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Samsung Galaxy A5 review

 Review: February 2015  
 

Last updated June 2016

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy A5 has an ultraslim, aluminium design and an excellent selfie camera. But although it costs less than the flagship S5, its mid-range spec means that it's still over-priced for what you get.

Best buy: Samsung Galaxy A5 SM-A500 from Tesco Direct (£211.53)



 

Premium metal design

Samsung's flagship phone remains the Galaxy S5 (until the Galaxy S6 launches next month), but not everyone likes its plastic design; nor can everyone afford its high price. That means there's a gap for a cheaper, more premium model - at least in Samsung's muddled way of thinking.

Cheaper and more premium? Say, what? That's what the Galaxy A5 brings, following on from last year's Galaxy Alpha. Like the Alpha, the A5 is an ultraslim, lightweight phone with an aluminium metal construction and sleek, designer styling. It's perhaps what the Galaxy S5 ought to have looked like. It's available in a choice of four colours - Black, White, Silver and Gold.

The A5 is larger than the Alpha, pushing to the same size as the S5, and with a 5 inch screen to match. It's a nice handset to look at and hold, although we do have an issue with the protruding camera lens at the back.

The screen is a bright, bold Super AMOLED display, which adapts to the lighting conditions for optimum results. It's an excellent display in terms of brightness, contrast, viewing angles and colour accuracy, but it's only HD, not Full HD like the Galaxy S5. The 294 ppi pixel density isn't as sharp as most rival phones in this price range.

In a further bid to cut costs, the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor that feature in both the S5 and the Alpha have been stripped out for the A5. Another downside is that audio output from the rear speaker is more muffled than some rivals.

But on a more positive note, the Galaxy A5 has one of the lowest emission levels of any phone ever, with a SAR rating of just 0.259 W/Kg.

Snapdragon 410 processor

Whereas the S5 uses a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, the A5 uses the Snapdragon 410 running at just 1.2GHz. Even though the 410 is a modern 64-bit processor, it's significantly slower than the Snapdragon 801 used by the S5. Still, for everyday tasks, the A5 will be up to the job, with only high-end 3D games showing any sign of slow-down.

The S5 comes with a generous 2GB of RAM - the same as in the S5, and it has the same 16GB of onboard memory, with the benefit of a memory card slot. This is something that the Galaxy Alpha missed out on, and means that the memory can be expanded to a total of 16GB + 64GB.

The A5 runs Android KitKat 4.4 with Samsung's usual TouchWiz user interface mods.

Smile! I'm on camera!

The rear camera of the A5 features a 13 megapixel sensor and can record 1080p video. But it's the front camera that has been upgraded compared with the camera on the Galaxy Alpha and S5. It's a 5 megapixel camera designed for selfies and video chat. There's a neat feature that lets you take 20 still shots and automatically make them into an animated GIF.

Connectivity

The Galaxy A5 is a 4G phone that comes with a comprehensive set of connectivity options - Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, USB, Bluetooth, NFC and ANT+.

Battery life

Fitting a large battery in a superslim phone always poses a problem, and the battery in the Galaxy Alpha was underpowered. The A5 has a significantly larger battery, measuring 2300mAh. In combination with the energy efficient AMOLED screen and Snapdragon 410, the A5 will last a full day of use between charges.

Conclusion - over-priced

The Galaxy A5 certainly has a premium look. With its ultraslim form and aluminium body, it's a nicer looking phone than the flagship S5. And yet, despite its gorgeous design, we're going to take half a mark off our rating because of that annoying camera lens sticking out the back.

The A5 offers decent amounts of memory and battery life, and a good camera too, although it can hardly be described as outstanding in any of these areas. Overall the phone is let down by its mid-range processor, making it feel underpowered compared with similar higher-end phones.

This is a phone with something of an identity crisis. It wants to look premium, but offer mid-range specs. There's a market for such a phone, and the A5 could be a great success, but only if the price is cut. At present it costs around £25 per month on contract, and over £300 sim free. That's too expensive. For the same price you could pick up Sony's Z3 Compact, which has a similar premium look, a much better camera, a much faster processor and significantly better battery life. A cheaper option is the Samsung A3.

Update (June 2016): The Galaxy A range has been updated for 2016 - check out our new Samsung A3 2016 review and Samsung A5 2016 review.


Samsung Galaxy A5 features include:

Best buys
£211.53
Samsung Galaxy A5 SM-A500
Click for details
£276.12
Samsung Galaxy A5 SM-A500
Click for details

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Samsung Galaxy A5 user reviews

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Average rating from 5 reviews:

Reviewed by Rozalia Joseph from Kenya on 15th Oct 2015
I got Samsung A5 few weeks ago it had a problem of losing network temporary but since last 2 days ago there isn't any network. I am offline until today. What maybe the problem?
Rating:

Reviewed by Leena from India on 9th Jun 2015
This mid-range smartphone is stylish and handy unlike many other 5 inch screen mobile phones. You can easily tuck this phone into your jeans pocket and it will fit in perfectly. You will hardly find any phone with such high performance capacity in this low cost. Galaxy A5 has 13 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front camera. With this high quality phone camera you can capture images more clean and clear. Now clicking selfie will become more fun. The Samsung Galaxy A5 has 2,300mAh battery and around 15hrs of talk time capacity. Though it doesn’t have a removable battery, the battery life is pretty good. For more details you can refer Samsung India site.
Rating:

Reviewed by Balaji from India on 28th May 2015
I bought Samsung Galaxy on 13th Apr'15. Front camera images were blurred, rear camera colour reproduction was pathetic. A pink shirt looked like grey. Frequent signal drop. I returned this phone and the service representative informed that there is display problem and they would change the dis play. It was hardly a week old and I insisted for a replacement. New sevice was delivered on 5th May'15 and the didn't provide a standby phone. I got a 4G sim from my service provider. Though, there is network signal if someone calls me, it would give them a message that the phone is switched off. I'm able to make calls but unable to receive at times. This phone has an entry level processor which cannot handle even single simple application. Memory management is poor. Always, 80-85% of memory usage and the applications shut off suddenly. Device hangs frequently. After browsing for 10-15 minutes, the phone over heats to 72 degree, which is unbearable temperature if you want to make calls. They claim that the RAM is 2GB but only 1.85GB is available. Sim 2 slot can either be used for second sim or for memory and not both at the same time. They call it as hybrid sim slot which is utter useless feature. Low light rear camera images are full of noise. Front camera automatically uses beautification even in normal mode so that your face looks like a status made up of Plaster of Paris. No skin tone, texture...It is quite artificial. Battery drains faster and doesn't last for more than half day for an averge user. A few good thing about the phone is its 125g, 6.7mm thin and the super AMOLED display. Speaker is not loud enough. Music on earphones is horrible when you use Google Play Music but sounds better with Sound Alive. You can buy two other brand phones in the price of this phone with the same specifications. Motion & gesture features are already available in low cost Samsung phones. Samsung Galaxy Apps, Samsung Link, Briefing, Flip board, Ant+, Sound Alive, Weather, Drop box, Google Circles and many applications run in the background by default. There are unwanted apps pre-pre - installed which is the major cause for the sluggish performance. I'm completely disappointed with this product. Samsung promised cashback for this product but it was not credited yet.
Rating:

Reviewed by Gavin from uk on 1st Mar 2015
Great phone but battery for me is really bad only getting just over 6 hours of usage and that's with everything disable even Samsung apps this is my 2nd handset and still the same just hope its gets fixed with a software update.
Rating:

Reviewed by Adel from Egypt on 17th Feb 2015
Very good design. slim weight , the screen is a bright . The battery is good for me.
Rating:


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