Samsung Galaxy A5 review: Hands-on with a cheap, gorgeous Galaxy S7 alternative

It features waterproofing, a fingerprint scanner and fast-charging tech, yet costs less than £400

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

Following months of explosions jokes and wild speculation about the as-yet-unannounced Galaxy S8, Samsung has finally got the technology industry talking about something concrete: a new product.

The company has officially released the Galaxy A5 (2017), the follow-up to last year’s A5 (2016), and it’s a thing of beauty.

At first glance, you could easily mistake it for the Galaxy S7, Samsung’s current flagship. That’s one of the highest compliments you pay any smartphone, let alone a mid-ranger that costs less than £400.

With glass front and back panels and a metal frame, Samsung can’t be accused of cutting corners with build materials, as it has at times in the past. It’s available in light blue, peach and gold colour options, but the black model is undoubtedly the slickest.

The only criticism I have is that the glossy glass is a magnet for grubby fingerprints.

Its 5.2-inch screen is on the larger end of the spectrum for ‘normal-sized’ smartphones – the Pixel has a 5-inch screen, the iPhone 7 a 4.7-inch screen, the S7 a 5.1-inch screen – but the A5 is comfortable to hold. 

It’s a bright, Full HD display that squeezes in 424 pixels per inch, making it great for watching films and TV shows on, though Samsung says it won’t work with its Gear VR headset, as it isn’t quite sharp enough to deliver a great virtual reality experience. 

However, customers will still be able to use it with an alternative headset, such as Google Cardboard.

Small-handed users might struggle to reach all areas of the display without adjusting their grip, but Samsung has included a feature designed to make life a little easier. 

The camera app, which you can quickly access by double-tapping the home button, comes with a floating shutter that users can drag around the screen, making it easier to snap pictures while holding the phone in one hand. 

Sticking with the photography department, the A5 uses a 16-megapixel f/1.9 rear camera with phase detection autofocus and a 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera for detailed shots, even in dark settings. 

Powering the A5 is a 3,000mAh battery, which Samsung claims is good for up to 16 hours of 3G talktime. Fast-charging is also on hand, through the USB Type-C port on the bottom edge, which lies next to a headphone jack.

The microSD card slot lets you boost the 32GB of internal storage by a whopping 256GB on the cheap, while the fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button and IP68 water-and dust-proofing are two particularly juicy cherries on top.

The A5 runs Android 6.0.16 Marshmallow, which unfortunately isn’t the latest version of Google’s operating system. the software does come with added value in the form of a number of customisations though, including a tweaked home screen layout and a handful of Samsung apps, including My Galaxy, Samsung Notes and Galaxy Apps.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is available to buy right now for £369. While it’s a great option for customers who can’t afford the likes of the Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel, we’re not sure its stunning design is enough of a reason to choose it ahead of the phenomenal OnePlus 3T, which only costs £30 more.

Comments