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Why Samsung's $399 Galaxy A35 is the mid-ranger to beat in 2024

The latest Samsung phone is affordable, has a fantastic AMOLED display and a large battery, and will support years of updates.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Samsung Galaxy A35 5G Hands-on
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

While we're still potentially months away from Samsung's next big thing in mobile, the new Galaxy A35 5G may offer just enough to keep consumers satisfied for a little longer. It's available starting today for $399 and comes with a vibrant 6.6-inch AMOLED display, a 5,000mAh battery, a triple camera setup with a 50-megapixel main lens, an Exynos 1380 chipset, and more.

Also: Samsung forecasts over 900% profit increase this quarter

Those specifications might sound familiar because they're nearly identical to last year's Galaxy A54 5G, my go-to recommendation for mid-range phone buyers for a good part of 2023. With newer software features and a fancier camera system, I wouldn't be surprised if Samsung's Galaxy A35 5G dethrones the A54 on several of ZDNET's best lists in 2024, at least until someone else releases a better, affordably-priced handset. (Maybe the Google Pixel 8a?)

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Ahead of the launch, I spent an afternoon with the Galaxy A35, browsing the web, seeing how quickly it loaded up articles, watching videos, and stress-testing the device to see exactly what Samsung's latest mid-ranger was capable of. My takeaway? You've probably read the headline already, but it's one of the phones I'll be pushing most consumers to buy, especially if they don't need the best of the best -- and don't want to expense $1,000+ on one.

For $399, the Galaxy A35's specs are generous: 120Hz adaptive display (read: it switches between 60Hz and 120Hz to save power), IP67 water and dust resistance (not IP68, but still great to have), a 50MP main lens with optical image stabilization, up to fours years of operating system updates and five years of security updates; the list goes on. 

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G Hands-on
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

This feature set is all packaged in a sizeable form factor that now features a glass back cover -- last year's A34 had a plastic one -- and an iridescent Awesome Lilac colorway. The A35 comes in Awesome Navy too, but even my edited hands-on photos can't save the uninspiring look of the color.

Also: The best Samsung phones to buy in 2024

What you won't find in the Galaxy A35 is Samsung's latest Galaxy AI features, the same on-device and cloud-based machine learning tools that have become all the rage with 2024 flagships. You can chalk that gap up to the lack of RAM (6GB), weaker processing power, or just Samsung's favoritism towards its S and Z series models; there's a slim chance the company will trickle its AI features to the A35 any time soon.

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G Hands-on
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

But for $399, you'll have to live with the shortcomings, which also include thicker bezels, the absence of wireless charging, and an in-display fingerprint sensor placed lower on the screen than typical Samsung phones. Fortunately, the Galaxy A35 has more pros than cons, as I've concluded from my brief but intimate hands-on time with the phone, and it may just be the mid-ranger to beat heading into the second half of the year.

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