Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 review

A Galaxy S7 for those on a tighter budget

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Samsung has taken a lot of what makes the Galaxy S7 great and applied it to a phone on a tighter budget. If you want the best of Samsung but can't afford the flagship, the Galaxy A5 may be designed for you.

For

  • Great design
  • Bright and beautiful display

Against

  • No wireless charging
  • Outdated software

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is one of the best phones in the world, but it’s expensive and is out of reach for those who don’t want to spend a lot on their new smartphone.

That’s why Samsung has brought in a lot of the Galaxy S7 language and features into its new mid-range device, the Galaxy A5.

Boasting some good spec paired with a design overhaul, the Galaxy A5 looks to be the best phone for those who want Samsung’s top end features without spending the money.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 price and release date

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is coming to the UK at some point in February, but it's not currently clear if it will launch in the US or Australia.  It's set to cost £399 (roughly $500/AU$675).

Design and display

The metal frame and 3D glass design of the Galaxy S7 has been emulated here on the Galaxy A5 and it looks more premium than previous phones. 

It means the back of the phone is slightly curved on the sides, so it sits comfortably in your palm. 

You’ll get color choices of black and gold as well as a soft pink and blue color.

The Galaxy A5 is also waterproof - IP68, like the Galaxy S7 - meaning you can drop this phone in the sink and not have to worry about it getting ruined. 

This isn’t a feature you regularly see on mid-range phones and many clumsy phone fans are sure to appreciate this coming to the Galaxy A range.

Another nice touch is Samsung has shaved down the camera protrusion here so it almost sits flat with the phone – it makes it easier to lay the phone down on a desk and gets rid of that ugly camera bump.

For the display there’s a 5.2-inch Full HD Super AMOLED – it looks bright, has good viewing angles and packs 412 pixels-per-inch. The always-on display clock is also here, making it easier to check your phone for the time in bed without having the light the phone screen up.

Under the hood is an Exynos 7880 octa-core SoC clocked at 1.9GHz. We’ve yet to test out the power of the phone, but on paper it sounds strong for a mid-range device, especially as it's alongside 3GB of RAM.

Storage wise there’s 32GB on board and then microSD support up to 256GB. 

It’s unlikely you’ll ever put a card that large into this phone, but it’s still nice to have the option.

For the battery there’s a 3,000mAh cell and fast charging battery support -there’s sadly no wireless charging here though.

On the front of the phone is a huge 16MP sensor – that’s the largest on any Samsung phone ever and even larger megapixel count than selfie shooter on the flagship range.

It's sure to give you some fantastic detailed selfie shots.

The rear camera is also a 16MP sensor and in our limited testing seems to work fast and take some high-quality photos. 

There's an auto-focus feature here as well as F1.9 aperture to ensure your low light shots won't get lost in the dark.

It’s all topped off with Android 6 Marshmallow software and the Samsung UI overlay as well. Marshmallow is quite outdated now, so it’s a shame Samsung hasn’t seen fit to launch this phone with the latest software.

Early verdict

Samsung’s Galaxy A range has never been this exciting. Samsung has managed to take a lot of the highlights from the Galaxy S7 and applied them to the mid-range device, which is a great step.

Whether it will be able to compete with low price alternative phones such as the Moto G4 Plus is another matter, but we'll be sure to find out in our upcoming full review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is Phones, Wearables and Tablets writer for TechRadar and covers all the big announcements from the best manufacturers making gadgets for your palms, wrists and face. Based in London, James is often testing out the latest and greatest phones, smartwatches, VR headsets and - when he can be motivated to go outside - fitness bands. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest from the mobile world.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.