Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

Introduction


These days, Samsung has simplified its previously huge lineup of phones: we now have the Galaxy S and Note series representing the best of Samsung, the Galaxy J series as the most affordable options, and then, there is the Galaxy A series standing right in the middle.

The history of the Galaxy A series starts in the beginning of 2015, when Samsung launched this new lineup with three phones in it: the original A3, A5 and A7, differing by features, but most importantly by screen size. An update to the A series in 2016 brought trendy new glass designs, but we had complaints about the performance.

This year, Samsung has just launched the brand new Galaxy A (2017): the A3 (2017) and A5 (2017) are already out there, while the A7 (2017) is coming up soon.

Of all these phones, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) is the phone that will be the right fit for most people: it is not too cheap, nor too expensive; its 5.2-inch screen is neither too big, nor too small; it’s the golden mean.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The A5 (2017) also has a few tricks up its sleeve: it comes with a new-generation, more power-efficient processor, an improved camera, it sports the reversible USB-C port for charging and it even has water resistance. Add to that a premium grade glass and metal design, and you start to wonder: with all those features, isn’t this phone just as good as the Galaxy S7? We take a deeper look to find out.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) model SM-A520F
  • User Manual
  • Sim ejector tool
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • White Samsung earbuds with replaceable rubber tips
  • Adaptive Fast Charging wall charger (15 watts peak, 9V and 1.67V, or 5V and 2A)


Design

Designed to near perfection, with a curved glass back, metal frame and full-on water-protection.

The Galaxy A5 (2017) is a real looker. In fact, its glass-and-metal construction feels so seamlessly well put together, we’d forgive you if you mistake it for the flagship Galaxy S7 model. The similarity is certainly there. In the hand, the phone feels well balanced, with a nice heft to it: it’s thin, but not too airy, with just enough weight to feel comfortable. The only design quirk that I personally don’t like is the disproportionately small camera on the back. This is the one element that is different than on the S7, but you do get used to it with time.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The new A5 features a scratch-resistant glass on the back and comes in a selection of four distinct colors with catchy names: Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist, and Peach Cloud (we have the Blue Mist up for review).

With a 5.2-inch display and tiny bezel on the side, the A5 is certainly compact. In fact, it is almost the same size as the Galaxy S7. And if you want a better idea of its physical size, feel free to check out our neat size comparison tool below.

We’re glad to see the reversible USB-C port rather than the old and quickly disappearing microUSB for charging here, and the handset also has a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack for your headphones, speakers and AUX cables.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The really cool thing about the new A5, however, is that the phone is water-proof. It is officially IP68 certified, which means the phone is protected from water damage when submerged as deep as 5 feet (1.5 meters) for up to 30 minutes. Water resistance is a premium feature usually found in the most expensive phones out there, and it’s definitely a rarity seeing it on a more affordable phone like this new A5. With a water-proof phone, you don’t need to worry about using your phone when it rains, that occasional drop in water, or taking a few pictures near water or even an underwater video in the swimming pool (just don’t use it near salty sea / ocean water, as the phone is only protected against fresh water damage).

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches

146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.61 oz (159 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Dimensions

5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches

144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches

146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.61 oz (159 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Dimensions

5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches

144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

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


Display

A 5.2” Super AMOLED screen with good looking color and plenty of color customization options.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A5 (2017) sports a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.

AMOLED screens come with the advantage that you can control each pixel, which his means that you can shut down individual pixels and achieve perfectly deep blacks and excellent contrast, something not possible to the same extent on LCD screens. On the downside, it’s a PenTile display, which - for the unenlightened in display tech talk - means that it has less sub-pixels, and is not quite as sharp as an RGB (most LCDs) display of the same resolution.

Enough with the complicated terms, though: in reality, the screen looks very nice. It’s definitely sharp enough, so much so that at a regular viewing distance, you cannot see any jagged edges to icons or images. It also looks very good in terms of color reproduction.

Samsung allows customers to fine-tune the color reproduction of the screen: go into Settings > Display > Screen Mode, and you get to choose from four different modes. The first one is the Basic mode, which we recommend as it has the best-balanced colors that are close to the sRGB color standard, accepted and used across the world. You also have the Adaptive display option that features oversaturated, punchy and impressive (but not ‘accurate’ to any particular standard) colors. There are also the Photo and Cinema modes, there with the aim to improve the look for your still and motion pictures, but we would recommend the standard Basic mode over any of these. Samsung also allows you to tweak the red, green and blue colors individually to your liking, if you are into custom colors.

This is also one of the brightest AMOLED screens out there. That’s great for outdoor use, as the boosted brightness makes it easier to read what’s on the screen even on a bright, sunny day. The minimum screen brightness can drop down to 1.8 nits. The lower this value, the more comfortable is to look at the screen in bed with the lights off without the display burning your eyes. The A5 is one of the better phones in this aspect. There is now a Blue light filter on the new A5: what it does is filter out the blue light from a screen. This is important because blue light is a trigger for the brain hormone melatonin: when you see blue light, your brain makes it more difficult for your body to fall asleep, hence, using your phone without a blue light filter before bed could ruin your sleep. We’re glad to have this new Blue light filter on the A5 (2017) and you can customize it to best suite your sleep times and habits.

Another one of the cool new features that has trickled down to the A5 from Samsung’s flagship phones is the ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are contrasting and easy to see, but be warned - this drains battery like crazy, at a rate of around 1% each hour.

The ‘Always-on Display’ - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review

More content with (Galaxy A5 (2017))

FEATURED VIDEO

34 Comments

1. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Wow, that battery life far outweighs most of the cons.

7. Victor.H

Posts: 1042; Member since: May 27, 2011

Along with the design, I also think that battery life is the best thing about this phone.

13. Creep

Posts: 193; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Battery life does NOT outweigh "stuttery performance"

21. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Yes Mr. Apple Worshiper, your opinion in this Samsung review is important. /s

22. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

What stuttery performance? You assume it stutters? Because you don't even own one. Also you continue to thumb up yoru own posts. That's just stupid!

24. samiazza

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

How is the battery life is compared to the A7 2017?

10. libra89

Posts: 2251; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Agreed, that's very impressive!

2. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

"performance is fine for daily use, but start using more intense apps and / or games and the processor runs into trouble" care to elaborate? which apps this phone can't handle/ can cause trouble for that processor? even if it doesnt use flagship level processor, it's multi-core score on geekbench almost the same as OP3T I know geekbench is bad to be used as standard, lol.. I'm just saying it's not a slow processor..

3. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

I know, right? Looks like lacking common sense.

5. Victor.H

Posts: 1042; Member since: May 27, 2011

Multi-core benchmarks are hugely misleading. You have to look at BOTH single-core and multi-core performance. Single-core performance here is definitely poor, there is absolutely no comparison with the OnePlus 3T, which is a much faster and more powerful phone. You will run into issues with games like first-person shooters and I personally have seen stutter and much slower flow when editing photos on the phone (which is what I like to do).

19. Leo_MC

Posts: 6615; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

It only gets half as S7 in Antutu; OP3T draws circles around it (and the iPhone 7 draws spheres).

4. aco96

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 12, 2012

I think it's better to buy last year's flagships instead. Bought my LG G5 on a sale last week. It was a little bit cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017. :)

6. Victor.H

Posts: 1042; Member since: May 27, 2011

I am with you on this. If it was for me, I'd still say that a Nexus 5X (if you can still find it) is the best value-to-features phone out there, and it was released 2 years ago.

25. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

It does bootloops around the competition.

20. Leo_MC

Posts: 6615; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Yeah, but the battery...!

8. TheGranter

Posts: 63; Member since: Jan 28, 2016

had 2016 model before i swapped to honor 8. Srly if they are using the same fingerprint scanner the phone is garbage. It was slow, needed to place finger exactly on spot. And camera was averege. Ididn't enjoy the phone at all.

9. UglyFrank

Posts: 2190; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

You'd think you could upgrade a 2014 flagship to a 2017 midrange but this doesn't even have 4K recording and i received the 6.0 update at the start of last year.

11. Seany

Posts: 94; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

Phone Arena try testing the Lenovo P2 with it's 5,100mAh battery. I got one recently from Three UK and it's brilliant

12. jellmoo

Posts: 2531; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Honestly, the cons are pretty bad on this one. No notification LED, no video stabilization, stuttery performance... Sure the battery life is great, but does it really matter how long the device lasts if you don't enjoy using it? I'm shocked at how high a score this phone has.

14. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

First time I've seen that battery app...Wow what a great phone

15. rocker91

Posts: 86; Member since: Dec 09, 2016

Probably won't get updated to android 7 why buy this id rather get a note 5 for same price or one plus 3

17. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 451; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

100% will get updated to Nougat

16. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 451; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

I reckon once Nougat lands for this phone it'll fix the stuttering for sure. I just got Nougat on my Z5 compact and it's definitely smoother. Can they add OIS in firmware updates?

18. jellmoo

Posts: 2531; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

No, the O in OIS stands for Optical, which means a physical component. Digital Image Stabilization is the software solution. I imagine that they could add it after the fact, but I'm not sure how trivial a task that would be.

23. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Looking at the spec, the rear camera has an F1.9 lens @ 16MP. That means this camera should be better equalthe one in the S6. It's also nice that both the rear and front camera are 16MP. Hopefully the S8 will get some of that MP love. Seems to just be a lower cost S6. I mean the S6 new was $650. This phone is $400. Has a faster newer GPU and CPU, is only slightly larger/heavier than the S6, and it has sdcard support which the S6 lacked. To small for my tastes. But if I like tine phones, I would consider this.

31. SaRPeR

Posts: 139; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

You can also consider A7 (2017).

26. Seany

Posts: 94; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

I have this phone for a week now and the battery life is not all that good even with Always On Display off,hardly anything syncing,location and all sorts off. Camera is nice in daylight and performance is not stuttery though. I now miss the Lenovo P2 phone I had before with the 5,100mAh battery

27. samiazza

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

What kind of SOT are you getting?

28. goblutes

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 23, 2017

I sure wish this phone support more bands, especially Band 12. I think this is a winner, otherwise.

29. goblutes

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 23, 2017

Not sure it supports CDMA either. I wonder if it supports VoLTE. This phone ticks off everything else on my list.
Galaxy A5 (2017)
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(16h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.