Review: Galaxy A55 and A35 make a lot of sense amid the cost of living crisis

The Samsung Galaxy A55 is released in New Zealand on March 25.
The Samsung Galaxy A55 is released in New Zealand on March 25. Photo credit: Newshub.

When I'm at the supermarket checkout or filling up my car with petrol these days I often feel a yucky anxiety about how much I'm spending.

Annoyingly there's no avoiding paying a massive amount on that sort of thing compared to what we did not many years ago - but not everything is that way.

If you're looking to buy a mobile phone this year and shudder at the thought of forking out $2000 or so, well, you can get a solid 2024 handset for less than half of that.

Mid-range phones don't offer all the very latest innovations, refinements and fanciness of flagship smartphones, but they do the basics very well for very reasonable prices.

On Monday, Samsung released its Galaxy A35 and A55 in Aotearoa for $650 and $800, respectively.

The Samsung Galaxy A55 (left) and A35 (right).
The Samsung Galaxy A55 (left) and A35 (right). Photo credit: Newshub.

I've been using both for a couple of weeks now and have done a lot of standard smartphone tasks - web browsing, social media video watching, photography and of, course, phonecalls - all of which they handle comfortably, within reason. Gaming is more of a mixed bag, but with basic stuff like Tetris and Candy Crush, they're all good.

Among the features of both the A35 and A55 are the following:

  • 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for fast internet all the time
  • Super AMOLED Display with 120Hz and up to 1000 nits of brightness
  • IP67 rated dust and water resistance
  • Nightography: Night portrait mode
  • 12-bit Super HDR Video.

It is not many years ago these features were exclusively available in devices that set you at least $1500. To have them offered in much lower priced phones is really nice.

What makes the A35 and A55 cheaper?

They have lower grade physical materials, inferior camera systems, weaker chipsets and less of the cutting edge features like Galaxy AI introduced in this year's flagship Samsung phones.

The biggest differences in using them compared to a Galaxy S24 Ultra, iPhone 15 Pro and Oppo Find N3 are in photo and video quality, and performance under pressure.

But I have to look for those differences.

Side-by-side the photos are noticeably lower quality, but normally we don't compare photos and videos like that. For everyday New Zealanders, the photos and videos captured on the A35 and A55 are more than good enough for looking back on as memories or sharing with family members.

In fact, they're better than those taken with top-of-the-line phones from 2018 or so. We really are spoiled with this sort of technology these days.

The Samsung Galaxy A55 has a 50 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide and 5 MP macro triple-camera system.
The Samsung Galaxy A55 has a 50 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide and 5 MP macro triple-camera system. Photo credit: Newshub.

Once you have a fair few apps going, you will notice these cheaper phones start to stutter quicker than you will with more powerful phones. And I wouldn't bother playing anything too serious on them gaming-wise.

But otherwise, for most people, they handle all your usual everyday smartphone tasks easily, and get through the whole day on their 5000 mAh batteries with no worries. Looks-wise, they aren't ugly and won't stand out beside your friends' better phones, so long as you're not looking really closely.

So what about the difference between the A35 and A55 - what does that extra $150 get you?

The A55 has an aluminium frame, the A35's is plastic - which is not an issue if you have a case on your phone.

The Samsung Galaxy A55 (bottom) and A35 (top).
The Samsung Galaxy A55 (bottom) and A35 (top). Photo credit: Newshub.

Other than that, the more expensive of the two has a better spec camera and chipset, meaning it takes slightly better photos and videos, and has more power.

Those exact specs are as follows:

Galaxy A55

  • Main camera: 50 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro
  • Selfie camera: 32 MP wide
  • Chipset: Exynos 1480 (4nm)

Galaxy A35

  • Main camera: 50 MP wide, 8 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro
  • Selfie camera: 13 MP wide
  • Chipset: Exynos 1380 (5nm)

What else to consider

These mid-range smartphones from Samsung have only just hit the market and are great value for money, but check out the latest Reno range from Oppo NZ as alternatives to see if a similarly priced option there better suits your needs.

Otherwise, in the price bracket above the Galaxy A35 and A55, the current iPhone SE starts at $849 in New Zealand, while the Galaxy S23 FE starts at $1199.

It's also worth noting the lower cost of the A35 and A55 doesn't necessarily mean they will need replacing any quicker. Their less powerful chipsets may mean they struggle more with future apps and operating systems, but Samsung is selling them with the guarantee of five years of security upgrades and four years of OS updates.

That adds to their value proposition and, all in all, these devices make a lot of sense amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Newshub was supplied a Galaxy A35 and A55 for this review.