​Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review

If you don't pay full price, this jack of all trades is a great value all-round android smartphone

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Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Good all-rounder
  • Already hugely discounted

Cons

  • Fingerprint reader is temperamental

Bottom Line

At full price there's not much to recommend the jack of all trades, A5. However, it's already available at $150 discount and that makes it great value. But the fingerprint reader can prove annoying.

Would you buy this?

Update: Before you choose a phone, check out the amazing Samsung Galaxy S8 review.

We’ve seen flagship phones from almost everyone launch in the past several weeks. But while we’re waiting Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 phone to appear, we’ve been given the latest iteration of the mid-range (and much more affordable) Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017 model).

Whereas the S-series is top of the line and feature packed, the A series represents a watered down version. There’s still lots to like, however.

Key specs

5.2in, 1080 x 1920 AMOLED screen, 32/3GB RAM, 1.9GHz Exynos Octacore CPU, Mali-T830MP3 GPU, 16MP rear and 16MP front cameras, microSD, microUSB, Android 6.0.1, 3,000mAh battery, IP68 waterproof, 146 x 71 x 8mm, 157g. Full specs here.

Design and handling

The phone is available in black or ‘peach.’ Our glassy black model was an unremarkable, glassy black box (gallery here) but this will appeal to some people. It’s not too slippery (unlike the glass-coated, exploding Galaxy Note 7) and generally feels comfortable in the hand.

We added some colour to make the phone look like something.
We added some colour to make the phone look like something.

The 5.2-inch Full HD screen is colourful and bright as we’d expect from a decent AMOLED unit. The speakers provide a decent, well-rounded sound for conference calls which translates into modest treble and bass performance with music. They don’t, however, get very loud.

The Octacore processor keeps everything ticking along fast enough, we noticed little lag and most applications open quickly if not quite as instantly as the top-end phones.

We’re happy to see an IP68 dustproof and waterproof rating come with the phone – too few phones have this nowadays, especially at this level. It means that the phone can withstand submersion for 30 minutes in 1.5m of water. Just note there are caveats about fresh water and salt water so check that you’re following Samsung’s own interpretation of the rules if you want to avoid voiding your warranty. For what it’s worth, we used it in a shower and a steam room with no issues.

A potentially-useful feature is Samsung Pay which lets you store credit cards and store loyalty cards on the phone. However, while we loaded our supermarket rewards cards without a problem, credit card compatibility is severely limited to Citi and AmEx (in Australia).

The only real gripe we had was with the main button which doubles as a fingerprint reader. It’s quite narrow but it proved unreliable. It rarely recognized our finger on the first attempt and even locked us out for a full minute on several occasions. This gets even more annoying if you make use of Samsung’s excellent Knox security app which lets you lock files, apps and photos in a secure area to avoid other people seeing things they shouldn’t. To be fair, in normal temperatures with dry fingers it was much less of a problem, but any kind of mild-moistness around the sensor made it maddening to use and that could prove annoying.

Battery Life

The A5 has a (decent for a phone this size) 3,000mAh battery which easily lasts a full day under heavy use. Coupled with Samsung’s excellent Power Saving features this can be stretched to two with relatively-minor inconvenience.

Samsung's excellent battery saving modes can add many hours to a dwindling battery. It even leaves you with a usable smartphone in Max Power Saving mode.
Samsung's excellent battery saving modes can add many hours to a dwindling battery. It even leaves you with a usable smartphone in Max Power Saving mode.

Next: Camera and Conclusion

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