Samsung Galaxy A35 5G Review: The affordable phone camera you want to take with you

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Galaxy A35 5G Intro

When it comes to budget phones, Samsung surprised us this year and instead of bringing both a Galaxy A55 5G and A35 5G models to the United States, it will only sell the A35 5G model. It comes in at a very reasonable price of $400 and goes on sale on April 18th in the US. 

So what is it all about?

The good news is that the Galaxy A35 5G comes with almost everything you would want at this price point. That includes a beautiful display and two nice-sounding speakers, a capable-enough chipset, and a more durable body. Not to mention that the camera is among the best you can get for this kind of money. Read on to find out the details!

Disclaimer: We have a brand new PhoneArena Review Rating system and because of the more demanding criteria of that benchmark, overall review ratings are now lower. That does not mean there are surprising new shortcoming of phones we review, but it is just the way this new rating works. We believe that it gives readers a much better idea of how phones compare to others in the same price class, so make sure to always look at the scores in the context of the averages. You can learn more about our new review scoring system here.

Table of Contents:

Galaxy A35 5G Specs

New chip, new camera, stronger glass

Galaxy A35 5G Design and Display

Understated, beautiful, and more durable than ever

 

For the first time in the Galaxy A3x series, Samsung has included a glass back panel instead of a plastic one. This definitely gives a more premium feel to the Galaxy A35 5G, especially compared to previous generations. That being said, glass is denser than plastic, which means the A35 is heavier, weighing in at 209g versus the 199g of the Galaxy A34 5G.

The frame of the phone remains plastic, but it doesn’t make the A35 look cheap. And speaking of the frame, one cannot exclude the new bump on the right side that is housing the volume and power buttons. Given some of the images that showed up online prior to the official release, we were worried that this bump would be protruding a bit too much for our liking, but we are happy to say that is not the case. In fact, it somewhat adds to ease of use, as it helped to easily find the keys just by feel.

Size-wize, you have the same dimensions as those of the A34 5G, or 6.37 x 3.07 x 0.32 inches (161.7 x 78.0 x 8.2 mm). The shape of the phone is flat on all sides, with curved edges, and three protruding cameras at the back. The look is similar to that of the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus.

The colors in which you can buy the Galaxy A35 5G are Iceblue, Lilac, and Navy. We have the Lilac version, which has a nice, pastel, and understated look look to it, with nice reflections under direct light.

Even though we are used to see affordable phones come with some extra goodies inside the box, Samsung keeps it clean and simple, albeit a bit underwhelming.

This is what you get inside the Galaxy A35 5G box:

  • The Galaxy A35 5G
  • A USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Documentation
  • SIM tool
Stellar display quality is expected even in mid-range phones nowadays, but Samsung is one of the best in this segment, and that includes the Galaxy A35 5G.

You get an absolutely gorgeous 6.6-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Anything that’s shown on this bad boy looks crisp and beautiful. For the most part, it is the same screen that came with the A34 5G, but with two notable differences.

Firstly, now there is a variable refresh rate, so when you put the phone in 120Hz it will go down to 60Hz automatically to save battery life. Secondly, you have Gorilla Glass Victus+ protecting the display, which should be significantly more scratch and drop resistant compared to the Gorilla Glass 5 on the predecessor.

I loved watching content and playing games on the A35 5G. Even when I was on a walk outside during a clear day with lots of sunlight, the display continued to be visible enough for my eyes, which meant no squinting.

Making the experience even better, was the fact that the bezels are smaller than last year’s model,  which is especially noticeable with the lower one. Now they almost look uniformly even.

Display Measurements:

As you can see, there’s nothing to complain about here. The display of the A35 5G is more than great, and it manages to improve in some areas like the color accuracy (although that might vary from unit to unit based on its calibration).

Where we were left disappointed by the Galaxy A35 5G, however, was the fingerprint scanner that’s embedded in its display. It is an optical fingerprint scanner, and not one of the fast ones for that matter. It takes the phone a good second/second and a half to unlock once you place your finger on the screen. Thankfully, the accuracy seems to be spot on every time, as we didn’t encounter any misreads resulting in secondary attempts to unlock the A35.

The A35 5G also has face recognition, which actually feels a quicker by about half a second. Your best course of action is to turn on the “lift to wake” and turn off “swipe to unlock” to make the whole process as fast and seamless as possible. Don’t forget that the fingerprint scanner is far safer in comparison, so you will have to decide whether security or speed is more important for you.

Galaxy A35 5G Camera

Best camera system in its class
Samsung has upgraded the main camera, which still comes with 50MP, but now has a different image sensor powering it, the results of which you will see in the samples below. The 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro cameras remain unchanged.Keep in mind that even though the main camera is 50MP, the images that it takes are 12.5MP. That is because the phone uses pixel binning, which basically means creating larger pixels out of smaller ones, the main benefit of which is to capture more light. There is a 50MP mode if wish to use the full resolution of the main snapper, but note that you need lots of light to take photos in that mode.

As for video recording, unlike the more expensive Galaxy A55 5G, the Galaxy A35 5G cannot transition between the main and ultrawide cameras while shooting at 4K 30fps or 1080p 60fps. That said, it is possible to go from one to the other when recording at 1080p 30fps.

The Galaxy A35 5G just might be one of the best budget phones for taking photos, and in general for its camera system. The images look clean, with no oversharpening. Colors are vivid, but not oversaturated—thankfully Samsung toned things down with its 2024 phone generations.

What stands out more, and is arguably the more important upgrade, is the improved HDR performance. The level of detail in areas with shadows is much higher, making the more pleasant to look at. Of course, in extreme situations, such as the one in third and fourth images, the ultra-wide camera cannot match the dynamic range of the main one, but it is still impressive for this price point.

The A35 5G’s low-light camera performance is arguably the best its class. There is plenty of detail, the noise reduction is done in a way to preserve sharpness, and colors look well represented.

The portrait mode also looks pretty good, cutting out the human subject from the background accurately enough. The blurred out background is a bit too unrealistic, however. The selfie camera also performs quite well, no complaints from us there.

Now, lastly, the Galaxy A35 does not come with a telephoto camera, but its digital zoom is actually not that bad. At 2x the image looks usable, even if it is in an area with little light. That said, at 5x and 10x things start to get ugly. You are probably better off shooting in the 50MP mode and cropping in on that image instead.

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail

As you can probably tell for yourself, the video stabilization on the Galaxy A35 5G can be a bit jittery, for lack of a better word. Given the price tag, that is a flaw we are willing to overlook, especially since we are talking about 4K 30fps video recording here. Keep in mind that you cannot go up to 4K 60fps.

The 4K footage looks sharp, with good dynamic range and color reproduction. We cannot say the same about the video from the ultra-wide camera, though, which is not usable based on our standards.

The Galaxy A35 5G did amazingly in our camera tests considering where it sits in the phone market. After all, we are talking about a phone that costs a fraction of a flagship’s price, which still manages to shoot way above average photos with its main and ultra wide camera. Of course, since it lacks a telephoto snapper, it’s score in our zoom category is not high, but it is not exactly as bad as it could have been either.

Video recording is also great with the main camera, although lacking a bit because of that somewhat poor video stabilization.

Galaxy A35 5G Performance & Benchmarks

Won’t blow you away, but won’t leave you hanging either

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy A35 5G with the Exynos 1380 (5 nm), the same chipset that was featured on last year’s Galaxy A54 5G. This is a somewhat noticeable step up from the Mediatek Dimensity 1080 (6 nm) that came with the A34, especially in the 3D graphics department.

Running games such as League of Legends Wild Rift was no issue for the A35 5G. I had the settings mostly at high, with the only exception being the “Effects Quality,” which was set to medium; frame rate was set to 60fps. The phone got warm during a longer period of gaming, but it never got hot.

Despite its good performance while playing games, though, the phone did stutter and lag while navigating the UI. One example is when I was dragging the control panel. Things got better after the first couple of hours, which means it might have been because some background updates that were happening, but there were still occasional hiccups throughout my time with the A35.

As for RAM, you get 8GB, which seems to be plenty for this device.

Performance Benchmarks:

Mostly, the differences you see in the benchmark results above equate to somewhat faster processing when you are using apps that require multiple cores and whenever the phone is carrying out graphically-intensive tasks such as games, apps like Lightroom, CapCut, or Photoshop.

You can get the Galaxy A35 5G in two storage options: 128GB and 256GB. It is UFS 3.1 storage, so not the fastest out there, but it is fast enough (this is a low mid-range phone after all). The great news is that you have the option to expand your storage with up to 1TB via a microSD card. The microSD card slot is shared by the 2nd SIM slot, so you will have to choose between having more storage or a second physical SIM card.

Galaxy A35 5G Software

The A35 comes with Android 14 and Samsung’s One UI 6.1. It will get 4 years of software updates and 5 years of security patches. Some of you that are familiar with the more premium Galaxy phones that came out recently might notice that they have three years more of software support, but what Samsung is offering with its low mid-ranger is not bad either in our opinion.

Samsung’s One UI 6.1 is well polished and pleasant to use. There are helpful features such as lock screen widgets that can provide easy access to information, with the always-on display making them even more useful. There is also some Android customization sprinkled in, such as the option to style your A35’s system with a color palette that matches your wallpaper.

There are also some pretty neat utility features such as Quick Share, which is an easy way to transfer files between Android devices and Windows PCs and laptops (it works similarly to Apple’s AirDrop feature).

One thing that is a bit annoying with the A35 5G is that it comes with lots of bloatware. You can delete it, of course, but we expect this kind of thing from manufacturers like Xiaomi, for example, not Samsung.

Galaxy A35 5G Battery

Solid battery life

The battery of the Galaxy A35 5G has not changed in capacity compared to the predecessor, standing in at 5000mAh. That is plenty to last you throughout the day with heavy use, and you can always make it last longer by setting your display to work only at 60Hz. With medium to light use, you can expect the A35 to last you even more than a day.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

The A35 5G’s battery life turned out to be down by around 2 hours during our web browsing and video streaming tests (compared to its predecessor), but it lasted 3 hours more for the gaming battery test.

As for charging, Samsung has not changed anything related to the charging capabilities with its new A3x model, so you get 25W of wired charging and no wireless charging. With an appropriate charger (mind you there is no charger in the box), one that’s capable of 30W, for example, you will be able to charge the A35 from 0-100% in about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:

Galaxy A35 5G Audio Quality and Haptics

You get your typical stereo speaker setup with the A35, meaning a bottom-firing at the lower section of the frame, and one embedded in the top bezel.

The audio quality is above average, and even at the highest volume level, which is sufficiently loud, the sound did not begin to deteriorate. That said, the A35 sounded a bit muffled throughout the whole range of volume, although we prefer that to super the tinny-sounding option.

All in all, music and speech sound good, although we can’t exactly say that the stereo speakers on this affordable mid-ranger from Samsung are good enough for enjoying music, especially if you are in a loud environment. Also, no, you don’t get a headphone jack.

Haptics are a bit weak and not extremely sharp, but they are not mushy and nasty either. If you do leave them on, you probably won’t get annoyed by them, at least we didn’t.

Should you buy it?

We can easily recommend the Galaxy A35 5G if you are looking for a budget phone that is capable at shooting nice photos and video. This is arguably the best affordable mid-range phone you will find on the market as far as camera performance goes.

You also get a well-rounded package for enjoying any type of media, in the form of a gorgeous display that leaves nothing to be desired and two speakers capable of good audio quality. Making it even better is the long battery life of the A35, which only means you can enjoy the phone more before having to plug it in to a charger.

Something that kind of stuck with us were the UI stutters that happened every now and then, something affordable Galaxy phones are known for, but it wasn’t to the extent that it got annoying.

An alternative to the Galaxy A35 5G that you might also want to check out is the Pixel 7a, which also comes with an amazing main camera. What would be the better decision, however, is to wait for the Pixel 8a, which is expected to arrive sometime this May, so very soon. It will probably have similar performance and display quality, but might come with even better battery life and some Google AI features. Also, it’s software is straight-up vanilla Android, which might be more up some people’s alley.
Another one you can check out that’s freshly released is the Nothing Phone (2a), which comes with a display that is somehow even better thanks to its higher brightness and thinner bezels (although less durable). It also has the Mediatek Dimensity 7200 Pro processor which is built on the 4nm process and is—generally speaking—a more capable chipset. And, of course, we can’t forget the much faster 45W wired charging.


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