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Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Posted: , by Ray S.


Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review


Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review
Upper mid-range smartphones are exciting. Traditionally, sub-flagship smartphones haven't been getting as much love as they deserve; there haven't been that many 'hero' devices to come out from the more affordable ranks. Last year, we saw a good deal of spec-heavy handsets that were built to attack the more affordable segments of the market. Most of the time, though, those products were exactly that: heavy on specs, but light on character – with generic features and boring aesthetics.

Samsung might be looking to change that in 2016. The company is releasing three mid-range devices that should, theoretically, address the aforementioned issues we've had with the category of late. The popular Galaxy A series is getting updated with the A3, A5, and A7 (2016), but if you're neither willing to compromise much with the specs, nor having the hands of a high-profile basketball player, chances are the new Galaxy A5 will be what's on your mind. It costs around $400 and is not expected to be sold officially in the US, but will be available pretty much everywhere else in the world. And then there's always third-party retails to import it in the US, so if there's a will, there's a way.

But has Samsung managed to produce the first true mid-range hero device of the century? Let's have a look!

In the box, you'll find:

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
  • Fast charger (9V – 1.67A / 5V – 2A)
  • microUSB cable
  • Earphones (GH59-11720J)
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User manual


Exquisite, ambitious design with stylish colors – almost perfect

Last year's Galaxy A5 was impressively thin, but it lacked the sophistication of Samsung's higher-tier handsets. This year, though, things are much different. The Galaxy A5 (2016) sacrifices some of the lightness of its predecessor for a more substantial, ambitious feel. The looks and proportions of the new A5 are near perfect – it's very stylish and well put together, not to mention that the black on gold / rose gold color options look striking and different from what we've been treated to so far.

Even though this isn't a top-level phone, it has one of the most exquisite designs you can find in a phone these days. The finely polished glass surfaces are non-slippery in the hand, yet don't get too messy; the metal frame is thoughtfully shaped, so it doesn't create any discomfort for the user; and the physical keys have the perfect amount of click response. While the phone won't slide out of your hand easily, however, it does slide over most other surfaces (that are not skin or leather), so you should still be careful with how and where you place it.

In an increasingly larger and deeper ocean of generic-looking plastic and metal products, Samsung's Galaxy A5 (2016) stands out as familiar, yet distinctive model. It's both aesthetically pleasing and convenient to work with.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

HTC One A9
5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One A9

OnePlus X
5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches
140 x 69 x 6.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

OnePlus X

Motorola Moto G (2015)
5.59 x 2.85 x 0.48 inches
142 x 72.4 x 12.2 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G (2015)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review


Not the best display around, but definitely in the upper echelon

A sizable 5.2” AMOLED touchscreen graces the front of the Galaxy A5 (2016). Even before we powered it up, we already knew what to expect – the default Adaptive screen mode with extra-punchy colors, our inevitable desire to switch to Basic mode in order to make things look more natural, the deep blacks, the volatile viewing angles, and everything else.

The A5's display didn't surprise us in any way – it exhibits the exact same characteristics as those of other current Samsung models. Its 1080 x 1920 px resolution is more than enough to produce a fine, pleasantly clear image, but the screen does come off as slightly washed out. Worse is the color balance, which, even on Basic screen mode, exhibits an unpleasantly strong green. It's nothing you can't get used to, but we'd like to see Samsung get rid of this problem right away.

Leaving that aside, the flexibility of this screen brightness-wise is applaudable – outdoors, it can get bright enough to let you view it comfortably, while in the dark, brightness can get extremely low, so as not to hurt your eyes.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 479
HTC One A9 345
OnePlus X 298
Motorola Moto G (2015) 449
View all

  • Options

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:01 6

1. SkyfallWalker (Posts: 73; Member since: 28 Jan 2016)

Tragic score. I wonder what the flagship smartphones will be scoring.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:27 1

5. Ray.S (Posts: 388; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)

6.5 is actually above average.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:43 10

8. ibend (Posts: 6685; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)

yeah, whatever 6.5/10 is obviously bad for average human..
according to this scoring system, no $200-$500 phone is worth to buy since august 2015, and if you want to buy phone, look for phone that get reviewed before that, like Z3 (8.5), Z3c (9), moto G (9), G Flex (8.5), M9 (8.3), Droid Turbo (9.2)..
all new phone get turd score compared to those older phone

posted on 07 Feb 2016, 13:14 6

38. phonegeek1212 (Posts: 54; Member since: 14 Aug 2015)

Never Ever Jugde a phone by PAs ratings..Its horrible!!

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 08:05 2

17. jellmoo (Posts: 2040; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

You have to admit that within the last 6 months or so the score criteria for devices has shifted fairly dramatically without explanation. I have to go back to the Droid Turbo 2 to find a handset that scored an 8 or better. That's 21 phones ago.

PA reviews have had completely arbitrary scores attached to them. If I go back 25 phones (takes us to the reviews for the 2 Nexus devices) the average handset score is 6.9.

So tell us: What changed? Was there an editorial decision made to hand out lower scores? Why is it that devices that many other sites are giving high marks/phone of the year awards like the Nexus 6P and the LG V10 get comparatively lower marks on PA?

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 11:22 3

31. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

I love how you guys tested the phone on your own website. Just in case all of you haven't noticed, your website honestly is the worst to use without a AdBlocker. You got slow performance because of your website. Test it on NYTimes or Yahoo and see a significant difference.

Fix your website or I'll continue to use AdBlocker.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 11:55 1

33. Ordinary (Posts: 2452; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)

My PC lags on phonearena without adblocker lol

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 06:05 8

11. uggman (Posts: 57; Member since: 01 Feb 2013)

i wonder what score will they give to the 4 inch iphone 5E thats coming early on this year, given they are apple friendly im guessing 9.0, still pretty much an unfair score for this galaxy phone.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 09:30

21. zeeBomb (Posts: 2304; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)

I wouldn't mind to have this phone tbh.

posted on 15 Feb 2016, 21:13

40. geoffphuket (Posts: 50; Member since: 08 Feb 2016)

Yes, but what a lousy specification. For less money you could buy a decent Chinese flagship phone. Why would you want to suffer with the abysmal AMOLED screen that this if fitted with?

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:54

28. FrankUnderwood2 (Posts: 243; Member since: 01 Oct 2015)

I think for this phone, even 6.5 is high. Especially for the processor that it has and internal storage, and the price it asks for those specs.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:06 13

2. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

"TouchWiz is a shameful software experience"

I have watched and read few other reviews about the A5 and A7 and almost all of them compared the experience to that of the S6 and complemented Samsung for tweaking TW.

Now what I wish for is you sticking to this low ratings when the iPhone 7 gets released, because you always tend to give Apple a pass when iOS have issues when a new iPhone is launched, because Apple will eventually fix these issues. But it isn't the same case with Android phones.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:17 6

3. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

Build quality rivals Galaxy S6 (kinda heavy though)
The display is good quality despite the drop in resolution (the flicker may bug some, though)
Great battery life with 91 hour endurance rating (still great with two SIMs too).
Full software package with split-screen multitasking and first-party Samsung apps
Fast fingerprint reader (as fast as on the S6); Samsung Pay (in select regions)
The GPU isn't up to the task of 1080p gaming
Great multimedia app package with advanced music player, FM radio too
The loudspeaker is fairly quiet, even with a loud ringtone
Perfect audio quality if you have an external amp, but volume drops when you plug in headphones
Photo quality is comparable with the Galaxy S6 (though not quite as nice); Pro mode is more a name than a feature; bright aperture and OIS are appreciated though
1080p videos come out very good, but no 2160p and no 60fps mode are an issue

Here is what GSMarena said about this device.
Again, these reviews are the pathetic ones. They are deceiving and full of pure lies. You lost it when you called the Fingerprint reader a pathetic one when it's the same one used on the S6 lol

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 09:25

18. may_czos (Posts: 849; Member since: 22 Nov 2014)

Photo quality comparable to the S6? Nowhere close. A5 has much worse dynamic range, struggles with shadows, sky (it makes clouds blue) and details. Some crops from a local review, A5 first, S6 edge second:



night photos:


There's no HDR Auto, Pro mode is also stripped from a few functions.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:41 1

27. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

They said, comparable, not identical.
Then followed it by, though not as nice.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:58

29. may_czos (Posts: 849; Member since: 22 Nov 2014)

I wouldn't even say they're comparable. A5's camera is significantly worse which is surprising because it's pretty expensive, has OIS and bright optics (f1,7).

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:19 12

4. SharpMonkey (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Feb 2016)

I've read the entire review as a joke, nothing more.

posted on 21 Mar 2016, 04:33

42. davidvicky (Posts: 1; Member since: 21 Mar 2016)

Anyway from 13% to 77% in 40 minutes. Quick charge top


posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:35 6

6. nebula (Posts: 934; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)

Thanks PA for being blatantly honest. I am hobestly sick of most if not every tech website being one or another way consistantly biased. I am sure there will be Samsung insiders and large fan camp on the other side of the river because its they job but you guys are my favourite!

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:37 2

7. nebula (Posts: 934; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)

Just want to add that any decent if not brilliant hardawre can be spoiled by bad softwre and price tag. Samsung did a great job here.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 05:50 2

9. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

In case you missed it, these ratings only apply to almost every Android that has been released in the past 4/5 months.
I never owned a ZTE phone, yet I was one of the 1st to criticize PA for their unfair review and score of the Nubia Z9, especially after checking other reviews about the same handset.
Anything that isn't Apple will be a target for such reviews.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 07:12 2

13. nebula (Posts: 934; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)

No I didn't. What PA and I realised OEM can't just chuck in latest hardware and claim flagship device price. At completion of review PA said that price was $600 and as high as $770. They haven't established them self yet they simply can't not dictate that price tag like Samsung LG or Sony that have proven record in business and infrastructure built in all levels.

I think if they have priced that device at around $400 it would have scored maybe 7.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:40 2

26. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

Then why did they give the Honor 5x a 6/10 score? The phone is priced at $200 and considered by almost every single tech reviewer out there, as the best phone for that price.

They feel like every Android phone should perform and have the features and specs of a $800 flagship. Yet they always find a way to defend Apple no matter what.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 11:23 1

32. nebula (Posts: 934; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)

I haven't red review of honor 5x . Maybe you have the point.

Again look at Z5 7! Moto G 3 gen got very generous score of 9 maybe a little high but this phone is a charm to own. I have 2GB RAM version it's worth every penny.

I think market is flooded with pretentious smartphones from Aisia and they got fair critique. Samsung also deserves that score for the reason this company overprices it's midrange and lower end phones.

You know what sets Apple apart? They have range of two phones and they phones are virtually free of fault if you run in any kind of problem they have superb post purchase service and it works it just works. Hassle free investment. I am Androist but owned Iphone 6 trust me it's worth to pay extra if you ready to make some compromises.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 06:03

10. zac89 (Posts: 14; Member since: 18 Jan 2016)

And you marked Huawei Mate 8 only 7 points... Comparing to this phone it can't get 6.5

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 06:59 2

12. Ordinary (Posts: 2452; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)

PA pls do fingerprint scanner speed test. I really want to see how it takes you 5 tries.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:14 1

23. Ray.S (Posts: 388; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)

There you go:

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 10:37 5

25. maherk (Posts: 4853; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

You are deliberately clicking the Fingerprint scanner with the side of your thumb. I just tried that on my Note 5 and my counsin did so on his 5s and both of our phones had a little bit trouble in recognizing our fingerprints.

And regarding the pathetic TW, why didn't you show us other areas than the Briefing where the phone would take a little longer to load? Because throughout the whole video, there wasn't one place where the phone lagged. And you kept talking about some touch issues, yet you typed a full sentence with no issues what so ever.

Your bias cannot be hidden anymore, especially when Pro Apple pages like CNet and The Verge aren't complaining Samsung and Android phones as much as you guys are doing.

Just the other day, you gave a low end priced phone in the Honor 5x a score 6/10, when every review I bumped into was praising the phone for selling a premium built mid ranger for $200 a price of a low end phone.

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 11:57 4

34. Ordinary (Posts: 2452; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)

Now use the center of the thumb. I am yet to see a fingerprint scanner unlocking a phone by a side print...

posted on 05 Feb 2016, 15:32

35. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

With the nexus 5x you don't have to be so precise.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (424 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Octa-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size5.70 x 2.80 x 0.29 inches
(144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm)
5.47 oz  (155 g)

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