Cowon A5




  • JetEffect audio software is great
  • Pleasant UI
  • Expandable memory


  • Huge body, given storage
  • No Google Play store
  • Resistive touchscreen
  • So-so display

Key Features

  • Review Price: £229.00
  • 4.8in 800 x 480 pixel TFT screen
  • Resistive touchscreen
  • JetEffect sound engine
  • Android 2.3 OS w/ custom UI
  • 1GHz CPU, 800MHz video chip, Mali GPU
  • microSD slot
  • 32GB/64GB storage
View All

Gadgets like the Cowon A5 are an endangered species. Calling itself a PMP, or portable media player, it’s the sort of device that was popular a half-decade ago – since whittled away into obscurity by big-screen phones. Can this 4.8in screen portable bring the portable video and audio player back to the spotlight?

One of the Cowon A5’s top claims for up-to-date-ness is that it runs Android, Google’s smartphone and tablet operating system. It opens up the handheld to all sorts of fun functionality, but also serves to emphasise quite how tubby a device this is.

Cowon A5 1
The Cowon A5 has a large 4.8in screen, but now that slim top-end smartphones have similar-sized screens, we can’t just forget the girth in view of screen size. At 15mm thick, and with a generous screen bezel and curvaceous body, we found the PMP a little too large to fit comfortably into pockets. Giant phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 get by on portability by being so slim, but with sat-nav-like dimensions, the A5 doesn’t.

Another possible excuse for a big ‘ole booty is the use of a hard drive. We forgave last year’s Cowon X7‘s tubby frame because it offered 120GB or 160GB of internal storage – way more than any popular solid state MP3 player. However, once again the Cowon A5 fails to make up a good excuse. It uses 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, as offered by the ultra-slim iPod touch.

Cowon A5
A voluptuous body makes the Cowon A5 pretty comfortable to hold, but we have no idea why the device is quite as big as it is. It makes the A5 feel dated, and dramatically reduces the convenience factor. If it’s pocket-bound, it’s going to take up a whole pocket.
Cowon A5 5

Build quality is good – the A5 is made of white plastic – but doesn’t have the high-end luxury feel of metal bodied-slim players. Cowon writes on the player’s back that it is “inspired by pottery. Without the unnecessary bells and whistles, the motif of the design is simple and innocent.” Fair enough, Cowon, but we found it more “quaint and confusing” given quite how far off current design trends it is.

And for a device that claims to leave out “bells and whistles”, the Cowon A5 provides very good on-body connectivity. On its left edge, when held in landscape, there’s a white plastic flap that hides the microUSB charge/data socket, a microSD slot and HDMI video output.

Cowon A5 3

Alongside it is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not only does this comprise everything you need, its connectivity is well-done too. The slap cover ensures the sockets don’t ruin the A5’s ergonomics and the headphone jack is placed sensibly enough not to become a nuisance whether the PMP is held upright or on its side.

Cowon A5 4

The Cowon A5’s design begs to be held in landscape orientation, though, with four touch sensitive Google navigation buttons subtly laid-out in bottom part of the screen bezel. Design-wise they blend-in well, but we found that they’re a bit buggy. They occasionally fire off (there’s a vibrate function used as standard when they’re pressed) on their own, or flat-out refuse to respond until the A5 is reset.

This became the most frustrating factor of our time with the Cowon. It may be fixed in a firmware update, but it’s frequently infuriating as-is – especially as the worst offender, the back button, is the most commonly used of the lot.

Cowon A5 2

Other on-body features include the internal speaker on its bottom and the volume rocker and power button up top. For a device this size, we were disappointed to hear that the speaker isn’t as good as that of an iPhone, lacking warmth and body. Sound is output in mono too.

More from TrustedReviews

LG Q8 finally brings the V20’s promise to Europe

Atari is now in the speaker business… and the hat business

Thinner Moto Z2 Force could come with a huge trade-off

HyperLoop One

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop gathering pace as NY-DC link gets ‘OK’


Is this proof an N64 Classic will follow the SNES?

Agents of Mayhem preview

cats 17

Why you’ll want to download this OnePlus 5 update today

Golf rory

British Open Golf Live Stream: How to watch online for free

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for Xbox One down to under £9

Samsung Gear S3 finally gets Samsung Pay support in UK

Welcome to the all new Trusted Reviews

Netgear Arlo

Netgear Arlo Pro

Cat Amazon

Are you kitten me? Pet translation devices tipped for future smart homes

fire emblem warriors

Fire Emblem Warriors


Pokkén Tournament DX

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb 5

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay now lets you use your PayPal funds at the checkout

assassins creed origins

Ubisoft teases new games for Nintendo Switch, coming ‘quite soon’

amazon echo

Ask Vodafone: Mobile network’s first Amazon Alexa voice skill is revealed

Google Feed

The Google app’s new personalised feed might just drag you off Facebook

z2play 9

Moto Z2 Play

Mira Prism

For just $99 you can bring AR to the iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S9 displays may be the same, save one major new feature

movie theatre

The Netflix Effect: ‘Binge-watching’ is coming to movie theatres

Porsche MIssion E

Porsche’s latest electric car chargers put Tesla to shame

EE logo

EE’s new 20GB SIM-free deal is the best value tariff you’ll see all summer


These are the first images from the ISS – as captured by a zero-gravity drone

iMac 21.5-inch 4K (2017)

LG V30 case

LG V30 design ‘confirmed’ ahead of IFA 2017 launch

iPhone 7 vs iPhone SE

Waiting for the iPhone SE 2? Sadly, it could be a one-and-done

Google Glass Enterprise

Google Glass 2 has arrived, sort of

Denon AH-C621R

Denon AH-C621R

BBC Proms

Get ready to listen to the BBC Proms like never before

Fender Newport Monterey Bluetooth speakers

Fender’s new Bluetooth speakers look just like tiny guitar amps

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Garmin Vivosmart 3


Is the laptop travel ban dead? Electronics restrictions lifted by TSA but UK fails to follow suit

KitSound Immerse

KitSound Immerse Wireless Headphones


It’s World Emoji Day and Apple is showing off all of its newcomers

Porn Block

Privacy fears as UK plans age verification for porn sites


New WhatsApp feature could give Apple’s iMessage a run for its money