The A5: a mid-ranger from Samsung

R Dinakaran | Updated on March 10, 2018

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This phone not only looks premium, but also performs like one

Now, 3GB RAM is not a ‘feature’ in mobiles any longer. With some companies offering 6GB RAM in their flagships, a phone with 3GB RAM may not inspire confidence.

But when you consider that the A5 (2017 edition) is only a mid-range phone from Samsung, we feel more than happy with the ‘low’ RAM size.

The A5 doesn’t look like a mid-range offering. The device has a premium feel and also performs as such. For example, it is IP 68 water resistant.

It has a unibody design and fits snugly in the palm, though slightly on the heavier side at 157 grams. It is dual SIM enabled with 32GB internal memory and expandable memory up to 256GB. It comes with a 3,000 mAh battery and a Exynos Octa-core 1.9 GHz processor and Mali-T830MP3 GPU.

The speaker is located on the right side (which is a surprise) just above the power button. At the bottom are the slots for the USB C port and headphone jack. The volume rockers and a main SIM slot are on the left. On the top is a slot that houses the second SIM and the memory card slot. Fortunately, the slots are separate and not hybrid.

At the bottom is the home button (that also acts as the fingerprint sensor). The top houses the front camera, earpiece and proximity sensor. Samsung has done a great job with the camera at the back. For a change, it has managed to do away with the irritating bump that we have to put up with in almost all phones.

The USB C allows for quick charging and lags only slightly behind when compared with the OnePlus 3T.

Both cameras have 16MP sensors with an f/1.9 aperture. The camera that was used last (front or back) opens with the double press. Swiping to the right takes us to the camera settings like Auto, manual (called Pro), Panorama, Hyperlapse, HDR, Night mode or Food mode. There is also a download option to get more modes like Sports shot or Animated GIF. Swiping to the right in the selfie camera gives options for Selfie, Wide selfie and Night modes. Swiping left gives access to colour filters and swiping down toggles between the front and the back cameras.

The picture quality is great for a mid-range mobile with hardly any noise and with pleasant colours. The HDR mode provides more vibrant colours and better highlights. The front camera does not seem to have auto focus and we ended up with slightly blurred selfies despite a 16 MP camera with f/1.9 aperture.

There is no 4K recording (yes, this is a mid-range phone for Samsung), but the HD recording is flawless and can compare with the best.

The display (super AMOLED) is not really great under sunlight, but enabling the auto mode gives it a decent boost.

It has the same battery as the S7 and with less pixels to render, and gave over 12 hours with at least 10-12 calls, heavy net usage with intermittent connectivity to 4G and wifi. But enabling the always-on display drained the battery faster.

The phone is snappy, but tends to lag when really punished. The fingerprint sensor is also not one of the fastest.

The Knox Secure Folder option (which is behind a PIN) can be used as a dual app option found in other phones. For instance, you can have one more instance of WhatsApp or Twitter here, which is of great advantage in a dual SIM phone.

The A5 also comes with the in-built device maintenance option that helps us stop power-guzzling apps and also scans the device for security issues. It also has ultra power and data saving options, but these may hinder optimal performance and must be used only when necessary.

The S Bike mode filters incoming calls and does not allow usage when riding. But this mode is standard on almost all Samsung devices and not specific to the A5. It also has Samsung Pay enabled.

Overall, the A5 is a good device and the features going for it are the premium looks and feel, a great camera and good battery life. But with phones offering much better specs and features (like the OnePlus 3T) at a similar price, it may find the going tough.

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Published on April 19, 2017
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