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Samsung Galaxy A5 review: Software and Performance

By Max Parker

Updated:

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) – Performance

Keeping the Samsung Galaxy A5 chugging along is a brand-new octa-core Exynos 7880 CPU, with a slightly higher clock speed over its predecessor. However, it’s the 14nm manufacturing process that really makes it an interesting mid-range CPU.

A lower number here represents a more efficient processor, and this helps the Galaxy A5 achieve impressive stamina. General performance is good, with little to no lag, but it’s nowhere near as snappy as the only slightly more expensive OnePlus 3T.

Related: Best budget phones

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Apps, photos and and video streams run superbly, while media-heavy websites such as TrustedReviews load without a hitch in Chrome, and apps such as Instagram only occasionally hang when working on bigger tasks.

The 3GB of RAM is a given for a mid-ranger now, and it’s a decent middle-ground. Working simultaneously on a few apps is fine, but you’ll probably want to force-close intensive games if you have a few open.

The on-board Mali-T830 MP3 graphics are perfectly adequate, too. Asphalt 8 runs fine at Medium settings, while less-intensive titles such as Alto’s Adventure and Horizon Chase are equally as fast as on higher-end phones. You might notice slightly slower load times, but only if you place the Galaxy A5 next to the Galaxy S7.

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In the AnTuTu performance benchmark, the Galaxy A5 scored a little over 60,000, putting it slightly behind the Lenovo P2 – which happens to be significantly cheaper – and in the same area as the Moto Z Play and Asus ZenFone 3; it's ahead of the iPhone 6S Plus.

If, like me, you struggle with poor Wi-Fi reception at home, you might notice slightly weak performance when you’re some distance from the router. Performance isn't as disappointing to that of the OnePlus 3, but the A5 is nowhere near as steady as the Google Pixel or any Huawei device. Call quality is good, however, and the microphones do an impressive job of filtering out background noises.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) – Software

Samsung’s weak point for many years has been a disappointing software experience, mostly because of its over complicated TouchWiz UI. Thankfully, the company has made huge improvements since the Galaxy S6, with the remnants of TouchWiz actually pretty good now. It’s still a long way from the idea of "stock" Android, but it’s no longer a burden.

As the A5 is the first phone from Samsung since the short-lived Galaxy Note 7, it inherits many of the software features from that phone.

A cleaner, whiter UI is the most noticeable change, but a sparse Settings menu and redesigned base apps are welcome too. Also present is the ridiculously handy Secure Folder – a locked place where you can store private passwords, documents and photos.

Related: Android Nougat review

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My biggest criticism with regards to the software is that the Galaxy A5 is stuck on Android 6.0.1, rather than the Nougat build that's rolling out to Galaxy S7 owners.

Normally I'd berate a phone for shipping with such outdated software – but, to be honest, many of the Nougat-specific features are already available here. Split-screen multitasking is included, as are DPI altering options. Plus, Nougat should be arriving in an update before the end of Q1.

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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