In itself, the Galaxy A5 is a great phone. It feels solid, doesn’t look bad, has a nice screen and works smoothly. It’s certainly not a speed monster and the camera quickly fails in low light, but you can’t expect a perfect phone in the midrange segment. The biggest problem of the A5 is its price of about 350 euros, which makes it considerably more expensive than other devices that offer roughly the same. For the same money you can choose from devices that have more to offer. So let’s hope that the price drops soon, so that the A5 becomes attractive.
- Nice screen
- High-quality casing
- extendable memory
- Camera mediocre
- Expensive compared to the competition
Samsung seems to have realized that phones are increasingly becoming a fashion object, a kind of jewelry, and that people therefore find appearance important. To win over that target group, Samsung has gradually phased out the plastic that it used for years in the production of its phones and introduced more and more metal. The Note 4 and Galaxy Alpha opened the dance last year, with aluminum bezels, but still a plastic back. With the Galaxy A series, Samsung is switching to a casing made entirely of aluminum for the first time.
The Alpha line may use high-quality materials, but it should be seen as a series that is below the top segment, with prices between 250 and 500 euros. In this review we take a closer look at the 5″ model from the series: the Samsung Galaxy A5, which costs around 380 euros at the time of writing.
As mentioned, the A5 consists entirely of aluminum, colored blue in the case of our review model. The design is fairly simple; the entire phone has a smooth finish, except for the edges all around, which slope downwards, as we know from the iPhone 5(s), for example. It’s a nice detail that prevents the phone from appearing boring and simple, but from an ergonomic point of view, the edges could also have been omitted, because they feel a bit sharp. You notice that well when you swipe from the outside in on the touchscreen.
With a thickness of less than 7mm, the A5 is a thin phone, so thin that the camera module on the back protrudes a bit. We don’t think that’s a disaster and because it’s placed in the middle, it doesn’t make the phone unstable when it’s on the table. Next to the camera we find the flash and a small speaker. Fortunately, because the camera protrudes, the speaker is not covered when you lay the phone flat.
Unlike previous Samsung phones, the back of the Galaxy A5 cannot be removed and the battery is therefore not replaceable. With that, Samsung loses one of its trump cards. Fortunately, the micro SD slot has been retained; it is no longer under the back, but in a slot on the side, just like the nano-SIM slot. Finally, at the bottom are the micro USB port and the headphone jack.
Like almost all Samsung phones, the A5 is also equipped with an Amoled panel that Samsung makes itself. The 5″ screen in the Alpha has a resolution of 1280×720 pixels, giving a pixel density of 294ppi. Combined with the so-called PenTile pixel layout of the A5’s screen, this produces a display that isn’t as sharp as many other phones, also in this price range The image is certainly not blurry, but someone with a good eye will see, especially when displaying text, that the edges look a bit rough.
Fortunately, the rest of the screen is fine. For example, the maximum brightness of 508cd/m² is very high, so you should be able to read the screen well even on a sunny day. In addition, the black is very deep, thanks to the amoled technology used, which makes the contrast enormous. That makes colors splash off the screen. There is little wrong with the display of those colors, as long as you use the Basic setting. In Dynamic mode, everything is pumped up and exaggerated, a tad too much if you ask us.
Hardware and software
Although the A5 is certainly not cheap with a price of almost 400 euros, Samsung seems to have gone for some budget parts under the hood. The A5 is powered by a Snapdragon 410-soc from Qualcomm, a quad-core chip with four Cortex A53 cores at 1.3GHz. That is a chip that we also see in phones that cost more than 100 euros less than the A5. How bad is that? If you’re a lightweight phone user, not a big deal. The interface works smoothly and for a bit of browsing and sending messages, the A5 is fast enough.
However, if you are going to do more things at the same time or run heavy apps, especially games, you will notice that the A5 lacks some computing power. Especially graphically it is not much and that means that 3d games will look less beautiful or in some cases will not work smoothly.
The rest of the hardware corresponds to what you can expect from a device in this price segment. You get 2GB memory, 16GB storage capacity, and support for Bluetooth, LTE, WiFi-n, and NFC.
The Galaxy A5 runs on Android 4.4, supplemented with Samsung’s own TouchWiz skin. Opinions about TouchWiz have long been divided; Samsung adds many options to Android, but the question is whether all those options are equally useful and if you want to adjust something, it can sometimes take some searching in the crowded settings menu. For more information about the operating system , we refer to our review of the Note 4, since Samsung has not changed much since then.
The A5 is equipped with a 2300mA battery. That’s not a bad capacity for a phone with these specifications. By comparison, the Nexus 5 has the same battery size, but faster hardware, requiring more power. That also means that the A5 lasts quite a long time. In our web browsing test, it lasts six hours and forty-five minutes, while when playing video it has a stamina of no less than ten and a half hours. So most people will certainly have no problems getting through the day with the A5.
The camera on the back of the Galaxy A5 is an old acquaintance. It concerns the 13-megapixel IMX135 camera sensor from Sony, which we previously saw in the Galaxy S4 and the LG G3, among others. It takes great photos in sufficient light, but it’s no wonder if the lighting conditions are dimmed. In addition, the rather slow shutter speed of 1/15th of a second is often chosen in such situations, which means that the chance of blurred photos is high. The camera app is also well put together and works nice and fast.
Viewed in itself, the Galaxy A5 is a great phone. It feels solid, doesn’t look bad, and has a nice screen and a decent camera. It is certainly not a speed monster and the casing could have been a bit more ergonomic, but you can’t expect a perfect phone in the midrange segment.
We write midrange segment, but if you look at the pricing of the Galaxy A5 and analyze the competition, it seems that Samsung does not quite understand what kind of phone the A5 should be. The casing is clearly more luxurious than with phones from 200 to 300 euros, but in matters such as the processor and the screen resolution, it does not live up to its high price.
That becomes all the clearer when you look at what else you can buy for around 400 euros. A Nexus 5 for example, which is a lot faster. Or a Lumia 930, with a much better camera. Or an Xperia Z2, with better hardware and longer battery life, an LG G3, with a much sharper screen and a nicer casing, or an HTC One M7. All phones that offer more than the Galaxy A5, and then for the same amount or even less.
That makes it difficult to form an unambiguous conclusion about the Galaxy A5. Let’s hope the price drops quickly to between 250 and 300 euros, then we think it’s a good option for people who shop in that price segment.