Midrange smartphones are fun to follow. With flagships and other high end phones one can be almost certain that all the best parts and materials will be used in making them, the opposite goes for entry levels. With midrange phones, there are compromises—would the manufacturer spend less on the chipset and memory in favor of a powerful camera? What special features are added to make up for the phone’s shortcomings? And so on.
Samsung has not had the chance to push its weight in this market segment. For whatever reason that may be, hopefully the 2017 Galaxy A5 will get the ball rolling for Samsung in the midrange category.
Design 5.0 / 5.0
As first impressions go, the Samsung Galaxy A5 is a looker. The loaner that I got to use was in Black Sky although it is also available in other elegant colors: Gold Sand, Peach Cloud and Blue Mist.
Elegant. Yes. That is the word. Everything looks so perfectly placed from the buttons to the rear camera, which does not protrude from the phone’s profile, being smooth and uniform all over when held. The finish is brushed metal for the band that goes around the phone’s sides, while the back is a non-removable semi-glossy plastic which provides the perfect counter-texture for the sides and edges.
The A5’s form factor sits perfectly in my hand, and I can navigate the 5.2-inch screen with just one hand without straining it even in the farthest edge, but also great for texting or playing games.
For the eternal clutz such as myself, the A5 provides excellent screen protection with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The phone is also IP68-certified dust- and waterproof (up to 30 minutes submerged in 1.5 meters).
Hardware 4.0 / 5.0
The Galaxy A5 houses an Exynos 7880 Octa chipset with an octa-core Cortex A-53 processor clocking in at 1.9 GHz and a Mali-T830MP3 graphics chip. This is coupled with 3GB of RAM, giving the device more than enough for multitasking and playing games.
In terms of storage, the phone has 32GB of onboard storage which is expandable up to 256 GB via a microSD card slot. The A5 charges and connects to the computer via a USB Type-C 1.0 reversible connector. The A5 sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and an LED flash while the front-facing camera is also at 16 megapixels.
The phone supports high-speed charging and has a battery capacity of 3000 mAh. I actually left the A5 with 80 percent of battery left at the office for four days and the phone was still on standby with 15 percent when I got back. Not too shabby.
User Experience 4.0 / 5.0
As a smartphone user, I am not big on RAM-sucking applications. After all, I still use my laptop for the majority of what I need to get done. The A5, however, was able to handle my day-to-day applications including social media, photo-editing, and productivity applications without the slightest stutter.
I tried playing more graphics-heavy games and audio and video editing applications that required a huge chunk of memory, and I was pleasantly surprised that it was able to run them smoothly.
The interface is a clean version of Marshmallow 6.0.1 and is free from annoying preloaded widgets. Minimalists will love how very little is changed from the vanilla OS.
What I lack in software sophistication, I make up for with my incessant compulsion to take pictures of everything. Both the front and rear cameras were able to take very good pictures even in low light. The automatic setting can pretty much get me through the day, but the lack of manual options on the camera app was a bit of a letdown.
I’m an easy guy to please when it comes to smartphones, and the Galaxy A5 went beyond that. It stands as a good all around phone that can do what is asked of it, and able to assist users throughout the day with no problems.
Value 4.0 / 5.0
Tech enthusiasts should know by now that the Samsung name tends to come with a premium in terms of price. However, at PHP 19,990, people are actually getting a lot of phone for the price, with solid build quality and nice specs, the Galaxy A5 is worthy of Samsung’s name.
Samsung has finally done the midrange smartphone right. Good job.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE March 2017 issue
Words by Robby Vaflor