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Samsung kicked off 2017 by presenting the Galaxy A5 2017 and Galaxy A3 2017 at the CES in Las Vegas, both devices with design traits clearly borrowed from the Galaxy S7. In this review of the Galaxy A5 2017, we’ll give you a run-down of Samsung’s new mid-ranger with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow running on board.
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) at a glance:
- Body: Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass front and back
- Screen: 5.2″ 1080p Super AMOLED screen (424ppi); Always On Display
- OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow; Samsung Grace UX; Nougat update in the works
- Chipset: Exynos 7880, 14nm process
- Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32GB storage, dedicated microSD slot for expansion
- Camera: Primary 16MP, f/1.9, 27mm; Secondary 16MP, f/1.9
- Video: 1080p
- Connectivity: nano SIM (dual SIM version available); LTE (Cat. 6); Wi-Fi ac; Bluetooth 4.2; FM Radio; USB Type-C; 3.5mm jack
- Battery: 3,000mAh
- Misc: Fingerprint reader, IP68 certification for dust and water resistance, Samsung Pay
- Somewhat expensive – the Galaxy S6 can be had for less, the S7 is slightly pricier, but will certainly dip in a couple of months when the S8 comes out.
- Android is still Marshmallow, though an update is coming.
- No 4K video recording at a price point, where you can find plenty of phones that support it.
Design and Build quality
The Galaxy A5 2017 is a head turner among mid-range devices thanks to its elegant design. In the past years, the design of mid-range phones has progressed and become more elegant and better assembled, giving those who buy them hardly a reason to eye high-end variants. One of these well-built smartphones is of course the Galaxy A5 2017 thanks to its evident similarity with the Galaxy S7.
Samsung’s smartphone comes with a metallic unibody coated with 3D glass. The front can be distinguished from the Galaxy S7 in that the upper and lower bezels are broader. On the front, the Samsung logo is up top alongside the front camera lens, proximity sensor and speaker for calls. On the top of the display, you’ll find the home button with integrated fingerprint reader, and the back and recent apps capacitative buttons.
The glossy body has curved edges which are encased in a metal frame. On the back, here you’ve got the Samsung logo, the LED flash and the barely protruding camera lens. Thanks to its sleek design, the phone doesn’t wobble when put on a flat surface,though it is rare in samsung phones.
A new feature is the location of the speaker next to the power button on the the left side of the display, which is featured on the bottom of the Galaxy S7 and last year’s Galaxy A5. The decision to move the speaker was likely motivated by the fact the bottom-located speakers are often covered up by the hand when gaming.
The bottom edge lacks the classic grill for the speaker, but keeps the headphone jack on the right next to the USB Type-C port.
The volume buttons are on the left side of the device with the nano SIM, while the MicroSD card slot can be found along the top edge. It is in this detail that the A5 differs from the A3 2017: the latter only has one slot at the top that accommodates both card types together.
The black metal frame encasing the body is interrupted by the gray antenna bands. The lines on the Galaxy A5 2017 are a lot softer than the previous model, and with dimensions of 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm, it is larger than the Galaxy S7, but has the same thickness. It is also 7 grams lighter than the high-end model, weighing in at 159 grams. The curved edges and the reflection off the device mask its true size, seeing as from a first glance you’d never think it was bigger than the Galaxy S7 or previous model.
Holding the Galaxy A5 is comfortable, it’s easy to handle with one hand, and it isn’t slippery. A negative but unavoidable aspect with the choice of materials is that it attracts fingerprints, as in the case with many phones. I find the black model used in the review to be aesthetically pleasing, but this is a subjective matter. The phone is elegant and subtle. Those who open the box will not be disappointed by what they find inside.
The Galaxy A5 2017 has a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) ..That amounts to a 424ppi density but the Diamond Pixel arrangement makes that less sharp than a competing LCD with equal number of subpixels for each color. It’s still plenty sharp though. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 4
The Galaxy A5 2017 has the Always-on feature, which is not common among mid-range phones. This was a feature introduced with the Galaxy S7 that allows you to keep tabs on the time, date and battery status even when the screen is off, a feature not to take for granted in the likes of a mid-range phone.
The Galaxy A5 (2017) is well-stocked on connectivity options. Samsung specifies Cat.6 LTE (300Mbps downlink, 50Mbps uplink), with a disclaimer that it may vary by region and carrier, and since the Exynos 7880 itself supports Cat.7 you may want to check locally if the 100Mbps DL speed is of such crucial importance to you.
There are single SIM and dual SIM versions, each of them with two card slots. In each case there’s a dedicated microSD slot as well – on single SIM models there’s no cutout for the second SIM in the top slot .
There is also dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.2 , NFC and MST (for Samsung Pay, where available), and an FM radio receiver. There is no IR transmitter, though.
A Type-C port is in charge of charging, but only adheres to USB 2.0 spec, so you’re limited to a ‘measly’ 480Mbps theoretical maximum transfer speeds. USB OTG is supported for attaching peripherals. Thankfully, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Samsung packed a solid punch behind the Galaxy A series this year by adding IP68 certification, a feature that is also not common on mid-range phones. This certification protects the phone from dust and water, making the device better suited to use when doing outdoor activities . The Galaxy A5 2017 can be immersed to a depth of 1.5 meters for no longer than 30 minutes.
It comes stocked with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and not the latest iteration of Android, Android 7.0 Nougat. The latter was released in August, has yet to reach the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and is expected to be available for the Galaxy A5 2017 in the coming months. TouchWiz is running on board, as is the norm for Samsung Galaxy phones. The interface has been cleaned up over the years and now has a modern look.
Under the hood of the Galaxy A5, you’ll find an octacore Exynos 7880 that ticks at 1.9 GHz and 3GB of RAM. The graphics are powered by a Mali T830 MP3 chip. The phone comes with 32 GB of internal storage that you can expand up to 256 GB with an SD card. According the figures on the tech specs table, the Galaxy A5 2017 should be able to provide an adequate performance.
Samsung decided to move the speaker from the bottom to the left side, meaning the speaker will no longer be covered when you use the device in landscape mode, for instance when playing a game or watching a video. .
Samsung also includes earbuds in the box. The smartphone has an antenna with various audio settings, such as an equalizer, as seen on the Galaxy A5 2016.
Both the front and back camera have 16 MP. Samsung was able to up the ante from last year’s model, especially in the camera department, where the camera only had 5 MP. Both come with an aperture of f/1.9, but only the back camera has optical image stabilization.
The camera comes with many filters and modes, which you can access by swiping from right to left just like Huawei camera app. The modes are: basic, beauty, Pro, HDR, Panorama and Night. For group selfies, the front camera also has panorama mode, and it allows you to change the tone of your skin, size of your eyes and face shape. Both cameras can also take videos in 1080p. More will be shown in our final review.
The Galaxy A5 (2017) is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery – oh, look, it’s the same capacity as the Galaxy S7. And this one has fewer pixels to render, plus a chipset that should be more frugal than the thirsty flagship number-crunchers.
Even just having moved the speaker will do wonders to improve user experience. This small but significant factor shows us that the Samsung put a lot of effort into the Galaxy A series to come up with a quality phone. So far, there is no news about a US release, but it will show its face in the UK starting in February at a price of £399, which would be around $500. This may cause some users to shy away, especially if you consider that the OnePlus 3T and Honor 8 ,costs about the same.One thing is clear from this review – Samsung has got the alphabet wrong. A has never been as close to S as it is with the A (2017) series. The Galaxy A5 (2017) carries more than a passing resemblance to the Galaxy S7 flagship – let’s just say that if the S7 were to stumble into the A5, they’d take a selfie together.
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