Hands on review: Samsung A5
The smartphone market is an very Darwinian place. What was considered market leading only a year ago can quickly become pedestrian as the market evolves at a breakneck pace.
Take Samsung’s Galaxy S5. On paper it ticked all the right boxes, yet only a year later it finds itself easily outclassed as alloy cases, muscular CPUs, HD AMOLED screens and big camera sensors become the new norm for mid-range and flagship smartphones.
Thankfully Samsung haven’t been resting on their laurels.
The folks at Sammy knew they needed to lift their game to maintain their position in the market. The first sign of this was the Galaxy Alpha which spoke a whole new design language and saw high end components plunked into a brand spanking new alloy and glass chassis.
After receiving a slew of positive reviews for the Alpha, Samsung have migrated many of the Aplha’s design elements to their new A5 and A3 devices. The difference being that both the A3 and A5 cram a slightly lower spec into a premium build incorporating alloy and glass.
Specs n Stuff
The A5 does offer more bang per buck than the Alpha in some areas. For a start it trades up the Alpha’s 4.7” display, opting for a slightly larger 5” display. Being an AMOLED display also means that its screen is both vivid and incredibly bright. It also helped offset the screens lower 294PPI resolution.
Where the Alpha had no memory expansion but a removable battery, the A5 can take a Micro SD but its battery is sealed into its chassis. This said, the A5 packs a 2300mAh whopper of a battery. It seemed to last forever. This was probably due in part to the use of lower power Snapdragon 410 silicon. The older chipset also most likely figures in the A5’s very reasonable $699 sticker price.
The A5 also sports 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which is plenty for games and browsing, Being able to add in up to 64GB of MicroSD storage will also be appreciated by those with large media collections.
The 13MP rear camera on the A5 impressed. This along with its metal chassis will probably both be key sellings. Low light shots were surprisingly well saturated and picture noise was also low. Daylight shots in HDR looked fantastic, being both crisp, saturated and evenly exposed. The A5’s front facing camera sports a wide selfie mode, making the A5 ideal for those for whom group shots are a big thing.
Look and Feel
This time, Sammy’s designers have done themselves proud. The A5’s all metal and glass body feels like a million bucks. Aside from the rear camera protruding slightly, the A5’s design is clean and uncluttered. Its slim 6.7mm thin body makes it highly pocketable too.
Where the Galaxy S5 commanded flagship pricing but still felt like my mums Tupperware, the A5 is priced at the upper end of the mid-range smartphone market yet still feels like a flagship phone in use. Kudos to Sammy for listening to their customers and changing their spots.
I tested a white version which looked great. A black version is also available, and if the rumour mill is to be believed, a gold version could also soon be available for around the same price.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 is a great mid-market phone. Its mid-market label is largely due to its use of a lower powered CPU. That said, in use it performed flawlessly carting out most typical smartphone chores. The big news is that the A5’s design is a big a step forward for Samsung. This plus the addition of a solid 13MP camera, Should see the A5 being a go-to combination for anyone wanting a premium handset on a mid-range budget.
Network: GSM / HSPA / LTE
Dimensions : 139.3 x 69.7 x 6.7 mm
Display: 5” Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 720 x 1280 pixels (~294 ppi)
OS: Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410
CPU: Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU: Adreno 306
Memory: microSD (up to 64 GB)
Internal: 16 GB storage, 2 GB RAM
Camera: (rear) 13MP (front) 5MP
Connectivity: WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP, EDR, LE, GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS), NFC (LTE model only)
Battery : Non-removable Li-Ion 2300 mAh battery