Samsung Galaxy A5 performance
Inside, one of Samsung’s own Exynos 7880 octa-core CPUs handles all the heavy lifting. It’s not as fast as the Snapdragon 821 currently doing the rounds in the OnePlus 3T and Google Pixel, but it’s certainly no slouch.
I didn’t notice any lag or stutter when swiping through home screens, and apps load very quickly too. Video and image-heavy websites would sometimes be a stumbling block, but you won’t be left wanting for more power when scrolling through your Twitter feed or posting photos to Facebook. 3GB of RAM is plenty for multitasking between a handful of apps, too.
There’s enough gaming power to play almost everything in the Google Play store, thanks to the Mali-T830 GPU. You’ll have to dial down the details to medium on the most intensive titles, but simpler stuff like Candy Crush will be no trouble at all.
There’s ample room for games and apps, too. You get 32GB out of the box, with around 18GB actually usable, but you can always add more. The microSD card slot will recognise 256GB cards. Finally, battery life doesn’t disappoint. You’ll easily get through an entire day on a full charge, with the 3000mAh cell having enough oomph to keep going until the next lunchtime if you keep your Instagram addiction in check.
The AMOLED screen tech and 1080p resolution helps, meaning you can almost binge-watch an entire 10-episode season of the latest Netflix must-see and still have enough juice to get you to a plug socket.
There’s even an Adaptive Fast Charging plug in the box, which can get you from 0-80% in an hour. Leave it plugged in for 90mins and you’ll be fully topped up. Most mid-rangers wouldn’t include a fast charging adapter, so it’s great to get one here.
Samsung Galaxy A5 camera
Up to this point, the Galaxy A5 has done most things very well - so naturally, you’re expecting the camera to be a bit of a stinker. Think again: it’s actually pretty decent - as long as you feed it enough light.
The 16MP rear snapper doesn’t have optical image stabilisation, and without phase detect autofocus it’s not especially fast in low light, but during the day, it feels perfectly responsive - actually punching above its weight for a mid-range phone.
It captures clear, colourful photos in Auto mode, with reasonably fast focusing and Samsung’s typically excellent image processing. The f/1.9 aperture helps here, getting as much light onto the sensor as possible, and a dedicated HDR mode helps even more - even if there’s no auto HDR here, so you’ve got to remember to switch it on every time.
At night, though, expect a lot of image noise and grain. The single LED flash helps, but can’t rescue anything more than a few feet away from the lens. This is true indoors as well, with detail dropping and images appearing washed out while it struggles for light.
Video is only average, too, managing 1080p at 30fps. There’s no 4K recording here, and with no OIS my clips looked quite shaky. Sound quality isn’t the best, either.
With no autofocus on the front-facing camera, quick-snap selfies can be a bit trial-and-error, but the 16MP sensor and f/1.9 aperture otherwise get the job done.
Samsung Galaxy A5 verdict
The A series used to be the runt of Samsung’s Galaxy litter, but things have turned around massively for 2017.
The Galaxy A5 is a great-looking, great-performing mid-ranger, with plenty of features you’d normally have to pay the big bucks for. Water resistance and USB Type-C really do make the difference, even if camera quality might not be quite up to scratch for the cash.
At RM1699 it’s in good company, though. A OnePlus 3T will only set you back slightly more, and last year’s flagships are rapidly dropping in price as this year’s replacements begin to arrive.
If you’d rather stick with Samsung’s familiar flavour of Android, though, it’s a great buy.