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Samsung Galaxy A or S: What's the difference?

samsung galaxy a52 vs galaxy s22
© Samsung / NextPit

Galaxy S or Galaxy A—which smartphone series is the right one for you? In this article, we explain the differences between Samsung's Galaxy series and introduce you to the current models. We will also guide you to current reviews and offers that will help you find the right phone.

  Basic model S-series Plus model S-series Ultra model S-series Fan Edition S Series Base Model A-Series Low-priced model A-series
Product
Image Samsung Galaxy S22 Samsung Galaxy S22+ Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Ein Bild des Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Das Samsung Galaxy A53 Ein Bild des Samsung Galaxy A33
Technical data 6.1 inch, Dynamic AMOLED
2400x1080 pixels
Exynos 2200 (Europe)
128 / 256 GB ROM
8 GB RAM
Triple camera
Main camera: 50 MP
Ultra wide angle: 12 MP
Telephoto camera: 10 MP
3700 mAh
February 2022









6.6 inch, Dynamic AMOLED
2400x1080 pixels
Exynos 2200 (Europe)
128 / 256 GB ROM
8 GB RAM
Triple camera
Main camera: 50 MP
Ultra wide angle: 12 MP
Telephoto camera: 10 MP
4500 mAh
February 2022









6.8 inch, Dynamic AMOLED
3088x1440 pixels
Exynos 2200 (Europe)
128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB ROM
8 / 12 GB RAM
Quad camera
Main camera: 108 MP
Ultra wide angle: 12 MP
Telephoto camera 1: 10 MP
Telephoto camera 2: 10 MP
5000 mAh
February 2022










6.4 inch, Dynamic AMOLED
1,080 x 2,400 pixels
Snapdragon 888
128 GB / 256 GB
6 / 8 GB RAM
Triple camera
Main camera: 12 MP
Ultra wide angle: 8 MP
Telephoto camera: 12 MP
Selfies: 32 MP
4,500 mAh
January 2022










6.5 inch, Super AMOLED
1,080 x 2,400 pixels
Exynos 1280 (Europe)
128 / 256 GB ROM
6 / 8 GB RAM
Quad camera
Main camera: 64 MP
Ultra wide angle: 12 MP
Depth: 5 MP
Macro: 5 MP
Selfie: 32 MP
5,000 mAh
April 2022











6.4 inch, Super AMOLED
1,080 x 2,400 pixels
Exynos 1280 (Europe)
128 ROM
6 RAM
Quad camera
Main camera: 48 MP
Ultra wide angle: 8 MP
Depth: 2 MP
Macro: 5 MP
Selfie: 32 MP
5,000 mAh
April 2022











Advantages
  • "Real" telephoto cameras at last
  • Samsung builds the best displays - period
  • Smaller and easier to handle
  • Finally, faster Quick Charging in the Plus model
  • "Real" telephoto cameras at last
  • Samsung builds the best displays - period
  • Excellent 120Hz QHD+ display
  • Very elegant sleek and square design
  • More consistent S Pen integration
  • Still the champion when it comes to versatile photos
  • Unrivalled Android update policy
  • Bright, smooth, fast 120 Hz Amoled screen
  • Solid Snapdragon 888 performance without overheating
  • Clean and modern design
    Photo module
  • Effective night mode
  • 3 Android versions and 4 years of security updates
  • IP68 certified
  • Bright, smooth and responsive 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Snapdragon 888 performance without overheating issues
  • Neat and modern design (despite all the plastic)
  • Convincing wide-angle and 3x zoom camera module
  • Night Mode works great
  • 3 major Android versions and 4 years of security updates
  • IP68 certification
  • Powerful AMOLED display
  • Decent performance in everyday use
  • Great software support
  • Capable main camera
Disadvantages
  • Few significant improvements
  • Very small battery in the base model and only at 25-watts charging speed
  • Memory is not expandable
  • SoC advantages remain to be seen
  • Few significant improvements
  • Memory is not expandable
  • SoC advantages remain to be seen
  • Disappointing Exynos 2200 performance
  • Poor battery life
  • Fast recharge is not fast enough and the $60 charger is not included
  • Expensive price
  • Basic 8 GB RAM/128 GB storage configuration is too limited
  • Poor battery life
  • Outdated 25-watt quick charging
  • No microSD port and no jack socket
  • Charger not included in the box
  • Plastic back
  • Price hardly competitive
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Archaic 25-watt fast charging
  • No microSD port or 3.5mm audio jack
  • Charger is not included in the box
  • Price is not competitive
  • A bit too expensive
  • No wireless charging support
  • Rather slow Quick-Charging
  • No charger included
  • No headphone jack
Rating
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With the release of the Galaxy A53 and Galaxy A33 in April 2022, Samsung's most important smartphone series are ready for the 2022—in addition to the "Galaxy Z" foldables. Thus, the question of which Samsung phones you should opt for arises again. Besides the linked general overview with the best Samsung phones, we focus on the question "A or S" here?

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.

Jump to:

  1. Galaxy A and Galaxy S: What are the differences?
  2. These models were released in 2021 and 2022
  3. What do "A" and "S" really stand for
  4. Differences between A and S also apply to tablets

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 S22 Ultra are usually found in the more expensive models.

The S Pen is also compatible with Samsung's most expensive smartphones alone. In 2022, the manufacturer also decided to reintegrate the stylus into the housing of one of the Galaxy models. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is thus the official replacement of the Galaxy Note series. As with Samsung's legendary phablets, you can put the S Pen in 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+ in all models of the S22 range, and thus offers a particularly high-quality look and feel.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Models like the Galaxy S22 Ultra are characterized by a very high build quality / © NextPit

When you think about the Galaxy S lineup, build quality is consistently higher compared to the current A-series models. The polycarbonate simply feels more premium in the Galaxy S21 model than the Galaxy A53, and you'll find metal elements on the frame or camera of the phone. Also, Samsung finally ditched polycarbonate from the Galaxy S22 series.

In addition to new technologies and build quality, you can also expect better performance with the S series handsets. Samsung usually uses its own SoCs from the Exynos series in Europe and their Snapdragon counterparts in the US. Find out more about Samsung's latest smartphone processor in our SoC "Best of" list.

With the next generation, i.e. the Galaxy S23, Samsung is rumored to change this course again and then probably rely on Qualcomm's new flagship SoC—the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2!

In the mid-range, Samsung also dares to use its own processors in 2022. Thus, the Galaxy A53 and also the Galaxy A33 use the Exynos 1280. While we are still waiting for our review units of the A33 and A53, we cannot yet say much about the performance of Samsung's new mid-range processors.

Compared with the S-series, however, Samsung's new A models offer significantly larger batteries. While the Galaxy S22 offers a battery with just 3,700 milliamp hours, the manufacturer packs a hefty 5,000 milliamp hours into both the A53 and A33. Another advantage is the option to expand the internal storage with a micro-SD card.

However, you have to make allowances for the cameras. Both models come with a quad-camera, which contains rather useless sensors for macro photography and depth information. Samsung now offers setups with wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras across the board in the S-series.

Samsung Galaxy A72 camera module highlighted
You'll also find a telephoto camera in the Galaxy A72, which is surprising! / © NextPit

A negligible factor when choosing between Galaxy A and Galaxy S is the guarantee of software updates. The lower IP67 certification against water and dust is almost on par with the IP68 certification of the top models. And the update policy of four major Android generations and five years of security updates is also available for all models in the table at the beginning of this article.

These models were released in 2021 and early 2022

Six models from the Galaxy S and Galaxy A series have already been released in 2022. Beyond that, the purchase of older models from 2021 is still worthwhile since they are available as new devices with warranty and sufficient update warranty. You can find an overview of all models in the following table.

Galaxy A and Galaxy S recent releases

Samsung Galaxy A series Samsung Galaxy S series
Samsung Galaxy A53 (Review) Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A33 (Review) Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A72 (Review) Samsung Galaxy S22 (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G (Review) Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A52 Samsung Galaxy S21+ (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G (Review) Samsung Galaxy S21 (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A32  
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G  
Samsung Galaxy A12  

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 impressions about the Galaxy S22 models, and are already working on tests for the new A-series devices.

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".

Were you aware of Samsung's smartphone naming convention?
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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 S22, Samsung also launched the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 with the Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra models.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 line
These are the new Galaxy Tab S8 series / © NextPit

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 had already been released a few months earlier, which is more of a price-performance ratio. You see, Samsung's nomenclature can even be applied to other product classes. So it's not all that difficult!

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 October 2022, and older comments were kept.

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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