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Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) Review

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017)

Posted: , by Victor Hristov Victor Hristov



Interface and Functionality

The new Samsung user interface on top of Android 7.0 Nougat looks great and rich in features that matter.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) Review

Samsung keeps on improving its custom Android interface that just a couple of years ago rhymed best with overwhelming and chaotic.

While it is still very clearly a custom interface that is heavy and that has very little to do with stock Android and Material Design, it has evolved tremendously. The J5 (2017) features its latest iteration, similar to what you get on the flagship Galaxy S8 series.

You get the new weather widget, the new fonts, the swipe-up app drawer, the new light grey and blue notification dropdown, support for UI themes, and all the rest of the tricks from the S8. There is even one new trick from the lockscreen: you can now swipe to the side to see music controls and easily switch to the next song in your preferred music service.

On top of that, here is a quick list of some unique features you'll find on the Galaxy J5 (2017):

  • Dual Messenger: this allows you to install two IM accounts for the same service on your phone, so you can use two profiles be it for Messenger, Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat or others. This is not something most people will need, but if you have a work and a personal Skype account, for instance, you can stay online on both of them using this functionality.
  • Secure folder: a place for your private apps and photos.
  • Game launcher: allows you to block capacitive buttons while you play a game, so you don’t accidentally interrupt gameplay. Allows you to also block calls while you play for no interruptions.

Samsung also gets this one thing right with its interface: animations and transitions are well-thought out. First-party apps are top quality: the weather app, the calendar, the notes app, even the email client are clean and rich in options that matter.

At the same time, third-party apps just do not run as good on the J5 (2017) as the Samsung ones. Facebook is one clear example. Most people spend a ton of time in their news feeds, but on this phone, the news feeds scrolls with stutter. Opening photo albums is frustrating: the app just freezes for seconds on end, and scrolling through pictures is very stuttery and accompanied with all sorts of bugs. It might not be Samsung’s fault, but it’s an important issue that needs to be addressed.

Finally, we should note that the J5 (2017) runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, which is expected. However, like most affordable Android phones, we all know that it will get updates later than all the flagships and mid-rangers, if ever.

Processor, Performance and Memory


Samsung might have a great new interface in the J5 (2017), but the phone does not have enough fire-power to handle it well. While it’s not terribly slow, it is far from being buttery smooth. In many apps you will see stutter when you scroll around, apps drop frames often, and animations and transitions prove a bit too resource-intense for this phone. There is also this very typical split-second freeze before you launch a new app. Once you notice it, you cannot unsee it.

The phone is just not powerful enough, and that is probably my biggest gripe with it.

Under the hood, the Galaxy J5 (2017) introduces brand new silicon: it uses the 14nm Exynos 7 Octa 7870 system chip, a big (but not big enough) step up from the 28nm Snapdragon 410 on the J5 (2016). You also have 2GB of RAM on board.

The casual gamer will find it good enough for your Candy Crush addiction, but this phone is not a good choice for gamers that turn to games like Vainglory or other graphics and processing intense titles.

The other shortcut that Samsung takes with the new J5 is storage. Having only 16GB of storage is too low even for an affordable phone in 2017. Admittedly, you do have a microSD card option that feels more like a necessity in this case.

Internet and Connectivity

A dual SIM phone with limited 4G LTE bands.

The Galaxy J5 (2017) ships with two browsers on board: Google’s mobile Chrome as well as Samsung’s custom browser solution. While Chrome is the one that we usually recommend for all of its capabilities, including the great sync between desktop and mobile, in this case, we actually prefer using the Samsung browser.

The reason is speed: Chrome stutters more, especially when you have more than one page open and when you switch between tabs. The Samsung Browser performs much more smoothly and faster.

The phone supports 4G LTE FDD bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28 in the SM-J530F international models that we got to test. This ensures proper connectivity for most parts of Europe, but this model will not be compatible with AT&T or T-Mobile in the United States. Previously, Samsung has released its J series phones in the U.S., so it’s possible that a model with US bands will be coming at a later date.

The J5 (2017) is also a Dual SIM phone, something important for many people.

In terms of other connectivity option, you also have dual-channel Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC support.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.2 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (282 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size5.76 x 2.81 x 0.31 inches
(146.3 x 71.3 x 7.9 mm)
5.64 oz  (160 g)

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