Samsung A5 Specs Review 2017 [With Samsung Pay]
The segment of smartphones Rs 30,000 is really interesting. Popularly known as the budget-flagship segment, this price support sees phones that offer an attractive package of features that set them apart from the factory’s smartphones on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 falls into this same segment and brings with it a good assortment of features that help it stay separate. But is it enough? Let’s find out.
Construction and design: 7.5 / 10
I quite like the construction of this phone. It has a metal frame and is covered by 2.5D glass in the front and back. The back is a bit of a sore spot because it is a fingerprint magnet, and also because it does not look very scratch proof. I say this because the review unit we received was heavily scratched on the back, which does not give me much confidence in its ability to survive the difficulties of everyday use.
Scratch-able back to the side, the phone feels heavy and sturdy and the front glass was pristine.
Two volume buttons are present on the left side and the power button is on the right. At the bottom is the USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Curiously, the speaker is only present on the right side of the device, above the power button. It’s a weird placement and we’ll talk about it later in the performance section.
A start button with a built-in fingerprint sensor is located at the bottom of the front face. Back-lit capacitive buttons are present on either side of the start button.
I like the fact that the glass curves smoothly in the frame, and I must admit, I like the design of the phone. It is discreet in black and looking at the phone, you know it is worth the sale price, at least in terms of build quality. It does not feel cheap and is well finished.
The actual hardware that powers the phone is a bit overwhelming. You get an Exynos 7880 octa-core processor that has a 1.9 GHz clock. This is backed by 3 GB of RAM. The internal storage is only 32 GB, but at least it can be expanded up to 256 GB through a microSD card.
The problem here, of course, is that OnePlus 3T of similar price offers a Snapdragon 821, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at the same price.
The A5 features a 5.2-inch Amoled screen with Full HD resolution (1920 × 1080). The front and rear cameras are 16 MP f / 1.9 units.
You get the expected assortment of connectivity options including 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, etc. While you get a USB-C port, it is a USB 2.0 port, so transfer speeds are limited. A 3000 mAh battery provides the juice.
As mentioned above, these specifications are disappointing. However, the specialty of the A5 is the fact that it fully supports Samsung Pay – including MST – and that it is IP68 resistant to water and dust.
These are some very useful features to have on a smartphone, especially at this price.
Screen: 7.5 / 10
There really is not much to say about the screen. It is a Full HD 5.1-inch screen that is almost exactly the same as any other Amoled screen that Samsung manufactures. The colors are not that big, but they are not that bad either. The brightness is good, but it is best to adjust it manually.
On the inside, the screen just seems too boring. I had to keep adjusting it manually to get the best effect. However, it is bright enough to use in bright sunlight.
The pixel density is over 400 so everything is very strong as well.
Since it is a Amoled screen, Samsung supports an always active mode, which is nice to have.
It is disappointing that Samsung did not include Android 7.0 Nougat support for the phone. It comes with Android 6.0 and a lot of customization from Samsung. As a Samsung veteran, you will not find customizations as something new.
You’ll get the usual rounded squares for icons, a detailed control panel, and a handful of customization options.
All this is normal for Samsung. The feature that stands out is the integration of Samsung Pay.
Simply put, if you have an account with a bank supported, you can use Samsung pay for any kind of card payment in the wild. This includes payments through NFC-based card readers and magnetic stripe readers.
The best part is that the Samsung Pay card is persistent on the home screen, lock screen and within some applications. It is always at the bottom of the screen with a small tab that protrudes.
Yield: 7.5 / 10
Performance is where the Samsung Galaxy A5 is well below expectations.
The OnePlus 3T sets very high expectations as far as performance figures are concerned in this price range and is easily 2-3 times more powerful than the A5.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the performance of the A5 was simply acceptable and nothing more. The phone stutters regularly, especially when using heavy applications, and the times when everything felt smooth and functional were very few.
I expected a smooth experience, and did not get one. The Exynos 7880 chipset that powers the phone is not very powerful, but should have been enough to make the device look smooth. To add an insult to the injury, a Rs 12,000 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 easily beat the A5 on a number of benchmarks, which is how bad the performance is.
The speaker is another sore spot here. While the strange position of the speaker on the right side of the device is not a big deal, the metallic sound that manages to beat is outright disappointing. I could barely make the audio even in a quiet room. Samsung should have had the sense to use a more powerful speaker.
Samsung Pay worked perfectly. It was one of the few highlights of the phone. The payment was smooth and easy and there were never any setbacks in my experience.
The IP68 rating means the phone is water and dust resistant. I tested the resistance to water by leaving the phone under a running tap and also in a bucket of water. Apart from a notice that there was water in the charing port, the phone worked exactly as it should have. There was no water damage whatsoever.
The performance in the games was fine. The games were playable and the phone did not get too hot in use.
Camera 7.5 / 10
The 16 MP front and rear cameras on this handset are actually quite nice. They captured some very nice colors and details with good lighting.
There are a number of manual adjustments to the camera in the camera application, but I realized that the camera was good enough so I really did not have to mess with the settings.
The selfie camera also managed to take detailed and sharp selfies – as strong as you can expect from the puny sensor on a smartphone.
The response from the camera was also quite fast.
The low-light performance was not too big, but at this price, few cameras can offer more, so do not complain.
If you want a better camera, however, the Huawei Honor 8 is a better bet. For better selfies, the Vivo V5 Plus is a better choice.
If you do not care so much, the camera on the A5 is not bad at all.
Battery Life: 8.5 / 10
At nearly 13 hours in our standardized tests, the battery life was quite impressive. Despite being a 3,000 mAh unit, Samsung’s power management solution seems to be doing wonders when it comes to battery life.
The phone routinely lasted a full day of work, which included dozens of calls, hundreds of messages and emails and at least a couple of hours devoted to listening to music and surfing the web.
The battery life is impressive.
Verdict and price
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I am in two minds about the Samsung Galaxy A5. On the one hand, Samsung Pay and IP68 certification are really nice. On the other hand, the OnePlus 3T offers dramatically more performance for the same price.
Even when it comes to cameras, the Vivo V5 Plus offers a better selfie camera and the Huawei Honor 8 offers a better rear camera.
The A5 is not a bad phone, but it is not the best by any means. It is well built, but not exceptionally. It has a good camera, but it’s definitely not the best choice. It is also limited to Android 6.0 by now.
In the end, I think this phone lives or dies by Samsung Pay. If you want Samsung Pay, this is the phone for you. If not, there are better alternatives to have.