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

Galaxy A vs S Series
© sodawhiskey / Adobe Stock. Edit by nextpit

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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.

  2024 flagship
Galaxy S24 Ultra
2024 Plus model
Galaxy S24+
2024 compact model
Galaxy S24
2023 Fan Edition
Galaxy S23 FE
Intermediate
Galaxy A54
Basic mid-range
Galaxy A34
Entry level
Galaxy A14 5G
Image Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Product Image Samsung Galaxy S24+ Product Image Samsung Galaxy S24 Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Product Image Samsung Galaxy A54 Product Image Samsung Galaxy A34 Product Image Samsung Galaxy A14 5G Product Image
Review
Review: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Review: Samsung Galaxy S24+
Not yet tested
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Review: Samsung Galaxy A54
Review: Samsung Galaxy A34
Review: Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Price (MSRP)
  • $1300
  • $1000
  • $800
  • $600
  • $449.99
  • n/a
  • $199.99
Display
  • 6.8-inch LTPO OLED
    3120 x 1440 pixels
    120 Hz refresh rate
  • 6.7-inch OLED
    3120 x 1080
    120 Hz
  • 6.2-inch OLED
    2340 x 1080
    120 Hz
  • 6.4-inch OLED
    2340 x 1080
    120 Hz
  • 6.4-inch OLED
    2340 x 1080
    120 Hz
  • 6.6-inch OLED
    2340 x 1080
    120 Hz
  • 6.6-inch LCD
    2408 x 1080
    90 Hz
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (USA)
    Samsung Exynos 2400 (Global)
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (USA)
    Exynos 2400 (Global)
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (USA, China)
    Exynos 2200 (Global)
  • Exynos 1380
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1080
  • Exynos 1330 (US)
    Dimensity 700 (Global)
Memory
  • 12 GB LPDDR5X
    256 / 512 / 1024 GB UFS 4.0 storage
  • 12 GB LPDDR5X
    256 / 512 GB UFS 4.0 storage
  • 8 GB LPDDR5X RAM
    128 GB UFS 3.1 storage
    256 GB UFS 4.0 storage
  • 8 GB LPDDR5X RAM
    128 GB UFS 3.1
    256 GB UFS 4.0
  • 8 GB RAM
    128 / 256 GB storage
    microSD expansion
  • 6 / 8 GB RAM
    128 / 256 GB storage
    microSD expansion
  • 4 / 6 / 8 GB RAM
    64 / 128 GB storage
    microSD expansion
OS
  • One UI 6.1 over Android 14
    7 Android upgrades
    7 years of security updates
  • One UI 6.1 over Android 14
    7 Android upgrades
    7 years of security updates
  • One UI 6.1 over Android 14
    7 Android upgrades
    7 years of security updates
  • One UI 5.1 over Android 13
    4 Android upgrades
    5 years of security updates
  • One UI 5.1 over Android 13
    4 Android upgrades
    5 years of security updates
  • One UI 5.1 over Android 13
    2 Android upgrades
    4 years of security updates
  • One UI 5.1 over Android 13
    2 Android upgrades
    4 years of security updates
Camera
  • Main: 200 MP, f/1.7, OIS
    Ultra-wide: 12 MP, f/2.2
    Telephoto 3x: 10 MP, f/2.4
    Telephoto 5x: 50 MP, f/3.4
  • Main: 50 MP, f/1.8, OIS
    Ultra-wide: 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: 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: 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
  • 12 MP, f/2.2
  • 12 MP, f/2.2
  • 12 MP, f/2.2
  • 12 MP, f/2.4
  • 32 MP, f/2.2
  • 13 MP, f/2.2
  • 13 MP, f/2.0
Battery
  • 5.000 mAh
    45 W wired charging
    15 W wireless charging
    4.5 W reverse wireless charging
  • 4.900 mAh
    45 W wired charging
    15 W wireless charging
    4.5 W reverse wireless charging
  • 4.000 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 | eSIM | Wi-Fi 7 | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC | UWB
  • 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 7 (US) 6E (Global) | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC | UWB
  • 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 7 (US) 6E (Global) | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC | UWB
  • 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 6E | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC
  • 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 6 | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC
  • 5G | Wi-Fi 6 | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC
  • 5G | Wi-Fi 5 | Bluetooth 5.2
IP Certification
  • IP68
  • IP68
  • IP68
  • IP68
  • IP67
  • IP67
Dimensions and weight
  • 6.39 x 3.11 x 0.33 in, 8.18 oz
    162,3 x 79,0 x 8,6 mm, 232 g
  • 6.24 x 2.99 x 0.30 in, 6.91 oz
    158.5 x 75.9 x 7.7 mm, 196 g
  • 5.79 x 2.78 x 0.30 in, 5.89 oz
    147.0 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm, 167 g
  • 6.22 x 3.01 x 0.32, 7.4 oz
    76,5 x 158 x 8,2 mm, 209 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*

Samsung started 2024 with its annual update of its flagship Galaxy S family with three S24 models: S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra. With a Galaxy A refresh expected for later in the first semester of the year, and the recent launch of the S23 FE smartphone,  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:

  1. Galaxy A and Galaxy S: What are the differences?
  2. These models were released in 2022 and 2023
  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 S24 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 S24 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 S23 and basic S24 models, with Gorilla Armor on the S24 Ultra, 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 S series integrates Corning's Gorilla Glass also in the back, promising more resistance.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra's use of titanium makes it very similar in feel to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The Galaxy S24 Ultra not only marks the debut of Gorilla Glass Armor, but it also uses titanium on its frame. / © nextpit

In addition to new technologies and build quality, you can also expect better performance with the S series handsets. Expect faster processing speeds and gaming performance on the Galaxy S models, with the S24 generation back to the split between Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Samsung Exynos 2400 chips in different regions for the basic and plus models.

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 S24 offers a battery with just 4,000 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 2023 and 2024

Five models from the Galaxy S and Galaxy A series have already been released in 2024. Beyond that, older models from 2023 are 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

Samsung Galaxy A series Samsung Galaxy S series
Samsung Galaxy A54 (Review) Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A34 (Review) Samsung Galaxy S24+ (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G (Review) Samsung Galaxy S24
Samsung Galaxy A04e Samsung Galaxy S23 FE (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A04s Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A04 Samsung Galaxy S23+ (Review)
Samsung Galaxy A23 5G Samsung Galaxy S23 (Review)

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 S24 models, and are already waiting for the 2024 Galaxy A updates.

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 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 February 2024. Older comments were kept and may appear out of context.

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE

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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  • 2
    Buckeyeman50 7 months ago Link to comment

    Let me just say that after i purchased the A-53 3 days after it's release last year because it was of the software updates, and because i lost my S-21 and needed something quick, and a little cheaper for a while, until i was able to get it paid off, and then purchase a S-23 but after owning it for a year i will absolutely never buy another S series device ever again. The only thing the S-23 can do better is take photos.... PERIOD.... and unless you're a professional photographer, or have a YouTube show there's no way in my mind that i can justify paying well over 1200 dollars for a "phone" while i paid just around 400 from T-Mobile that can do anything that any S-Series device can do, and yeah there may be a milli second faster with some things, but honestly i haven't noticed a difference at all. And after it learned how i used it, it just optimized it to my habits using it. That i fell in love with it. And now, after leaving my A-53 on top of my car and jumping on the freeway, lol. i just purchased the A-54 and keep smiling all the way to the bank. So unless you just have to keep up with the Jones's, there's no reason for me to ever spend that type of money ever again on a "phone"..

    Rubens Eishima


    • Erin W 1
      Erin W 4 months ago Link to comment

      Thanks for that feedback. I'm always breaking my phones. You just sold me on the A54 that I was contemplating