Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

Introduction


These days, Samsung has simplified its previously huge lineup of phones: we now have the Galaxy S and Note series representing the best of Samsung, the Galaxy J series as the most affordable options, and then, there is the Galaxy A series standing right in the middle.

The history of the Galaxy A series starts in the beginning of 2015, when Samsung launched this new lineup with three phones in it: the original A3, A5 and A7, differing by features, but most importantly by screen size. An update to the A series in 2016 brought trendy new glass designs, but we had complaints about the performance.

This year, Samsung has just launched the brand new Galaxy A (2017): the A3 (2017) and A5 (2017) are already out there, while the A7 (2017) is coming up soon.

Of all these phones, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) is the _phone_ that will be the right fit for most people: it is not too cheap, nor too expensive; its 5.2-inch screen is neither too big, nor too small; it’s the golden mean.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The A5 (2017) also has a few tricks up its sleeve: it comes with a new-generation, more power-efficient processor, an improved camera, it sports the reversible USB-C port for charging and it even has water resistance. Add to that a premium grade glass and metal design, and you start to wonder: with all those features, isn’t this _phone_ just as good as the Galaxy S7? We take a deeper look to find out.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) model SM-A520F
  • User Manual
  • Sim ejector tool
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • White Samsung earbuds with replaceable rubber tips
  • Adaptive Fast Charging wall charger (15 watts peak, 9V and 1.67V, or 5V and 2A)


Design

Designed to near perfection, with a curved glass back, metal frame and full-on water-protection.

The Galaxy A5 (2017) is a real looker. In fact, its glass-and-metal construction feels so seamlessly well put together, we’d forgive you if you mistake it for the flagship Galaxy S7 model. The similarity is certainly there. In the hand, the phone feels well balanced, with a nice heft to it: it’s thin, but not too airy, with just enough weight to feel comfortable. The only design quirk that I personally don’t like is the disproportionately small camera on the back. This is the one element that is different than on the S7, but you do get used to it with time.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The new A5 features a scratch-resistant glass on the back and comes in a selection of four distinct colors with catchy names: Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist, and Peach Cloud (we have the Blue Mist up for review).

With a 5.2-inch display and tiny bezel on the side, the A5 is certainly compact. In fact, it is almost the same size as the Galaxy S7. And if you want a better idea of its physical size, feel free to check out our neat size comparison tool below.

We’re glad to see the reversible USB-C port rather than the old and quickly disappearing microUSB for charging here, and the handset also has a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack for your headphones, speakers and AUX cables.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The really cool thing about the new A5, however, is that the phone is water-proof. It is officially IP68 certified, which means the phone is protected from water damage when submerged as deep as 5 feet (1.5 meters) for up to 30 minutes. Water resistance is a premium feature usually found in the most expensive phones out there, and it’s definitely a rarity seeing it on a more affordable phone like this new A5. With a water-proof phone, you don’t need to worry about using your phone when it rains, that occasional drop in water, or taking a few pictures near water or even an underwater video in the swimming pool (just don’t use it near salty sea / ocean water, as the phone is only protected against fresh water damage).

Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
5.75 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches
146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm
5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7
5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 7



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Display

A 5.2” Super AMOLED screen with good looking color and plenty of color customization options.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A5 (2017) sports a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.

AMOLED screens come with the advantage that you can control each pixel, which his means that you can shut down individual pixels and achieve perfectly deep blacks and excellent contrast, something not possible to the same extent on LCD screens. On the downside, it’s a PenTile display, which - for the unenlightened in display tech talk - means that it has less sub-pixels, and is not quite as sharp as an RGB (most LCDs) display of the same resolution.

Enough with the complicated terms, though: in reality, the screen looks very nice. It’s definitely sharp enough, so much so that at a regular viewing distance, you cannot see any jagged edges to icons or images. It also looks very good in terms of color reproduction.

Samsung allows customers to fine-tune the color reproduction of the screen: go into Settings > Display > Screen Mode, and you get to choose from four different modes. The first one is the Basic mode, which we recommend as it has the best-balanced colors that are close to the sRGB color standard, accepted and used across the world. You also have the Adaptive display option that features oversaturated, punchy and impressive (but not ‘accurate’ to any particular standard) colors. There are also the Photo and Cinema modes, there with the aim to improve the look for your still and motion pictures, but we would recommend the standard Basic mode over any of these. Samsung also allows you to tweak the red, green and blue colors individually to your liking, if you are into custom colors.

This is also one of the brightest AMOLED screens out there. That’s great for outdoor use, as the boosted brightness makes it easier to read what’s on the screen even on a bright, sunny day. The minimum screen brightness can drop down to 1.8 nits. The lower this value, the more comfortable is to look at the screen in bed with the lights off without the display burning your eyes. The A5 is one of the better phones in this aspect. There is now a Blue light filter on the new A5: what it does is filter out the blue light from a screen. This is important because blue light is a trigger for the brain hormone melatonin: when you see blue light, your brain makes it more difficult for your body to fall asleep, hence, using your phone without a blue light filter before bed could ruin your sleep. We’re glad to have this new Blue light filter on the A5 (2017) and you can customize it to best suite your sleep times and habits.

Another one of the cool new features that has trickled down to the A5 from Samsung’s flagship phones is the ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are contrasting and easy to see, but be warned - this drains battery like crazy, at a rate of around 1% each hour.

The ‘Always-on Display’ - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The ‘Always-on Display’

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 556
(Excellent)
1.8
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6725
(Excellent)
2.02
2.37
(Good)
7.25
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 479
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6610
(Excellent)
2.04
2.52
(Good)
5.26
(Average)
OnePlus 3T 407
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6851
(Excellent)
2.2
1.86
(Excellent)
3.6
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6 606
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1563
(Excellent)
7162
(Good)
2.23
2.79
(Good)
3
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

Introduction


These days, Samsung has simplified its previously huge lineup of phones: we now have the Galaxy S and Note series representing the best of Samsung, the Galaxy J series as the most affordable options, and then, there is the Galaxy A series standing right in the middle.

The history of the Galaxy A series starts in the beginning of 2015, when Samsung launched this new lineup with three phones in it: the original A3, A5 and A7, differing by features, but most importantly by screen size. An update to the A series in 2016 brought trendy new glass designs, but we had complaints about the performance.

This year, Samsung has just launched the brand new Galaxy A (2017): the A3 (2017) and A5 (2017) are already out there, while the A7 (2017) is coming up soon.

Of all these phones, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) is the phone that will be the right fit for most people: it is not too cheap, nor too expensive; its 5.2-inch screen is neither too big, nor too small; it’s the golden mean.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The A5 (2017) also has a few tricks up its sleeve: it comes with a new-generation, more power-efficient processor, an improved camera, it sports the reversible USB-C port for charging and it even has water resistance. Add to that a premium grade glass and metal design, and you start to wonder: with all those features, isn’t this phone just as good as the Galaxy S7? We take a deeper look to find out.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) model SM-A520F
  • User Manual
  • Sim ejector tool
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • White Samsung earbuds with replaceable rubber tips
  • Adaptive Fast Charging wall charger (15 watts peak, 9V and 1.67V, or 5V and 2A)


Design

Designed to near perfection, with a curved glass back, metal frame and full-on water-protection.

The Galaxy A5 (2017) is a real looker. In fact, its glass-and-metal construction feels so seamlessly well put together, we’d forgive you if you mistake it for the flagship Galaxy S7 model. The similarity is certainly there. In the hand, the phone feels well balanced, with a nice heft to it: it’s thin, but not too airy, with just enough weight to feel comfortable. The only design quirk that I personally don’t like is the disproportionately small camera on the back. This is the one element that is different than on the S7, but you do get used to it with time.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The new A5 features a scratch-resistant glass on the back and comes in a selection of four distinct colors with catchy names: Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist, and Peach Cloud (we have the Blue Mist up for review).

With a 5.2-inch display and tiny bezel on the side, the A5 is certainly compact. In fact, it is almost the same size as the Galaxy S7. And if you want a better idea of its physical size, feel free to check out our neat size comparison tool below.

We’re glad to see the reversible USB-C port rather than the old and quickly disappearing microUSB for charging here, and the handset also has a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack for your headphones, speakers and AUX cables.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The really cool thing about the new A5, however, is that the phone is water-proof. It is officially IP68 certified, which means the phone is protected from water damage when submerged as deep as 5 feet (1.5 meters) for up to 30 minutes. Water resistance is a premium feature usually found in the most expensive phones out there, and it’s definitely a rarity seeing it on a more affordable phone like this new A5. With a water-proof phone, you don’t need to worry about using your phone when it rains, that occasional drop in water, or taking a few pictures near water or even an underwater video in the swimming pool (just don’t use it near salty sea / ocean water, as the phone is only protected against fresh water damage).

Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
5.75 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches
146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm
5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7
5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches
142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 7



Display

A 5.2” Super AMOLED screen with good looking color and plenty of color customization options.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A5 (2017) sports a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.

AMOLED screens come with the advantage that you can control each pixel, which his means that you can shut down individual pixels and achieve perfectly deep blacks and excellent contrast, something not possible to the same extent on LCD screens. On the downside, it’s a PenTile display, which - for the unenlightened in display tech talk - means that it has less sub-pixels, and is not quite as sharp as an RGB (most LCDs) display of the same resolution.

Enough with the complicated terms, though: in reality, the screen looks very nice. It’s definitely sharp enough, so much so that at a regular viewing distance, you cannot see any jagged edges to icons or images. It also looks very good in terms of color reproduction.

Samsung allows customers to fine-tune the color reproduction of the screen: go into Settings > Display > Screen Mode, and you get to choose from four different modes. The first one is the Basic mode, which we recommend as it has the best-balanced colors that are close to the sRGB color standard, accepted and used across the world. You also have the Adaptive display option that features oversaturated, punchy and impressive (but not ‘accurate’ to any particular standard) colors. There are also the Photo and Cinema modes, there with the aim to improve the look for your still and motion pictures, but we would recommend the standard Basic mode over any of these. Samsung also allows you to tweak the red, green and blue colors individually to your liking, if you are into custom colors.

This is also one of the brightest AMOLED screens out there. That’s great for outdoor use, as the boosted brightness makes it easier to read what’s on the screen even on a bright, sunny day. The minimum screen brightness can drop down to 1.8 nits. The lower this value, the more comfortable is to look at the screen in bed with the lights off without the display burning your eyes. The A5 is one of the better phones in this aspect. There is now a Blue light filter on the new A5: what it does is filter out the blue light from a screen. This is important because blue light is a trigger for the brain hormone melatonin: when you see blue light, your brain makes it more difficult for your body to fall asleep, hence, using your phone without a blue light filter before bed could ruin your sleep. We’re glad to have this new Blue light filter on the A5 (2017) and you can customize it to best suite your sleep times and habits.

Another one of the cool new features that has trickled down to the A5 from Samsung’s flagship phones is the ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are contrasting and easy to see, but be warned - this drains battery like crazy, at a rate of around 1% each hour.

The ‘Always-on Display’ - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The ‘Always-on Display’

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 556
(Excellent)
1.8
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6725
(Excellent)
2.02
2.37
(Good)
7.25
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 479
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6610
(Excellent)
2.04
2.52
(Good)
5.26
(Average)
OnePlus 3T 407
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6851
(Excellent)
2.2
1.86
(Excellent)
3.6
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6 606
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1563
(Excellent)
7162
(Good)
2.23
2.79
(Good)
3
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and Functionality

The new Grace user interface is beautiful and functional, the best Samsung has done and one of the best of all Android phone makers.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

Samsung and Android have both undergone a marvelous transformation: from the ugly early 2000 kids we knew, both companies have put design front and center recently, and the results now show in even more affordable devices like the A5 (2017).

The phone features Samsung’s new Grace user interface with much cleaner, tidier visuals, a much more coherent and well-thought out style. This is roughly the same interface as on the newly updated Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge with Nougat, however, the A5 (2017) does not run on the same Android 7.0 Nougat. It ships with the older Android 6 Marshmallow.

This is still an annoying problem for almost every Android phone that is not a flagship: running older software means that you often don’t get the latest features that Google develops. Forget about Android updates in the future as well: those either come with multiple months delay, or never at all. The one thing that has changed for the better is the security updates that are now sent to phones like the A5 (2017) on a regular monthly basis. For all else, though, software updates are still one area where Google and Samsung could do more.

This said, we have to admit that Samsung has done an admirable job with this new user interface. It’s not only good looking: it’s very convenient. Samsung has polished the core apps and they are all now a pleasure to use: the Samsung calendar is fast, shows weather information and is reliable, the Mail app looks better than ever and adds an easy Gmail set-up (unlike before), the Weather app is nothing short of great, and the list goes on and on.

The new notification drop down looks sleek and comes with a few more options. Among the new features is the capability to search for apps directly from the app drawer and you have two shortcuts that allow you to take that search directly in the Play Store or in Samsung’s own app store. The settings that were always a mess on Samsung phones are now finally all clean and well arranged. The new native device manager detects malicious and battery-hungry apps and helps you fix problems related to them.

Power user features like the Secure Folder that was first introduced with the Note 7 are also here. Secure Folder is just what it sounds like: a totally secure environment where you can have apps like your business email that you don’t want your kids accidentally messing with. Or a secret Tinder profile. Secure Folder can even run a separate Google account, which is impressive.

The keyboard experience on the Galaxy A5 (2017) is also flawless. It’s a personal opinion, but the Samsung keyboard is the most accurate and fastest one on Android, it’s a joy for texters, phone poets and mail typists.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

After years of gripes and complaints about Samsung interfaces, it’s almost shocking for me to write this, but the new interface on the A5 (2017) is really, really good. It even gets little details like the fonts right. That’s something that even the flagship S7 and S7 Edge have completely messed up with the Nougat update, as they use a rather unsightly tall and narrow default font. (You can also select other fonts, but usually it is the default one that looks best.)

Processor, Performance and Memory

The new octa-core Exynos chip is power-efficient, but it’s not powerful.

The Galaxy A5 (2017) uses a new mid-range processor that is 36% more power-efficient than its predecessor. The name is Exynos 7880, an octa-core chip with eight Cortex A53 CPU cores, built a modern, 14nm FinFET manufacturing.

In reality, it is what Samsung says it is. Power-efficient? Yes, definitely. Powerful? Not so much.

First, the A5 (2017) is not a laggy phone by any means. But it is not a perfectly smooth runner either. We noticed an occasional stutter, a slight slow-down here and there, that’s more noticeable if you compare it directly with a more expensive phone like the Galaxy S7. The difference is even more apparent if you compare to a Google Pixel or an Apple iPhone that both run very fluidly. The occasional dropped frame is not so noticeable for light users, but if you rely on apps that require more fire-power: complicated documents, photo and video editing, or gaming, this will show.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

In performance benchmarks, the phone has a weak showing: it cannot compete with even much older devices like the iPhone 6, and the new crop of ‘$400 Android flagships’ smokes it in terms of processor fire-power.

In terms of storage, the phone comes with 32GB of native storage, with some 23 gigs actually available to the end user. 32GB is the new standard even in more affordable phones and we’re definitely happy that the times of 16GB phones are going behind us. Up top, the A5 (2017) has a pull out tray where you can insert a microSD card to expand the native storage.

Performance benchmarks

Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1316
Samsung Galaxy S7 3632
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 1115
OnePlus 3T 4175.33
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3450
Samsung Galaxy S7 5339
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 1944
OnePlus 3T 6302.33
JetStream
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 31.472
Samsung Galaxy S7 62.049
OnePlus 3T 49.402
Apple iPhone 6 67.485
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 33
Samsung Galaxy S7 53
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 14
OnePlus 3T 59
Apple iPhone 6 48.9
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 9
Samsung Galaxy S7 29
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 5.6
OnePlus 3T 32
Apple iPhone 6 25.8
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 766
Samsung Galaxy S7 1840
OnePlus 3T 1854
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3951
Samsung Galaxy S7 5462
OnePlus 3T 4175.66
View all

Internet and Connectivity

Not sold officially in the United States and lacks proper U.S. LTE bands. Does support 4G LTE on all major European carriers, though.

The Galaxy A5 (2017) is a device that is not officially sold in the United States, so it’s no surprise that it features no proper 4G LTE connectivity for most U.S. carriers. The model that we have (the SM-A520F) is made for Europe and supports 4G LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 17, 20, 28. To save you the checking, let’s just say that those bands ensure the phone will properly work on all major European 4G LTE networks, but if you also bring it to the USA, it will work with AT&T. Unfortunately, it does not support LTE band 12 that is required for 4G on T-Mobile, so chances are that you won’t get proper coverage. The phone will also not work on either Verizon Wireless or Sprint in the U.S.

Different markets will carry different models of the Galaxy A5 (2017) with proper LTE support for the particular market, but let’s once again stress that this phone is not planned for U.S. release. Previous Galaxy A series phones were not sold in the U.S. either, so no this is no big surprise.

You have NFC on board on the new A5 and the phone supports Samsung Pay for wireless payments. Dual-band Wi-Fi is also on board, which is helpful in congested urban areas where a single-channel Wi-Fi receiver would often result in reduced download and upload speeds. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type-C, GPS, Glonass and BeiDou.

Camera

A new fast and intuitive camera app, great daylight pictures, but big issues with video: no stabilization and perplexing lack of 4K recording.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A5 (2017) features a 16-megapixel camera on both the back and the front. The main camera has a single LED flash and an f/1.9 lens, but lacks any form of stabilization, and there is no support for 4K video.

First, let’s say that the new camera app on the A5 is great. It supports the quick launch shortcut from other Samsung phones: just double click the home button to go directly into the camera app, fast and easy. The app itself is much cleaner. Samsung has removed all the clutter: unnecessary options are moved out of the main screen, leaving only the shutter button, a video recording button, a shortcut to the gallery, the flash controls, settings and the switch button for the front camera.

Those who want things like ISO and white balance controls, swipe left and select the Pro camera mode, where you have all those manual controls. A swipe right also reveals an HDR mode, Panorama mode, and others that you can tinker with. A swipe right brings you to different filters that change the colors and style of your pictures.

Image Quality


The quality of the pictures is very good. We are especially impressed with the lively colors, sharpness and pleasant, dynamic look of pictures shot in daylight. The camera is not as fast to focus as flagship phones, but it is not too slow either.

In low light, though, detail starts to get smudged and the lack of stabilization shows as you get quite a few blurry shots. The built-in single LED flash is strong, but completely ruins the colors of a picture, adding a nasty cold, green-ish cast to images.

When it comes to the front camera, it comes with an omni-present beauty effect. Even when you turn it off, it seems to turn the skin creamy, and if you leave it at higher settings the skin becomes an unrecognizable paintbrush mess. Despite its high resolution, the front camera cannot capture the fine detail well and selfies look better than average, but not great.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1.8
2.9
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S7 1.5
1.6
315
281
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 3
4
390
237
OnePlus 3T 2
2.1
574
558
Apple iPhone 6 1.9
2
619
432
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Video quality


The one area where the Galaxy A5 (2017) does really bad is video. First you have the fact that the phone lacks a 4K recording option, while many other devices in the same price range or even cheaper (think OnePlus 3T, iPhone SE, Huawei Nova and others) have it. But secondly, and most importantly, it is the apparent complete lack of video stabilization that really will ruin your video efforts. Even the slightest movement during video recording turns your footage into a jittery, headache-inducing mess. Forget about vlogging while walking, the videos that you get are just no good.

Other details lose importance with this big problem, but still: colors turn out well-balanced, detail is fine for a 1080p video, but the phone struggles when you have to shoot against a bright light.

Sound quality


You were all curious about that side positioned speaker, weren’t you? We were too: it’s the first time we see a phone with the speaker on the right side, next to the power key. It is a clever decision, though: this way, you will not accidentally block your speaker when you hold the phone in either portrait or landscape orientation.

And we were pleased with the quality out of such a small speaker: it was louder than we expected and the sound was fairly full, though lacking in any real depth, as you’d expect from a phone speaker.

For all else, though, it’s an excellent idea done right. Well done, Samsung!

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0.53
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.704
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 0.55
OnePlus 3T 0.84
Apple iPhone 6 1.017
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 75
Samsung Galaxy S7 72.7
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 74
OnePlus 3T 74
Apple iPhone 6 74.5
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Call Quality


We had no issues with call quality on the A5 (2017). The earpiece is loud and clear, and it was easy making out the natural tonality of the voices of our callers, while on the other end of the line we had a similarly positive experience with no complaints about volume levels or clarity.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

Battery life

A battery champ, the A5 (2017) will last you a full two days on average. Just make sure to turn off Always-on Display for maximum battery life.

The big star of the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) show is the battery. Or rather the combination of a very power-efficient chip and a 3,000 mAh battery.

It works out great: the new A5 is one of the phones with longest lasting batteries that we have ever tested.

It broke the 10-hour mark on our custom battery test, while popular phones like the Galaxy S7, Google Pixel and iPhone 7 averaged around 7 hours on the same test, set at the same brightness level.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

In real-life, though, there is one deterrent to getting the most out of that battery. That is the new Always-on Display feature: it is basically a clock with the date and the type of missed notifications that you have, displayed on your lockscreen. And it’s the biggest battery hog: it consumes around 1% of battery every hour, which over a 24-hour cycle adds up to more than 20% of the phone’s capacity. It is up to you to decide whether this feature is valuable enough to drain a fifth of your phone battery each day. Our decision was to turn it off.

With it off, though, we were able to get two days of battery life on average with typical use. Heavier use will still have you charging after a day and a half, but for the lighter user, this phone can really reach 2-day battery territory, which is outstanding.

We are also happy to see Samsung includes its Fast Adaptive Charging tech in this phone. It only takes an hour and a half to get your battery fully charged from 0 to 100% with the built-in wall charger. This is one of the fastest charging phones currently.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 11h 9 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S7 6h 37 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 9h 55 min (Excellent)
OnePlus 3T 5h 41 min (Average)
Apple iPhone 6 5h 22 min (Poor)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 91
Samsung Galaxy S7 88
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 96
OnePlus 3T 85
Apple iPhone 6 147
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Conclusion


The Galaxy A5 (2017) is such an interesting device: it’s designed to near perfection with a stylish curved glass back and metal frame, and has the water-protection that only more expensive phones have.

Samsung knows this and has also increased the price of the A5 this year: the 2017 model costs €430, up from the €400 launch price for the Galaxy A5 (2016) and A5 (2015) models.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Apart from visual style, the A5 (2017) also has one of the better Android interfaces out there with the new Grace UI: it’s clean, it’s well-organized, it’s tidy. But the phone also has a few downsides: performance is fine for daily use, but start using more intense apps and / or games and the processor runs into trouble. The lack of a 4K video option and the complete lack of stabilization also ruins the video recording quality. Then, there is also the fact that the phone runs on Android 6 Marshmallow: this is not a huge downside, as it still has the newer Grace user interface, but this is also a signal of how much of a priority this phone will be for future updates.

What is worse, the Galaxy A5 (2017) is surrounded by some absolutely stunning rivals. If you don’t mind a phone with a slightly bigger screen, the OnePlus 3T costs practically the same, but adds a much faster processor, much better photo and video quality, without sacrificing in terms of style. The iPhone SE is for those who don’t mind a 4” screen and it’s also a cheaper option with way faster performance, much better camera capabilities and software update cycle that will outlast the A5 in years. If you want a similar screen size, you have the Honor 8, a stunningly good-looking phone currently on sale for $100 less than the A5 and with similar capabilities. In Europe, you have the Huawei Nova for €100 less, and even that phone supports 4K video recording and has an excellent selfie camera, as well as an appealing design.

All things considered, the Galaxy A5 (2017) is not a bad phone. It’s a very, very good phone. Get it if you truly care about long battery life, the feature-rich interface and excellent keyboard typing experience. Get it for the looks. For all else, other phones are priced more fairly and offer more bang for the buck.