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Samsung Galaxy A5 review

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Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Classy design

  • Water-resistant
  • Bright, vivid screen

Cons

  • Old, ugly software

  • Not on Android Nougat (yet)

Key Features

  • Full metal unibody design
  • Snapdragon 615 CPU
  • 16-megapixel, f/1.9 rear camera
  • 16-megapixel, f/1.9 front camera
  • 32GB storage, microSD expansion
  • IP68 water resistance
  • USB-C
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £369.00

What is the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)?

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is the sort of phone that has me questioning why the vast majority of people should buy a flagship device. After all, when a £369.99 device ticks almost all of the right boxes, why pay more?

For the first time, Samsung has more convincingly brought the high-quality flagship DNA down to the mid-range, which makes the A5 the first non-flagship phone from the Korean company that’s easy to recommend.

If it wasn’t for some slight build quality issues, and the OnePlus 3T's baiting price, this could be the perfect mid-range phone.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) – Design and Build

Place the Samsung Galaxy A5 next to the Galaxy S7 and you’d be hard-pushed to immediately tell the difference between the two. Considering the Galaxy S7 was one of 2016's best-looking phones, that’s strong praise.

The A5's proportions are perfect; and that’s still a rarity in cheaper handsets. The majority of well-specced budget phones tend to have a 5.5-inch screen or bigger, but the 5.2-inch panel here reduces the size of the phone overall. The bezel is kept to a minimum and the ever so slightly curved back makes the device easy to hold in one hand.

There are even some design quirks that give the Galaxy A5 one over on its loftier Galaxy S7 sibling. The pastel colours – pink, blue and gold – are all subtle and attractive, while my review model takes a note from the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus and is black all over. It’s a stealthy look that I'm sure will be one of the colour options available when the Galaxy S8 is announced.

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I'm a huge fan of the Galaxy A5's look, but I’m not so keen on the corners that have been cut to hit the lower price tag.

The back panel is a scratch-magnet and picks up grease and smudges within only seconds of use. There also appear to be some quality assurance issues, especially with my review unit. Following a week of use, the back panel has come slightly loose and there’s a noticeable sound whenever you apply pressure. It’s a small issue, but something you wouldn’t find on a flagship Samsung product.

The headphone jack is on the bottom of the device, as it always should be, next to a USB Type-C port – the only on-sale Samsung phone with this reversible connection – and that’s it. In a strange move, Samsung has switched the speaker to the top side. This works surprisingly well, and although it isn't a fantastic speaker, its position means it won’t be obstructed by your hand when you’re watching landscape video.

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While the Samsung is rumoured to be ditching the physical home button and capacitive "Back" and "Overview" keys on the Galaxy S8, they’re still present on the A5.

It's odd that the company has chosen to stick with them for so long, considering Android has very capable on-screen controls, but at least you get a fast fingerprint scanner on the front. It can’t quite match the Huawei and Honor handsets for sheer fingerprint scanning speed and accuracy, but it gets the job done.

The microSD card slot – which can handle up to 256GB cards, upping the base 32GB – combines with the nano-SIM on the top, while the clicky volume keys sit on the left. I’m a little annoyed that there’s no LED notification light on the front, but that’s something of a luxury at this price.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S8 – news and rumours

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However, the biggest upgrade over the A5 from last year is the addition of an IP68 certification, which means your device will survive a dunk in a meter of water for around 30 minutes. While I wouldn’t advise you bathe with the phone, at least you know that your handset will recover from being caught in a rain shower.

Buy Now at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) – Display

There’s plenty to like about the AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy A5 – and, to my eyes at least – it’s just as good as the panel on the OnePlus 3.

The 1080p FHD resolution is perfectly acceptable at both this size and price, while the use of AMOLED, rather than LCD, results in providing extra oomph to bright colours.

Blacks are deep and inky, while reds and greens aren’t oversaturated. Samsung’s more budget-conscious AMOLED displays used to suffer from garish hues – but thankfully, this isn't an issue any more. Brightness is good, too, with a strong range between the lowest and highest settings.

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Samsung has added a number of software tweaks to alter the display. To be honest, though, I think the default "Adaptive display" setting is best. A colour slider lets you manually manage blues, greens and reds – but again, I feel it’s best left as it is.

The "Blue Light Filter" mode, which is similar to Night Shift on iOS, will remove certain blue light the comes off the screen, giving it an orangey tinge. You're supposed to limit the amount of blue light you look at just before bed to aid sleep, and it’s a nice to see such a feature here.

toboev

January 9, 2015, 10:18 am

"The manufacturer has been repeatedly criticised in the past for its shoddy build quality..."
Really? You seem to confuse the materials of construction with the quality of construction. Many 'commentators' have banged on about Samsung's use of polycarbonate, but I don't think anyone has seriously accused Samsung of screwing its phones together shoddily.

Much as you say, the use of metal is about the "the look and feel of the device", a subjective dimension, and nothing to do with build quality.

Simon

March 3, 2015, 10:16 am

So - this phone has worse specs than a Nexus 5 or LG G2 but yet costs the same or more (at least where I live). Who would pay more for less?

John

March 25, 2015, 6:23 pm

Reminds me of my S2.

Dave

March 26, 2015, 9:57 am

You've given a phone 8/10 that costs more than the LG G3 yet has far inferior specs? Huh?

Deon Pretorius

May 28, 2015, 12:15 pm

Design gets 10/10 but Calls & Sound gets 7/10. a Phone should be a phone first and then all the other stuff. Fail.

fonix232

July 21, 2015, 9:38 am

Samsungs use of polycarbonate was sloppy at best. All my friends S3-S5s are squeaky, bend easily, and don't give off a quality feeling (not to mention they scratch incredibly easily).

The A5 shows quality build from the first moment, and then when you actually use it, you can feel how much difference there is, even compared to e.g. a Grand Prime (which has mostly the same specs).

Nitin

August 17, 2015, 4:28 am

This phone is oveall good. specially for look display and Camera.
but bad FM radio connectivity. and can not use 2 sim and SD card simultaneously.

MichaelPri

September 2, 2015, 5:05 am

Avoid the G2, it's a technical nightmare, starting from a GPS that never works.

Sanchita Banik

October 16, 2015, 10:16 am

Sumsung Galaxy A5, most worst phone. I purchased it on
26/10/15 for Rs: 21,900/-. Just used for 7 days and Display light had gone
suddenly, without touching anything. Then i went to a Sumsung service center at
Jayanagar 3rd block, Bangalore. They informed me, it's Display has been
damaged. So it will not come under warranty services and i have to pay Rs:
9000/- to repair it.

Samsung simply running their mobile repairing shop with the
name of service center. They are providing low quality technology with high
price by the using their previous Brand Value. But this Brand you can compare
with a local Chinese mobile now. Govt
and courts should insist on stringent penalty if quality compromises are
evidenced. Samsung is known for quality but don't know what is happening these
days.

Mobile Price

February 9, 2016, 8:29 am

+ Its best in look, rounded shape, slip piece and just a beautiful look, having no problems to use, it can use easily and have a great processor,It has a good operating system.

..

-The main negative point is its battery life is not good, its not good in response time, take more times when rebooting.

Julia Rodrigues

July 25, 2016, 12:02 pm

Now buy Samsung phones at a discount online only at NewSmartphoneDeals;com

Den List

November 15, 2016, 6:35 pm

Samsung Galaxy A5 in itself is good, but Uhans H5000 is cheaper, has a large memory and battery capacity

iFrank

February 8, 2017, 2:17 pm

Max, Re A5 2017;
I agree with your conclusion, despite this initial price and it was good that you acknowledge the purpose of Touchwiz is to provide facilties over and above Basic Android.
The very reason that what it facilities is popular with the wider public and each iteration of Android endeavours to follow the route shown by Samsung.
@fonix232.
I had Note1and other Samsungs, it did not creek or feel at all cheap and I never, ever, thought 'This needs Premium materials' or 'This software with useful features like the FM radio including the ability to record is "bloat" and should be scaled back to basic phone call making like some other phones'.
On the contrary I adored the screen and S Planner, the then best calender implementation since Lotus Smartsuite.

iFrank

February 8, 2017, 2:23 pm

You may be interested to to revisit this old (2015) review, updated for the 2017 version.

toboev

February 9, 2017, 9:50 pm

"Samsung’s weak point for many years has been a disappointing software
experience, mostly because of its over complicated TouchWiz UI"

Ha! "For many years" TW has already enjoyed features which only now are being slowly drip-fed into 'stock' Android. Strange how all those years ago in TW the same features now fêted as must-have Marshmallow/Nougat goodness were then derided as a "disappointing software experience".

digitalponsel

February 11, 2017, 2:44 pm

hi, can you give me the phone? :D we want to review for unboxing sir

Crystal Glimmer

February 15, 2017, 1:53 am

Spent 3 grand on a Samsung 2016 SUHD TV. The power cord is so loose it falls out when someone walks next to the TV. Stuff happens and even though this IS a manufacturer's defect I figured well - stuff happens! I contacted Samsung thinking they would make it better. Not only did they NOT make it better they told me too bad, so sad but we aren't GOING to make it better. We got your 3 thousand dollars and don't care that your product is shoddy, go away!

Hmm. Didn't expect that. It's not like I dropped it in a bath tub! It came with a faulty power cord! Or faulty plug. Not sure - just know - IT CAME THAT WAY! And they don't care. The choice was down to Samsung or LG and I chose Samsung cause I thought they had a good reputation. Not so. They don't care about their reputation! Don't reward them for shoddy work and non existent support! DON'T buy Samsung - you will be as sorry you did! I sure am!

Kyler Barrett

March 29, 2017, 12:55 am

but it is not waterproof and has a slower processor and worse screen resolution (only 720p)

Matt Welford

April 7, 2017, 11:33 am

(Samsung won't upload my review unless it's 5 star. I was trying to upload a 2 star review. Ho-hum)

It's amazing to think this represents 2 years technological progress since I got my old LG G2.

It doesn't appear to be any faster even on the most processor heavy games (which my G2 has never struggled with anyway). The speakers are weak, the new version/custom version of android on this is gruesome to use. Don't people realise the functionality of iPhones are disgusting to Android users? Why are you trying to copy this?

After a few days test you then notice the things you used to rely on - like I can't get force feedback working on key presses, something that is a massive aid to typing and soft buttons. It also has no IR facility, so I can no longer control my TV and Sky+ box with it. I can't double-tap to switch it on/off and has hard buttons on the edges which are too easy to press.

The screen is the same size but the phone is about 1cm longer, 0.5cm wider, about 0.25cm thicker and very noticeably heavier than my G2. It can't just be a bigger battery because it's power level got mullered in a few simple tests.

Still, the camera is good and the case nice. Just what a "phone" is about...

In short this offers nothing other than an example of how smartphone technological progress has completely stalled in recent years. I took it back and swapped it for an LG G5 SE which has none of the A5's downsides so I'll be keeping it.

Matt Welford

April 7, 2017, 11:35 am

Yep. I have a G2 and the A5 utter crap in comparison. It has nothing over it that is worth anything.

Tweakdroid Ade

April 29, 2017, 7:01 pm

Really?

Brett Lithgow

May 5, 2017, 12:06 am

save your money don't buy one 2017 model
The one I bought lasted two months then bottom section of screen froze

Sam A

May 7, 2017, 9:59 pm

The internet on the phone sucks, whether I'm using WiFi or not. There's a 50/50 chance I have to open a new tab to load the page I want because it either won't load or will take awhile to load. I want my Galaxy S5 back!

begar

June 6, 2017, 11:50 am

SAMSUNG is a joke.

I bought a top model refrigerator for 2300 euros.
Now its broken.

Oficial Samsung Service, charged me 500 euros for repairs.

After 60 days, the fridge is still NOT functioning, and all i get from SAMSUNG help desk ist the same disgusting message: We are very sorry, we will try to repair as soon as possible.

I will never again buy anything from SAMSUNG.

cree

June 7, 2017, 9:19 am

hmm, for me looks like that doesn't matter does phone is lying on the table with internet off or you using it with internet on, battery drainage is almost the same... maybe tiny, tiny different.
Design is beautiful, but it is very slippery

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