While the A7 isn’t a direct replacement for the S5, its design contains some handy pointers as to the direction the Samsung Galaxy S6 might take.
It also shows how far the notion of the mid-range Android phone has come in a relatively short timespan.
Related: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Design
Samsung Galaxy A7: 6.3mm thick, plastic back, metal rim, 141g
Samsung Galaxy S5: 8.1mm thick, soft plastic back, water resistant, 145g
When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S5 way back in the first half of 2014, we found its 8.1mm body to be slim. Nowadays, compared to many newer flagship phones, it’s positively chubby.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is no flagship phone, but it’s considerably slimmer than the S5. At 6.3mm thick, it’s thinner than the other two handsets in the A series, too.
But what’s truly noteworthy here is that the Samsung Galaxy A7 looks and feels like it’s of a higher grade than the Samsung Galaxy S5, despite its mid-range status.
That’s largely thanks to its real metal rim, as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5’s fake metal-effect plastic equivalent. Despite swapping plastic for metal, the Galaxy A7 is ever so slightly lighter than the Galaxy S5 at 141g.
All in all, you can tell that the Galaxy A7 and the Galaxy S5 are related – it’s just that the Galaxy A7 is the younger, prettier sibling.
The one design point in the Samsung Galaxy S5's favour is that it's much tougher than the A7, to the point that it's attained IP67 certification. Basically, it has a high degree of water and dust resistance, whereas we wouldn't take the A7 anywhere near a puddle or a beach.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Display
Samsung Galaxy A7: 5.5-inch, 720p, Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy S5: 5.1-inch, 1080p, Super AMOLED
Samsung has truly mastered AMOLED screen technology in recent years, managing to accentuate the technology’s positives – vibrant colours and deep blacks – and nullify many of the negatives – yellow-tinged whites and inaccurate colours.
The Samsung Galaxy S5’s 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen continues to be truly tremendous, even nine months on. It’s perfectly sharp enough at 1080p Full HD, too, despite more recent smartphones boasting QHD displays.
The Samsung Galaxy A7’s screen is actually a bit of a step back from the S5. True, it’s bigger at 5.5 inches, but its 720p resolution is also a fair bit less sharp.
Still, if the display on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, the A series’ precursor, is anything to go by, the Galaxy A7’s screen will be perfectly decent in its own right. Just not up to the Galaxy S5’s high standards.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Power
Samsung Galaxy A7: Quad-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 615 CPU, 64-bit, 2GB RAM
Samsung Galaxy S5: Quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU, 32-bit, 2GB RAM
The Snapdragon 801 CPU that powers the Galaxy S5 is still plenty powerful enough here at the start of 2015.
Indeed, while the Snapdragon 615 found in the Galaxy A7 is technically built on a more advanced 64-bit architecture – the Snapdragon 801 is 32-bit – it’s still the lesser chip of the two in terms of raw processing power. It’s clocked a lot lower, for one thing.
One area in which the A7’s chip does seem to gain the upper hand over the Galaxy S5’s is its GPU, which is the more advanced Adreno 405 next to the Galaxy S5’s Adreno 330. Both phones feature 2GB of RAM.
All in all, we’re looking at two strong performers here, but the Samsung Galaxy S5 appears to be the faster of the two.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Storage
Samsung Galaxy A7: 16GB, microSD
Samsung Galaxy S5: 16/32/64GB, microSD
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with the kind of three-pronged choice of storage that any good flagship phone should, the Samsung Galaxy A7 betrays its mid-range status by offering just the one limited model.
At 16GB, you’ll probably find yourself bumping up against the Galaxy A7’s storage limitations pretty swiftly. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 comes in a choice of 16, 32, or 64GB.
Both phones feature microSD card slots, however, so any potential fixed-storage shortage isn’t that much of an issue.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Camera
Samsung Galaxy A7: 13-megapixel rear, 5-megapixel front
Samsung Galaxy S5: 16-megapixel rear, ISOCELL 1/2.5-inch sensor, 2-megapixel front
We found the Samsung Galaxy S5 to have one of the stronger smartphone cameras of 2014. Its 16-megapixel ISOCELL sensor captured images quickly and with decent detail, given adequate lighting.
We’re not sure exactly which components have been used in the Samsung Galaxy A7 at this point, but we do know that it’ll be a 13-megapixel example. Whether that means it’s the exact same camera as can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which didn’t fall too far short of the S5, we’re not sure.
The A7 is an altogether cheaper device than the Alpha, and the camera is often the first component to be downgraded when manufacturers make an affordable flagship alternative.
One thing we do know is that the Galaxy A7 will have a better front-facing camera than the Galaxy S5 – 5-megapixel versus 2-megapixel.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Battery
Samsung Galaxy A7: 2600mAh
Samsung Galaxy S5: 2800mAh
One of the Samsung Galaxy S5’s strongest points is its 2800mAh battery, which lasts a good day and a half of moderate usage. It’s also removable, which means that you can carry a spare with you for extended trips.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 isn’t as immediately impressive. with a mere 2600mAh capacity. It’s also non-removable.
However, it’s worth remembering that the Galaxy A7 has a lower power, more efficient processor and a lower-resolution display, so it should still offer excellent performance.
Samsung Galaxy A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Software
Samsung Galaxy A7: Android 4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
Samsung Galaxy S5: Android 4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
Both phones currently run on Android 4.4.4 KitKat, but will be in line for an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Of course, both also feature Samsung’s busy TouchWiz UI, which layers on superfluous features and inelegant interface elements left, right, and centre.
Admittedly, Samsung has cleaned up its software act considerably in recent years, but neither of these phones is the place to come if you want to experience the Android OS at its clean, uncluttered best.
Samsung started along its road to design redemption with the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, and the Samsung Galaxy A7 is definitely in that same mould.
This means that it's instantly easier on the eyes and (almost certainly) hands than the Samsung Galaxy S5.
However, in more or less every other way the Samsung Galaxy S5 remains the better phone. It's more powerful, it has the superior display, it's tougher, and its camera is better.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 still a worthy flagship phone even here at the beginning of 2015, while the Samsung Galaxy A7 every inch the mid-ranger - albeit a very competent and unusually stylish one.