In this Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 review, Mister Mo shares his experience with using this handy, beautiful, upper mid-range smartphone.
This is not a fairy tale, but the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 was love at first sight for me. I loved the display size, the water resistance, and the wide LTE support. I have used it extensively for a while now and have my review ready, so you can find out how it performs.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Quick Pros And Cons
Before we dive into the review proper, starting with the major pros and cons of this device.
|Beautiful design and solid, premium build with water and dust resistance||Quirky experience with fingerprint scanner|
|Handy, crisp, sharp 5.2-inch display|
|Network Mode lets you peg 2G and 3G||Network Mode does not let you peg to 4G|
|4G LTE support for all 4G mobile networks in Nigeria|
|Very good battery life|
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Hardware/Design
However you look at it, the A5 2017 is a beautiful device. It is made of plastic and glass and has nice rounded edges. The glass back means that it is a fingerprint magnet. It comes with the territory. Despite the presence of plastic, it does not feel cheap.
Both cameras on the A5 2017 are 16 megapixel units. At the back is the main camera with LED flash. On the left hand side are the volume up and down buttons, which is not a common location for them. Usually, they are on the right. Some distance down the left side is a SIM card slot. The right side is the location of the loudspeaker grill, below which is the power button.
At the top left edge of the phone is another eject-able tray – this time housing a second SIM slot (because this is the dual-SIM version) and a micro-SD card slot. To the far right is a microphone hole. The 35 mm slot is at the bottom edge of the phone, where another microphone hole is located just next to the USB type-C port.
The hardware home button houses the fingerprint scanner. And this is where the A5 2017 lets me down a bit. The fingerprint scanner can be quite quirky. One moment, it recognizes my fingerprint with no issues. The next, I have to tap again and again and move my thumb around before it works. This is far less stellar than what has been my experiences with other upper mid-range smartphones. Despite a reent software update, the issue has persisted.
The A5 2017 has an IP68 water and dust resistant build. This means that it will survive water splashes and even some dunking in a shallow pool. I have used it under light rain shower several times with no consequences. It has been raining elephants and buffaloes in Lagos for weeks, and it is good not to have to hide a phone away because of rain.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Software
The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 runs a customised version of Android 6 Marshmallow pre-installed. Samsung has ditched the TouchWiz user interface for the new, cleaner, more elegant Grace UX. We are fans of Grace UX. Just think of it as the much refined version of TouchWiz. Yes; TouchWiz that went to London and returned, as we say it in these parts. 🙂
Though the A5 2017 s running Android 6, split screen feature is here. As you may know, Samsung has had split screen implemented on its smartphones for a long time before Google thought it was a cool feature to include in Android 7 Nougat. The software also includes a security feature called Secure Folder, that lets you die away stuff you want to keep away from unauthorised eyes.
We are expecting the Nougat update for the A5 2017 soon.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Network, Telephony
The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 works with 4G LTE networks from Glo, MTN, and Etisalat. While it supports the LTE bands of the non-GSM 4G networks like Ntel and Smile, we couldn’t get their SIMS to pick a network inside the A5 2017. This looks like the peculiar problem we has with the Lumia 950 when we put a Smile 4G SIM card in it and it didn’t pick a signal. The explanation we got then was that some 4G LTE phones require the 4G network has to have traditional voice network as well. So the radio checks for the voice first and then if seen, latches unto the 4G network. If it does not find a voice network, no show.
While the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 lets the user peg to 2G and 3G, it does not offer the option to peg to 4G. This was a big blow to us at first, as we are fans of being able to peg our smartphones to the fastest possible network for data. However, in its defense, the A5 2017 stays locked to 4G between 80 and 90 percent of the time when within coverage. But then, we have had it switch to EDGE and 3G when we had serious work to so and render our internet-based tasks miserable experiences for us.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Display and Multimedia
The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 has a superb display. It is sharp, clear and crisp. Being just 5.2 inches in size, it is perfect for me. 5.2 inches is my sweet spot for a handy smartphone. People who are unable to do without a bigger screen and want a Samsung should go explore the J7 and Note series. Please leave our A5 for us. We like it this way.
The display has Samsung’s Always-On display – which is something that Nokia introduced generations ago. It is good to be able to experience it on a non-Nokia device. What it does is display your calendar, clock, and notifications without waking up the screen. You see white text over your black, sleeping display. And it is super power efficient too.
Audio quality of the loudspeaker is really good and sufficiently loud. If you want to plug in the included headset too, it provides you with very good audio experience.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Photography
The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 has a 16 megapixel rear camera with laser auto-focus and LED flash. On the front, it has a 16 megapixel snapper that uses the bright display as a flash. We put them to the test.
Not all 16 megapixel cameras are the same. While both the selfie camera and the main camera are 16 megapixel snappers, the photographs they take are miles apart. As a rule, you are still better off taking your selfies with your smartphone’s main camera. This is true regardless of which smartphone brand you are talking about. Have a look at the difference between the selfie camera and the main camera of the Galaxy A5 2017:
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 versus Lumia 950 Camera Shootout
For comparison purpose, here is a shootout between the main cameras of the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 and the Lumia 950. The pictures were taken in a well lit room before dawn.
One thing that is obvious though is the fact that the A5 2017 is not so great with low-light photos. As always, the Lumia 950 did a better job at lighting both the objects and the background.
Whatever the verdict you deliver on the shootout above, the A5 2017 is great with pictures. Very few smartphones have been able to best the Lumia 950. Note that the A5 2017 is not the fastest at focusing and capturing. There is often a little lag before the picture is taken.
Galaxy A5 2017 Camera Gallery
One implementation of the camera’s photo gallery that we are displeased with is how when you access the gallery from inside the camera, it does not display only photographs shot with the camera. Instead, it gives the user access to video all kinds of images saved on the phone – WhatsApp images, downloaded images, Bluetooth images – every image on the phone can be viewed from in there. This is in contrast to the standard implementation where access the gallery from inside the camera only gives access to photographs taken with the camera.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Multitasking/Performance
Multi-tasking on the A5 2017 is a smooth experience. With 3 GB RAM and a 1.9 GHz Exynos 7880 processor, it does well for most tasks, including switching between apps. However, the Exynos 7880 chip is optimised for power efficiency as well. If you have used more powerful smartphones, you will immediately notice some slowing down.
In the benchmark tests we ran, the A5 2017 came up with an AnTuTu score of 55,689. That is a good result, just not very competitive. The Redmi Note 4, for example, is a more affordable device in its class and performs much better. You can see the rest of our Galaxy A5 2017 benchmark test results HERE.
It seems to have to do with the phone’s contact app but pops up at random and is quite irritating.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Battery life
We were initially a bit skeptical of how the 3,000 mAh battery would perform. We had absolutely nothing to be worried about. Battery life is stellar. By comparison, the Lumia 950 has the same 5.2-inch display size and 3,000 mAh battery and is poor when it comes to battery life. Perhaps that was why we had initial apprehension.
But the A5 2017 proved us wrong. All through the review period, I left the charger at home and used the phone all day – sometimes till 9 pm – without running out of power. Note that I had an active 4G connection on most of the time. When I use it more heavily – as a hotspot for hours, for example – I do need to top up the battery during the course of the day. But other than the most demanding situations, the A5 2017 has got your back.
And with fast charge built in, battery performance and charging are strong points of this beautiful device.
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Review: Final Words
After a few weeks of using the Galaxy A5 2017 on a daily basis, our conclusion is that it is a solid upper mid-ranger that easily holds its own around flagships. It has its quirks. It is also not the most pocket-friendly upper mid-ranger. Samsung phones are not cheap. But if you like a classy smartphone that fits on the red carpet, in the board room and can be used in the rain and dust-heavy environments, this is one.
Other Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Resources
If you have not seen them already, you should have a look at some of the informative articles we already have published on the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017:
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Specifications & Price
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 Unboxing
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 hands-on and benchmark tests
- Samsung A5 2017 Update A520FXXU1AQF3 is a mixed bag