Galaxy A35 5G Hands-On: Samsung's New Budget Phone Doesn't Feel Cheap

Samsung's Galaxy A35 5G stands out for its big screen and premium design.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
4 min read
Samsung Galaxy A35 5G

Samsung's Galaxy A35 5G.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy S24 may have taken the spotlight earlier this year, but Samsung hasn't neglected its wallet-friendly A-series line. The new Galaxy A35 5G, which launches on April 18 in the US at $400, feels like a promising option for those seeking an Android phone with a large display and a big battery to back it up. The company previously announced the phone but only just confirmed the US release date.

The Galaxy A35 5G's large 6.6-inch screen sets it apart from competing budget options made by Apple and Google. But Samsung's phone compromises in other ways to achieve that $400 price. Unlike the $429 iPhone SE and $499 Pixel 7A, for example, the Galaxy A35 5G doesn't run on the same processor as other premium phones that launched around the same time. 

But for those who just want a simple and affordable Android phone with a large screen, it'll likely do just fine. We'll know for sure when we've had the chance to spend an extended period of time with the Galaxy A35 5G.

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The first thing you'll likely notice about the Galaxy A35 5G is its design, especially if you're using the purple version. The phone is available in two colors, lilac and navy, and the lilac version appears to have an iridescent shimmer to it. When light hits the back of the phone at certain angles, it produces a rainbow-like effect. It's a nice touch that gives what would otherwise be a basic-looking phone some extra character, although I'm sure most people will likely cover it with a case. 

The Galaxy A35 5G's 6.6-inch display may not sound that big, especially compared to other Samsung phones. But it's noticeably larger than other high-profile phones in similar price ranges from Samsung's competitors. 

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G

Samsung's Galaxy A35 5G

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

That includes the 6.1-inch Google Pixel 7A, which I praised last year for its excellent cameras and similarities to the Pixel 7. The third-generation iPhone SE is even smaller at 4.7 inches. The Galaxy A35 5G's extra screen space could help Samsung stand out, especially as Google is expected to announce the Pixel 8A shortly. The screen also has a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling, a feature that was once considered premium but is now becoming available on cheaper phones. 

The Galaxy A35 5G notably has a 5,000-mAh battery, which is the same size as the battery inside the top-of-the-line Galaxy S24 Ultra. It's not uncommon for Samsung to put large batteries in its budget devices, as was the case with last year's Galaxy A54 5G. Still, it's reassuring to see such a large battery in a relatively affordable device -- although it's important to remember that software and power efficiency play a big role in battery life, too. 

Where you'll really notice the difference between the Galaxy A35 5G and pricier Samsung phones is in its cameras. The Galaxy A35 5G has a 50-megapixel main camera, but it lacks the dedicated telephoto camera you'll find on phones in the Galaxy S line. The ultrawide camera is also a lower 8-megapixel resolution compared to the Galaxy S24's 12-megapixel sensor. Like other A-series phones, the Galaxy A35 5G also has a 5-megapixel macro camera. 

While I haven't had the chance to really put the camera to the test, the few shots I captured in Samsung's demo area looked crisp enough on the Galaxy A35 5G's screen. Samsung also says the phone can take portrait mode photos in the dark, although I didn't get to try this in the brightly lit demo area. 

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G

The lilac version of the Galaxy A35 5G has an iridescent shimmer to it.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

One thing the Galaxy A35 5G is missing compared to other recent Samsung phones is Galaxy AI, the suite of new software features that launched in January. Samsung recently brought Galaxy AI, which lets you do things like manipulate and erase objects in photos and translate calls in real time, to older phones like the Galaxy S23 series. However, a Samsung representative specified that the Galaxy A35 5G won't have Galaxy AI at launch, perhaps hinting that it could arrive in the future. 

But it does have Samsung's Knox Vault for physically isolating sensitive information like PINs and biometrics, which the company says is new to its A-series devices. It'll get four generations of Android OS upgrades, which is three years shy of the seven-year support timeline for the Galaxy S24 family. 

The Galaxy A35 5G runs on Samsung's Exynos 1380 processor, which felt snappy enough for launching apps quickly in my limited time with the device. That's another crucial way Samsung's phone differs from Apple's and Google's alternatives. Apple's tiny budget phone runs on the same chip that powers the most recent flagship iPhone, which was the iPhone 13 at the time of the third-generation iPhone SE's launch. The Pixel 7A similarly runs on Google's Tensor G2 chip, which first arrived in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

At first glance, the Galaxy A35 5G stands out for its quality build and large 6.6-inch display. But we'll know more about how it compares to other budget phones once we've had the chance to review it. 

Samsung's Galaxy A35 5G Impresses in Lilac

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