I was fortunate to test the Samsung Galaxy A5 thoroughly and over a long period of time at work, which allowed me to get to the bottom line of this new mobile phone. Like always, this review will not be a dry, complicated technical review, rather I’ll just list out all the things I liked, didn’t like, and my general findings while using this device. Worth mention is that the Samsung Galaxy A5 comes to replace the old Galaxy Alpha.
The full technical details and other specifications of this device can be found here.
When you first hold this phone in your hand, the first thing that catches the eye is the phone’s simple yet elegant design. With its part metal body, the headset is good step forward for Samsung’s smart mobile devices, showcasing their dedication to both function and design. Looking deeper, however, it became apparent that, when taking into account hardware and battery life, this price does not meet the value.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 comes in many colors, but I’ve picked the White one! The metal cover of the Samsung Galaxy A5 provides the perfect facade for a sleek, sexy phone. Giving the mobile device a look that reminds one of Apple’s iPhone products. The white paint on the metal cover merge seamlessly into the glass screen, solidifying this phone’s status as an aesthetically pleasing item.
The material used for the back cover of this phone is not metal, but refined plastic, with a metal sheen, an improvement from the cheap plastic seen on previous Galaxy models. This improvement in materials is a real game changer for Samsung going into 2015.
The screen on the device is a 5-inch, 1280 by 720 super AMOLED, which provides 294 pixels per inch. While resolution on this device has not improved from the previous models, the display size has increased by 13%.
The downside to display include issues with color quality, accuracy and readability. While there are plenty of display options, none of them seemed to be a perfect fit for myself. The brightness options leave plenty of room for improvement.
Randomly, and mainly while using the Camera application, the screen would stop responding to finger touches. The only way out of this is a forced restart, which is a big nuisance while taking important photos. While at the subject, let’s move on to discuss the Camera.
Nothing much to talk about here really. IF the sun is shining, you’ll get good photos, and if not, you won’t. The flash does a decent job, but only for a limited range. The camera is not meant for low-light conditions, and noise become apparent when you are forced to shoot in low light conditions. I hear you say: how bad is it, well, let those photos answer you:
Don’t be tempted to believe those are good photos, concentrate on details and resolution of the low-light sections of each photo and you shall get my point.
Inside this phone is the 64-bit 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor fitted with Adreno 306 graphics and 2GB of RAM. This setup is a great improvement in CPU power, with processing ability increasing 20%.
Despite this presumed increased in processing power, this device had many issues regarding apps. I was unable to run more than four apps at a time (in spite of the the 2GB RAM!) . Each time I tried running say 4 apps, the device became slower and slower (a real irritation for a presumed ‘smart” device). While the processing ability is reasonable at this price point, there are many sacrifices regarding performance you will experience with this device.
One major problem I faced with this phone is selecting text. Tapping or double tapping the screen does not always work, and if you need to scroll down to select more text, you simply can’t, as the 2 markers suddenly, yet randomly at times, decide to vanish from the screen, leaving you trying hard not to throw the phone into the nearby wall!
The battery on this model is 24% larger than previous models, which combined with the lower power requirements of the Snapdragon 410, presumably contributes to greater battery life. The battery shines when it comes to charging it, as it takes considerably less time to reach 100% / full charge.
However, despite battery life being acceptable, there were some issues related to running of apps simultaneously. Using graphics-heavy apps, or running more than say 3 apps at one time, will seriously drain battery life.
Using mobile data kills the battery in a day or less. Add WiFi and you will be lucky to last through the day. In my line of work, I manage a lot of social media accounts for various events. I need to take photos, do some photo-collage, some simple photo processing, shoot short videos, upload them all to Instagram and Facebook pages, write short paragraphs to tag along, answer few emails, and try not to fully drain the battery.
But if you don’t use mobile data and use WiFi scarcely, the battery would last many days and impress you as a battery for a mobile phone, not more!
Connectivity is abysmal
I tried to connect an external USB keyboard to the Samsung Galaxy A5 to no avail. The device failed to detect the keyboard completely, even with the set of sofware claiming to be able to identify external keyboards. When I connected the same keyboard to the Lenovo Vibe Z, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Note 4 Edge phones, it worked like charm. When I connected a normal PC keyboard to the phone, via a USB converter, again the phone failed to detect the keyboard. One thing I noticed is that the Caps Lock LED won’t lit when I connect the external keyboard, which made me doubt that the the Samsung Galaxy A5 is too weak to send enough current to make the external keyboard operate normally.
Final Verdict: Samsung Galaxy A5
This is a cheap contender in the battle for the best mid-range phone. It will serve you well as a second / replacement phone, with a good brand name and a price tag on it, nothing more.
The stylish design at this price point provides excellent value to the consumer. For the price, the user is getting a great deal regarding a slim and light device.
In the $200 price range, this Samsung Galaxy A5 is a strong contender for value, looking beyond the minor shortcomings in this device.