Yearly renewal for Samsung Galaxy A series. Announced in France in January 2015, the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 (2015) were intended to be mid-range phones with high-end finishes. Something the firm did relatively well last year.
In the meantime, Samsung’s water under the bridge is flowing, and not just a little, since the manufacturer has released its Galaxy S6. Acclaimed by critics, the Korean is capitalizing on his flagship 2016 Galaxy As: they virtually take over the aesthetic codes of the S6, at a contained price of 399 euros for the Galaxy A5 that we are testing today.
Samsung is therefore positioning itself in the same segment as last year, but with an improved design and updated technical features, but still in the mid-range. However, this year the series has been reduced by one model: the A7. Phablet declination point.
Is the firm once again able to seduce with the Galaxy A5 (2016)? Answer in this test.
As we said in the introduction. It will be difficult to distinguish an S6 from an A5 unless you are particularly attentive. The angles are slightly straighter, the home button is a little less wide and the SIM card door is longer since an SD card can also be inserted. At the back, the heart sensor is missing, and the photo sensor is less prominent. The only real difference is to be found at the junction of the screen, this time in 2.5D mode, i.e. slightly rounded on the sides, as on the iPhone 6 and 6S for example.
A5 left, S6 Edge right.
We find these front and rear faces in Gorilla Glass (4) of the S6 and these aluminium slices with a small rib. We praised the aesthetic choices of the Korean on the flagships, this will not change with the A series. The result is more than convincing. The assembly is precise, the finishes are top-notch and the impression of solidity is undeniable. The only problem is that, despite the treatment, the glass still marks under the fingers.
The more picky will perhaps regret a thickness a little above current standards with 7.3 mm compared to 6.8 on the S6. The weight also increases to 155 grams, compared to 138 on the S6. In any case, Samsung offers the most beautiful finishes on the market in this price segment between 300 and 400 euros. He thus steals first place in the Honor 7.
The Galaxy A5 takes over the S6’s Super AMOLED screen, gaining 0.1 inches to 5.2 inches. On the other hand, its definition is degraded compared to the flagship with only Full HD (1920 x 1080). This gives a resolution of 423 ppi, enough to have invisible pixels.
It has become a standard today, so it is no longer really a criterion for dimming, the quality of the screen is much more so. Once again, Samsung has mastered AMOLED technology. The A5 gives us a slab as good as the S6. This is a laudatory comparison, to say the least, since these are the best screens on the market today, and even more so under the 400 euro mark.
The other item of expenditure reduction is the motor. Point of luxury Exynos here, Samsung is content with an Exynos 7580 with 8 ARM Cortex-A53 (not A57) cores clocked at 1.6 GHz. The amount of RAM is also reduced with 2 GB, compared to 3 on the S6.
Not surprisingly, there are limit scores on the benchmarks. They translate into a smooth gaming experience. If the most greedy are slightly degraded graphically, the general public will find it to their liking.
The most annoying thing is actually to learn that the phone n’t work with the Gear VR. Virtual reality remains for the moment reserved for high-end smartphones. Until the lower-performance chips are able to handle both of these video streams. And with a 1080p screen, it wouldn’t necessarily have been very pleasing to the eye.
A slight loss in performance is the advantage of a slower processor and less voracious. With its 2900 mAh battery, the Galaxy A5 has a very appreciable autonomy. With normal use, the phone will last for a day and a half without any problems. If you are not too playful, both days can be reached. It is indeed noticed that the games drain the accumulators very quickly. This is perfectly normal, but it is more obvious than usual.
In order not to spoil anything, the phone is discharged very little in standby mode. We left the A5 in a drawer one weekend, connected to Wi-Fi (and therefore receiving notifications, but without a SIM card), and the phone had only lost a few percent during those two days, where it is not uncommon to find a phone that is switched off on Monday morning. As this was clearly not enough, Samsung offers in addition to the fast recharge: 82% of earned in one hour. The battery part is very clearly the strong point of this A5.
Let’s hope Samsung decides to quickly offer Android 6.0 which improves this aspect even more with Doze. That bodes well for the S7. With its 16 GB internal memory, storage will be limited (11 GB are for the free use of the user), but Samsung had the good idea to propose a MicroSD slot to save space when needed.
The logic continues the photo part with degraded features compared to flagships. Samsung exchanges the 16 mpx of its S6 for 13 mpx on the A5. The aperture is always fixed at f/1.9, the lens is always stabilized. The result is therefore convincing. It obviously doesn’t match that of the Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge, especially when light is lacking, as you can see below, but it’s on par with the Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge in this price segment. However, Samsung is missing a double flash, which was not present on the S6 anyway.
Nothing to report for the 5 mpx front camera that will do its job. On the movie part, we are surprised to see that no setting or shooting mode is available; we will film in 1080p at 30fps. Period. For its price range, the A5 therefore offers a satisfactory result despite this absence. Nothing to report on the sound side either. It’s a smartphone speakerphone, nothing more, nothing less.
Hard to take this A5 2016 at fault. Perfect design and finishes, controlled and bright screen, really good autonomy. The manufacturer is also completing its work with a fingerprint sensor (absent from the A3) that works smoothly and support for 4G+ is always welcome. Samsung serves us a near flawless with its A5 (2016).
It can certainly be criticized for its slightly lower 3D performance or a TouchWiz overlay, which, despite its redesign at the launch of the S6, still deserves a refresh. The terminal is nevertheless excellent for 400 euros, which makes it a no brainer if you’re looking in this price range. Too bad it’s not a bit cheaper to become the ultimate mid-price model for this beginning of the year.