Samsung A5 – Review
The Samsung A5 (2017) is a mid-range smart phone that has many of the qualities you look for when looking at flagship devices, and actually does beg the question; why buy a flagship phone when this one costs £369.99? Samsung have done an excellent job of bringing flagship specs down to their mid level device here, and makes the A5 a very reasonable alternative to flagship phones.
The Samsung A5 does have competition however, and a strong one in the form of the OnePlus 5T, which represents a huge step up for little money. The A5 is actually very reminiscent of one of the best looking phones of 2016 – the Galaxy S7 – and you would struggle to tell them apart whilst looking at the two side-by-side. So looks wise, Samsung have excelled here.
More on the design, it has a subtle curve on the rear making the phone comfortable to hold, and with it being a now considered smaller size of 5.2-inches, it’s a easy to use size. The colour options too for the A5 can be considered better than that of the bigger and pricier S7, as they all have more attractive and more subtle tones. The A5 is also IP68 rated, meaning the device will survive a splash easily for around 30 minutes. The only quibble we have with the overall look is the cut corners, however this is to help reduce the price so can be expected.
Now for the specs, first up the GB capacity – the standard is 32GB of storage, but with a microSD slot that is combined with the nano-SIM slot on the top, you can expand the devices storage up to 256GB. The A5 is powered by a new octa-core Exynos 7880 chipset, which has a marginally higher clock speed over its predecessor. This means it has more than sufficient and efficient power to give the device very good performance; however it is obviously no match for its pricier and bigger brother, the S7. It also packs a decent 3GB of RAM, not quite enough for multi-tasking all the time however, but does cope well with decent usage.
The well-known and well-disliked TouchWiz UI has seen a major reconstruction for the A5, with only minor reminders of the older UI to find. It’s a much cleaner and whiter UI now, and they have added a superb Secure Folder feature, which is a locked place where it is possible to store private passwords and photos etc. The A5 doesn’t feature the newer Nougat Android software, but its hard to notice this, as many of the features are available on the A5 anyway.
The Galaxy A5 also stacks a 1080p FHD AMOLED display, which provides brilliantly bright colours and very deep blacks. This screen is often thought to be better than the one found on the OnePlus 3. Brightness is also very good, and has a good range between low and high settings. You can manually adjust the colours, even the blues, greens and reds individually; however this is best to be left alone in our opinion.
A common occurrence in mid-range smart phones is a severe lack of photo taking ability, where the cameras have taken most of the cost-cutting that is required to make these devices cheaper. However, on the A5 you will find a very decent 16MP camera, which is reliable and can capture detailed shots with brilliant colour accuracy – and mostly does this without the need to endlessly scroll through different camera modes. The camera focuses fast, and the app is very clean making the ordeal of photo taking very easy and painless. There unfortunately is no 4K recording, but there is of course, 1080p recording but with the lack of OIS the videos can be fairly jerked, and the sound quality is not great either, but does the job for the price of the device.
The front facing camera is equally basic in terms of specs as found on the rear, it is a 16MP camera with a f/1.9 (same aperture as the rear) – and with no autofocus, the general focus seems especially slow unfortunately. But it does have decent shutter speed similar to the rear camera, and does do its job of taking those selfies.
The battery in this phone is the same one that can be found in most Samsung smart phones nowadays, and it’s the 3,000aMh capacity. This means the A5 can easily propel itself through a full days use with little to no issues, and should even sometimes have life left for a bit of the next day. It is exceptionally well and preserving battery life while the phone is in use due to that super efficient CPU. The A5 also features Adaptive Fast Charging which takes the battery percentage from 0% to 80% in just one hour, and will charge to full in just less than 90 minutes if using the USB Type-C charger and plug.
The A-series from Samsung has seen significant improvement recently, and with the 2017 A5 they look to be continuing this work. Priced at £369.99 it may be a tiny bit overpriced, with cheaper options out there, but overall this will most likely come out of your searches and comparisons as the most all rounded and worthwhile purchase.