Samsung Galaxy A5 review

Mid-range phone gets a She’s All That makeover, and it mostly works.

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The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 is either a near-perfect mid-range phone or a pretty expensive one depending on how obsessed you are with getting the most for your money.

Everything on the outside of the Samsung Galaxy A5 fits perfectly with the price. It’s well-made, all metal and glass without as much as a square inch of plastic to cheapen the feel.

It feels great in use too. While not the fastest phone around in the way the software moves, it’s not slow or laggy either. The camera also has the zippy feel we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s more expensive mobiles.

The only disappointments appear when you start to look deeper into the tech and realize quite how much more a phone like the OnePlus 3T gets you for a similar price.

While fun to use, and able to take some solid pics, the Samsung Galaxy A5’s camera doesn’t have the low-light flexibility of Samsung’s top-end phones, the OnePlus 3T or HTC U Play. And its CPU may not age as well as some at the price.

Who's this for?

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is for people who want a Samsung phone with the sort of gloss you get with a flagship, but don’t want to spend the sort of cash such a phone demands. That’s a lot of people.

Should you buy it?

If you’re happy to own an older phone, you might want to consider looking at one of last year’s top models instead of the Galaxy A5, such as the LG G5. These are occasionally available around the same price as this phone.

However, if you just want to head to the high street to buy a phone or the Galaxy A5 is one of your network’s upgrade options, it’s a great buy.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 pushes the limits of what you'd expect from a mid-range phone in some ways, but it falls down in others, and the following three options are worthy alternatives.

OnePlus 3T

It’s hard to compete with the OnePlus 3T on value, even if it is a lot more expensive than the older OnePlus 3. Its camera is more versatile than the A5’s, its CPU a lot more powerful.

The phone is also significantly larger, though, and the Galaxy A5 is better at making its battery last longer. If you want as much phone-per-dollar as possible, buy the OnePlus 3T. But some of you will find the smaller Galaxy A5 easier to live with.

HTC U Play

Similar in style and specs to the Samsung Galaxy A5, the HTC U Play is a real arch-rival. It also has the camera optical image stabilization the A5 sorely lacks, and its design has more punch, with a greater curvature to the back and more eye-catching finishes.

However, the Galaxy A5 is the better phone in use. Its battery is bigger, its graphics chip is faster and the camera is significantly quicker. Samsung sails past potential problems that trip the HTC U Play up.

Honor 8

Here’s a tricky one. The Honor 8 is far more powerful than the Galaxy A5 and has a more interesting camera setup, with two lenses. It earns more tech points and also has a more striking multi-layer glassy finish.

The Samsung software is less contentious, though, and we find the battery of the A5 lasts longer. So while the Honor 8 is technically more impressive, the Samsung Galaxy A5 may be easier to live with day-to-day. Everyday likability is where the Samsung phone excels.

First reviewed: February 2017

  • Thanks to Carphone Warehouse (opens in new tab) for providing us with a Samsung Galaxy A5 for review