Technical Reviews

Samsung Galaxy A or S: What’s the Difference?

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Top-of-the line S-series
Big-screen S-series
Basic S-series
Fan Edition S Series
2021 Fan Edition
Intermediate
Basic mid-range
Entry level

Product

Image
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Product Image
Samsung Galaxy S23+ Product Image
Samsung Galaxy S23 Product Image
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Product Image
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Product Image
Samsung Galaxy A54 Product Image
Samsung Galaxy A34 Product Image
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Product Image

Review

Review: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Review: Galaxy S23+

Review: Galaxy S23

Not yet tested

Hands-on: Galaxy S23 FE

Review: Galaxy S21 FE

Review: Galaxy A54

Review: Galaxy A34

Review: Galaxy A14 5G

Display

6.8-inch LTPO OLED
3,088 x 1,440 pixels
120 Hz refresh rate

6.6-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080
120 Hz

6.1-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080
120 Hz

6,4-inch OLED
2.340 x 1.080
120 Hz

6,4-inch OLED
2.340 x 1.080
120 Hz

6.4-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080
120 Hz

6.6-inch OLED
2,340 x 1,080
120 Hz

6.6-inch LCD
2408 x 1080
90 Hz

SoC

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US)
Exynos 2200 (Global)

Snapdragon 888 (USA)
Exynos 2100 (Global)

RAM

Memory

256 / 512 / 1024 GB UFS 4.0

128 GB UFS 3.1
256 GB UFS 4.0

128 GB UFS 3.1
256 GB UFS 4.0

OS

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 12 + One UI 4
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
4 system upgrades
5 years of security updates

Android 13 + One UI 5.1
2 system upgrades
4 years of security updates

Camera

Main: 200 MP, f/1.7, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto 3x: 10 MP, f/2.4
Telephoto 10x: 10 MP, f/4.9

Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto 3x: 10 MP, f/2.4

Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto 3x: 10 MP, f/2.4

Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto 3x: 8 MP, f/2.4

Main: 12 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2
Telephoto 3x: 8 MP, f/2.4

Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2
Macro: 5 MP, f/2.4

Main: 48 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2
Macro: 5 MP, f/2.4

Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4
Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4

Front-camera

Battery

5.000 mAh
45 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
4.5 W reverse wireless charging

4.700 mAh
45 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
4.5 W reverse wireless charging

3.900 mAh
25 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
4.5 W reverse wireless charging

4.500 mAh
25 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
4.5 W reverse wireless charging

4.500 mAh
25 W wired charging
15 W wireless charging
4.5 W reverse wireless charging

5,000 mAh
25 W wired charging
 
 

5,000 mAh
25 W wired charging
 
 

5,000 mAh
15 W wired charging
 
 

Connectivity

5G | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC | UWB

5G | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC | UWB

5G | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC

5G | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC

5G | Wi-Fi 6 | Bluetooth 5.0 | NFC

5G | Wi-Fi 6 | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC

5G | Wi-Fi 6 | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC

5G | Wi-Fi 5 | Bluetooth 5.2

IP Certification

Dimensions and weight

3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 in, 8.25 oz
163,4 x 78,1 x 8,9 mm, 233 g

3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 in, 6.91 oz
157,8 x 76,2 x 7,6 mm, 195 g

2.79 x 5.76 x 0.3 in, 5.93 oz
146,3 x 70,9 x 7,6 mm, 168 g

6.22 x 3.01 x 0.32, 7.4 oz
76,5 x 158 x 8,2 mm, 209 g

6.13 x 2.93 x 0.31 in, 6.24 oz
155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm, 177 g

6.23 x 3.02 x 0.32 in, 7.13 oz
158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm, 202 g

6.35 x 3.07 x 0.32 in, 7.02 oz
161.3 x 78.1 x 8.2 mm, 199 g

6.60 x 3.07 x 0.36 in, 7.13 oz
167.7 x 78.0 x 9.1mm, 202 g

Offer*

After the release of the Galaxy S23 range in February 2023, Samsung showed its hand for the 2023 flagship season, followed by the Galaxy A class in March, and the announcement of the S23 FE model for the US market in October (2024 in the EU). the question in shoppers’ minds is which phone model to buy. Is it worth going for the high-end S line or is the A range good enough? Keep reading to find a general overview of the two phone families and see if you should go “A or S”.

Even though Samsung is moving its mid-range more and more into the upper class in terms of specs, there are definitely reasons why the manufacturer keeps its smartphone series separate. Therefore, we will start by looking at the differences between the two smartphone series.

Table of contents:

Galaxy A and Galaxy S: What are the differences?
These models were released in 2022 and 2023
What do “A” and “S” really stand for
Differences between A and S also apply to tablets

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Samsung Galaxy A54

These are the differences between “A” and “S”

The smartphone market is divided into segments such as “flagship”, “mid-range”, or “entry-level” models. Samsung’s flagship range has always been the S series, while it also produces mid-range models in the form of the A-series. New technologies like the powerful quad-camera setup in the Galaxy S23 Ultra are usually found in the more expensive models.

The S Pen is also compatible with Samsung’s most expensive smartphones alone. Since 2022, the manufacturer also decided to reintegrate the stylus into the housing of one of the Galaxy models. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is thus the official replacement of the Galaxy Note series. As with Samsung’s legendary phablets, you can store the S Pen at the bottom of the housing.

In terms of build quality, you can also expect higher-quality materials like metal frames and glass elements in the S series. Samsung uses shatterproof Gorilla Glass Victus 2 in all models of the S23 range, and thus offers a particularly high-quality look and feel.

When you think about the Galaxy S lineup, build quality is consistently higher compared to the current A-series models. While the Galaxy A models are built with a plast polycarbonate housing, the Galaxy S23 series debuted Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2, promising more resistance.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Hand
The Galaxy S23 Ultra packs everything the South Korean brand has to offer in terms of features. / © nextpit

In addition to new technologies and build quality, you can also expect better performance with the S series handsets. Samsung traditionally used its own SoCs from the Exynos series in Europe and their Snapdragon counterparts in the US but the S23 line is equipped globally with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, with a clock speed bump that deserved the suffix “For Galaxy”.

In the mid-range, Samsung traditionally uses its own processors. Thus, the Galaxy A53 and the Galaxy A33 use the Exynos 1280, while the A54 is powered by its successor, the Exynos 1380. Contrary to what usually happens in the flagship arena, mid-range Exynos processors offer a good balance between performance and battery consumption, performing well in nextpit’s reviews.

Compared with the S-series, however, Samsung’s new A models offer significantly larger batteries. While the Galaxy S23 offers a battery with just 3,900 milliamp hours, the manufacturer packs a hefty 5,000 milliamp hours into both the A53/A54 and A33/A34. Another advantage is the option to expand the internal storage with a micro-SD card in the Galaxy A models.

However, you have to make allowances for the cameras in the mid-range models. Both A53 and A33 come with a quad-camera, which contains rather useless sensors for macro photography and depth information, thankfully, the latter was dropped in the A34/A54 duo. Samsung now offers setups with wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, and telephoto cameras across the board in the S-series.

Galaxy A34 camera module
The 2023 Galaxy A models adopted the triple camera setup (and design) found on the premium S line. / © nextpit

The Galaxy A line briefly had a telephoto (optical zoom) option on 2021’s A72 model, but not only it was dropped on the next year’s Galaxy A73, that model wasn’t even launched in North America or most European countries.

If you value long-term software support for both operating system versions and general security updates, all Galaxy S models and the premium A models (A54 and A34 ranges) promise four major Android upgrades and five years of security patches. However, entry-level Galaxy A models usually receive up to two system upgrades and four years of security updates.

When it comes to water and dust protection, the flagship S series is rated for better resistance with an IP68 certification, while the upper A series models (e.g. A54 and A34) are rated as IP67. Lower-end Galaxy A (e.g. A23, A14, A04) are not dust or water-resistant.

These models were released in 2022 and 2023

Four models from the Galaxy S and Galaxy A series have already been released in 2023. Beyond that, the purchase of older models from 2022 is still worth considering since they are available as new devices with a warranty and sufficient update policy. You can find an overview of all models in the following table.

Galaxy A and Galaxy S recent releases

With a click on the respective device model, you will be able to obtain more information about that handset. These are links to our reviews, or—if not yet tested by us—to the overview pages of the models. We already published our first impressions about the Galaxy S23 models, and are already waiting for the 2023 Galaxy A updates.

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Samsung Galaxy S23

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Samsung Galaxy S23+

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

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Samsung Galaxy A53

This is what the letters “A” and “S” stand for in reality

Of course, Samsung’s two device classes are a part of the company’s marketing strategy that the company has been pursuing for a few years now. The first S model, which was simply called the Galaxy S, was released in 2010. Here, the “S” does not stand for the “Super AMOLED” display which it used before and as many have assumed, but rather, it stands for “Super Smart”.

The “A” in “Galaxy A,” on the other hand, stands for a somewhat less spectacular “Alpha”. Other Samsung designations include “Y” for “Young”, “C” for “China”, “M” for “Magic”, and “J” for “Joy”. Well, aren’t those fun facts to remember as trivia?

Differences between A and S also apply to tablets

If you are not only interested in Samsung’s small-screen devices, you should take a look at Samsung’s tablets. As you can read in our Samsung tablet buying guide, there is also a difference between the Galaxy S and Galaxy A. Along with the Galaxy Z updates in mid-2023, Samsung also launched the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 with the Tab S9+ and Tab S9 Ultra models.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
The Galaxy Tab S9 family offers models with screen sizes between 11 and 14.6 inches! / © nextpit

And just like on the smartphone line-up, the Galaxy Tab family offers a similar level of differentiation between the premium Tab S and the entry-level Tab A series: Better build quality, faster processors, stylus support, and even water resistance on the newer Galaxy Tab S9 tablets. There are even Fan Edition tablets (which basically replace the older “Lite” alternatives). 

Which Samsung device series do you find to be more exciting? Do you prefer the A-series or the new S-series that was released this year?

Article updated in November 2023. Older comments were kept and may appear out of context.

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