Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review: Alphabet soup


A 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display, 14nm Exynos chipset, a body made out of a glass/metal combo, IP68 certification, 16MP f/1.9 cameras front and back – it sure sounds like Samsung’s next flagship. Only it’s not the flagship we’re talking about, but the Galaxy A5 (2017) premium mid-ranger.

Of course, we are guilty of hand-picking that selection of specs to prove a point, and there are other fields in that spec sheet that would give away the A5’s lower position in the Galaxy universe. Display resolution is one (1080p), and the chipset is another (Exynos 7880). Even though it’s made on a cutting-edge 14nm fabrication process, it’s still only mainstream Cortex-A53 cores inside and not hard-hitting Mongooses or Kryos. And then the cameras lack OIS and 4K video recording, even if they both offer higher resolution than the Galaxy S7.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) at a glance:
Body: Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass front and back
Screen: 5.2″ 1080p Super AMOLED screen (424ppi); Always On Display
OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow; Samsung Grace UX; Nougat update in the works
Chipset: Exynos 7880, 14nm process
Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32GB storage, dedicated microSD slot for expansion
Camera: Primary 16MP, f/1.9, 27mm; Secondary 16MP, f/1.9
Video: 1080p
Connectivity: nano SIM (dual SIM version available); LTE (Cat. 6); Wi-Fi ac; Bluetooth 4.2; FM Radio; USB Type-C; 3.5mm jack
Battery: 3,000mAh
Misc: Fingerprint reader, IP68 certification for dust and water resistance, Samsung Pay

Main shortcomings
Somewhat expensive – the Galaxy S6 can be had for less, the S7 is slightly pricier, but will certainly dip in a couple of months when the S8 comes out.
Android is still Marshmallow, though an update is coming.
No 4K video recording at a price point, where you can find plenty of phones that support it.

It’s not exactly what you call a bargain, the A5 (2017), unfortunately. Its price tag makes a pretty solid case for the Galaxy S6, and why not even the S7 when the time is right? It’s also not looking good that Samsung is putting out a new premium product with good ol’ Marshmallow, and no shiny fresh Grace UX can make up for that.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review

None of that means we don’t like the premise of a premium full-featured (or thereabout) smartphone positioned a notch below the flagships – quite the opposite. We’ll be looking into just how much the A5 (2017) deserves its place in the world on the following pages, starting (not unusually) with a hardware overview.