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Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: A STUNNING Android Phone

REVIEWS Paul Briden 17:02, 22 May 2017

We take the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 edition out for a spin to see if affordable can indeed be beautiful

Typical Price:
£369.00
Pros:
High-end metal and glass build materials and design, capable processor, well-optimised hardware and software, waterproof, decent camera, great display, superb battery life, affordable
Cons:
A little lacking in top-end performance grunt
Verdict:
 A really fantastic phone for the price, with excellent design and build, and has some of the best battery life on the market

Samsung’s Galaxy S flagship series and Galaxy Note series may get most of the headline attention and BIG sales figures (when they’re not bursting into flame in the case of the latter, that is), but for a long time now Samsung has had the Galaxy A series ticking away successfully in the background.

These devices, which include the Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, and Galaxy A7, encompass the budget, mid-tier, and premium-mid-tier smartphone brackets, which covers a very large bunch of consumers who simply can’t spend big money on the flagship phones.

The thing about the Galaxy A series, however, is that Samsung brings a somewhat premium edge to the whole range, with sharp design and a metal and glass build which is derived in no small part from the flagship drawing boards.

It’s a pretty simple concept really, people might want to buy something at a lower price, but they don’t want something that looks and feels like cheap plastic tat, and they want a good set of optimised hardware and software for their money too.

In this review we’ll be taking a look at the middle-child of the latest generation of the Galaxy A series, the Galaxy A5 (2017). This is a mid-ranger with a price tag of around £340-£370.

Latest Samsung Galaxy A5 deals:

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Design & Display

The Samsung Galaxy A5 design has quite a lot in common with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 – the regular editions with the flat displays, that is, not the curved EDGE ones.

The front fascia is a familiar sight with the Samsung style rounded corners, lozenge Home key, and a flush-fitting glass panel covering the whole frontage.

The metal frame around the outer edge is pretty much a direct clone of what we’ve seen aboard Samsung’s flagships, right down to the buttons, ports, and punched speaker grilles.

Likewise the rear panel is a slab of shaped and curved glass, although the curvature of the  edges isn’t as pronounced as you’d find on the flagship models; the camera sensor also fits flush for a really smooth look.

The Galaxy A5 also features the same IP68 water and dust resistance you’ll find on the Galaxy S models; a brilliant and practical feature meaning your handset won’t be ruined by a drop in the bathtub.

The long and the short of it is this phone is super stylish, or at least, if you like Samsung’s premium aesthetic; and a lot of people seem to! It also feels great in the hand with that reassuringly solid metal bodywork.

Samsung offers the Galaxy A5 in a range of colours which are quite interesting, even the standard black model (Black Sky) has that all-over glossy black Stealth Bomber vibe we’ve seen on recent iPhones.

Other options include your now required metallic gold (Gold Sand), as well as a couple of pastel metallic shades; light blue (Blue Mist) and pink (Peach Cloud).

The display panel is a 5.2in Super AMOLED screen with a 1080p Full HD resolution at 424ppi – decently sharp, though apparently a little lacking when it comes to the close proximity of VR; therefore, Samsung hasn’t made the phone compatible with its Gear VR headset.

Still, for normal viewing this is nice and clear, and as we’ve come to expect from Samsung display tech the colour gamut is fantastic, contrast is excellent, and the brightness levels are quite capable, though not the brightest on the market by any means.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Processor & Performance

The Galaxy A5 runs a new Samsung Exynos 7880 octa-core CPU, with a Mali-T830MP3 GPU, 3GB of RAM and a clock speed of 1.9GHz. It’s based on ARM Cortex-A53 cores using the 14nm FinFET semiconductor architecture; that’s the same architecture inside the current-gen Galaxy S7 series.

Although this is about to be superseded by new 10nm hardware inside the Galaxy S8, it’s still damn fast and plenty capable of running all your contemporary apps and games, but it’s questionable how it’ll fare as things change in the next few years.

General operation in Android is pretty smooth as things have become better optimised on Google’s end, and OEMs such as Samsung have figured out better how to implement it.

That on top of the latest CPU tech, homebrewed by Samsung at that, means you get a pretty slick experience on the whole. It’ll also make a good go of multitasking and gaming to a reasonable degree. It’s slightly slower than the latest OnePlus 3T flagship, particularly in benchmarks, but it’s also slightly cheaper, so it kind of works out.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Specs, Hardware & Other Features

This latest Galaxy A5 uses the new reversible Type-C USB port for charging (including fast charging) and data, and is packed with the usual slew of wireless connectivity including Wi-Fi, WiFi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, and GPS.

There’s an ample 32GB of onboard storage, which should suit most users other than power users who, frankly, are unlikely to go for a mid-range model anyway. On top of this you can expand via microSD up to 256GB, which is always welcome.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Battery

The battery is a non-removable 3,000mAh cell, a decent size and one which seems to offer quite a lot of juice for this display and hardware setup. The Galaxy A5 can last an impressive 22 hours of continuous video playback which is even better than the Galaxy S7.

There’s not really much to add to that, other than you’ll be hard pressed to find better battery performance other than a few select ultra-sized phablets, such as the Huawei Mate 9, and at considerably higher cost.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Camera

Both front and rear cameras are 16MP sensors with wide f/1.9 apertures. The primary features autofocus, touch focus, and an LED flash, as well as face detection, panoramic capture, and HDR – both front and rear have 1080p video capture too.

In terms of image quality, this is fairly typical Samsung fare, and that’s a good thing, with very easy point-and-shoot operation delivering decent snaps with plenty of detail, robust contrast, and good dynamic range. Colour is also Samsung’s typically rich capture being both bright and vibrant.

Latest Samsung Galaxy A5 deals:

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review: Verdict

This is an extremely compelling little smartphone, it seems perfectly priced and specced for its niche; to slot in the market where there are people prepared to throw down a few hundred pounds for quality, but who don’t want to bother with more phone than they need at the considerably higher prices flagships command.

It is a cohesive and well-thought-out package, and again, a big part of the appeal is getting premium aesthetics and build on the outside as much as the inside; this shouldn’t be the exclusive territory of flagships, and Samsung clearly understands that with the Galaxy A5.

It’s also well worth considering if you’re simply one of many consumers desperately looking for a smartphone with tons of battery life.

Carphone Warehouse has A TON of exclusive offers on the Samsung Galaxy A5, which you will definitely want to have a look at. With next day, free delivery and a range of colour options as well as tons of offers, acquiring this phone has never been easier!  

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