Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review


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Samsung launched the Galaxy A5 (2016), after more than a year of launching its first Galaxy A5 smartphone in its ‘A series’ in India. On paper, specifications of the new A5 smartphone are way better than its predecessor. Even the new A5 is priced at Rs. 29,400, more than launch price of the first A5. Is the Galaxy A5 (2016) worth the price? Let us find out in the complete review

Unboxing

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We unboxed the smartphone recently, check out the unboxing video below.

Box Contents

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  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) smartphone in Golden color
  • In-ear headset
  • 2-pin fast charger (9V-1.67A / 5V-2A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Quick start guide and user manual

Video Review

Display, Hardware and Design

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The Galaxy A5 2016 has a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of around 423 PPI. The display is bright, has good viewing angles, offers vibrant color output and the sunlight visibility is also good. Blacks are perfectly black, thanks to the AMOLED panel. The display sharp compared to first-gen A5’s screen, since the pixel density is more. It has 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection on the front. The display is prone to smudges, but it is not glossy. Since the display is curved, it is very smooth and slips out easily.

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On the top there is a 5-megapixel camera with f/1.9 aperture has wide-selfie that captures 120-degree wide panorama to accommodate more people and beautification features. Images from the front camera is bright and sharp with good details. It has the usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors next to the earpiece, but the smartphone lacks notification LED that is present on most mid-range smartphones.

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There is Samsung’s signature home button below the display that has a metal finish around it. Samsung has introduced fingerprint sensor in the ‘A series’ for the first time, which is embedded into the home button. We will discuss about the sensor later. The capacitive touch buttons for menu and back are present on both the sides. These are backlit and offer haptic feedback when pressed.

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It has a metal frame and is just 7.3mm thick. The volume rockers are present on the left side of the smartphone.

The power button is present on the right side, along with a slot of primary SIM card and microSD. The 3.5mm audio jack, micro USB slot, loudspeaker grill and the primary microphone are present on the bottom, while the secondary microphone and the secondary SIM slot are present on the top.

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Samsung has finally introduced dedicated SIM slots in the second-generation ‘A series’ instead of hybrid SIM support in the first ‘A series’ phones. You need to use the bundled SIM ejector tool to remove the slot on the right side that has a single tray with support for microSD card (up to 128GB) and a nano SIM slot.

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The secondary SIM slot on the top also accepts nano SIM cards. Both these slots support 4G.

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The back also has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection, but it is prone to fingerprints and is also slippery. Samsung should have provided a clear cover with the phone. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 72.5%, slightly better than the first A5. At 144.8mm, it looks a bit tall, but it is easy to hold since it is 71mm wide. On the back there is a 13-megapixel camera with a single LED flash. It has a built-in 2900mAh battery, so it is slightly heavier at 155 grams. Overall, the phone has a good design and a solid build quality.

Camera

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It packs a 13-megapixel auto focus rear camera with f/1.9 aperture, single LED flash, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). The camera UI is similar to other Samsung smartphones running Android Lollipop. It has several modes (Auto, Pro (lets you adjust white balance, ISO and exposure manually), Panorama, Continuous shot, HDR, Night), Effects (Posterise, Grey-scale, Sepia, Negative), Voice control, and timer ( 2, 5 or 10 seconds). You can also press the home button twice to launch the camera, even when the screen is off and use the volume rockers as camera shutter.

Coming to the image quality, daylight shots are good with vibrant colors, but the sharpness and saturation are a bit more. Macro shots are good offering nice bokeh effect, thanks to f/1.9 aperture. HDR shots are good as well. Low-light shots have some noise as usual, but the images are not too bad. Images with flash are good since the flash offers an ample amount of light and is not over powering.

Overall the camera is good and the OIS is an added advantage for capturing blur-free shots.

Check out some camera samples below (Click the image to view full resolution sample.)

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HDR OFF
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HDR ON

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Check out the complete set of Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) samples here. It can record videos at 1080p full HD resolution at 30 fps. Thanks to the OIS video good and can handle shakes to some extent. The video quality is also good, offering vibrant colors and it is sharp with good details. Audio is crisp as well, thanks to the secondary microphone. Sadly, it doesn’t have slow motion recording. Check out the video sample below.

Software

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Lock and About

Coming to the software, it runs on Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) with Samsung’s own UI on top. Samsung doesn’t say when it will roll out Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update for the smartphone. The lockscreen lets you launch the dialer and camera easily.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Home and Notification

The drop-down notification bar has several toggles and lets you customize the row accordingly. It also has brightness slider with auto brightness toggle, S Finger, Quick Connect and an option to switch either SIMs as primary.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Multiwindow, Smart Manager and Ultra Dava Saving

It has multi-window that can be launched during multitasking and a Smart Manager app lets you manage your device’s battery life, storage, RAM usage, and security all in one place. The Ultra data saving mode powered by Opera Max compresses cellular data across all contents such as videos, photos, media, almost all apps and websites. It compresses and reroutes data to the data-savings cloud using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You can also add app exceptions if you don’t want data from an app to be compressed. It offers timeline of app usage and how much data is saved in a day or month. You can also check out data savings by individual app as well.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 RAM, Internal storage and Move to SD

Out of 2GB of RAM, you get 1.84GB of usable RAM, out of which about 651MB of RAM is free when the default apps running in the background. Out of 16GB of internal storage, 10.8GB of storage is usable. You can also move compatible apps to the SD card when you insert one.

Fingerprint sensor

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Fingerprint sensor

The phone has a fingerprint sensor built into the home button. Placement of the sensor below the display is not as comfortable as the sensor placement on the back of new Nexus phones. Fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone will be easier to access since it is the place where your finger rest when you are holding the phone. It doesn’t unlock when the screen is locked, so you need to press the power button or the home button and then place you finger for it to unlock. It doesn’t recognize your finger properly if it’s wet. You can add up to 3 fingerprints. It can also be used for Samsung Pay in some markets where the service is available.

Apps

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Apart from the usual set of utility apps and Google Apps, the smartphone comes with MixRadio, which is available for all the Samsung phones through exclusive partnership with MixRadio, Opera Max, which powers the Ultra data saving mode and Microsoft Apps – Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype. It doesn’t have any other bloatware or additional games.

Music Player and FM Radio

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Music Player and FM Radio

It has a dedicated music player that can play a range of formats and also comes with equalizer. It has SoundAlive+ and Tube Amp sound effects that can be enabled from the settings. This improves the audio when listening through earphones. That said, audio through earphones is good, but the loudspeaker output could have been better. It has FM Radio with auto scanning and recording, which lets you store the recorded files in phone memory or SD card.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

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It has the usual set of connectivity features such as WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and NFC. Sadly, it doesn’t have dual-band or 802.11 ac WiFi support. It has 4G connectivity with support for TD-LTE 2300MHz (Band 40) and FDD-LTE 1800MHz (Band 3) for India. Both the SIMs support 4G, but you can enable 4G only in one SIM at a time, while the other goes to 2G. As usual it has Smart Dual SIM feature, similar to other latest Samsung Dual SIM smartphones. This automatically forwards calls from the phone number on SIM 2, even if a user is on the phone with SIM 1’s number. It also has USB on-the-go (OTG) support so that you can connect OTG drives easily. It also has a USB Backup app that lets you backup and restore data such as images, audio, video and documents to or from a USB drive, when you plug-in one.

Performance and Benchmarks

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Coming to the performance, the smartphone has Samsung’s own Octa-Core Exynos 7580 64-bit SoC with eight ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs each clocked at 1.6 GHz per core. The performance is good and there are no lags. 2GB of RAM is enough to run several apps in the background, but the TouchWiz UI uses more RAM. It doesn’t have any heating issues even when using 4G or during intensive gaming. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.

AnTuTu Benchmark 5

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 Quadrant Benchmark

It scored 37418 points in the AnTuTu Benchmark 5.

Vellamo 3.1 MultiCore

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It scored 1682 points in the Vellamo 3.1 Multicore benchmark.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited

It scored 7945 points in the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU Benchmark. Check out the complete set of benchmark scores here. It has a Mali-T720 GPU. We tried several games, and some games were not completely smooth, but graphics was average.

Battery life

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 FA One Charge Rating

Coming to battery life, the 2900mAh battery lasts for the whole day from average to heavy use such as 4G LTE with both the SIM cards. With minimal use, it lasts for more than a day. The power saving mode and ultra-power saving mode lets you extend the battery life.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 FA One Charge Rating Pie Chart

In our battery test the smartphone achieved a One Charge Rating of 12 hours and 53 minutes, which is good. Check out the complete set of Galaxy A5 (2016) battery life test results here.

Conclusion

At a price tag of Rs. 29,400, the Galaxy A5 (2016) is costly compared to other smartphones in the range, even though it is a good upgrade to last year’s A5. If you spend a bit more you can get the Galaxy S6 and also a LG G4 with a dual SIM slot.

Samsung has improved the display, build quality, battery life and also added a fingerprint sensor that was not present in the first A5. It should have opted for a better processor instead of the old Exynos chip when most phones that are cheaper have a better processor. It still runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop), and Samsung doesn’t have any details when it will roll out Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update for the phone. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.

Pros

  • Brilliant Display
  • Solid build quality
  • Good battery life
  • Good camera

Cons

  • Priced on the higher side
  • Runs on Android Lollipop
  • No notification LED
  • Slippery to hold

Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram