Introduction

Samsung's newly found love for "premium build" is spilling down the ranks and if the new A-series get half the love and attention the S-line has been getting, it will be a job well done. The South Koreans are right to try and stir things up in the midrange to turn declining profits around. Flagships are to be admired from a distance, the average user would think, and spend their cash on gadgets that are simpler, safer and more affordable.

Now, we're not sure we can call the Samsung Galaxy A5 "simple", and "affordable" is very much in question too, as the recently reviewed Galaxy A3 will testify. But slim, sharp and good-looking go without saying.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5 official photos

Visually, the Samsung Galaxy A5 is even sleeker than the Galaxy A3, in no small part because its bigger size makes it look even slimmer and more cutting edge. Otherwise, both offer a white-painted metal frame, a razor thin profile, and a pearl-like finish of the back cover. The Galaxy A5 however has a bigger, 5" Super AMOLED display and a beefier 13MP camera to show for its higher price tag.

Key features

  • Both Single SIM and Dual SIM models come LTE-equipped on many markets (Cat. 4 LTE 150/50Mbps)
  • 5" Super AMOLED of 1280 x 720px resolution, ~294ppi
  • All-metal body with premium matte finish and low 123g weight
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 64-bit chipset, quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 processor, 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz, theme support
  • 13MP camera capable of 1080p video recording, 5MP front-facing camera
  • 16GB of built-in storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Optional Dual SIM version with a nanoSIM slot inside the microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation via dedicated mic
  • NFC, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS/GLONASS, LTE
  • 2,300mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Snapdragon 410 is more befitting cheaper, lower midrange devices
  • It's comparatively pricey for the hardware features offered
  • Dual-SIM version forfeits microSD
  • Battery is non-removable

When Samsung launched the Galaxy Alpha we all thought they were proving a point - there, we can make handsome metal phones too. In hindsight, the Alpha is obviously more than just a preemptive strike against Apple's iPhone 6. Perhaps the beginning of Samsung's new strategy: make the same smartphones people love and buy, only make them look better on the outside.

In light of the recent reports of dropping sales numbers, we can't really say whether the new design philosophy is working out for Samsung or not. But we do like the new gloss-free design and quality finish combining aluminum and steel.

Samsung may have lost some of their grip on the market and looking at better-built products to get back where they were. But while everybody loves a good-looking phone, rivals like Motorola and Sony are offering cheaper midrangers with comparable features. Windows-powered smartphones are usually more affordable, not to mention the bargain-basement prices of the likes of Huawei and Xiaomi.

Of course there are always users willing to pay a little extra for the better build and that's what Samsung's betting on. And it might as well pay off, as the Galaxy A5 is one of the most popular phones on this website.

But the Samsung Galaxy A5 is more than just a precious toy. Hidden under the cold, precision-engineered exterior are quality internals. Imaging is dully covered by a 13MP camera, which made a solid impression just weeks ago at CES. Selfie fans will cheer the 5MP shooter on the front - that's more than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has on tap.

The Snapdragon 410 chipset won't offer revolutionary performance, but it has the future-proofing of the 64-bit architecture and it's just waiting for app developers to catch up.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5

The display is ample in size, with good resolution and Samsung's Super AMOLED technology known for superb contrast and vibrant colors.

Finally, there's a 2,300mAh battery that should keep the A5 better covered than the Galaxy Alpha, which wouldn't win any battery endurance competitions.

All of the aforementioned qualities add up to a very pleasing overall package. Sure, the Samsung Galaxy A5 commands a heavier price tag than the new 5" Moto G (2014) but adds what Samsung feels is more than enough flair to justify the asking price.

Join us as we discover what the Galaxy A5 has to offer on the pages to come.

Unboxing

The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes in a little blue box offering the standard set of accessories all _phone_ should have. Inside is a wall charger rated at 1.55A, a microUSB cable, SIM ejector tool and Samsung headphones with volume control and microphone.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Retail box

Samsung Galaxy A5 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is a nice looking smartphone with a very thin profile of only 6.7mm, a height of 139.3mm and a width of 69.7mm. Quite expectedly, with those measurements the Galaxy A5 is impressively thin and compact considering it houses a 5" display and physical home button. The space above and under the display are just about the right size but we do wish the side bezels were a bit thinner.

Design and build quality

Design-wise Samsung has gone very clean and minimalist with the Galaxy A5. The white-painted metal frame is precision cut and has no protruding corners along its length, unlike the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

The Samsung Galaxy A5 up front

The metal frame is chamfered at the edges allowing for a sharp, edgy feel in the hand and the corners at each end are ever so slightly rounded although not taking away from the square feel and look of the handset.

Our unit has a Pearl White finish although you can get the Samsung Galaxy A5 in Light Blue, Champagne Gold, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver or Soft Pink. In the case of the Pearl White version that we got, the body glistens in different nuances depending on how the light falls on it. It certainly looks catchy, but it looks like it's going to appeal more to the female part of the Western audience.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy A3 the Galaxy A5 is noticeably taller although not much wider. The design here is flatter, though.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy A3

The metal frame of the Samsung Galaxy A5 is the main design element here. It's where all other things come together, clasped firm under the frame's metal grip.

Samsung has applied a coat of paint to the frame so that no matter which color option you choose the frame matches the rest of the body.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Thin, metal frame

Handling the Galaxy A5 is a joy. The _phone_ sits nice and flat in the hand and its matte surface and cool sides are nothing short of impressive. Some might prefer a more curved shape as the flat sharp surface doesn't sit as naturally in the hand. But the sharp edged actually contribute to the feeling of holding a super slim device in your hand.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Handling the Samsung Galaxy A5

Controls

The Galaxy A5 controls layout in typical fashion with the usual controls in all the usual places. The front is mainly occupied by the 5" Super AMOLED panel of HD resolution.

Above it Samsung has fitted an earpiece, the proximity and ambient light sensors, and a 5MP front-facing camera.

Under the display sits the usual combo of physical home button and two capacitive buttons for recent apps and back. The home button isn't fingerprint sensing, though, unlike the one of the Galaxy Alpha.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Controls at the front

The volume rocker is located on the left side while the power button is side-mounted on the right. Under it are two card slots - the top one is reserved for the microSD card slot but it also doubles as the second nanoSIM compartment on the Galaxy A5 Duos, giving you dual SIM abilities on expense of the memory expansion option. The second slot holds the main nanoSIM card.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

The sides

The top acts only as the placeholder for the secondary noise reducing microphone while on the top lies the main microphone, the audio jack and the microUSB port.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Bottom and top

The main 13MP camera sits on the back between the single LED flash and the single loudspeaker grille. We would've preferred the speaker to be front-facing as now the audio is directed backwards, which isn't ideal, but that's certainly not uncommon.

The back panel has a pleasant matte finish which feels great when gliding a finger over it.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Things to see at the back

5" 720p Super AMOLED

Samsung has gone with a 5" 1280 x 720px display of the Super AMOLED type. Pixel density is a little below what's become known as Retina territory but is still perfectly adequate at 294 pixels per inch.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Since this is an OLED panel contrast is practically unmeasurable (meaning excellent), blacks should be as deep as technologically-possible (meaning 0 or excellent) and colors should be very saturated and vibrant, if not accurate.

Samsung bundles its display expertise in the form of display modes meant to adjust the panel to your visual liking. The default mode is adaptive display which automatically optimizes the screen color rendering depending on the app you're using it in - Gallery, Camera, Internet, Video or Google Play Books. It's not compatible with third party apps.

The other modes include AMOLED cinema, which is the most vibrant of all, AMOLED photo which is less vibrant and Basic, which turns your beautiful display into colorless dull canvas.

When viewed under a microscope, the diamond PenTile matrix of the Samsung Galaxy A5 can be observed. It's the same layout as the one found on the Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 mini to name a few.

Samsung Galaxy A5

The 5" display of the Samsung Galaxy A5 is among the best we've seen. It offers the traditional deepest blacks and excellent contrast but is also very bright for an AMOLED unit. It's not quite as bright as the Samsung Galaxy A3 but comes close.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy A5 191 398
Samsung Galaxy A3 243 470
HTC Desire 820 0.18 235 1299 0.45 598 1327
Motorola Moto G (2014) 0.24 253 1039 0.43 413 968
Sony Xperia C3 Dual 0.13 152 1207 0.56 642 1153
HTC Desire 816 0.15 164 1087 0.46 478 1032
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 228 456


Thanks to Super AMOLED's low reflectivity the panel is among the best we've seen in direct sunlight. On-screen content remains legible and the contrast doesn't deteriorate much under light. Viewing angles are also very good on the Samsung Galaxy A5 rounding off a complete and quality display package.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life test

The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes with a 2,300mAh battery unit that's non removable.

We tested both the Galaxy A5 Duos in both single SIM and dual SIM configuration and we came to the conclusion that adding the second SIM deducts about 5 hours off your consolidated battery runtime with the standby times taking the more serious hit.

The call times were impressive on both devices and the browsing and video playback tests are good.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 scored 74 hours of endurance in our proprietary multi-discipline test. The Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos scored a rating of 69 hours under the same usage pattern - a daily usage of 1 hour worth of video watching, 1 hour worth of web browsing and 1 hour worth of making calls.

Samsung Galaxy A5 and A5 Duos Review

Samsung Galaxy A5 and A5 Duos Review

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes loaded with wireless connectivity features. LTE starts with LTE Cat. 4 (up to 150Mpbs down, 50Mbps up), while regular 2G and 3G connectivity is, of course, supported, too.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 also has a dual-SIM version, which unlike the Galaxy A3, doesn't come with any hardware limitations. Both have LTE and NFC connectivity and an equal amount of RAM. The only compromise you are forced to make is to pick whether you want to use its secondary SIM slot as a microSD slot or as a SIM slot - you can't have both.

There are regional versions of both smartphones that lack LTE and NFC connectivity though, so make sure you are getting the appropriate model for your needs.

Back to the connectivity features, local connectivity includes Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Wi-Fi Hotspot capabilities and dual-band connectivity.

There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0 LE and ANT+, the latter allowing for easier connection to certain wireless sports accessories.

NFC rounds off the wireless connectivity section.

The Galaxy A5 relies on a standard microUSB 2.0 port for charging and wired data connectivity. What we do miss here is a wired TV-out option either via MHL or SlimPort.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 can offer its secondary SIM slot as a microSD slot or as a SIM slot - you can't have both.

TouchWiz with themes

The Samsung Galaxy A5 runs on the latest available Android 4.4.4 KitKat enhanced with the TouchWiz UI. It's almost the same version that powers the Galaxy Alpha but with the fresh twist of offering graphical UI themes for the first time in the Galaxy lineup.

Here's a video we've prepared to give you a taste of what it's like.

Starting with the lockscreen, it's the regular Samsung affair. You can glimpse the date and time as well as quickly access the camera via the shortcut on the bottom right.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Lockscreen

The homescreen is also typical TouchWiz, with a 4-icon dock on the bottom. You can have up to 5 homescreens, panes can reordered and one is set as default. Flipboard is also the leftmost homescreen aggregating your social news - Samsung calls this Flipboard Briefing.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Homescreen

Themes have made their way to TouchWiz but currently only four are available aside from the standard one. They change every aspect of the UI aside from transition animations.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Themes

The notification area is again, like what you may have seen on any other Galaxy smartphone in the past, but it has seen some of its functionality missing - the Quick Connect and S Finder shortcuts are gone. You can expand the default one roll of toggles to the complete list from the upper right shortcut of by dragging the notification shade down with two fingers.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Notification area

The settings menu is a vertical list of apps divided into categories. You can also search the settings menu with the dedicated search field up top. Alternatively, you can also browse the settings menu in a tabbed view.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Settings menu

In the app drawer, the icons are presented as a customizable or alphabetized grid. You can also view only the ones you've downloaded yourself or just hide the ones you don't need. You can also disable some of the pre-installed apps so they won't take any RAM.

The task switcher interface is the same as on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy S5 after the Lollipop update - a vertical list of app thumbs laid out in a beautiful carousel. You can close all apps directly.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Task switcher

The Samsung Galaxy A5 features One handed operation unlike its smaller counterpart the Galaxy A3. It shrinks the whole user interface down so that it's easier to use with a single hand. You can choose how big the usable portion is and also move it around. The rest of the UI remains black so that it doesn't light up the unused pixels or drain the battery.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

One handed operation

Another useful feature the Galaxy A3 lacks but Galaxy A5 makes up is Samsung's Multi window. It allows you to use two supported apps at once in split screen mode. You can also use two instances of the same app - for example two Internet browsers.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Multi window

Samsung's TouchWiz is pretty powerful but can also be a little taxing on the chipset. There are a lot of effects and animations but after you've gotten all the clutter out of the system it works like a beefier version of Android KitKat with a pinch of Lollipop here and there.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 410

The Samsung Galaxy A5 relies on a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset and 2GB of RAM to move things along. There's a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 processor and the Adreno 306 GPU.

Overall, this package doesn't really expand all that much on the Snapdragon 400 abilities of old but as developers optimize their apps for 64-bit architecture and Lollipop reaches more devices, the Galaxy A5 should see a speed benefit.

So let's dive right into the scores. As we always do, we will be focusing first on the overall and CPU benchmarks. Starting with GeekBench 3 and AnTuTu 5 where the Samsung Galaxy A5 showed middling performance falling slightly behind its main competition in the first test and slightly ahead of it in AnTuTu 5.

Basemark OS II focuses on the CPU mostly. It gives an overall score and breaks down CPU performance by single and multi-core. Basemark OS II shows the Galaxy A5 and its Snapdragon 410 chip as a middling to poor performer, outclassed by most of its rivals.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3214
  • Oppo R5
    2806
  • HTC Desire 820
    2586
  • HTC Desire 816
    1510
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1492
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1469
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1460
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1400
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1181

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    51905
  • Oppo R5
    31417
  • HTC Desire 820
    27070
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    21581
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    21533
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    21002
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    20024
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    18466

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    915
  • Oppo R5
    772
  • HTC Desire 820
    725
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    564
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    556
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    555
  • HTC Desire 816
    520
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    504
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    466

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    2579
  • HTC Desire 820
    1812
  • HTC Desire 816
    1739
  • Oppo R5
    1657
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1420
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1313
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1217
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1203

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    15096
  • Oppo R5
    10000
  • HTC Desire 820
    8453
  • HTC Desire 816
    7071
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    5481
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    5283
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    5234
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    4880

Next up are the GPU benchmarks aiming to put the Adreno 306 performance in context. GFXBench has two 1080p tests - 2.7 T-Rex and 3.0 Manhattan - in both onscreen (720p) and offscreen (1080p) fashion showing the test framerates.

Keep in mind that anything below 30fps isn't smooth and the Galaxy A5 scored just that. None of the fps we saw from its Adreno 306 are impressive and it's clear that the Adreno 405 found in the Snapdragon 615 is much better at demanding graphics.

Basemark X shows a gaming score that's slightly lower than that of the Snapdragon 615 found in the Desire 820.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    31.3
  • Oppo R5
    15.1
  • HTC Desire 820
    15
  • HTC Desire 816
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    5.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    5.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    5.3

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    48.4
  • HTC Desire 820
    26
  • Oppo R5
    14.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    12.8
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    11
  • HTC Desire 816
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    9.6

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    13.4
  • Oppo R5
    5.8
  • HTC Desire 820
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1.8
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.8
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.7

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    25.3
  • HTC Desire 820
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    6.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    6.4
  • Oppo R5
    5.8
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    4
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.9
  • HTC Desire 816
    3.9

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    11065
  • HTC Desire 820
    4859
  • Oppo R5
    4855
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1904
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1897
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1895
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1895
  • HTC Desire 816
    1437

Kraken 1.1 by Mozilla reflects the JavaScript capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy A5 while Rightware's BrowserMark 2.1 offers an evaluation of its HTML 5 abilities. In Kraken 1.1 the Galaxy A5 took a solid lead over many of its competitors, which could be attributed to good software optimization as most of its rivals in the table have equal or even higher-end chipsets.

BrowserMark was a similar deal with a good overall score, besting that of the HTC Desire 820 with Snapdragon 615 and 816 with Snapdragon 400.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    4911
  • Oppo R5
    11656
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    13083
  • HTC Desire 816
    13564
  • HTC Desire 820
    13568
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    15737
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    18323
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    18343
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    18353

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    1364
  • Oppo R5
    1319
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1171
  • HTC Desire 820
    991
  • HTC Desire 816
    774
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    465
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    413

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is no speed demon and neither is its chipset, despite the fancy 64-bit architecture it flaunts. All the benchmarks show a middling to lower end performance in raw CPU/GPU and JavaScript/HMTL 5 tasks. But that's not what smartphones are all about. Sure the Galaxy A5 isn't fit to handle the most graphic-intensive games but it is perfectly adequate for day to day tasks of any kind.

As we reported the user interface doesn't stutter and underperform and you could easily enjoy this phone as your perfectly average midrange daily driver. If you want something more upper-class then you might want to look at devices with at least a Snapdragon 615 chip inside.

Single SIM and Dual SIM telephony

The Samsung Galaxy A5 held onto signal well and we liked the sound quality it produced. Calls were also very clear and loud. The active noise reduction during calls kept background noise under control and voice was loud and clear.

The dialer is the familiar TouchWiz app and features all the basics - smart dial, quick dial and even a video call button.

The list of contacts is displayed alphabetically and there's an alphabet scroll and a search field. Your contacts automatically get synced with your Google account and your social networks.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Phonebook

The dialer is part of a tabbed app that also houses the Logs. Those are very detailed and show not only calls, but messages too and you can filter by various types of events (missed call, received message, etc.). There's even a search feature if you need to look up calls from just one number or contact.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Dialer

We performed our traditional loudspeaker test on the Samsung Galaxy A5 and found it to be among the lowest we've ever tested. It lacks clarity, depth and above all else volume. No software enhancement could help it produce acceptable volumes.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy A5 57.9 60.7 66.6 Below Average
Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime 63.0 60.3 68.3 Below Average
HTD Desire 816 66.6 65.7 66.6 Below Average
HTC Desire 820 65.6 61.1 75.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy A3 65.2 66.3 76 Average
Motorola Moto G (2014) 66.5 66.2 75.1 Average
Nokia Lumia 830 65.3 66.3 78 Good
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent


Messaging, email and text input

The Messages app has a row of shortcuts for the contacts you message most often and below that is the list of all conversation threads. Threads feels like a standard IM app and you can customize font size, the shape of the bubbles and the background. This app handles both SMS and MMS and features a wide variety of smilies.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Messenger

The Messages app has some cool features too - you can delay dispatch by 3 seconds (or up to 30), so you can cancel a message before it goes out. You can also schedule messages to be sent automatically (say, congratulations for a birthday). You can upsize the user interface with the volume keys.

The app also features spam protection - messages from specific numbers or containing specific phrases can be blocked. Safe mode will disable the feature that automatically makes links clickable and will scan them for potential threats.

The Galaxy A5 comes with two familiar email applications out of the box - one for your Gmail and a generic app to use with any POP3/IMAP account.

The generic app handles multiple accounts from any email server and features a combined inbox. It has a spam filter and Delayed send options similar to those in the text message app. It has a Primary Senders inbox just like Gmail too.

Gmail is smart about categorizing messages and grouping them - e.g. all promotions go in a folder, all social network messages in another and so on, keeping the Primary folder clean and containing only the important stuff. The Gmail app can handle multiple Gmail accounts, but doesn't offer a combined inbox.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Gmail

The Samsung keyboard offers an extra number row, which is very handy. You can enter text by swipe-typing (like Swype and others), move the cursor or view all alternative symbols for a key (depending on whether you use non-dictionary words or special symbols a lot).

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung keyboard

Landscape mode expands the keyboard to around half the screen but shrinks it at the left and right edges so that keys there are easier to reach.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Keyboard in landscape

TouchWiz gallery

The gallery on the Samsung Galaxy A5 is the more sophisticated one compared to the simplified found on the Galaxy A3. It can be viewed by time or by album and filtered by several categories. Event is the basic view, which groups photos based on time and location, but it's the other modes that caught our interest.

Pinch zoom will change the size of the thumbnails and can also open and close individual photos. Batch operations are supported and that includes not just copy/delete but also image rotation.

The TouchWiz gallery also uses the DLNA Wi-Fi capabilities to show content on other devices setup on the same network.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

TouchWiz gallery

Viewing images on the Samsung Galaxy A5 is a joy as its screen is big enough and the Super AMOLED panel is lovely with its deep blacks, vivid colors and immense contrast.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Viewing a single photo

Music player with loads of customizability

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy A3, the Galaxy A5 comes with the TouchWiz music player and Google's Play Music app. TouchWiz's music player is jam-packed with features and supports a wide variety of file formats, including FLAC. Music is sorted by several categories and you can hide some categories you don't need. Folder view is available and so is scanning for DLNA servers (Quick Connect helps with this).

The Now playing screen gives you the usual options: timescroll, playback controls, an AllShare shortcut. A coverflow-like list of album art lets you know what the next song will be and is an easy way to skip right to it. The music player will also try to find the lyrics for the song you're listening to.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Music player

There's also the Music square - the phone scans your music library rating each track in terms of tempo (Exciting or Calm) and emotion (Passionate or Joyful). It can then load a playlist matching your chosen tempo and mood. The emotion axis in the graph can be switched to Age, which makes it easy to automatically create a playlist of classics or contemporary hits.

Samsung has enabled several audio-enhancement features. The SoundAlive equalizer presets are cleverly organized into a square similar to the Music Square. The presets balance between Treble and Bass, Vocals and Instrumental. You can also just tap the Auto toggle or enable a Tube amp effect, 7.1 channel virtualization, along with Studio, Club and Concert Hall effects.

The advanced equalizer view gives you a proper seven band equalizer you can tune manually and enable additional effects like 3D, Bass and Clarity.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Extensive sound customizability

Finally, there's a stereo FM Radio app. It can automatically scan for stations in your area and also use the loudspeaker for playback.

Samsung Galaxy A5

FM Radio

Great video player

A Samsung video player is pre-installed and it actually has a good set of features. Subtitles are supported and you can adjust font size and color, add an optional background and a few other tweaks. There's no DLNA support or wired TV out, leaving Miracast as your only way to put a video on a larger screen.

You can also pop videos out of the app and use as a resizable overlay on the homescreen or over apps.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Video player

Codec support on the Galaxy A5 is overall good but not without issues. AC3 audio didn't play at all, some videos with AAC audio were troublesome as well. The same goes for DTS sound too. Otherwise videos played without other issues up to 1080p resolution.

Good 13MP camera

The camera interface combines still and video photography, though if you're shooting full-resolution photos (13MP with 4:3 aspect ratio) framing videos before you hit record may be a bit tricky.

The right side of the screen holds the major controls - the two on-screen shutter keys (for stills and videos), the mode switcher and the gallery shortcut. On the left you'll find additional controls, including the front/back camera toggle. You can drag two shortcuts here for the two settings you change most often.

The Galaxy A5 comes preloaded with the usual camera modes like panorama and continuous shooting but interestingly HDR didn't come by default.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Camera interface

The Samsung Galaxy A5 produces characteristic images for its maker. They are sharp with vibrant colors and good white balance. One thing that isn't up to the high Samsung standards is the dynamic range - usually Samsung phones produce images with higher dynamic range without resorting to HDR.

The Galaxy A5 handles shooting nicely and is quick to lock onto focus and snap an image.

The level of detail is on a satisfactory level, though admittedly, we've seen better. The photos are quite pleasing overall and things don't look as oversharpened as we've come to expect from Samsung. The processing is quite mature but we again, we've seen even better.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5 camera samples

Getting up close and personal with objects is easy with the Galaxy A5. It will focus without issues from close up and produce detailed images. However the separation between background and foreground isn't as pronounced as we'd like. A blurred background would require you to shoot from an even closer distance.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Macro sample

The comparatively limited dynamic range of small sensor cameras can be remedied with the use of High Dynamic Range (HDR) or Ritchtone as Samsung calls it. It didn't came preinstalled on the Galaxy A5 but was a simple download away from getting the job done. HDR can work in different ways - either snapping multiple images with different exposures or capturing a normal image and optimize the shadow and highlight area for better exposure.

Samsung seems to have gone with the second option here and the final results are overall good but not as pronounced as we've seen from other Galaxy smartphones. Highlights end up mostly the same but the shadow areas of images get brightened up.

Overall, Ritchtone does its job and allows you to capture images with higher dynamic range in harsh light.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

HDR Off • HDR On

Panorama mode captures a series of images and stitches them into one. The software is pretty straightforward and friendly, guiding your movement so that you don't lose the perfect path.

The panoramas of the Samsung Galaxy A5 have good detail and perfect stitching but lack resolution. At little over 3,000px wide and 2,000px tall there just isn't enough resolution to display what you're capturing well.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5 panorama sample

Finally here's a sample captured with the 5MP front-facing camera. It doesn't shine with exceptional detail but images come out clear and the field of view at 5MP ensures you'll get more than just your face into the shot. However the front-facing camera is noisy so you'd better take your selfies in good light.

Samsung Galaxy A5

5MP front-facing camera sample

Below you can pixel-peep on Galaxy A5 studio samples in our photo quality comparison tool where you'll be able to compare them to our entire collection of phones good, great or bad.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

The Samsung Galaxy A5 in our photo compare test

While we have seen better cameras come out of Samsung's imaging lab, we've seen very few that can compete with this one in the midrange market, aside from HTC's good 13MP snappers. In good light you can rest assured that the Galaxy A5 will capture a detailed and sharp image and will manage to capture it fast.

1080p video recording is great

The Samsung Galaxy A5 can capture videos at a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080px at 30fps. There's no smooth or slow motion videos at 60fps or 120fps even at lower resolutions but some might argue that FullHD is enough.

The videos of the Samsung Galaxy A5 are very good. Things are smooth at 29-30fps and everything in the images is sharp - about as sharp as 1080p can get. The white balance and colors have carried over from the stills camera and are equally great.

The only thing worth noting is the less than great dynamic range we saw in the stills camera but it really isn't worth frowning at on cameraphones.

You can download an untouched 1080p (00:12s, 24.3MB) sample straight off the device.

Finally, you can have a look at our dedicated video comparison tool below.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Samsung Galaxy A5 in our Video quality comparison tool

Browser and Google Chrome

The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes with both the stock Android browser (customized by Samsung) and Google's Chrome. Both support multiple tabs (including incognito ones) and an option to go straight to the desktop version of a page.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Internet browser

With a Samsung account the Internet browser can sync your browsing history and bookmarks between devices, similar to Google Chrome.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Google Chrome

Chrome has another trick up its sleeve - it can reduce traffic by compressing web pages on Google's servers before they are sent to the device, similar to how Opera's Turbo mode (and Opera Mini) work.

Other preinstalled apps

S Planner is the default calendar. It features five different views: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and agenda. Multiple online calendars are supported (complete with color coding). Despite bearing the same name, coming from the Galaxy Note 4 version of S Planner there's definitely the sense that this is a stripped down version.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

S Planner

The Memo app is fairly powerful, you can add images and voice notes in each memo and sort those in multiple categories. Notes are synced with a server, which is handy if you have several Samsung devices.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Memo

The clock app has an alarm clock, World clock, stopwatch and timer modes. Smart alarm can wake you gently by starting a quiet sound that builds over a few minutes before the raw ringer kicks in.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Clock app

My Files is the built-in file browser. Its initial screen is quite simple, sorting files by their type (video, document, etc.), but you can browse the built-in and microSD storage folder by folder, too. Files and folders can be moved, copied, deleted, renamed and ZIP-ed together.

Samsung Galaxy A5

File manager

Aside from the Google Play store you get Samsung Galaxy apps - the store for exclusive content for Galaxy smartphones. Much like Amazon, Samsung is pushing its own app store with free promos.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung apps • Google Play

The latest Google Maps app comes as standard on the Samsung Galaxy A5. The app offers the most up to date maps, a great Street View mode and free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. Keep in mind that Google Maps requires a data connection for initial routing, though.

Finally, there's S Voice - another feature missing from the Galaxy A3. You can perform many tasks with only your voice like checking the weather, opening your calendar, updating your social network status or calling and texting people from your phonebook.

Samsung Galaxy A5

S Voice

Final words

Samsung did well with the Galaxy A5, which should surprise no one who have already seen the Alpha - or the Galaxy A3 for that matter. The phone is built to flagship standards. It has great aesthetics and Samsung have picked the materials to match the purpose. Throw in a 720p Super AMOLED, a 13MP camera and the potent software package with Multi window and other perks here and there, and you have a phone that's more than adequately equipped to rule the midrange.

But in its quest to quiet the naysayers who slammed Samsung phones as cheap, plasticky and full of useless bloatware, the South Korean manufacturer may have gotten a little carried away. At its current price the Samsung Galaxy A5 is a tough sell. It sure does have a better-build than most of its rivals but way pricier.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Perhaps Samsung just wanted to make a point, and one that would resound - we can make quality phones too!

The company already proved that with the Galaxy Alpha and backed up its claim with the spectacular Galaxy Note 4. The Samsung Galaxy A5 is just as well made putting some of its more-capable brethren like the Galaxy S5 to shame.

In the course of our review we dissected the Galaxy A5 to get to know its every aspect and you can check out the complete list of our findings below.

Key test findings

  • Exceptional build quality. We like the matte finish, but the Pearl White one may be too feminine;
  • Display is very good with the expected great contrast, deep blacks and vivid colors. Brightness is also high for an AMOLED panel;
  • Great battery life highlighted by great call times. Regular Galaxy A5 achieves 250 hours of stand-by, Duos version gets 50 hours less and is 5 hours less enduring but still good;
  • The connectivity suite is quite full, missing only wired TV-out connectivity; the non-LTE models however lack NFC as well;
  • TouchWiz offers useful One-handed operations, Multi window and is fast and fluid;
  • Performance of the Snapdragon 410 is middling, not suited for high-end gaming;
  • Below average speaker loudness;
  • Good video player codec support; its only issues lie with the MKV format and proprietary audio codecs such as AAC and AC3;
  • Excellent audio output quality;
  • 13MP camera outputs detailed and sharp images with good color balance, but only average dynamic range;
  • 5MP front-facing camera is nothing special but it's wide-angle enough to fit a lot in the frame;
  • 1080p video is among the best we've seen, comes with great level of detail and fluid motion.

OK, there're items on this list that can actually help Samsung justify the price asking price, and that's after you've factored in the premium build and the great execution. But there're others too that inevitably raise questions. For one, the Samsung Galaxy A5 is clearly an upper-midrange smartphone but one that uses a lower-midrange Snapdragon 410 chipset. At a current price which of some €350, one may as well get an S800 at least.

You will understand what we mean when we take a look at some of the likely competitors. To get the obvious out of the way, the Samsung Galaxy A3 has a smaller screen of lower resolution and a lower-res camera. The TouchWiz suite isn't as sophisticated either. But the Galaxy A3 costs significantly less and retains the beautiful build.

Samsung Galaxy A3

Samsung Galaxy A3

HTC does have a pair of phones that can easily challenge the Galaxy A5. We recently reviewed the HTC Desire 820, which has a higher-end Snapdragon 615 chipset with better CPU and much better GPU performance, a good 13MP camera and a bigger 5.5" 720p display. The HTC Desire 820 costs less too, despite being overpriced itself. The HTC Desire 816 is practically the same device only with a Snapdragon 400 chipset and a much lower price tag.

HTC Desire 820
HTC Desire 816

HTC Desire 820 • HTC Desire 816

The Lenovo A6000 has the same screen size and resolution, offers dual-SIM capabilities and is powered by the same chipset. Most importantly, the Lenovo A6000 is dirt cheap at the moment - more than three times cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy A5.

Lenovo A6000

Lenovo A6000

Speaking of cheap, the Motorola Moto G has set new standards of affordability. It has a great 5" 720p LCD, good camera and stereo speakers on the front. It's cheaper, obviously, and comes with a clean version of Android, already running or expecting Lollipop any moment.

Motorola Moto G (2014)

Motorola Moto G (2014)

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G is the next cheaper smartphone that can go toe to toe with the Galaxy A5. It has the older Snapdragon 400 chipset but a bigger 5.5" 720p screen, a 13MP main camera and robust battery.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G

Before we wrap up the rivals we would be remiss if we didn't bring up the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G3. An older generation flagship and a clearly superior smartphone are both cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy A5. To be fair, the Snapdragon 801-powered, QHD-screen flaunting LG G3 is cheaper for the entirely wrong reasons, which we won't go into right now. But the Galaxy S4 makes an interesting comparison.

Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
LG G3

Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 • LG G3

Cheap-looking flagships helped Samsung to the top spot, which the company still holds. One may wonder whether premium midrangers will help the company do better or turn out too big of a risk. The truth is Samsung Galaxy A5 is a brilliant looking phone and by no means underpowered. Its biggest problem is it's not cheap. Not quite what you see is what you get but definitely wish what you saw.

Unboxing

The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes in a little blue box offering the standard set of accessories all phone should have. Inside is a wall charger rated at 1.55A, a microUSB cable, SIM ejector tool and Samsung headphones with volume control and microphone.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Retail box

Samsung Galaxy A5 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is a nice looking smartphone with a very thin profile of only 6.7mm, a height of 139.3mm and a width of 69.7mm. Quite expectedly, with those measurements the Galaxy A5 is impressively thin and compact considering it houses a 5" display and physical home button. The space above and under the display are just about the right size but we do wish the side bezels were a bit thinner.

Design and build quality

Design-wise Samsung has gone very clean and minimalist with the Galaxy A5. The white-painted metal frame is precision cut and has no protruding corners along its length, unlike the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

The Samsung Galaxy A5 up front

The metal frame is chamfered at the edges allowing for a sharp, edgy feel in the hand and the corners at each end are ever so slightly rounded although not taking away from the square feel and look of the handset.

Our unit has a Pearl White finish although you can get the Samsung Galaxy A5 in Light Blue, Champagne Gold, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver or Soft Pink. In the case of the Pearl White version that we got, the body glistens in different nuances depending on how the light falls on it. It certainly looks catchy, but it looks like it's going to appeal more to the female part of the Western audience.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy A3 the Galaxy A5 is noticeably taller although not much wider. The design here is flatter, though.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy A3

The metal frame of the Samsung Galaxy A5 is the main design element here. It's where all other things come together, clasped firm under the frame's metal grip.

Samsung has applied a coat of paint to the frame so that no matter which color option you choose the frame matches the rest of the body.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Thin, metal frame

Handling the Galaxy A5 is a joy. The phone sits nice and flat in the hand and its matte surface and cool sides are nothing short of impressive. Some might prefer a more curved shape as the flat sharp surface doesn't sit as naturally in the hand. But the sharp edged actually contribute to the feeling of holding a super slim device in your hand.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Handling the Samsung Galaxy A5

Controls

The Galaxy A5 controls layout in typical fashion with the usual controls in all the usual places. The front is mainly occupied by the 5" Super AMOLED panel of HD resolution.

Above it Samsung has fitted an earpiece, the proximity and ambient light sensors, and a 5MP front-facing camera.

Under the display sits the usual combo of physical home button and two capacitive buttons for recent apps and back. The home button isn't fingerprint sensing, though, unlike the one of the Galaxy Alpha.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Controls at the front

The volume rocker is located on the left side while the power button is side-mounted on the right. Under it are two card slots - the top one is reserved for the microSD card slot but it also doubles as the second nanoSIM compartment on the Galaxy A5 Duos, giving you dual SIM abilities on expense of the memory expansion option. The second slot holds the main nanoSIM card.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

The sides

The top acts only as the placeholder for the secondary noise reducing microphone while on the top lies the main microphone, the audio jack and the microUSB port.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Bottom and top

The main 13MP camera sits on the back between the single LED flash and the single loudspeaker grille. We would've preferred the speaker to be front-facing as now the audio is directed backwards, which isn't ideal, but that's certainly not uncommon.

The back panel has a pleasant matte finish which feels great when gliding a finger over it.

Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung Galaxy A5

Things to see at the back

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