Samsung has released a smartphone that might as well be perfect for everyone. Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 was announced just recently and it is also the first major release by the brand coming out of the Galaxy Note 7 mishap. As the A series is nothing new, the Galaxy A5 (2017) first has to prove itself over the outgoing Galaxy A5 (2016) variant and then stand on its own against competitors from other brands. There are some nice feature additions this year for the Galaxy A5 while remaining in that manageable form factor. We will be talking in detail about the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) right below and discussing whether it ticks all the boxes of a near perfect phone.
The phone we have with us for review purposes is the Gold Stand color variant with dual-SIM functionality. This time around, Samsung has shifted back to a single color painted phone. Last year, we saw the Galaxy A series follow a black screen front with different colors but that isn’t the case now. Further, the phone itself now has more refined designed that is easier to hold and doesn’t feature a camera bump like the Galaxy A5 (2016).
Before we start talking about what we think about the Galaxy A5 (2017), lets get the facts out of the way.
Galaxy A5 (2017): Technical Specifications
- Network LTE Cat.6 * May differ by markets and mobile operators
- Display 5.2” FHD Super AMOLED
- Processor 1.9GHz Octa Core
- Operating System Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
- Camera Rear : 16MP (F1.9), Front : 16MP (F1.9)
- Additional features MST technology(Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, Dual SIM option
- Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth® v 4.2, ANT+, USB Type-C, NFC (UICC, eSE)
- Sensors Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall, Fingerprint scanner, Barometer, Gyro
- IP Code IP68
- Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Storage and Micro SD slot (up to 256GB)
- Dimension 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9mm
- Battery 3,000mAh, Fast Charging
Galaxy A5 (2017): Design and Hardware
The Galaxy A5 (2017) is a very smart looking phone, appealing more to the younger user with its rounded off edges. Gone are the bold corners to make way for these curved ones. Moreover, the Galaxy A5 (2017) has some premium materials with glass on front and glass on the back. The metal ring joins the two together. Also, the size of the Galaxy A5 (2017) hits the sweet spot. It has a 5.2 inch screen with minimum bezels. Not a one hand use phone but its the best balance between ample screen space and practicality.
Right up front is the gorgeous 5.2 inch Super AMOLED display. Boasting a full HD resolution, its not the highest but in this size, it is certainly ample. Text is crisp, images are sharp. However, for VR purposes, this is a little low. Then again, users who are looking for a good VR experience should be spending much more than what the Galaxy A5 (2017) demands. The SuperAMOLED panel catches spotlight in the Always-On display feature. This allows your phone to have some text and data being displayed on the screen even when its locked. As only individual pixels light up, there isn’t very significant battery drain.
The metal border has an outside curve on the Galaxy A5 (2017). This allows for better grip and overall a smooth transition when you flick your fingers to provide gesture input to the phone. As the edges meet seamlessly at the end, you will find the A5 (2017) to be a delight with all gestures. The bezels also, make the feel phone smaller than it actually is which is very good. Fitting more screen in less body should always be the goal and A5 (2017) truly works on that.
Right at the front, except for the glass, there is a large home button present. This size increase is for the benefit of the fingerprint sensor beneath. From experience, it does make it more reliable. In fact, the new A series rarely misses to recognize when the correct finger is place on the sensor. Rest of the buttons are not visible until you power the phone on. These capacitive touch buttons are a tradition with Samsung. And as with all Samsung phones, the right button acts as back while the left button opens up recents. Apart from that, the front camera is placed above the screen along with the call speaker. There is no notification light due to availability of Always-On display.
The left side is where the power button is placed, again following standard and tradition. However, what isn’t standard, is that right next to it there is a grill which houses the speaker. Samsung has moved the speaker position in the new A series. This new position is something that doesn’t improve the audio capabilities neither does it worsens them.
On the right side, you find a SIM tray if you have the dual-SIM version but if you don’t it would just carry separate volume buttons. The dual-SIM variant has this independent tray which enables the phone to have two SIMs plugged in along with a micro-SD card.
At the bottom, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack. We will consider this as a feature. Right at the center is the USB Type-C slot. Keep in mind, this is Samsung’s second ever phone series with a Type-C port so Samsung is still developing technologies to make most use of it. It’s good to know that Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging is supported and the Galaxy A5 (2017) ships with a Adaptive Fast Charger.
Ending with the back side, it is all made up of glass. Whats great about the back is that it is flush. There are no protrusions. Camera module is flat, a big upgrade from previous models. Samsung, differentiating from flagship line, doesn’t include heart-rate sensors rather there is the singular flash.
The internals of this phone are an Exynos 1.9 GHz Octa-core processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB standard storage. Certainly this is what all users want, a high enough built-in storage capacity with expand-ability option for upgrading later on. Commenting on performance, it is above-average at best. The phone isn’t sluggish neither does it take ages to load apps but in 2017, we expect every phone to be on this level. Again, the A series has never been about performance or the latest and greatest but it is about whats tried and tested.
Before we move on from hardware, there is a key change in this year’s model. The phone is now IP68 water and dust resistant. Unlike other budget class phones, this feature is a very good addition and certainly something Samsung can easily market. As the phone is sealed, it only makes sense to make it water proof as well. The glass is coated to repel water both back and front.
Related: Samsung Galaxy A7 2017 Review.
Galaxy A5 (2017): Camera
Coming to the camera, which probably is the most used thing on a phone these days, the Galaxy A5 (2017) comes equipped 16MP f/1.9 modules for both front and back. Yes, the rear camera is as good as the front. For competing in this category, being the selfie king is somewhat crucial. Samsung has put a sensor that is used for primary photos on the back so we expect ridiculously good front facing pictures.
What truly ties in the camera and provides you with exceptional performance is the software. With the Galaxy A5 (2017) camera app, you can easily get away with photos that seem to be taken on phones much expensive than this. The Pro mode is what we loved as it gave us true freedom like on a DSLR.
Letting us down was the video. It shoots great 1080p video but we expected to see 4K come out of this phone as the hardware supports it. Logically, Samsung decided to skip higher resolutions as the primary display doesn’t support it. Slow-mo, fast motion and time lapse modes are all present and work very efficiently on the Galaxy A5 (2017).
Galaxy A5 (2017): Connectivity, Memory and Battery
Samsung has packed Galaxy A5 (2017) with all communication capabilities it can. The phone, in supported regions, comes with NFC which means Samsung Pay. It features latest Bluetooth technology and also up to LTE Cat 6 functionality. Coupling all that with even dual-SIM capability is something no less than a feat. Skipping hybrid microSD and SIM tray for a completely separate system serves in Galaxy A5 (2017)’s favor.
The memory Galaxy A5 (2017) ships with is 32GB and can be expanded with a microSD card slot. The RAM is also a spacious 3 gigabyte’s worth. Combined, the Galaxy A5 (2017) lets you play games and store multiple of them without bogging down.
Battery module on the Galaxy A5 (2017) has touched the 3,000mAh mark. This capacity coupled with the specs, provide enough juice for a whole day of usage. Also, the Adaptive Fast Charger can top the power up quite fast giving you freedom from carrying an external power bank.
Galaxy A5 (2017): Software
If you have made this far, you must be thinking that if everything serves up well, this might be the part where the A5 (2017) lets down. However, it is not so. Running Marshmallow when Nougat has been out for months is something Samsung can only pull off. How do they do it? Its simple. They iterate the higher version’s TouchWiz to previous version’s Android. Its something illogical but that’s what we have on the A5 (2017). The look and feel will have you believe its Nougat.
To back it up, Samsung’s proprietary multi-window functionality and other such features really don’t leave you much to miss. Also, in our usage, all apps worked fine and as Android is split into multiple versions, compatibility issues are non-existent.
The apps Samsung offers do really make the phone come alive. From S-health to S-Note, all apps serve very well and provide great functionality. Even without the S-Pen, S-Note is quite useful. Also, the gestures Samsung has integrated like palm-swipe to capture a screenshot make the phone intuitive and a delight to use.
Default bundled Samsung Apps & Features:
File Manager is a simple but mandatory app available in the Galaxy A5 (2017). It functions to provide you access to all of your stored media and data. OTG connections also show up in this app.
Galaxy Apps lets you install proprietary Samsung apps which aren’t listed or available on the Play Store like S Note.
S Voice is a personal voice-powered assistant. You can control your phone hands free through S Voice and perform different actions otherwise not available in Google Now.
Ultra-Power Saving mode if you are running on low battery and cannot charge your phone, you can access this mode. It cuts down on all of the different features while still letting you access the basic ones.
Private Mode works with the fingerprint scanner in locking different sorts of data and encrypting it. Once locked, no one will have access to it except when you authenticate with your fingerprint.
S Bike Mode For bike riders, this mode provides hands free access to your phone. Not only that, there are options to record trips, mileage and monitor traffic situations. You can also set custom notifications to be forwarded once you are in this mode.