Samsung Galaxy A (2017): 8 cool new features
Samsung's got a trio of new Galaxy A phones: the Galaxy A3 (2017), A5 (2017) and the A7 (2017), but how are they different from the A series from last year? And what makes them stand out in a market crowded with affordable Android phones?
And while you can find all the features right below, there is one thing that really impresses in the new phones: it seems that Samsung has listened very carefully to the things that buying have been asking for. And this time around, it has implemented many of those commonly demanded features. This alone is a great sign.
A dual SIM phone is not that common of a requirement in the United States, but in many other places people are often forced to walk around with two devices, one with their work number, and another one for their personal needs. And needless to say, this is a hassle: nobody wants to worry about charging two phones and keeping them up-to-date. That's why the most practical feature of the new Galaxy A5 and A7 (2017) series is the fact that the phones come with a separate secondary SIM card slot that one can easily access. You no longer need to choose between either a second SIM or a microSD card, you can have both. Unfortunately, the Galaxy A3 (2017) still comes with the hybrid card slot of before.
Water protection is a feature that is usually reserved for high-end phones. No more. The new Galaxy A series feature an IP 68 protection rating, meaning that you can safely submerge them in water for a short period of time and they will not suffer any damage. That's definitely cool, as often an accidental drop in water can brick your phone.
Unlike any other phone, the new Galaxy A (2017) devices have their loudspeaker located not on the bottom, or the back, but on the side. Located right, just above the power / lock key, you can see the drilled holes for the loudspeaker. We don't know why Samsung decided that that was the right spot for the speakers (and we've reached out to the company to ask), but it does seem like a place that at least will not be easily blocked by your fingers. Not bad.
On the software side, we are seeing a new button that you can enable in the camera for the first time with the Samsung Galaxy A (2017). The camera app features a new floating camera shutter key that you can move around. Why? Simple, sometimes you hold your phone in a weird position and it's just not convenient to reach for the camera shutter button at its usual position, so you can now just move it around.
A fingerprint scanner was more and more common last year, but this year Samsung really drives the point that even its more affordable phones should have it. It's great having a fingerprint reader for security, it's a fast and convenient way to have your phone protected against thieves, and on the new Galaxy A (2017) series, the finger scanner is built in the home key up front.
Having a fingerprint scanner, opens the way to wireless payments, and the new Galaxy A series do support Samsung Pay. The neat payment platform supports newer terminals with NFC, but also works with older MST magnetic terminals, something that rival services like Apple Pay and Android Pay do not support.
We're glad that Samsung has finally transitioned its more affordable phones to the USB-C port. This is the new standard: the connector is conveniently reversible, so you don't need to worry which is the right way to plug in your phone, and there is a ton of additional features that this new standard supports.
Another interesting detail is the added support for fast charging on the Galaxy A5 (2017) and A7 (2017). Given the larger size of their batteries - a 3,000 mAh one on the A5 and a 3,600 mAh on the A7 - the fast charging definitely comes as a welcome addition. The A3 (2017) lacks this feature, but it also has the smallest, 2,350 mAh battery that still would charge in a relatively quick time even without fast charging support.
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