongside the Galaxy A34 — an even lower-cost phone — the Galaxy A54 introduces a new wrinkle for users looking to buy a great value Android phone right now.
We're focusing on the Galaxy A54 here, in large part because it will be available on both sides of the Atlantic. But this is also a midrange phone that shares many of the key characteristics of the Galaxy S23 while costing several hundred dollars/pounds less.
You can still tell the Galaxy A54 isn't a premium phone because of its chipset and some of its camera sensor choices, but it could provide everything a typical Android user will want, only for far less than what a flagship device costs. The Galaxy A54 certainly figures to make a splash among the best Samsung phones.
As for the Galaxy A34, it appears to be skipping the U.S., though European shoppers will note several similarities between this phone and the Galaxy A54. Still, the A34 costs even less, meaning less impressive hardware. It's also much larger than the Galaxy A54.
In our brief time testing both phones, we found a lot to like about the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34. More testing is needed of course, but for now allow us to introduce you to the key features in Samsung's latest midrange phones, particularly the Galaxy A54.
For more analysis, check out our Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy A53 face-off
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy A54||Galaxy A34|
|Display||6.4-inch FHD AMOLED||6.6-inch FHD AMOLED|
|Refresh rate||120Hz (static)||120Hz (static)|
|Chipset||Exynos 1380||Dimensity 1080|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB|
|Expandable?||Yes, up to 1TB via microSD||Yes, up to 1TB via microSD|
|Rear cameras||50MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4)||48MP main (f/1.8), 8MP ultrawide (f/2,2), 5MP macro (f/2.4)|
|Front camera||32MP (f/2.2)||13MP (f/2.2)|
|Battery||5,000 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Charging||25W wired||25W wired|
|Size||6.2 x 3.0 x 0.32 inches (158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm)||6.3 x 3.0 x 0.32 inches (161 x 78.1 x 8.2mm)|
|Weight||7.1 ounces (202 grams)||7.0 ounces (199 grams)|
|Colors||Awesome Graphite, Awesome White, Awesome Lime, Awesome Violet||Awesome Graphite, Awesome Silver, Awesome Lime, Awesome Violet|
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Price and availability
The Galaxy A54 starts at $449/£449 — a touch more expensive than the £399 starting price of last year's Galaxy A53. But the price difference we'd focus on is the $400/£400 gap between the Galaxy A54 and the Galaxy S23. That's likely to be a tempting alternative for phone shoppers on a budget who find the starting price of flagship phones a little off-putting.
The cheapest version of the Galaxy A54 in the U.K. features 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. You can double the capacity to 256GB by adding another £50 to the price. Meanwhile for the U.S., the basic memory specs are 6GB/128GB, with an extra $50 netting you an upgrade to 8GB RAM but no extra storage.
Compared to rival devices, like the £399/$399 Pixel 6a, the £369 OnePlus Nord 2T or the £449 iPhone SE, the Galaxy A54 seems like a harder sell. But when we dive into the phone's specs in a bit, that higher price may seem more justified.
As for the Galaxy A34, it starts at £349 for the 128GB version. The 256GB model costs £399. This one isn't coming to the U.S.
The two new Galaxy A phones arrive in Europe on April 25, and in America on the 6th; with Samsung offering a free pair of Galaxy Buds 2 with every purchase for European pre-orders, and a discount on the Galaxy Buds Live for American ones.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Design and display
Samsung differentiates the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 in part by their size. The Galaxy A54 is the smaller of the two with a 6.4-inch display that falls neatly between the 6.1- and 6.6-inch screens of the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus. In a reversal from last year, the Galaxy A34 has the bigger 6.6-inch panel.
Regardless of which new Galaxy A model you're talking about, you'll get an AMOLED screen with FHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. That's a setting you'll have to adjust manually, as you did with last year's Galaxy A53.
The refresh rate is actually a big step up for the Galaxy A34, as last year's Galaxy A33 topped out at 90Hz. The Galaxy A53 was one of the first big midrange phones to feature a 120Hz refresh rate, so we're glad to see that feature return with the A54.
As with Samsung's flagship phones, the focus with this midrange update is to make the displays nice and bright. Both the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 promise a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, which would be a big leap from the 693-nit maximum we recorded for the Galaxy A53 during testing last year.
Both of the phones also use Gorilla Glass 5 to protect their front panels, which is getting a bit outdated compared to the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2 but should still help protect the phones from damage. The back of the A54 uses GG5 as well, while the Galaxy A34 has an unknown, presumably less tough rear panel.
The overall look of Samsung's new Galaxy A phones is similar to the Galaxy S23 series, ditching the flatter, all-in-one camera block and back design of previous models for the now familiar separate camera lenses. The display bezels look to be more prominent though, and also the Galaxy A34 uses a water-drop notch. For the Galaxy A54, you get a punch-hole cutout in the upper center of the display.
Samsung offers four colors for both phones. The Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 each come in Awesome Graphite, Awesome Lime and Awesome Violet. The A54 offers Awesome White as its fourth color, while the A34 turns to Awesome Silver.
Unfortunately for U.S. users, Samsung's offering a more limited palette of colors for the A54. Only Awesome Graphite and Awesome Violet are your options there.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Cameras
The Galaxy A54 has the more premium camera setup in this round of midrange updates. You get a 50MP main camera, joined by a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 5MP macro sensor on the back of the A54; there's a 32MP selfie cam up front.
Samsung's particularly focused on the Galaxy A54's 50MP main camera, which is the same one we've seen on the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus. It's a lower resolution than the 64MP Galaxy A53's main camera, but the larger sensor size, pixel size and wider aperture should mean much better photos on balance.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy A34 gets a slightly less impressive loadout of 48MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro and 13MP selfie cameras. These appear to be identical to what the Galaxy A33 had, so any photo quality upgrade this new phone offers could be minimal.
One thing that's missing from both the Galaxy A54 and A34 is a dedicated depth sensor on the back of the phone. This is something that could impact portrait image performance, though hopefully Samsung's image processing will be able to fill the gap there.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Performance
It's a tale of two 5G-ready chips in these phones, with the Galaxy A54 likely to deliver the better performance. That phone will use an Exynos 1380, which Samsung says will bolster CPU performance by 20% over the Exynos 1280 that powered the Galaxy A53. GPU performance is also expected to rise by 26%.
It sounds impressive, but the Galaxy A54 will have a hard time measuring up to the performance of its chief rivals. The iPhone SE, for instance, uses an A15 Bionic chip, which remains one of the faster chipsets out there. The Tensor G1 chip powering the Pixel 6a isn't known for its performance but it still out-muscled the Galaxy A53 last year. It will be interesting to see if the promised performance gains vault the Galaxy A54 past Google's phone, especially with the more powerful Pixel 7a likely to arrive in a few months.
The Galaxy A34 makes do with MediaTek's Dimensity 1080 chip, a rare sight from Samsung who tends to use its own Exynos or Qualcomm silicon. Samsung promises 17% CPU and 14% GPU performance increase for the A34 compared to the A33.
As noted above, you get 128GB of storage in the base model of each Galaxy A phone, with a 256GB version available for £50 more. Both the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 have microSD slots, which will let you add another 1TB if you buy a big enough card.
The Galaxy A34 starts with 6GB RAM but now comes with an 8GB option alongside the 256GB storage upgrade, something the Galaxy A33 didn't offer. The Galaxy A54 gets 8GB by default, also a step-up from last year where 8GB was only on offer on the highest-specced Galaxy A53.
Two minor differences are that the Galaxy A54 also gets support for the newer Wi-Fi 6 (though not the latest Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7 standard), and eSIM compatibility.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Battery and charging
You'll get a 5,000 mAh battery with 25W wired charging whether you go for the Galaxy A34 or Galaxy A54. Samsung promises that works out to two-and-a-half days of battery life, and around an 80-minute charge time to get a drained phone fully charged.
We're hoping that means some improvement for the Galaxy A54 in our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web continuously over cellular until they run out of power. Last year, the Galaxy A53 lasted a respectable 9 hours and 49 minutes, which is just shy of the average result for smartphones. Maybe the new processor can push the Galaxy A54 past the 10-hour mark.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Software
As you'd hope from a 2023 phone, the Galaxy A54 and A34 both ship with Android 13, wrapped in Samsung's own One UI 5.1. It's no different to the software you get on the Galaxy S23 or Galaxy Z Fold 4, including all of Samsung's latest software features such as Modes and Routines.
Even better, you'll continue to get new software to play with long into the future, thanks to Samsung's generous four years of guaranteed full updates. Google offers four years currently, OnePlus three years and Apple a non-guaranteed four to six years.
Samsung Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34: Outlook
It's not been long since the more obviously impressive Galaxy S23 series arrived, but Samsung's still managed to turn our heads with the Galaxy A54. The cheaper phone's specs are catching up with those of flagship phones, while its price remains relatively stable. It could be hard to justify buying an S23 when you get the same main camera, display refresh rate and resolution, but a larger display and battery, in the Galaxy A54.
We'll be taking a closer look at the Galaxy A54's performance when we get it in for testing, as it could be its key weakness against both flagship and other mid-range phone rivals. Plus, while its main camera is an effective-looking sensor, the other cameras, which remain unchanged, could let it down in an overall photo comparison.
There's still a couple of weeks to go until you can buy either the Galaxy A54 or Galaxy A34, so it's worth waiting for our upcoming reviews before deciding to buy. But based on the strength of the spec sheets and our first impressions alone, it seems like the Galaxy A54 should be a contender for the best cheap phone title.